Air Fryer Spaghetti Squash Parm

published Jan 7, 2023
Air Fryer Spaghetti Squash Parm Recipe

Warm, cheesy, perfectly al dente spaghetti squash made at turbo speed in the air fryer.

Serves2 as a side

Prep15 minutes to 20 minutes

Cook25 minutes to 35 minutes

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Overhead photo of half a spaghetti squash parmesan on a plate. Fork pulling out piece, melted cheese pull.
Credit: Photo: Andrew Bui; Food Styling: Rebecca Jurkevich

I’ve successfully cooked pretty much every veggie in my air fryer, from broccoli to potatoes. So the other day, as I was debating what to eat for lunch, I thought, why not try spaghetti squash? I drizzled the halves with oil, popped them in the basket cut-side up, then crossed my fingers and waited.

To my delight, the squash emerged with caramelized edges and perfectly al dente “spaghetti” — all in just 25 minutes. This is far faster than any other method we’ve tried (sans the microwave, which resulted in bland strands), and it’s one of the easiest. 

Credit: Photo: Andrew Bui; Food Styling: Rebecca Jurkevich

Armed with my newfound knowledge, I challenged my air fryer to a slightly more difficult task: spaghetti squash Parmesan. Instead of using my oven and the broiler, I stirred marinara sauce and cheese into the air-fried squash, topped the boats with breadcrumbs, then sent them back to the air fryer. A few minutes later, I was treated to comfort food perfection: the marinara was warm, the cheese had melted, and the breadcrumbs were golden-brown and crisp. It’s one of the most satisfying meals to ever come out of my air fryer. 

Treat yourself to these boats on a chilly winter day, either as dinner for yourself or a side dish for two. Or, if you have a larger air fryer, go ahead and cook multiple squash at once. You likely have all the ingredients on hand, and can prep them while the squash is cooking. Serve with meatballs or chicken to bulk up the protein, or with a simple side salad and garlic bread.

Credit: Photo: Andrew Bui; Food Styling: Rebecca Jurkevich

3 Tips for Cooking Spaghetti Squash in the Air Fryer

  1. Arrange cut-side up. Cooking the squash cut-side up allows the tops to brown and caramelize.
  2. Don’t crowd the air fryer. To ensure the squash cooks evenly, arrange the halves so they’re laying flat in a single layer. 
  3. Cook at 400°F. Cooking at high heat yields the best flavor and texture — and means the squash is done in a flash. 

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve cooked in your air fryer? Let me know in the comments! 

Air Fryer Spaghetti Squash Parm Recipe

Warm, cheesy, perfectly al dente spaghetti squash made at turbo speed in the air fryer.

Prep time 15 minutes to 20 minutes

Cook time 25 minutes to 35 minutes

Serves 2 as a side

Ingredients

  • 1

    small spaghetti squash (2 pounds)

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    olive oil, divided

  • 3/4 teaspoons

    kosher salt, divided

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 3 ounces

    whole milk, low-moisture mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 3/4 cup)

  • 1/2 ounce

    Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/4 cup), divided

  • 2 to 3

    small sprigs fresh basil

  • 2 tablespoons

    panko breadcrumbs

  • 1/2 cup

    marinara sauce, such as Rao's

  • Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat an air fryer (at least 5-quart capacity if using a basket-style fryer) to 400°F. Cut 1 small spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Brush the cut sides of the squash with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil and season with 1/2 teaspoon of the kosher salt and several grinds black pepper.

  2. Arrange the squash cut side up in the air fryer. Cook until the tops of the squash are beginning to brown, the shells have shriveled slightly, and a paring knife slides easily through the flesh, 20 to 25 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the toppings.

  3. Shred 3 ounces mozzarella cheese on the large holes of a box grater (about 3/4 cup) and grate 1/2 ounce Parmesan cheese on the smallest holes (1/4 cup). Pick the leaves from 2 to 3 small fresh basil sprigs and finely chop until you have 2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, plus chop a little extra for garnish.

  4. Place half the Parmesan in a small bowl. Add 2 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon olive oil, and a pinch of kosher salt and stir to combine.

  5. Using tongs, transfer the squash to a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, use a fork to shred the inside of each squash half, leaving the strands in the shell.

  6. Divide the following between the squash halves: 1/2 cup marinara sauce, mozzarella, remaining Parmesan, basil, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and a few grinds black pepper. Stir everything into the strands to combine, then sprinkle both halves with the panko mixture.

  7. Return the squash to the air fryer and cook at 400°F until the cheese is melted and the breadcrumbs are browned in spots, 5 to 7 minutes. Garnish with the reserved basil and serve hot.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The squash can be assembled without the panko topping, covered, and refrigerated for up to 1 day. When ready to finish, top with the panko topping and air fry at 400ºF, adding a few extra minutes to the air frying time.

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days.