These Chicken Spaghetti Squash Boats are a delicious, low-carb spin on traditional piccata recipes. Featuring silky strands of spaghetti squash with lean, juicy chicken breasts, briny capers, umami parmesan cheese, and brightly acidic lemon tossed in a light piccata sauce, this is a keto-friendly spaghetti squash with chicken dinner EVERYONE will love!
Featured comment: This is SO good. I’ve probably made this recipe 10 times so far, it’s a staple in my house for sure.” – Jessica
Update: This article was originally published in February 2015. I made updates to the post below to include more information about squash boats. Plus, there’s now a step-by-step recipe video tutorial showing you exactly how easy this chicken spaghetti squash recipe is to make at home!
With a New Year on the horizon, it seemed like a great time to roll out a healthier recipe.
(I say healthier because there is some butter and wine in this dish. However, there’s also an abundance of spaghetti squash, and we all know a surplus of veggies negates butter, right?) These delightful Italian-inspired chicken spaghetti squash boats are my new obsession.
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About this chicken spaghetti squash recipe
My family adores chicken piccata, especially my mother. Butter, wine, and lemon… it is very hard to go wrong with that combination of flavors. Honestly, what’s not to love? While I deeply appreciate the classic preparation of thinly pounded chicken cutlets, dredged in flour and pan fried, I wanted to put a playful spin on the traditional dish. Because that is just what I do best.🤷♀️🤓
Enter this little chicken-stuffed spaghetti squash number. It is significantly lighter than the original, but full of the classic picatta flavor we all crave. Here’s the flavor rundown:
Diced chicken breast is coated with flour and pan fried for a texture that is crispy on the outside while remaining tender and juicy on the inside.
Then, the chicken gets tossed in a light and fresh-tasting piccata sauce that boasts mild notes of garlic and shallot, well-balanced acidity and zest from the freshly squeezed lemon and smooth, deep flavor from the white wine. (Seriously. This sauce is so wickedly delicious you could literally pour yourself a glass of this sauce and guzzle it up.) All that yummylicious jazz is served piled high atop spaghetti squash boats.
The chicken stuffed spaghetti squash then gets topped with salty capers, a touch of freshly shaved melty parmesan, lemony parsley leaves for an earthy, farm-fresh appeal that just so happens to be low-carb, keto-friendly, and perfect for keeping you on track with your healthy New Year’s resolutions.
Why you’ll love this chicken and veggie dinner
This recipe for spaghetti squash and chicken is:
- Quick & Easy – You only need to spend 10 minutes of active prep time in the kitchen, making it the perfect mid-week meal.
- Wholesome & Nutritious – Swapping in spaghetti squash for the traditional pasta saves you tons of carbs and calories over the original. Plus, all the ingredients are easy-to-find, easy-to-pronounce whole foods that you can feel good about.
- Light & Filling – Don’t let the fact that this stuffed spaghetti squash with chicken is less rich than the original trick you into thinking it’ll leave you wanting more. One serving might only have about 350 calories, but it’s more than enough to fill me up and keep me fueled until breakfast.
Ingredients for spaghetti squash boats
This chicken spaghetti squash recipe requires only simple, easy-to-find ingredients like:
- Spaghetti Squash – These cheerful, pale yellow, oval-shaped orbs are one of my favorites during the colder months.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Just your typical cooking oil is perfect.
- Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts – Traditional chicken picatta is made using boneless, skinless chicken breasts.
- Substitution: You’re welcome to swap in boneless, skinless chicken thighs if you prefer, but the nutrition facts will change if you opt for dark meat.
- All-Purpose Flour – For creating a gorgeously golden exterior on your chicken, plus leaving some fond in the pan to thicken up your picatta sauce.
- Substitutions: Feel free to swap in cake flour or bread flour if that’s what you have on hand. You can also use your favorite cup-for-cup gluten-free all-purpose flour blend, cornstarch, or potato starch to keep your spaghetti squash boats wheat-free.
- Kosher Salt & Pepper – For seasoning.
- Butter – For added richness and a luxurious mouthfeel.
- Substitution: You’re also welcome to use your favorite vegan butter if needed.
- Shallot – For a subtle onion flavor.
- Substitutions: Feel free to use yellow or sweet onions here instead.
- Garlic – For even more allium goodness.
- Substitution: While fresh garlic is preferred, you’re welcome to swap in minced and jarred or frozen garlic or use garlic powder if needed.
- Dry White Wine – I used Chardonnay, but any dry white wine will do!
- Substitutions: If you’re a booze-free household, feel free to swap in more chicken stock and add a splash of apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar to replace some of the acidity of the wine.
- Chicken Stock – Homemade or store-bought is perfectly fine!
- Substitution: Chicken and vegetable broth are great, too.
- Lemon Juice – Bottled lemon juice can’t hold a candle to the flavor of fresh citrus. Using fresh lemons also means you’ll have some pretty garnishes at the ready!
- Brined Capers – Drain them from the brine before adding to the recipe or you’ll risk it being too salty.
- Substitution: In a pinch, you can use chopped green olives instead.
- Fresh Parsley – For color, fresh herbaceousness, and even more lemony flavor.
While my family loves this spaghetti squash recipe with chicken as written, there are plenty of opportunities for you to customize it to your particular dietary needs and preferences. Here are a few variations to consider:
- Gluten-Free – Swap in your favorite GF flour blend, cornstarch, or potato starch for the wheat flour to make these chicken boats completely celiac-friendly.
- Dairy-Free – Opt for a dairy-free butter alternative.
- Vegetarian – Swap in veggie broth and your favorite chicken alternative (e.g. rehydrated soy curls or pressed, firm tofu) for the chicken.
- Vegan – Follow both the dairy-free and vegetarian instructions above to make vegan squash boats.
- Veggie-Filled – Feel free to saute your favorite veggies and add them to your chicken boats. Spinach, tomatoes, and mushrooms are all delicious additions.
FAQs: spaghetti squash with chicken
How do I choose a good spaghetti squash?
Choosing a good spaghetti squash is similar to choosing any other pumpkin, squash, or watermelon — look for one that is heavy for its size, has smooth, taut, and slightly dull skin, even coloring, and no breaches in the skin.
Can I freeze cooked spaghetti squash?
Sure! Scrape it into strands, then let it cool entirely before placing in a zip-top freezer bag with as much air removed as possible. It should keep well for up to 3 months.
Is spaghetti squash healthier than pasta?
“Healthy” is one of those loaded words that means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Since I’m not a registered nutrition professional, I don’t feel at liberty to declare something “healthy” or “not healthy.”
That said, spaghetti squash is higher in fiber, lower in calories, and lower in carbs than regular pasta, so its something that I personally consider a healthy swap.
What is chicken piccata?
Chicken piccata, pronounced peek-KAH-tah, is a popular Italian dish consisting of tenderized chicken breast dredged in flour, browned and served with a luscious sauce made up of butter, lemon juice and white wine or chicken sauce.
How to thicken chicken piccata sauce?
Piccata sauce is traditionally made with a base of pan drippings, fat (butter) and thickened with flour to create a roux.
To keep this chicken piccata on the healthier side, the recipe cuts down the amount of butter and flour significantly. The sauce for this healthy chicken piccata is instead thickened with just the pan drippings to create a sauce that is silky and smooth minus the excessive calories.
Serving spaghetti squash and chicken
This skinny chicken piccata spaghetti squash boat recipe is a complete, nutritious meal all wrapped up in an adorable package.
However, if you are looking to amp up the veggies, a simple side salad, roasted broccoli, green beans, asparagus, or an Italian vegetable medley would make a delicious side dish for this chicken squash boat.
Storing chicken spaghetti squash
- These chicken and spaghetti squash boats are best when you serve them fresh, but they can also be meal-prepped if you prefer.
- Once cooked, they’ll keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- To reheat, I recommend using an oven or toaster oven set to 250-degrees Fahrenheit for about 25-30 minutes, or until warm throughout. Alternatively, you can use the microwave to reheat your squash and chicken if you prefer.
That’s it for today, my little chickadees! Buoy am I excited for you to try these chicken spaghetti squash boats. If you do, please let me know what you think by rating and reviewing the recipe below, leaving a comment, and/or tagging me in your social media posts. Until next time, best of cluck keeping up with your New Year’s resolutions!
Ps, if you love stuffed squash, try this recipe for stuffed acorn squash next!
More chicken and vegetable dinners!
- Chicken Fajita Casserole
- Creamy Florentine Chicken
- Mexican Chicken Casserole
- Chinese Chicken with Stir Fry Vegetables
- Chicken and Broccoli Rice recipe
More spaghetti squash recipes!
- Spaghetti Squash Bake
- Cold Spaghetti Squash Salad
- Spaghetti Squash alla Vodka
- Chicken Curry Spaghetti Squash
How to make healthy chicken piccata at home plus step-by-step recipe video👇
Spaghetti Squash Boats with Chicken
- 1 baking sheet (for roasting halves of spaghetti squash)
- 1 Mixing Bowl or Resealable Bag (for coating chicken pieces)
- 1 large skillet (for cooking chicken)
Spaghetti Squash with Chicken:
- 4 TBS Butter - DIVIDED
- 1 large Shallot - finely diced
- 2 clove Garlic – minced
- ¾ Cup Chardonnay (substitute: your favorite dry white wine)
- ¾ Cup Chicken Stock (substitute: chicken broth)
- 2 TBS Fresh Lemon Juice (from 1/2 large lemon)
- 4 scant TBS Brined Capers - drained (plus more for garnish, optional)
- 3 TBS Fresh Flat-Leaf Parsley – roughly chopped
- Optional Garnishes: Sliced Lemons, Grated Parmesan Cheese, Parsley
- Roast the Spaghetti Squash: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper for easy clean up. Drizzle, or use a pastry brush to apply, 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil to the flesh (insides) of the spaghetti squash. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Transfer squash to prepared baking sheet, cut side down. Roast in the oven until easily pierced with a fork and cook through, about 45 minutes. Slightly cool, then scrape: Set aside until cool enough to handle. Use a fork to scrape strands from the skin of spaghetti squash. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, season the Chicken: Add cubed chicken, flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper to a large resealable bag or mixing bowl. Shake, or toss, to evenly coat the chicken in the flour mixture..
- Then, cook the chicken in batches: Place a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When oil is warmed, use tongs to remove flour coated chicken from bag, shaking off excess flour, and add to sauté pan, in batches if necessary. Cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and cooked throughout, about 5-8 minutes (depending how big you diced your chicken). Remove chicken to a plate and set aside.(Note: Do NOT over crowd the pan. Add 2 tablespoons of oil to pan for each batch of chicken).
- Make the sauce: Return the skillet to stove, and reduce heat to medium. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the shallot and sauté, stirring often, until softened and light golden in color, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the garlic along with the measures salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.Deglaze sauce: Add the wine to deglaze the pan, increase heat to medium high and use a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Simmer the sauce until reduced by about half, around 4-5 minutes.Add the chicken stock and lemon juice, cook until reduced by about half, 4-5 minutes.
- Remove skillet from heat. Immediately add 3 tablespoons of butter to the pan. Whisk until the butter is fully melted. Then, add the capers, parsley and cooked chicken to the sauce. Toss well to coat the chicken in the butter sauce. Taste and adjust for seasoning and flavor by adding more salt, pepper or lemon juice.
- To serve: Divide chicken evenly among spaghetti squash halves. Evenly divide the piccata sauce over the spaghetti squash boat with chicken. Garnish with parmesan cheese, lemon slices and parsley. Enjoy!
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