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Is butternut squash and spaghetti squash the same thing?

Butternut squash and spaghetti squash are two types of winter squash that look similar but have some key differences. While they belong to the same plant species Cucurbita moschata, they are actually different cultivars that have their own unique tastes, textures, and uses.

What is Butternut Squash?

Butternut squash is a type of winter squash that has a sweet, nutty taste similar to pumpkin. It has tan, beige skin and orange flesh. Butternut squashes are oblong or pear-shaped with a bulbous bottom and a long, curved neck. They typically range from 2 to 5 pounds.

The flesh of butternut squash is creamy and smooth when cooked. It can vary from solid bright orange to a pale yellow. The seeds and stringy fibers are edible but often scooped out before cooking.

Butternut squash is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals. Some of the key nutrients in 1 cup of cooked butternut squash include:

  • Calories – 82
  • Carbs – 21 grams
  • Fiber – 3 grams
  • Protein – 1 gram
  • Vitamin A – 457% DV
  • Vitamin C – 52% DV
  • Potassium – 582 mg
  • Magnesium – 52 mg
  • Manganese – 12% DV

The natural sweetness of butternut squash makes it a perfect low calorie substitute for higher sugar foods. The soft, smooth texture also makes it easy to puree for soups, dips, and sauces.

What is Spaghetti Squash?

Spaghetti squash is a type of winter squash that, when cooked, separates into spaghetti-like strings. It got the name “spaghetti squash” because its flesh pulls apart into strands reminiscent of spaghetti noodles.

Spaghetti squash has a pale tan or yellow exterior. The inside flesh is solid yellow or orange. Spaghetti squashes are typically oblong or oval shaped and about 6 to 9 inches long. They range from 2 to 5 pounds.

When cooked, the stringy flesh and seeds of spaghetti squash can be easily scooped out with a fork. The strands have a very mild flavor and are often paired with sauces. They can be served as a lower carb substitute for pasta.

Some of the main nutrients in 1 cup of cooked spaghetti squash strands include:

  • Calories – 42
  • Carbs – 10 grams
  • Fiber – 2 grams
  • Protein – 1 gram
  • Vitamin A – 15% DV
  • Vitamin C – 33% DV
  • Manganese – 8% DV
  • Potassium – 448mg

Spaghetti squash is an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and manganese. It’s low in calories and carbs compared to pasta, making it a smart substitute for those looking to cut carbs or calories.

Differences Between Butternut Squash and Spaghetti Squash

While both belong to the winter squash family, there are some key differences between butternut squash and spaghetti squash:

Appearance

Butternut squash has tan, beige skin and a distinctive pear shape with a rounded bottom and long neck. Spaghetti squash has pale yellow skin and an oblong or oval shape.

Flesh Texture

When cooked, butternut squash has a smooth, creamy flesh. Spaghetti squash has a stringy flesh that separates into spaghetti-like strands.

Flavor

Butternut squash has a sweet, nutty flavor. Spaghetti squash has a very mild flavor.

Uses

The soft texture of butternut squash makes it ideal for pureeing into soups and sauces. It can also be roasted and mashed as a side dish. Spaghetti squash strands can be used as a pasta substitute or tossed with sauces.

Nutrition

Nutrient Butternut Squash (1 cup) Spaghetti Squash (1 cup)
Calories 82 42
Carbs 21g 10g
Fiber 3g 2g
Protein 1g 1g
Vitamin A 457% DV 15% DV
Vitamin C 52% DV 33% DV
Potassium 582mg 448mg

While both are great sources of vitamins and minerals, butternut squash contains more vitamin A, potassium, and calories compared to spaghetti squash.

Can You Substitute Butternut Squash for Spaghetti Squash?

Butternut squash and spaghetti squash both belong to the winter squash family and have some similarities. However, they differ quite a bit in texture and best uses.

While you can use butternut squash as a substitute for spaghetti squash in some recipes, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Butternut squash has a smooth, creamy texture when cooked, unlike the stringy flesh of spaghetti squash. Any recipe calling for spaghetti squash strands won’t work as well with cubed butternut squash.
  • Recipes that use spaghetti squash for its mild flavor and low carb/low calorie pasta substitute qualities may taste too sweet with butternut squash swapped in.
  • Butternut squash puree can be used in place of spaghetti squash strands in some recipes like casseroles or stir fries. Extra liquid may need to be reduced to account for the thicker puree.
  • Roasting cubed butternut squash instead of spaghetti squash will change the look and mouthfeel of the dish.

In most cases, butternut squash and spaghetti squash cannot be used interchangeably in recipes due to differences in textures. However, in some recipes focused on flavor like soups or stews, substituting butternut squash may work. Adjustments to cooking times and liquid may be needed.

Can You Substitute Spaghetti Squash for Butternut Squash?

Spaghetti squash makes for a poor substitute for butternut squash in most recipes. Reasons why spaghetti squash won’t work well swapped for butternut squash include:

  • Spaghetti squash turns stringy when cooked instead of soft and creamy like butternut squash.
  • Spaghetti squash is much milder in flavor compared to the sweet, nutty butternut squash.
  • Spaghetti squash contains far fewer nutrients like vitamin A and potassium than butternut squash.
  • Spaghetti squash may turn into a stringy, watery mess if used in recipes calling for butternut squash puree.
  • Any recipes where butternut squash is mashed or pureed will not work with spaghetti squash strands.

The significant differences in texture and flavor between the two squash varieties make spaghetti squash an unsuitable substitute in any recipes calling for butternut squash. Dishes like butternut squash soup, ravioli filling, or gratin simply won’t turn out properly made with spaghetti squash instead.

How to Cook Butternut Squash and Spaghetti Squash

Both types of winter squash require cooking to soften their tough shells and bring out the best flavors and textures. Here is an overview of how to cook butternut squash vs. spaghetti squash:

Butternut Squash

To prepare butternut squash:

  1. Cut in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds.
  2. Place cut sides down on a baking sheet.
  3. Roast at 400°F for 45-60 minutes until tender when pierced.
  4. Scoop out flesh and mash or puree as desired.

Butternut squash can also be simmered on the stove until soft, then mashed or pureed.

Spaghetti Squash

To prepare spaghetti squash:

  1. Halve squash lengthwise and scoop out seeds.
  2. Place cut sides down in a dish with 1/2 inch water.
  3. Microwave 8-10 minutes until tender.
  4. Use a fork to scrape out spaghetti-like strands.

Spaghetti squash can also be roasted cut side up at 400°F for 50-60 minutes then strands pulled apart with a fork.

Popular Ways to Use Butternut Squash and Spaghetti Squash

Here are some of the most popular ways to use butternut squash and spaghetti squash:

Butternut Squash

  • Butternut squash soup – Puree roasted butternut squash into creamy soups.
  • Butternut squash ravioli – Use pureed roasted butternut squash as a filling for homemade or store-bought pasta.
  • Butternut squash lasagna – Layer lasagna with butternut squash slices or puree.
  • Mashed butternut squash – Mash up roasted butternut squash as a Thanksgiving side dish.
  • Butternut squash cubes – Toss cubed roasted butternut squash into salads, bowls, or casseroles.
  • Butternut squash risotto – Puree butternut squash into risotto for added creaminess.

Spaghetti Squash

  • Spaghetti squash with meat sauce – Top cooked spaghetti squash strands with your favorite meat or tomato sauce.
  • Spaghetti squash Casserole – Combine cooked spaghetti squash with cheese, tomatoes, meat and bake.
  • Spaghetti squash fried “rice” – Sauté spaghetti squash strands with eggs, veggies and soy sauce.
  • Spaghetti squash chicken alfredo – Toss spaghetti squash with chicken and alfredo sauce.
  • Spaghetti squash boats – Load roasted squash halves with fillings like meatballs or veggies.

Key Takeaways

While butternut squash and spaghetti squash look quite similar on the outside, they have distinct differences when it comes to texture, taste, nutrients, and culinary uses. Butternut squash has a smooth, creamy flesh with a sweet flavor that lends itself well to pureeing. Spaghetti squash has a mild taste and stringy flesh that mimics spaghetti noodles. Both can add great nutritional value to a variety of dishes, but they cannot be used interchangeably in recipes.