This vegan spaghetti squash marinara is served with a homemade marinara from canned, frozen, or fresh tomatoes. This easy meal is a perfect dinner for fall or winter!
I tasted spaghetti squash for the first time just after graduating college.
My friend Julia was getting her graduate degree in nutrition, and one evening she made us a big bowl of spaghetti squash with pasta sauce.
I’d never seen spaghetti squash before, and was fascinated with the way the strands pulled apart. It really did look (a little bit) like spaghetti.
It was fascinating.
Years later, spaghetti squash has become a fall and winter staple in my home.
If you’re following along with my Instagram stories, you’ve probably seen me cooking or eating spaghetti squash.
Admittedly though, spaghetti squash with jarred pasta sauce eventually lost its charm. It was healthy, but I no longer found it as satisfying.
Recently, though, that all changed.
So, I tossed some spaghetti squash in homemade marinara. It was phenomenal.
This spaghetti squash marinara is an easy low-carb dinner (or side dish!), and is perfect for fall and winter.
How to Cook Spaghetti Squash
For this recipe, you can cook your squash however you prefer.
I generally roast spaghetti squash in the oven, because it helps the squash develop delicious, caramelized flavors.
If you prefer, you can also cook spaghetti squash in the Instant Pot.
Can I Use Canned Tomatoes For the Marinara?
Yes, you can!
Both canned garden tomatoes and store-bought tomatoes will work perfectly.
Frozen tomatoes also work perfectly here; just make sure to thaw them first.
What Type of Tomatoes Work Best for Marinara?
Ideally, use San Marzano tomatoes.
It’s usually easy to find store-bought canned San Marzano tomatoes.
The next best option is any other variety of Roma tomato.
However, juicy tomatoes will work too! Check the recipe card notes to adapt the recipe for juicy tomatoes.
How to Make Marinara Sauce
Start by adding oil and diced garlic to a large shallow pan. I used this Lodge 12″ carbon steel skillet.
Heat the oil until the garlic begins to sizzle, and then add the tomatoes and some water.
If you’ve got fresh basil, add a sprig of basil to the top of the tomatoes. Let the basil wilt from the steam, and then gently push it into the tomatoes.
If basil is out of season, stir in some dried oregano instead.
Simmer the tomatoes until most of the liquid has absorbed.
It should take about 20 to 25 minutes.
Spaghetti Squash Marinara
When the spaghetti squash is done cooking and the pasta sauce is thickened, you’re ready.
Scrape the squash out of the peel and into the marinara sauce.
Gently toss the squash into the sauce until combined.
Serve this spaghetti squash marinara along with some freshly grated Parmesan (or vegan Parmesan) and a slice of crusty buttered bread.
Spaghetti Squash Marinara
3 Days (Fridge)
- large heavy skillet (12-inch minimum)
- 3 pounds spaghetti squash
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- pinch sea salt
- 2 pounds fresh Roma tomatoes or 28oz canned whole San Marzano tomatoes Or use frozen Roma tomatoes (thaw before using). See recipe notes for other tomato varieties
- 1 cup water
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 7 garlic cloves, diced
- 1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
- ¼ teaspoon red chili flakes
- 1 sprig fresh basil, still on stem Or sub ¼ tsp dried oregano, plus more to taste
- Cook squash according to your desired preference.Oven Directions: Cut squash in half and remove the seeds. Drizzle with oil and a pinch of salt (if desired). Roast cut-side down on a baking sheet at 400°F for about 40 minutes, or until the squash is easily pierced with a fork.Pressure Cooker: Click here for Instant Pot directions.Allow squash to cool slightly. Use a fork to scrape the spaghetti squash out of the peel.
- Prepare the marinara sauce while the spaghetti squash cooks.For Fresh Tomatoes:Roughly dice tomatoes. Add to a large bowl with 1 cup water and set aside.For Canned Tomatoes:Add tomatoes to a large bowl, and crush with your hands. Add 1 cup water and set aside.
- Add the oil and garlic to a large, shallow pan. (Use a 12" pan or larger, see recipe notes.)Heat the garlic over medium-low heat, until it begins to sizzle.
- When the garlic is sizzling, but before it begins to toast, add the tomatoes and water. Some small pieces of garlic will likely begin to toast before you add the tomatoes, and that's okay.Increase the heat to medium.
- Add the salt and chili flakes. Set the sprig of basil on top of the tomatoes, but do not submerge it.If you don't have access to fresh basil, sprinkle oregano in the tomato mixture instead.
- When the tomatoes begin to simmer, the basil will wilt. When it is completely wilted, gently push it down into the sauce.
- Simmer the tomatoes for 15-20 minutes, or until most of the water has evaporated and the sauce has thickened.Taste the sauce, and add more chili flakes or salt if desired. If you swapped oregano for basil, add more oregano if desired. Simmer 1-2 more minutes if you added more seasoning.Remove the sprig of basil from the sauce.
- Add the spaghetti squash to the marinara. Gently toss the squash into the sauce, stirring to coat the squash strands.It's generally easier to add the strands from one half of the squash, toss them with the sauce, and then add the remaining squash.
- Serve the squash immediately.Leftovers can be refrigerated and used within 2-3 days. Reheat before serving.
- If desired, you can cut this recipe in half easily, but the sauce may cook more quickly.
- Another option is to cook the entire sauce recipe, and then store extra sauce in the fridge for up to 6 days or freeze it for up to a year.
Canned tomatoes are peeled and will yield a smoother sauce with less texture. If you’re using fresh tomatoes and want an extra-smooth marinara, you have two options. 1. Peel the tomatoes first. Use a knife to mark an X on each tomato, and then blanch them in boiling water until the tomato peel loosens (~15-30 seconds). Peel, and then proceed with the recipe. Crush tomatoes with your hands instead of dicing. 2. Blend the sauce. After cooking, add the sauce to a blender or use an immersion blender to blend the peels into the sauce. Varieties of tomatoes: San Marzano (as well as other Roma or paste-style) tomatoes are less juicy, and result in a thicker sauce. If using juicy tomatoes instead of Roma, core and seed the tomatoes. You may want to omit the added water (or add less water), depending on how juicy the tomatoes are.