Squash is easy, delicious, and nutritious. Spaghetti and butternut squash are two of the most widely used winter squash types.
What is the difference between spaghetti squash and butternut squash? The most obvious difference is in the texture. Spaghetti squash, unlike any other squash variety, has a unique stringy texture once cooked. It is quite neutral in flavor. Butternut squash, on the other hand, has a creamy texture and a sweet nutty flavor. Both are used in making casseroles, soups, and salads. There are many cooking methods that can be used to prepare both butternut and spaghetti squash, including baking, roasting, and steaming.
We have broken down all aspects of spaghetti squash and butternut squash to show you what makes them different.
Spaghetti Squash and Butternut Squash – What Are They?
Spaghetti and butternut squash are both winter squash varieties. However, this doesn’t mean you can only find them in the wintertime. Luckily, they can be found almost all year round, from late summer till winter.
Being winter squash varieties spaghetti and butternut squash have a lot in common:
- Both take 3 months or more to mature.
- The skin and flesh are rather hard.
- They have fully matured seeds that need to be taken out before cooking. However, don’t toss them away. The seeds are also edible and contain nutrients. You do need to roast and season to taste.
What’s The Difference Between Spaghetti Squash and Butternut Squash?
Spaghetti and butternut squash are both winter squash varieties. And while they have a few similarities, there are many differences between the two.
Cooked or raw, spaghetti and butternut squash look rather different.
Butternut squash has a bell-like shape while the shape of the spaghetti squash is oval. Ripe butternut and spaghetti squash weigh 2 to 4 pounds.
Butternut squash colors range from yellow to tan. However, ripe butternut squash has a deep beige color. When cooked, butternut squash flesh gets a bright orange color.
Spaghetti squash is bright yellow. The flesh, however, is much paler.
Winter squash varieties are known to have a nutty flavor.
Butternut squash, among many other varieties, has a slightly sweet flavor with a hue of nuttiness. Thus, it makes a delicious dish on its own if you manage to season it well.
There are many spices that will enhance the flavor of a butternut squash dish. The spices and herbs that go well with it include cayenne pepper, cumin, black pepper, rosemary, oregano, basil, nutmeg, etc.
Spaghetti squash is unlike many of the winter squash varieties. It is slightly bland when it comes to the flavor.
However, we may as well call it neutral. You can infuse your own flavors into spaghetti squash with different sauces.
As spaghetti squash is often used as a pasta alternative, it pairs beautifully with meat, including lamb, pork, and chicken.
If you like to play it safe, add garlic and olive oil to whichever squash you are making. It will add an umami flavor to the squash and make it taste richer.
The texture of the spaghetti squash is very different from that of butternut squash.
The flesh becomes stringy which makes many healthy eaters substitute pasta and noodles with spaghetti squash which has way fewer calories.
Butternut squash, on the other hand, has a creamy texture. It is rather smooth which allows you to make a beautiful butternut squash puree.
Due to its creaminess, butternut squash works exceptionally well for ravioli fillings.
Both spaghetti and butternut squash have their benefits.
Depending on what fits better into your diet, you can choose between lower-calorie spaghetti squash and butternut squash that contains more fiber.
Either way, you will get lots of minerals and vitamins.
|100 grams||Spaghetti Squash||Butternut Squash|
|Total Fat||0.6 g||0%||0.1 g||0%|
|Carbohydrates||7 g||2%||12 g||4%|
|Sodium||17 mg||0%||4 mg||0%|
|Protein||0.6 g||1%||1 g||2%|
|Cholesterol||0 mg||0%||0 mg||0%|
|Potassium||108 mg||3%||352 mg||10%|
Preparation and Uses
Butternut and spaghetti squash are both versatile and easy. You don’t need to be an experienced cook to make something delicious out of them.
You can bake, roast, steam, and even microwave butternut and spaghetti squash.
The easiest way to cook spaghetti squash is in the oven. Cut it in half, remove the seeds, and put it in the oven with the cut sides facing the pan. Once cooked, take a fork and ‘scrape’ the flesh to get the spaghetti-like strands.
As for the butternut squash, you can either cook it by dividing in half or cutting into smaller pieces – cubes. If you want to roast the squash in cubes, make sure to peel it before cooking.
Butternut and spaghetti squash may be served as main or side dishes. You can use them in making soups, stews, casseroles, and salads.
As spaghetti and butternut squash are low in calories but high in nutritional value, they are also used in smoothies.
Picking A Butternut or Spaghetti Squash
When it comes to picking butternut and spaghetti squash, there are certain ‘rules’ that apply to both.
In both cases, you will need to look for a squash that is ripened to the perfect degree. Immature butternut and spaghetti squash are edible. However, you will not get the true taste of winter squash.
Overripe squash, on the other hand, is a waste of money. They are mushy inside and don’t have as rich of a flavor.
Here is what you should pay attention to when picking butternut or spaghetti squash.
- Look for a weighty one. A butternut or spaghetti squash should feel ‘right’ for its size. If the squash feels light, look for another one as it is probably not ripe yet.
- You can also use the knocking method. If you knock and hear a hollow sound, grab the squash. It’s ready.
- Look for the right color. Color is one of the key indicators of ripe winter squash.
- For butternut squash, the darker it is the better. The perfect color for butternut squash is dark beige.
- As for the spaghetti squash, a perfectly ripe spaghetti squash should have a bright yellow color.
- Check the skin. Closely examine the skin of butternut and spaghetti squash. There should be no indentations or cracks on the skin.
- Green spots or stripes on a squash indicate that it is not fully ripe.
- Another way of checking whether spaghetti or butternut squash is perfectly ripe, try to pierce it with your fingernail. If you can’t do it with ease, it indicates that the squash is not overripe.
- Pay attention to the stem. Never buy squash that has a missing stem as chances are high that it is rotten.
There are almost no differences in storing spaghetti and butternut squash. Here’s what you should do.
- Store them somewhere dry and cool. Humidity will make them go bad quickly.
- Don’t keep winter squash near fruits that produce ethylene gas while ripening. These include apples, bananas, figs, apricots, etc.
- Make sure the skin of butternut and spaghetti squash is dry. Water may contribute to fungi and bacteria growth.
If you store them correctly, butternut and spaghetti squash will keep well for up to three and two months respectively.
Can You Eat Spaghetti and Butternut Squash Raw?
Technically, you can eat spaghetti and butternut squash raw. However, it may not be what you expect it to.
Spaghetti squash gets its stringy texture only when it is cooked. And raw butternut squash is quite hard.
Butternut squash is used raw more often than a spaghetti squash is. Many people enjoy salads made with raw butternut squash.
When used raw, butternut squash is typically thinly sliced. A peeler may be used to get very thin slices of butternut squash. The slices are then marinated. The latter is an important step when you want to make a dish with raw butternut squash as marinating will tenderize it.
The marinating liquid may contain vinegar and citrus juices to effectively soften the squash.
Can You Use Spaghetti Squash Instead of Butternut Squash?
Being different in texture and taste, spaghetti squash and butternut squash are not quite interchangeable.
Butternut squash is smooth in texture. Hence, it can’t be used instead of the stringy spaghetti squash.
And when it comes to the flavor, butternut squash has a more distinct nutty taste as opposed to the neutral taste of spaghetti squash.
If you use butternut squash instead of spaghetti squash in a recipe where the latter is topped with a specific sauce, take into account the flavor factor. The nutty flavor of butternut may not complement your sauce or other ingredients of the dish you are making.
And if you want to substitute butternut with spaghetti squash, your dish may not turn out as good. As spaghetti squash is quite bland, it won’t add much to the dish.
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