Healthy Thai Spaghetti Squash with delicious peanut sauce makes a great side dish or base for a grain-free Pad Thai recipe. This recipe is gluten-free, vegan, and clean eating. The peanut sauce makes a great dip too.
My first encounter with spaghetti squash was when one week we had 3(!) spaghetti squashes in our CSA box. I had never cooked with that vegetable before and now I had to come up with a way to use 3.
For my first try I followed a cookbook recipe and really liked the result. And it also inspired me to take things further.
Eating the vermicelli-like spaghetti squash strands, I was taken back to Thailand's amazing street food markets. It felt like I was eating Thai noodles. So I set out to make Thai spaghetti squash noodles.
That was some 2 years ago.
This Thai Spaghetti Squash recipe has turned out to be super popular (especially on Pinterest).
Now, I am circling back to this recipe with a new way to prepare spaghetti squash in the Instant Pot, a new serving suggestion and improved photos.
In case you are curious, this is what the original images looked like:
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Instant Pot Spaghetti Squash
There are 3 easy parts to this recipes. First, the spaghetti squash needs to be cooked. Cutting the squash along the width instead of lengthwise results in extra long noodle strands.
Originally, I was roasting the spaghetti squash in the oven. But since getting my Instant Pot I always go with the Instant Pot Spaghetti Squash method, because it only takes 10 minutes(!!). Even less at sea level.
If you don't like cutting the hard peel of a raw squash, follow this method of cooking a whole spaghetti squash.
I have the 6-quart 7-in-1 DUO which you can usually get on Amazon for the best price.
Thai Peanut Sauce
While the squash is cooking, you can prepare the creamy peanut sauce that gives this dish its distinct Thai flavor.
The combination of coconut milk with all natural peanut butter already give the sauce a Thai touch. Then I am also using coconut sugar (also called palm sugar), which is the sweetener used in Thai curries.
But what really puts this sauce over the ‘Thai edge’ is the red curry paste in it. Using curry paste is a shortcut to getting the unique Thai spice blend, since the individual ingredients (like galangal and kaffir lime) could be difficult to source. It also adds some heat so you don't have to include anything like red pepper flakes, fresh ginger, scallions, or garlic. All of the spice and flavour needed will be in the curry paste mixture already.
This is my go-to curry paste, but it is not vegan because it includes dried shrimp. To make this recipe vegan I recommend this curry paste.
Another Thai touch I like to add is fish sauce.
You can usually find fish sauce near the soy sauce in your grocery store. If not, there is always Amazon. This is the same brand of fish sauce we also used while we lived in Thailand.
The instructions below make a lot more peanut sauce than you need for 1 spaghetti squash. However, I didn’t want to use just part of a can of coconut milk. The hassle of then transferring the remainder to another container and trying not to forget said container’s existence in the fridge isn’t worth it for me.
To make the sauce, you simply whisk peanut butter in a saucepan over medium heat with the coconut milk, coconut sugar, water, 2 tablespoon each soy sauce and vinegar, and 2 teaspoon each sesame oil and red curry paste. The sauce cooks until nice and thick so that it coats the squash noodles well.
Alternatively, you can combine all the sauce ingredients to really smooth consistency using a blender.
Instead, I make a big jar of peanut sauce that I can use to quickly dress up some pasta, or veggie noodles and it also makes a great dip. I have made fresh spring rolls with spaghetti squash, which are perfect to dip in this peanut sauce. It also is the sauce I use on my Thai Buddha Bowl.
Once the spaghetti squash and peanut sauce are prepared, they are combined in a large bowl with some garlic, parsley (you can also use fresh cilantro, if you like) and crushed peanuts. And voila, you have this plate of awesomeness that is basically veggies with sauce. If you like to think along those terms. A squeeze of fresh lime juice, cilantro, parsley, and/or a sprinkle of green onions can add some brightness and zinginess to the finished product if you would like to get creative with your garnishes. However, even some sprinkled chopped peanuts would give the dish an attractive finish and some crunch.
Many readers have commented, since publishing of the original, how they like to use this recipe to make a sort of grain free Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai (although original Pad Thai isn’t even made with a peanut sauce).
For that, they are adding items like sliced veggies and/or chicken or tofu to the dish. I have started to just add bean sprouts, sliced red bell pepper and carrots, and crunchy peanuts on top of my peanut-y spaghetti squash bowl, although you can definitely cook/sauté them first. Some shredded cabbage, edamame, or broccoli florets would be delicious to include in this dish as well.
Other Recipes You Will Love:
- Thai Buddha Bowl
- Peanut Butter Banana Ice Cream
- Coconut Flour Peanut Butter Mug Cake
- How to Make Tahini - Sesame Paste
- Instant Pot Butternut Squash Soup
- Spaghetti Squash Bolognese
- Spaghetti Squash Casserole
- Stuffed Acorn Squash
Easy Thai Peanut Sauce Spaghetti Squash
- 1 medium spaghetti squash
- olive oil
- sea salt
- 1 garlic clove minced
- ¼ cup chopped parsley or cilantro leaves
- 2 tablespoons crushed peanuts
- 1 can (14 ounces) coconut milk
- ⅔ cup natural peanut butter
- ¼ cup coconut sugar * or 2 tablespoon maple syrup
- ¼ cup water
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce Tamari to make gluten-free, or fish sauce for non-vegans
- 2 tablespoons white or apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons red curry paste
Spaghetti Squash Oven Method:
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Half the squash and scoop out the seeds.
- Drizzle inside with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Place spaghetti squash cut side down on a baking sheet and roast for 25 minutes until tender.
- When spaghetti squash is done roasting, take it out from oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Then, using a fork, scrape out the spaghetti squash strands. If your squash is very moist, you might have to place the strands in a colander and pat with paper towel.
Spaghetti Squash Instant Pot Method:
- With a small sharp knife cut the spaghetti squash in half widthwise. Use a spoon or small knife to remove the seeds.
- Pour 1 cup of water into your Instant Pot. Add a trivet and place the 2 spaghetti squash halves on the trivet. Orientation doesn't matter too much, but I always do cut side up.
- Close the lid and turn the valve to sealing. Select the 'Manual' setting and adjust to 10 minutes.
- Once the pressure cook cycle has finished, turn the valve to venting to quick release the pressure.
- Open the lid and pour out any liquid that may have collected inside the spaghetti squash halves. Test a few strands for doneness. You can always add a few more minutes for softer texture.
- Let the squash cool until comfortable to handle. Use a fork to loosen and scrape out the spaghetti squash noodles.
- Place all sauce ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Then turn down to low and simmer for 5 minutes to thicken the sauce, while stirring almost constantly.
- Take off heat once thickened.
- Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add minced garlic, chopped parsley and ¼ cup of the peanut sauce pan and combine. Add spaghetti squash and crushed peanuts, stir to combine and cook until heated through (about 2 minutes).
- Plate and garnish with a little more crushed peanuts and chopped parsley. Optionally, serve with veggies of choice. I used bean sprouts, sliced bell pepper and carrots. Drizzle with more peanut sauce as desired.
Disclosure: Instant Pot has generously sent me one of their electric pressure cookers to use in this video. This post includes affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on one of these links, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support in making Leelalicious possible. I really appreciate it!
To avoid the squash becoming soggy, ensure it is not overcooked. Follow the Instant Pot method provided in the article, or if baking, be cautious about the cooking time to achieve the desired texture.
If the squash remains crunchy, it may not have been cooked for a sufficient amount of time. Ensure it is adequately tender before removing it from the heat source to achieve the desired spaghetti-like texture.
Bitterness in spaghetti squash can result from undercooking or from the presence of the seeds, which can impart a bitter taste. Ensure the squash is fully cooked and remove the seeds before preparing the dish to prevent bitterness.
Absolutely, the peanut sauce can be prepared in advance and stored in a sealed jar in the refrigerator. This allows for quick use in various recipes, such as dressings, dips, or to enhance other dishes like fresh spring rolls or Thai Buddha Bowls.
Certainly, the recipe is highly customizable. You can add sliced vegetables, chicken, tofu, or other protein options to create a more substantial meal. Experiment with different garnishes such as lime juice, cilantro, parsley, green onions, or chopped peanuts to enhance the flavors and textures according to your preferences.