If you've ever been disappointed by the texture and flavor of spaghetti squash, this Grilled Spaghetti Squash with Meat Sauce is for you. Tender squash noodles are gently charred on the grill and then topped topped with a rich tomato-based meat sauce for a satisfying and tasty meal.
I love winter squash. There are so many varieties and they're all unique. I appreciate how they store for a good long while and that there are limitless ways to cook them. They're one of my favorite vegetables to grow in the garden. (If my plants weren't always prone to bugs and disease, they'd be my favorite.)
But I have to admit that I've always been on the fence when it comes to spaghetti squash.
Spaghetti squash is one of those foods that is truly unsatisfying when not prepared just right. I've made several recipes and tried many techniques where the squash turns out bland or watery and it's a big disappointment. I don't know how many times I've attempted to create spaghetti noodles and ended up with sad squash shreds instead.
The good news is that I think I've finally figured it all out with this grilled spaghetti squash with meat sauce.
Here's why this recipe works so well:
- Grilling the squash adds a pleasant, lightly charred flavor while also preventing a mushy texture.
- Slicing the squash in rounds helps keep the squash's long noodle structure intact.
- Topping the squash with a meat sauce adds substance and creates a satisfying meal without the need for cooking side dishes.
Bonus: If you eat a gluten-free diet, then this recipe is a great meal for you.
Here's everything you need to make grilled spaghetti squash with meat sauce.
- Spaghetti squash - Look for firm, heavy, yellow squashes free of bruises. You'll need about five pounds worth to make this recipe, which is about two small or one medium-sized squash. Those are baby spaghetti squash in the photo, so I used a few.
- Ground meat - The meat sauce can be made with ground beef, turkey, chicken, or pork. Go with whatever you have or prefer to use.
- Rosemary - Seasoning the squash with freshly chopped rosemary makes the dish even better. If you don't have fresh rosemary, finely chopped dried rosemary is fine.
- Red wine - I always like to add a little wine to my sauces. But if that's not your thing, or wine isn't handy, feel free to leave it out.
See the recipe card below for a full list of ingredients and measurements.
🌶Substitutions and Variations
- Spaghetti Squash - While you can often use winter squash interchangeably in recipes, this is not one of them. The goal is to get that noodle texture that's unique to spaghetti squash. I don't know of another winter squash that could serve as a substitute.
- Herbs- In place of rosemary, you could try thyme or sage. Instead of dried oregano in the sauce, you can use a dried Italian spice blend.
- Spicy - Add some spice to the sauce by adding in ½ teaspoon of red pepper flakes when cooking the onions.
This is a good recipe to cook with a friend. One person can keep an eye on the squash out by the grill, while the other makes the sauce. Or if it's just you, and you have one of those side burners on your grill, you could make the sauce in a pan right there.
Another idea is to either cook the squash or make the sauce in advance so that you only have one task to worry about at a time.
Slice your spaghetti squash into ½-inch rounds.
Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds from the center of the slices. Preheat your grill.
Chop the onion. Mince the garlic and fresh rosemary.
Brush the squash with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and rosemary.
Grill the squash over a medium-low flame, for about 20 minutes or until tender but not too soft. Flip every 5 minutes to prevent burning.
Meanwhile, saute the onions for 8-10 minutes in olive oil until golden.
Add the meat, oregano, garlic, and salt. Break up the meat with a spoon and cook for 5 or minutes until browned.
Add the red wine, turn up the heat, and cook for 2 minutes.
Pour in the crushed tomatoes.
Gently simmer until reduced by about a third and the sauce has thickened.
Use a fork to separate the skins from the squash.
Gently break up the squash into noodles and serve topped with the meat sauce, cheese, and some torn basil leaves.
Hint: Don't overcook the spaghetti squash. Doing so will result in those mushy, watery noodles we were looking to avoid in the first place.
The whole goal of this recipe is to get those nice squash strands that remind us of spaghetti, hence the name. These squash strands grow in a circular pattern around the inside of the squash from the top to the bottom.
That's why it's so important to slice the squash in slices across or width-wise in order to keep the strands intact. Slicing the squash from top to bottom will essentially cut those noodles in half.
As the name of this recipe implies and the instructions will tell you, you need a grill to make grilled spaghetti squash. Either a gas or charcoal grill is fine.
That said, if you don't have a grill, you can use a grill pan instead. This is the grill pan and Dutch oven combo that I love from Misen.
And if you have neither a grill nor a grill pan, the next best way to prepare the spaghetti squash would be to roast the slices in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with a metal cooling rack. That way, air will circulate around the squash and not pool up underneath. Roast at 425 degrees F until tender.
For best quality, store the squash and sauce in separate airtight containers. Reheat before serving and topping with cheese and basil. Enjoy within 4-5 days.
The best way to prevent spaghetti squash from getting soggy is to avoid overcooking it. You want it to be tender, but not soft. Also, use a cooking method, like grilling, that uses dry heat, such as grilling or roasting.
Any meat will go well with spaghetti squash, as the squash itself doesn't have a prominent flavor. With spaghetti squash, it's all about the texture, how you season the squash, and how you cook it.
On its own, no spaghetti squash will not be filling. That's why it's a great ingredient to use as part of a larger meal, like how we pair it with a hearty meat sauce in this recipe.