Transform leftover Thanksgiving turkey into a delicious gourmet meal by making a homemade turkey pot pie. The meat simmers in a luscious gravy and then bakes into individual portions with a flaky puff pastry crust.
This turkey pot pie recipe is easier than you think, and you probably have all the ingredients already. The first step is to make a hearty mixture with turkey and vegetables then simmer the bite-sized pieces into a creamy filling. I like to serve individual bowls so that each person gets plenty of crust to crack into.
Instead of taking hours to make a pie crust, I use frozen puff pastry dough for the golden flaky top. This is truly comfort food where each spoonful is like tasting a mini Thanksgiving feast. This recipe also stores well in the refrigerator or freezer, so you can make them ahead of time.
Pot pie filling
A good pot pie filling always starts with sauteing a strong aromatic base of chopped onions, carrots, celery, garlic, rosemary and thyme in butter. Diced Russet potatoes, green peas, and sliced mushrooms add heartiness to the filling. Chunky pieces of chopped turkey add a boost of protein. The meat can also be shredded if you prefer.
Make a gravy
What makes this pot pie irresistible is the rich and creamy gravy. Start with a roux base (equal parts of butter and flour) as a thickening agent to add body to the milk, chicken stock or chicken broth. The key is to make sure that the gravy comes to a boil for a few minutes so that the starches swell and eliminate the raw flour taste.
Portion sizes (recipe makes 8 cups of filling)
- Small: Eight, 8-ounce (1 cup) servings in ramekins.
- Medium: Four, 16 ounce (2 cups) servings in ramekins.
- Large: Two, 32 ounce (4 cups) serving in medium-sized bowls.
- Family Size: Use a pie dish, 9-inch cast iron pan, or 9×9-inch casserole dish.
What is puff pastry?
Puff pastry is a non-yeasted flour-based dough made using a delicate technique to create hundreds of layers, each one separated by thin sheets of butter. The technique is similar to making croissants.
As the dough bakes at high temperatures, 400ºF (204ºC) is optimal, the butter bubbles and melts. This separates the dough sheets, resulting in a super crispy, golden crust.
Using puff pastry as a pie crust
For this recipe, I use Pepperidge Farm frozen puff pastry sheets. I find it easiest to cut into squares. For round crusts, use a biscuit cutter or turn your serving dish over and cut around it leaving about a ½ to 3/4-inch overhang. Just like when making biscuits, cut straight down so the layers don’t get smashed and seal together.
Another option is to cut and bake the puff pastry separately, then place them on top of the filling like a lid. Adding a few vents on the top helps the steam escape, so the filling does not overflow as it bubbles. In testing, I’ve seen that not having the crust completely submerged in the filling creates flakier and crisper layers.
Egg wash enhances the appearance
Egg wash is commonly added to pies and pastries to give a golden brown sheen, making the crust more attractive. I find that a mixture of one egg plus 1 tablespoon of milk gives the most beautiful color. The cooked milk solids and egg proteins also help to deepen the hue.
Roasted chicken is the go-to substitute if you don’t have turkey, otherwise, you can make this vegetarian by omitting the meat and adding more mushrooms and potatoes. Other root vegetables to try would be sweet potatoes, fennel, or parsnips. Alternative filling options are corn (especially fresh off the cob), cauliflower, butternut squash, or green beans.
Can a pie crust be used?
Yes! Raw pie dough can be used to make a more traditional pot pie. You can make a double-crust pie from scratch, or use store-bought dough to save time. Brush with egg wash and bake according to manufacturer’s directions.
The filling can be made and refrigerated for up to 2 days before baking. The crust can be defrosted the night before, cut, then placed on the top right before adding them to the oven.
Storing and freezing
These turkey pot pies can be covered and refrigerated for up to three days in advance. Frozen pies can be wrapped and should last up to 1 month in the freezer. Reheat in the oven at 325ºF (163ºC) until the crust is crispy and the filling reaches 155 to 165ºF (68 to 74ºC).
Properly defrosting puff pastry
Make sure to not exceed defrosting time of 40 minutes at room temperature, otherwise, the butter will melt into the dough and not expand and separate properly. If not using immediately, cover and transfer to the refrigerator when defrosted. The dough can also be defrosted overnight in the refrigerator.
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Turkey Pot Pie
- 1 puff pastry sheet, thawed
- ⅓ cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup diced red onions, ¼-inch dice
- ½ cup diced carrots, ¼-inch dice
- ½ cup diced celery, ¼-inch dice
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 ½ teaspoon chopped thyme
- 1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
- 1 ½ cup sliced brown mushrooms, ¼-inch thick slices
- 1 pound russet potatoes, peeled, ¼-inch dice
- 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ⅓ cup flour
- 1 ½ cups unsalted chicken stock
- 1 cup whole milk, plus 1 tablespoon (15ml) for egg wash
- 3 cups turkey, cooked, ½-inch dice
- 1 cup peas, fresh, frozen (defrosted) or canned
- 1 large egg, whisked
- Set the oven rack to the center position. Preheat to 400°F (204ºC).
- Remove the frozen pastry from its packaging and defrost on a sheet tray until cool but pliable, no longer than 40 minutes. Refrigerate and cover with plastic wrap if defrosting beyond that time. Meanwhile, prepare the turkey pot pie filling.
- Set a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat, and then melt the butter in the pan.
- Add the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, and rosemary. Sauté until onions are tender and translucent, 3 minutes.
- Add mushrooms, stir and cook for 1 minute.
- Add potatoes, salt, and black pepper. Stir and cook for 6 to 7 minutes.
- Sprinkle flour over the vegetables, stir and cook to reduce the raw flour taste, about 2 minutes.
- Slowly pour in the chicken stock and milk, stirring constantly until the sauce is smooth. Allow to simmer until slightly thickened and potatoes are tender but not falling apart, about 5 to 6 minutes.
- Add the turkey and peas, stir to combine. Turn off the heat and taste the filling, season with more salt and pepper as desired.
- Evenly divide the filling among 2 large heatproof bowls that can hold about 3 cups (720ml), or desired size.
- Roll the puff pastry out into a 10-inch square. Cut into two, 5-inch squares, there will be extra.
- Place one square pastry sheet over each bowl, allowing the edges to hang over the sides.
- In a small bowl, whisk together egg and 1 tablespoon of milk. Brush the top and sides of the puff pastry with egg wash. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Make 4 small slits in the top, about ½-inch long.
- Place the bowls on a baking sheet. Bake until the puff pastry is puffed up on the edges and golden brown in color, about 20 to 25 minutes.
- Cool for about 10 minutes before serving.
- Smaller individual-sized portions: Defrost two pastry sheets. Use smaller bowls or ramekins. Up to 8 servings in 8-ounce sized ramekins. Cut the puff pastry so that the corners will hand over the edge, about 4-inch squares. Bake until the pastry is golden brown on top, about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Larger one pan turkey pot pies: Use a pie dish, 9-inch cast iron pan or 9x9-inch casserole dish. Cut the puff pastry so it’s large enough to fit in the pan, or slightly overhanging the edges. Bake until golden brown, about 45 to 55 minutes, loosely cover with foil if needed to prevent the pastry from getting too dark as it puffs up around the edges.
- Overnight Thawing: The puff pastry can be thawed in the refrigerator overnight, just make sure to keep covered or wrapped in plastic so it does not get dried out.
- Reheating: Reheat in the oven at 325ºF (163ºC) until the crust is crispy and the filling reaches 155 to 165ºF (68 to 74ºC). Refrigerated pies reheats in about 20 to 30 minutes depending on size. From pies reheat in about 1 to 2 hours depending on size.
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