My love for cheeseburgers goes way back to the days of little 5 year old me going out to dinner with my parents. If there wasn’t a cheeseburger on the kids menu, well then we might as well just go home because what kind of restaurant doesn’t serve cheeseburgers to kids? Obviously, I’ve ventured into new food territory over the years. But let’s be honest, you can’t go wrong with a good cheeseburger with all the yummy fixings.
I love cheeseburgers so much that I’ll take them in any form —cheeseburger casserole, soup, pasta, potato skins, I’m game. I figured it was time to find another creative and healthy way to enjoy a cheeseburger. So I turned to my favorite pasta substitute, spaghetti squash, to make these Cheeseburger Spaghetti Squash Boats.
When creating this recipe, I channeled my love for the classic cheeseburger from the golden arches. The essential players are here, including ground meat (I used turkey), onions, chopped pickles, and a tomato-based sauce that mimics the flavor of ketchup. The boats are topped with lettuce, fresh tomato, raw onion, and extra pickles. And once everything is mixed up together, there’s no denying it. These spaghetti squash boats taste just like a cheeseburger.
How to make Cheeseburger Spaghetti Squash Boats
- Cook the spaghetti squash: My favorite way to cook spaghetti squash is to roast it in the oven on a sheet pan. I like this method because you can “set it and forget it” while you prep the other components of the dish. Feel free to use your preferred method to cook the spaghetti squash. I’ve seen recipes online that use the microwave, Instant Pot, and slow cooker.
- Make the filling: While the squash is cooking, it’s time to prepare the ground meat filling. To begin, sauté onions, garlic, and ground turkey. Once it’s cooked through, you’ll add in the canned tomatoes, sauce, and paste. This may seem like a lot of tomato-based ingredients, but I found the combination of all three provided the best ketchup-like flavor. Plus, the diced tomatoes bulk up the filling. Chopped pickles also come into play in this step. In my opinion, the pickles are an essential part of this whole recipe because it that nostalgic cheeseburger flavor. However, if pickles aren’t your thing, feel free to skip them!
- Bring it all together: Once the spaghetti squash is cooled, you can use a fork to pull the strands away from the sides of the boat to create a big pile in the middle. The cheeseburger filling mixture goes over the cooked spaghetti squash with a helping of shredded cheddar cheese to be melted on top. Once out of the oven, top the melted cheesy boats with your favorite cheeseburger toppings.
Toppings for your Cheeseburger Spaghetti Squash Boats
The toppings for this recipe deserve their very own section because there are so options for making these boats taste like your ultimate dream cheeseburger. Like I said, I stuck with the classics —tomato, lettuce, onion, and extra pickles—but you are more than welcome to skip these and add your own. Bacon? Avocado? Caramelized onions? Oh man, my mouth is watering. Also worth noting is the fact that I gave these boats a quick squeeze of ketchup and mustard at the very end right before eating and I don’t regret it one bit. If you like ketchup and mustard on your regular cheeseburgers, I highly recommend adding a little bit onto these boats despite how weird it may seem and look.
If you like a good classic cheeseburger like me, I invite you to try them in spaghetti squash boat form. The spaghetti squash makes these boats so filling and healthy. Plus, this is definitely a meal easy enough for those busy weeknights! Talk about a win-win situation!Print
All the cheeseburger flavor and fixings packed inside a healthy spaghetti squash boat. These boats are so incredibly filling and super easy to make!
- 2 medium spaghetti squashes
- 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- Dash of salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 pound ground turkey (or beef)
- 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes
- 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1/2 cup finely chopped pickles
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- Chopped fresh tomatoes
- Shredded lettuce
- Chopped onion
- More chopped pickles
- Cook the squash: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut each spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds. Rub olive oil over each half and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the squash halves flesh-side down a baking sheet and roast for 25-35 minutes until al dente. Let the squash cool. Once cooled, scrape the spaghetti squash from the sides, leaving a pile of loose strands in the middle of each boat.
- Brown the meat: While the squash is cooking, prepare the cheeseburger filling. Add the olive oil to an extra large pan over medium heat. Once heated, add in the onions and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Sauté the onions until soft and translucent. Add in the garlic and cook another minute. Add in the ground turkey and cook until browned. Stir in the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, and pickles. Evenly divide the cheeseburger filling among all 4 halves. Top each boat with 1/4 cup cheese. Return the boats to the oven for 5-10 minutes until the cheese is melted.
- Top the boats: Once out of the oven top with fresh tomatoes, shredded lettuce, chopped onion, and more chopped pickles if desired.
Cooking times for the squash will vary based on the size of your squash. I recommend checking the squash at the 25 minute mark. If the strands are still quite firm, put back in the oven for an additional 5-10 minutes. You want the strands to easily pull away from the sides, but they shouldn’t be mushy.