Not every mom can be what we might call a ‘pinterest mom’ today. Growing up, my mom would have never claimed to be a gourmet cook, but her chicken spaghetti was one of my all-time favorites. It’s a delicious, nostalgic Tex Mex meal I still crave. The basics of her recipe are: pre-cooked chicken, a can of Rotel, a block of Velveeta, and a box of noodles. Super simple, very filling, and extremely cheesy. It’s ideal for leftovers (hellooo meal prep!), since the flavors just get better over time, and it’s a meal the whole family can enjoy. For me, though, it just feels like a hug in a bowl. This recipe will quickly be your favorite keto chicken recipe.
Well, the first obstacle I had to overcome if I wanted to make this into a keto recipe was to find a noodle replacement. There are a TON of low carb noodle options out there! I tried using shirataki noodles first – this was an obvious, easy solution, as shirataki noodles are widely available and are usually zero net carbs. They’re made from the fiber of the konjac plant, called glucomannan. Honestly, though, it just wasn’t the texture I imagined in this dish. Shirataki noodles don’t really soak up or take on flavors, so they didn’t really add anything to the dish – they ended up just tasting a little rubbery and weird.
My second test was just leaving the noodles out altogether, which basically just made it chicken cheese dip. While delicious, it wasn’t quite what I was looking for in a meal. I needed something of substance, and I wanted to use something everyone could find for a reasonable price.
Spaghetti squash can be found in most grocery stores year round. Because of its stringy texture, it makes a uniquely natural noodle replacement. At only 5.4g net carbs for 100g (3.5 oz), spaghetti squash is a great, low carb substitute for any noodle dish. Unlike the shirataki noodles, spaghetti squash has a nice flavor on its own, and it soaks up whatever flavors you cook it with to ensure your dish is cohesive and balanced. Spaghetti squash is so easy to make and it stays good forever, making it a fantastic option for those who like to shop every once in a while instead of every single week.
I know there are a bunch of different ways to make spaghetti squash, but this is how I learned how to make it. It always turns out perfectly for me, and not everyone has a bunch of gadgets and gizmos like a lot of bloggers out there, but most folx do have an oven and a baking sheet.
Instructions for Spaghetti Squash
- Poke the spaghetti squash with a fork in several spots, then microwave it whole for 3-5 minutes, depending on your microwave’s power and the size of your gourd. This will soften the squash slightly and make it easier to cut in half.
- Cut the squash lengthwise, then scoop out the seeds. Drizzle oil over the meat of the squash (the inside). Salt and pepper the meat and then flip over so the oiled and seasoned meat of the squash is on the baking sheet. When you cook spaghetti squash this way, it kind of steams itself while baking, which is ideal.
- Bake at 400 for about 50 minutes. You want the outside of the squash to be a nice brown roasted color. If you knock on it with a spoon, it should kind of sound hollow, if that makes sense. Take out of the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes or so. During this time, the squash will keep steaming itself, making it easier to scoop out the ‘noodles.’
- Take a fork and scrape out the inside of the squash. You will notice it looks like noodles, which is perfect!
Now you can use that spaghetti squash for anything you’d like! We really like to use it for meat sauce and spaghetti, casseroles, and alfredo sauce. You can really use it for any noodle dish you’re craving. It has a nice, mild flavor, and it’s just a tad sweet (like most squash), so it pairs well with something spicy, like buffalo chicken dip.
So, we all know cheese is on the ‘yay!’ list for keto (and, let’s be honest, cheese is one of the biggest draws of the lifestyle), but Velveeta just…. Isn’t cheese. It’s literally a ‘cheese product.’ Between the ingredients and the carb count, I am here to tell you, Velveeta isn’t a keto/low carb food I would eat often.
That doesn’t mean we can’t have mom’s spaghetti, though. I came up with the BEST cheese sauce recipe and it works PERFECTLY for this dish! It’s a nice, thick, creamy cheesy sauce and it hits just right. Here is the link to the cheese dip recipe you’ll need!
Recipe and Steps
- 2 lbs of cooked chicken
- 1 spaghetti squash cooked per instructions above
- 1/2 batch of my Cheese Sauce found here
- 1 can of Rotel, I like the HOT one but Mild is good too, especially if you don’t like spicy foods. I drain the can and only use the liquid if I feel the cheese sauce is very thick.
- In a bowl or a pot, heat up the cheese sauce and the can of Rotel. If the cheese sauce is already the perfect consistency and not too liquid, just add the peppers and tomatoes. If the cheese sauce is thicker, you can add some of the liquid from the can.
- In another bowl, add the chicken and the squash. Pour the cheese and rotel mixture over the chicken and squash and then stir.
- Pour into an oven safe baking dish and bake at 350 for about 25 minutes. Make sure to put a pan under your baking dish to catch anything that might boil over!
- Let cool for about 10 minutes then serve!