Taco Stuffed Spaghetti Squash is what happens when you mix taco filling with spaghetti squash and top it with melty cheddar cheese. It’s a healthy, high-protein meal your entire family will love!
I love when spaghetti squash is in season. It’s such a versatile winter squash. It’s often used as a pasta replacement in low-carb and keto diets, but I’m a fan because its mild flavour pairs so well with pretty much any sauce or seasoning you can think of. And they’re fun because you can make spaghetti squash boats, like we’re doing with this recipe!
From a nutrition standpoint, spaghetti squash is high in fibre and a source of nutrients like vitamin C, beta carotene, manganese and vitamin B6. It’s definitely a healthy addition to your menu!
Here’s what you’ll need to make Taco Stuffed Spaghetti Squash. See the recipe card below for exact quantities and detailed instructions!
- Spaghetti squash – you’ll need two medium squash, 2-3 pounds each (mine were on the larger side…pick based on the size of your appetite!)
- Olive oil – for brushing onto the squash and for sautéing the turkey
- Southwest spices – the spice blend below is so flavourful and delicious, but to save time you could use a packet of taco seasoning. Packaged taco seasoning varies in salt content, so adjust the salt to taste once you’ve cooked the filling!
- Ground turkey – ground chicken or lean ground beef both work too!
- Green bell pepper – for colour, texture and nutrition
- Tomato purée – or crushed tomatoes or plain tomato sauce
- Grated cheddar cheese
- Garnishes – like sliced green onion, salsa, sour cream or Greek yogurt, diced avocado and shredded lettuce
Step one: Roast the squash
Preheat the oven to 400 °F and line a large sheet pan with parchment paper. Slice the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. If you have a grapefruit spoon, the serrated edge makes it a lot easier to get the seeds out!
Brush the cut sides of the squash with olive oil, then place face down on the baking sheet. Roast for 45 minutes, or until the squash strands are fork tender and pull away easily from the skin.
Step two: Remove squash from the rind
Once the squash is done roasting, carefully transfer each half to a large bowl and use a fork to scrape out the cooked strands. Place the empty squash skin face up on the baking sheet and set the cooked squash aside.
Step three: Make the southwest spice mix
In a small bowl, mix together the chili powder, cumin, oregano, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, sea salt and cayenne pepper (if using).
Step four: Make the filling
Heat a small amount of olive oil over medium heat in a large non-stick skillet. Add the ground turkey and sauté until mostly cooked, then add the bell pepper. Continue to sauté until the turkey is no longer pink and fully cooked through.
Sprinkle on the southwest spices and mix until the turkey is evenly coated. Pour in the tomato purée and mix.
Add the cooked spaghetti squash and mix until well combined.
Step 5: Stuff the squash and top with cheese
Evenly divide the filling among the empty squash skins on the baking sheet, top each of them with grated cheese and return them to the oven for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese is nicely melted. Serve immediately with your favourite garnishes.
Tips for Success
Pick nice, ripe spaghetti squash. See my tips below for picking the best squash. Squash that is not dark yellow tends to have a less pleasing texture and can be somewhat watery once it’s cooked.
Pick two squash that are similar in size. This will ensure they need similar cook times.
Use a large bowl when scraping out the squash. It can be a bit messy and awkward to scrape out the squash. It’s also super hot, so be careful. I like to place the squash halves (one at a time) in a large bowl and use two forks to scrape out the cooked squash – one to hold the squash in place and one to scoop.
Be efficient with time: start cooking the meat before the squash is done roasting. The turkey will take 7-8 minutes to cook through. I start prepping this part of the recipe 5-10 minutes before the squash will be done.
How to pick good spaghetti squash
Be sure to start this recipe with nice squash! Some qualities to look out for are:
- Dark yellow in colour – this means it’s ripe! You’ll often find squash that are super pale yellow or almost white at the store; I find these squash don’t have as nice a texture once cooked (they often turn out mushy).
- Dry rind that is free from punctures, cracks and soft spots – it’s fine if the squash rind isn’t perfectly free of blemishes (some occur naturally), but you don’t want it to be broken or bruised.
- A nice, dry stem – avoid choosing squash that are without a stem.
How to safely slice spaghetti squash
Spaghetti squash can be tricky to cut. Some tips to slice it safely are:
- Work on a steady surface. Be sure your cutting board won’t slip. You can use a damp dish cloth or towel underneath to prevent it from moving.
- Use a sharp knife. Dull knives can slip and cause accidents. Keep your knives sharp!
- Cut off a thin slice of each end (or at least the bottom, if you want to keep the stem for decoration). Once you slice off a small piece from the bottom, place the squash flat end down on the cutting board, standing tall, and cut through the squash lengthwise.
- Ask for help. If you’re having a really hard time and you have the option, ask for help! I regularly call in my husband. No shame 🙂
More easy dinner ideas
- Sun-dried Tomato Spaghetti Squash with Chicken
- Cheesy Chicken and Zucchini Casserole
- Stuffed Pepper Skillet
Taco Stuffed Spaghetti Squash
- 2 spaghetti squash (2-3 pounds each)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
For the spice mix
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
For the filling
- 1 lb ground turkey (beef or chicken work too)
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 1 cup tomato purée (or crushed tomatoes/plain tomato sauce)
- 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
- To garnish: sliced green onion, salsa, sour cream or Greek yogurt, diced avocado, shredded romaine lettuce
- Preheat the oven to 400 °F and line a large sheet pan with parchment paper for easier cleanup.
- Using a sharp knife, carefully slice each spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. I like to use a grapefruit spoon to make scooping the seeds out easier.
- Brush the cut side of each squash half with olive oil, then place them face down on the sheet pan. Roast for 45 minutes, or until the squash strands easily pull away from the rind with a fork.
- At the end of roasting, transfer the squash to a large bowl and use a fork to scrape the squash into strands (it's easiest to do one at a time). Place the empty rinds face up on the sheet pan like bowls. Set the cooked squash aside.
- Make the spice blend. In a small bowl, mix together the chili powder, cumin, oregano, smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, sea salt and cayenne pepper (if using). Set aside.
- Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Heat 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil, then add the ground turkey. Sauté until almost fully cooked through, then add the green pepper. Continue to cook until the turkey is fully cooked and no longer pink.
- Sprinkle in the spice mix and stir until the turkey is evenly covered, then stir in the tomato sauce. Add the reserved spaghetti squash and mix everything together until evenly distributed and warmed through.
- Evenly divide the mixture among the four spaghetti squash rinds and top each of them with grated cheese. Roast for another 10 minutes until the cheese is nicely melted.
- Serve immediately with your chosen garnishes. Store any leftovers in a sealed container in the refrigerator and eat within 4 days.
- See tips in the post for safely slicing spaghetti squash.
- A packet of taco seasoning can be used to replace the spice mix. Packaged seasoning varies in salt content, so taste the cooked filling before the final bake and add salt if needed.
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