This Spicy Spaghetti Squash Shrimp recipe will remind you of your favorite spicy tomato pasta dish! The easy homemade shrimp sauce is ready in 15 minutes and is spooned over freshly cooked strands of spaghetti squash for a slimmed down Italian-inspired comfort food meal. Easy for a weeknight dinner.
Pass on the heavy cream sauces and dive into to this zesty tomato sauce dish! The sauce is basically an arrabbiata sauce.
It's bursting with bright flavors, perfectly cooked plump shrimp and served on a nutritious pasta replacement (you'll never know you aren't eating actual pasta). It's a great low calorie, low carb alternative to pasta for a delicious dinner the whole family will love.
What makes this skinny?
- Shrimp is the protein in this recipe and they are a low calorie lean protein. Having easy shrimp recipes on hand is a great option when trying to eat lower calorie meals.
- Instead of pasta we use cooked spaghetti squash for both a healthier alternative and a lower calorie one. If you haven't made it before it's a very mild flavored squash and when cooked it's flesh releases into spaghetti-like strands when dragged with a fork. It's the size of angel hair pasta with an al dente texture. It has a mild flavor too. Try our Air Fryer Spaghetti Squash too!
- The sauce is a tomato sauce and perfect for a healthy dinner.
Recipe Ingredient Notes
Spaghetti Squash. This is a favorite winter squash to use as a pasta substitute! Choose a medium spaghetti squash without blemishes or soft spots on the outside. You'll love how much 'pasta' these squashes make!
Red pepper flakes. These give the tomato sauce a bit of perky heat! If you prefer not to have any spiciness you can either decrease the amount or omit all together.
Fresh basil. Minced fresh basil gives the sauce a wonderful Mediterranean flavor.
Sweet onion. We used these specifically to build on the flavor of the sauce.
Canned San Marzano tomatoes. These are a type of plum tomato and have a more dense tomato flavor than other varieties. They are typically used in tomato sauces like our Marinara Sauce and Roasted Marinara sauce.
Instead of fresh tomatoes we are using canned San Marzano tomatoes which are available any time of year.
Medium shrimp. You'll need one pound of medium size raw, peeled and deveined shrimp. They can have the tails on or not, your choice. If the tails are left on diners will need to remove them as they eat. Fresh or frozen and thawed shrimp can be used.
How to make Shrimp Spaghetti Squash
STEP 1. Preparation
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
STEP 2. Cook the spaghetti squash
While the oven preheats prepare the squash by cutting lengthwise and spooning out the seeds. Spritz the insides with olive oil spray and sprinkle with salt and pepper (photo 1). Place face down on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 35-40 minutes (photos 2-3).
STEP 3. Make the sauce
While the squash is cooking (start about 20 minutes before it's done), make the sauce.
In a non-stick large skillet heat the olive oil. Add the shrimp and season lightly with salt and pepper (photo 5). Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side and remove from the skillet.
The shrimp should just be turned white or pink and opaque but not be cooked all the way through. DO NOT OVERCOOK.
Add the onions to the skillet. Cook, stirring often, until the onions have begun to soften and become transluscent. Add the fresh garlic and cook 1 additional minute.
Add the red pepper flakes and tomatoes (photo 6). Stir and bring to a simmer, crushing the tomatoes with the back of a cooking spoon as they cook (photo 7). Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.
Stir in the basil and shrimp and allow the shrimp to warm through (photo 8). Salt and pepper to taste.
STEP 4. Shred the squash
Remove the cooked spaghetti squash from the oven. Run a fork through the squash release the squash strands (photo 4). Continue to release all the of the squash flesh and plate the spaghetti strands on four serving plates.
Divide the shrimp sauce evenly between the four servings.
Whole vs diced tomatoes. Either can be used. Use San Marzano tomatoes for the best flavor but if you prefer smaller pieces you can chop them before adding to the recipe. You'll crush them as they cook too.
Don't like it spicy? You can reduce or omit the red pepper flakes. If doing so taste the sauce for seasoning. Add a bit of Italian Seasoning to boost the flavor.
Want less garlic? Feel free to reduce the number of garlic cloves used.
Do not overcook the shrimp. Shrimp is very lean (which is one reason it's great for a skinny recipe) but that means it was quickly overcook. Shrimp generally, dependent on size, only need to cook a cuploe of minutes per side.
When overcooked it becomes dry and rubbery. You'll sauté it just until it has begun to turn opaque (you can't see through it any more) and white or pink (different shrimp will turn one of the two colors).
It will complete cooking when in the sauce. Shrimp is fully cooked when they are opaque and have turned color.
How to store
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. It can be reheated in the microwave. If possible store the spaghetti squash and sauce separately so when it's reheated the shrimp do not overcook.
Frequently Asked Questions
The dish has the best flavor made and eaten fresh but there is a time shortcut. Cooked spaghetti squash can be kept in an airtight container for 3-4 days in the refrigerator.
If you feel you'll be short on time you can prepare the squash before hand which is the longest lead-time part of the recipe. Make the sauce just before you want to serve and reheat the spaghetti squash so the entire dish is served warm.
If you want to freeze it we recommend freezing the cooked spaghetti squash and making the sauce fresh. To freeze the squash after cooking, release the strands with a fork as instructed. Allow it to cool. Place it in the colander with a plate underneath it and leave in the refrigerator overnight.
This will allow excess liquid to be released before freezing which helps the squash retain its texture (otherwise it can become mushy). Place it in a freezer bag and freeze for up to six months. Thaw in the refrigerator. Reheat and serve with the freshly made sauce.