These stuffed spaghetti squash boats are a hearty meal that’s perfect for fall and winter! It won’t weigh you down, and you get your protein and veggies at the same time. Spaghetti squash is stuffed with a savory filling of spicy Italian sausage, tomato sauce, veggies, and aromatics. This spaghetti squash recipe is also a great make-ahead meal that will keep in the refrigerator for several days. Just heat and serve!
While I absolutely love winter squash, spaghetti squash has always been relatively low on my excitement meter. It’s fine, but I think the reason I’ve never gotten too excited about it is because it’s always used as a pasta replacement in recipe.
It’s like zucchini noodles. My brain is not fooled and also doesn’t like attempts at deception. However, I’m 100% more enthusiastic after discovering baked spaghetti squash boats.
I’m basically plagiarizing myself here. Over the summer I created a recipe for stuffed zucchini squash boats, and this recipe is very similar. Aside from swapping summer squash for winter squash, the only other difference is that I swapped bread crumbs for tomato sauce.
While I have zero interest in pretending this is actual spaghetti, I wanted to create a slightly saucier filling that would cling to the squash strands.
Ingredients For Baked Spaghetti Squash Boats
- Spaghetti squash
- Olive oil
- Spicy Italian sausage
- Poblano peppers (bell peppers may be substituted)
- Mozzarella cheese
- Parmesan cheese
- Crushed tomatoes
How to Bake Spaghetti Squash Boats
I’ve included instructions in the recipe card below for how to save time by pre-cooking the squash in the microwave. This is optional, but can reduce the total cooking time by around 30 minutes.
Step 1: Bake Spaghetti Squash
To be honest, I don’t bother with the extra step. It’s more work, and so I prefer to make the whole process more brainless and let it bake for a bit longer.
The squash might look like it’s deflating toward the end of the baking process, but that’s fine (and a good visual sign that it’s ready).
Once you flip the squash over, you can’t even tell!
Step 2: Prepare Filling
While the squash is in the oven, prepare the filling. Remove the casing from spicy Italian sausage and cook in a skillet to render out some of the fat and make sure it’s fully cooked after baking. (I’m currently obsessed with the one from MeatCrafters, which I buy in bulk to save on shipping costs).
Since the sausage will be going back into the oven, it’s ok if it’s not 100% cooked through. However, that will mean you can’t test the filling to adjust the seasoning to taste before it goes back into the oven.
After removing from the skillet, set a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and let the sausage drain for a few minutes. I love fat, but I don’t want my spaghetti squash boats to be swimming in it. Discard the fat in the trash and not down your drain, since it can clog the pipes once it cools down and solidifies.
Stir all of the ingredients together in a bowl. If the sausage is fully cooked, you can taste the filling and adjust the seasoning as needed.
Step 3: Stuff Filling Into Squash
If you have a large ice cream scoop, this is a great way to quickly add the filling without making a mess. Sprinkle with additional mozzarella cheese.
Step 4: Bake Until Hot
Cook until the mozzarella is melted and the center is hot, 25-35 minutes. Then serve!
Recipe Notes and Substitutions
This stuffed spaghetti squash recipe is very flexible. Here are a few ways you can tweak the recipe:
- You can get a bit creative with the filling if you like, adding other vegetables you’re trying to use up. I think chopped mushrooms would be a great addition!
- I use yellow onions (they’re the best type of onion for all-purpose cooking), but most varieties should work fine here. Use what you have.
- I used a poblano pepper for subtle heat, but you can swap it out for a bell pepper of your choice (red, green, etc). If you can’t find poblano peppers, you can use bell peppers along with hot peppers like jalapeños or serranos.
- I haven’t tried this with other sausage varieties, but it’s hard to imagine this not being equally delicious with andouille or even chorizo (I’d use plain breadcrumbs with chorizo).
What Are Poblano Peppers and How Spicy Are They?
Poblano peppers are mild chili peppers that you may have encountered if you’ve ever ordered chiles rellenos from a Mexican restaurant. When dried, they’re referred to as ancho peppers.
The heat level of chili peppers is measured by something called the Scoville scale. Poblanos are very low on the scale, and provide a subtle heat that won’t burn your tongue. However, if you avoid spicy foods, you can swap them out in recipes for green bell peppers, which are at the very bottom of the scale.
More Fall Recipes
If you love this recipe, be sure to check out my Sweet and Spicy Roasted Pumpkin Seeds, Apple Crumble, and Vegetarian Chili.
You can also see my full archive of fall recipes here!
Italian Sausage Spaghetti Squash Boats
For the Squash
- 2 small or medium spaghetti squash (2 to 2 1/2 pounds)
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- kosher salt
- ground black pepper
For the Filling
- 8 ounces spicy Italian sausage, casing removed
- 1 cup yellow onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large or 2 medium poblano peppers, diced (bell pepper may be substituted)
- 1 tablespoon oregano, chopped
- 2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, plus more for topping
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
- 1 (14-5 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste
Prepare the Squash
- Place oven in center rack. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Optionally, to cut down on cooking time and make the squash easier to slice in half, you can pre-cook in the microwave. Use a fork or paring knife to poke a few holes around the skin to let steam escape, place in a microwave-safe dish, and microwave for 5 minutes. Carefully remove and let cool for a couple minutes.
- Slice the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Rub the cut sides with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the squash cut-side down on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment or foil (spray lightly with cooking spray to prevent sticking).
- Bake until the squash flesh is fork-tender and the skin gives a little when pressed. This will take 15-20 minutes if pre-cooked in the microwave, or 40-50 minutes if starting with raw squash. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
Prepare the Filling
- Set a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the sausage and cook, using a spatula to break up the meat into small pieces, until cooked through. (Notes: you can turn the heat up to medium once there’s fat in the pan. Will take around 5-6 minutes, or 10-12 with a nonstick skillet). Drain any excess fat through a fine mesh strainer and discard, then set aside to cool.
- In a medium-sized bowl, combine the sausage, poblano pepper, onion, garlic, oregano, parsley, mozzarella, parmesan, crushed tomatoes, salt and pepper.
- Stuff the filling into the spaghetti squash, gently packing it in as much as possible. Place back on the same sheet pan (you may need to replace the parchment or foil if a lot of liquid released from the squash). Bake for 25-35 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the filling is hot.
- Serve immediately. Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.
Please read my full post for additional recipe notes, tips, and serving suggestions!
For immediate help troubleshooting a recipe, please email me using the form on my contact page. I’ll try to respond to urgent questions as quickly as possible! For all general questions, please leave a comment here :)
Loving how simple and delicious this recipe is! Thanks!
Shadi Hasanzadenemati says
Can’t wait to try this recipe, I know my family will love it!
just finished eating your gorgous boats.
my very finicky fussy husband devoured his and declared it “sumptuous”.
easy directions – easy execution.
so satisfying, healthy and delicious.
(roasted the seeds and will have them for a snack).
thanks for another brilliant recipe, jenn.