Baked Pesto Chicken Spaghetti Squash
Comfort meets nourishment with this cheesy Baked Pesto Chicken Spaghetti Squash recipe. Tender roasted spaghetti squash is mixed with shredded chicken, mozzarella AND parmesan cheese, and basil pesto to create a comforting, flavourful, and healthy dinner all in one. A high-fibre and high-protein meal!
I’m a firm believer that it’s possible to create delicious, comforting meals that are also healthy and nutrient-dense, too. This Chicken Pesto Spaghetti Squash is the perfect example.
We’ve got nutrient-rich (and naturally gluten-free!) spaghetti squash that combines with a cheesy pesto chicken mixture to create a balanced and healthy dinner that feels like comfort food.
What is Spaghetti Squash Anyways?
Spaghetti squash, also known as Cucurbita pepo, is a unique and nutritious vegetable that has been gaining popularity in recent years as some use it as an alternative to pasta. This is because when roasted in the oven, the tender flesh easily separates into strands with a fork.
These tender “noodles” can then be used as a base for a variety of dishes, like this stuffed Chicken Pesto Spaghetti Squash!
Spaghetti squash is classified as a winter squash, which refers to a category of squash that is harvested and eaten in the fall and winter months. When harvested in the late summer or early fall, spaghetti squash can be stored and enjoyed throughout the winter months due to its long shelf life.
Pesto Chicken Spaghetti Squash Nutrition Benefits:
As a Registered Dietitian, I’m proud to say that this recipe is not only delicious, it’s nutritious too! Here’s how the main ingredients support your health:
- Squash: Another standout feature of spaghetti squash is its nutrition profile. Its rich in vitamins A and C, as well as essential minerals like potassium and manganese. Moreover, its high fibre content promotes digestive health, aids in weight management, and helps stabilize blood sugar levels
- Chicken: To create a balanced meal, we want to ensure we have enough protein. This is where the chicken comes in. It’s a great source of lean protein – which helps keep you full – in addition to being high in important nutrients like iron and zinc.
- Pesto: Not just for flavour, the pesto in this recipe is rich in monounsaturated fats (a type of healthy fat). These support heart health and healthy cholesterol levels.
What You Need to Make It:
- Spaghetti squash: For four servings, I use two medium-sized squash.
- Shredded chicken: You can make it on your own, or pre-made or store-bought shredded chicken.
- Basil pesto: Same goes for the pesto. Make my 5-Minute Homemade Pesto or a jar of the store-bought stuff.
- Cheese: I use two types of cheese: mozzarella and parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano). You can just use one or the other if you prefer.
- Red pepper flakes: Adds the slightest bit of heat, but I promise this recipe isn’t at all spicy!
- Olive oil: For baking the spaghetti squash.
- Salt & pepper: Also for baking the spaghetti squash.
Making Baked Pesto Chicken Spaghetti Squash:
How to Roast Spaghetti Squash in the Oven:
How to Make the Pesto Chicken Spaghetti Squash Mixture:
Putting It All Together:
Recipe Tips & Tricks:
To save time: Prep the spaghetti squash ahead of time! You can bake the squash in the oven the day before and store it in the fridge. When you’re ready, scrape it down, mix with the pesto chicken, and reheat for 5 minutes at 400F. You can also use pre-shredded cheeses to cut the prep time down!
Making the shredded chicken: You can do this a variety of ways. I like making Instant Pot shredded chicken, but you can also shred baked chicken with a fork. Or, use pre-made/store-bought shredded chicken!
For the basil pesto: I tend to favour my 5-Minute Homemade Pesto recipe, but you can of course use store-bought basil pesto in a pinch.
You can either store leftovers in the spaghetti squash halves by wrapping them in cling wrap and placing in the fridge. Or, you can scoop the mixture out of the squash halves, transfer to an airtight container, and store in the fridge.
Leftovers will keep for 3 days in the fridge. Reheat before serving!
Connect with Hannah Magee, RD!
I hope you love this recipe as much as I do. If you try it, let me know what you think by leaving a rating and a review in the comments below.
Oh, and be sure to take a photo and tag me at @hannahmagee_rd so I can re-share on my stories!
Baked Pesto Chicken Spaghetti Squash
- 2 medium spaghetti squash
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 3 cups shredded chicken
- 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, grated, plus some for topping
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
- 3/4 cup basil pesto
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- Preheat oven to 400F. Cut each spaghetti squash in half and use a spoon to scrape out the loose guts and seeds.
- Drizzle each spaghetti squash half with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.Turn the halves cut-side down on the baking sheet and bake in the oven for 45 minutes until the squash can easily be scraped with a fork.
- Meanwhile, prepare the pesto chicken mixture. To a large mixing bowl, add shredded chicken, mozzarella, parmesan, basil pesto, and red pepper flakes.
- Stir the mixture together until well-combined. Set aside.
- When the spaghetti squash is done, remove from the oven and scrape down the insides of each half (it will be stringy like spaghetti).
- Add the scraped squash to the pesto chicken mixture and combine.
- Divide the pesto chicken spaghetti squash mixture into each of the squash halves, sprinkle with more mozzarella (or parmesan) cheese, and return to the oven for 5 minutes to melt the cheese.
- Remove squash halves from the oven and garnish with red pepper flakes, black pepper, and basil leaves (optional) before serving.