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:
This post contains affiliate links.
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.
But again, this is not vegan. The vegan substitution here is soy sauce or Tamari (to make gluten free as well). Even Liquid Aminos can be substituted.
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!
What a great recipe! Super tasty and easy. We always cook our spaghetti squash in the slow cooker, which saves heating the whole house with roasting it in the oven and that worked out great with this recipe. We started eating it and my husband said "We need to buy more spaghetti squash so we can eat more of this!" Big hit. THanks for a great recipe.
So how many 1/8 c servings does the sauce recipe make? Making more than one squash so wonder how many batches of sauce I will need! Thanks!
If I remember correctly I used about 1/5 of the sauce (1/4 cup) per spaghetti squash. So that would make 10 1/8 cup servings.
Does the nutritional information include all the sauce and not just the 1/4 cup used?
Hi Sam, it's been a while since I calculated these so I just went back in the comments to find the reader who requested the nutrition information. In the reply I said that I based the calculation on on using 1 spaghetti squash and 1/4 cup sauce for 2 servings. The numbers are for 1 serving (1/2 squash + 1/8 cup sauce). Hope this helps.
I'm really excited to try this recipe! Just one thing I noticied...it says it is gluten free but soy sauce is not gluten free so in order to make it gluten free, you would just need to substitute tamari. I'm sure it will turn out delicious!
Yup, that's what the recipe says 😉
Would love to hear what you think when you try this recipe!
I made this on 11/2/15. This was fantastic! Easy to make and very tasty. My husband couldn't even tell it wasn't real noodles. Next time, I'll increase the curry paste - when I tasted, it seemed like enough, but after adding the squash, I feel it could use more (and I don't even like spicy). It seemed like a lot of sauce, but the "noodles" really soaked it up. I added chicken, broccoli, cilantro & lime juice and served it as dinner. I'm a professional cook, and this was the first time I've ever cooked spaghetti squash. I will absolutely make this again! Really a great dish!
Thank you so much Jessica! Your feedback as a professional cook means a lot to me 🙂
Nancy | Plus Ate Six
I'm always looking for new ideas for spaghetti squash besides garlic & parsley butter - nothing wrong with that all btw, but this is just delicious. Thank you!
Yay...happy to give new inspiration! Just read that you are in Shanghai. Can you get spaghetti squash there? I wish they had it in Thailand
Nancy | Plus Ate Six
I saw it for the first time last year and I couldn't believe it. I have no idea how the locals cook it but this year I'm going to find out.
Would love to see Chinese spaghetti squash recipes 😉
Can I sub red curry paste with yellow curry paste so that it is less spicy?
I am so sorry for the late reply Jenn, but yes, yellow curry paste should work just as well.
Just made this for dinner and it was a hit. My gal and I loved it. Thanks so much for the recipe!
So happy to hear both of you loved this 🙂
Hi.. I'm from the UK and can't find anywhere to purchase a spaghetti squash 🙁 Do you think replacing it with courgette spaghetti would work?
Oh no. No spaghetti squash in the UK? But I really don't see why courgette noodles wouldn't taste just as yummy in this recipe. I don't have experience making and preparing courgette spaghetti (here we call it zucchini noodles or zoodles). But from what I read they aren't really cooked. So if you just sautee them with the garlic and then the peanut butter sauce that would warm them up nicely.
Thank you 🙂 That's what we're having for dinner tonight! I'll let you know what it's like with the zoodles 😉
Awesome! Please let me know how it goes 🙂
What would you recommend serving this with? Thinking of entertaining 3-4 friends for a dinner and making this as the main dish
Hi Angelica, many people tell me they are adding a protein like chicken or shrimp to this dish. If you'd like to keep it vegetarian, you can add some Pad Thai style veggies, like bean sprouts, carrot sticks, green onion (maybe red bell pepper). Or some oven-roasted vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli...) on the side would be nice too.
What is spaghetti squash and how do you make it.
Hey Jenny, it is a variety of squash. You can see a picture here http://homeguides.sfgate.com/spaghetti-squash-planting-guide-21064.html
Usually available in the produce section in the winter months.
Cooking instructions are included in my recipe.
This looks awesome! Trying to eat healthier this year and excited to try this. Going no sugar though....do you think the sauce would still taste good with no sugar added?
Hey NJ, coconut milk has a natural sweetness to it. So especially if you are already used to no/low sugar eating I think you will still enjoy the sauce.
This looks incredible!! Going to make tonight with chicken in it for a bit of a protein kick! Is the calories here for both servings or is it for 1 serving?? I assumed for both since it says 2 servings but I wasn't sure and then that way I can see how much chicken I can have with it!!! Thanks so much :).
Hi Elle, sorry for the confusion. The nutrition facts are for 1 out of 2 servings in the recipe. If you are serving it as a side, there are more like 4 servings in the recipe. As a main, it serves about 2. I hope that helps?
would that be toasted sesame oil or plain?
Hey Marie, I wasn't aware that there are different kinds. My bottle simply states 100% sesame oil. But after a little research I realize mine must be toasted sesame oil. It is dark in color and has a strong flavor.
hi, I don't have sesame oil on hand. Any substitutes?
Hi Sutton, sesame oil has a very unique, strong flavor. But it doesn't do anything for the texture of the sauce. So you could just omit it or, if you happen to have tahini (sesame paste) that would give a similar flavor.
Sounds awesome! Do you have any idea on the nutrition information for this? I know it varies drastically depending on what is used but just curious.
Hi Kati, I tried to calculate the nutrition facts best as I could. See them at the bottom of the recipe box. Calculations are for 1 squash with about 1/5 of the sauce recipe. Numbers are based on 2 servings. Hope this helps, but definitely keep in mind that they are only approximations.
Very creative version of spaghetti squash. Loved it! And the peanut sauce is so very tasty. I saw your note about spring rolls in your future. My thoughts exactly.
Thank you so much Kathy! So happy you like the sauce. Not sure if you saw it, but I posted the fresh spring rolls I made and I even used spaghetti squash in them too 😉 http://leelalicious.com/6-ingredient-fresh-spring-rolls-with-spaghetti-squash/
I was wondering can I substitute red curry paste for something else or can I leave it out?
Hi Yasmin. The red curry paste is quite essential as it gives the sauce its Thai taste. Trying emulate it from scratch would require a lot of ingredients, some of which are hard to get by in North America. You could try a mix of curry powder and chili flakes for at least some sort of spicy curry flavor. But it will not be the same.
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So gooooooood! My husband and I loved this. Maybe a little too peanut butter-y but still good
Thank you Rachel! Maybe adding some protein (like chicken or shrimp) or some other vegetables will absorb some of the peanut flavor for you?