This easy turkey tetrazzini recipe is the perfect way to use leftover turkey. The cheesy casserole is topped with crunchy breadcrumbs and baked until hot, bubbly, and golden brown.
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Looking for a way to create a delicious meal with leftover roasted turkey? Make a delicious cheesy turkey tetrazzini casserole dish using ingredients already in your pantry and refrigerator. Transform them into a simple pasta dish for serving a hungry family.
Various aromatic and hearty vegetables are combined with a creamy white sauce, tender spaghetti, and chunks of turkey. Sprinkled with two types of cheese and bread crumbs for a golden brown and crunchy topping to dig into. Make a leftover turkey salad sandwich for lunch, then this casserole for dinner. It’s a winning pair!
Cook the pasta
This recipe uses one pound of spaghetti, which yields plenty to go around. Other types of pasta can be used, like linguine, short-cut penne, rigatoni, wide egg noodles, or cavatappi.
Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and rinse with cool water for about 30 seconds to stop the cooking process. You don’t want the pasta to get mushy. It will cook more in the oven with the sauce.
Cook the mushrooms
To make the pasta flavorful, saute diced onions and minced garlic in butter over medium heat. Bloom the dried Italian seasonings in the hot fat to extract the herb’s flavors, compounds, and aromas. If you have fresh oregano or thyme, those could be used instead. Just add three times the amount.
For a robust flavor, I use sliced brown mushrooms, like cremini or baby portabello. Other types of mushrooms can be used, like the white button, if you have them on hand. Season with salt and pepper to draw out the moisture, then saute until the liquid is released and they become tender. Remove the vegetable mixture from the pan to make the sauce.
Make the creamy sauce
The sauce uses a veloute base, with turkey or chicken broth or stock for flavor. However, to make it creamy, I also add heavy cream. To thicken the sauce, use a roux, equal parts of butter, and flour by volume. Cook for a few minutes until the paste turns blonde in color. Then stir in the stock, continuously stirring to disperse the starches so they can properly thicken and not become clumpy.
Whisk in the heavy cream until velvety in consistency. For an even creamy sauce, stir in cream cheese. Turn off the heat and add melty shredded mozzarella cheese and aged parmesan.
Toss the ingredients
Use leftover turkey breast, legs, or thighs by chopping them into bite-sized pieces, about 1/2″ dice. Use 4 cups to make it a hearty meal. You can substitute leftover roasted chicken, poached chicken, or pan-seared chicken breasts to enjoy this dish year-round.
Add the cooked pasta, turkey, and fresh or frozen peas to the sauce, and toss to combine. You can enjoy the creamy pasta as is, but my family loves it when I bake it with crunchy bread crumbs on top.
Layer the casserole
Grab a large casserole dish, 13-inch by 9-inch in size. Lightly grease the pan with olive oil or butter to prevent sticking. Evenly spread the pasta mixture into the baking dish. Top with shredded mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
Sprinkle on traditional breadcrumbs or panko breadcrumbs for a crunchier texture. I recommend doubling the amount of panko since they are larger and won’t cover as much surface area as fine breadcrumbs.
Bake until hot and bubbly, about 30 to 35 minutes. For an extra golden brown crust, broil for about 2 to 3 minutes afterward. The breadcrumbs will become super crunchy, but keep a close eye on the color change. It can burn quickly!
Serve this with
Frequently asked questions
Tetrazzini is a style of pasta with chicken or turkey, vegetables like mushrooms and peas, tossed in with a roux-based creamy white sauce. It’s served au gratin by topping it with cheese and breadcrumbs, then baked until golden brown. Alfredo sauce is an emulsion of butter and cream, reduced until thickened, then flavored with parmesan cheese.
If made in advance, chicken tetrazzini can be frozen for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator the night before, or bake from frozen. More time will be needed to reheat the casserole when frozen.
Substituting cream of mushroom soup
Extra cans of cream of mushroom soup also make a great base for the sauce instead of making it from scratch. It’s just condensed soup with thickening agents like cornstarch and flour. Simply dilute with heavy cream or chicken stock or an equal broth mixture, depending on how creamy you like the sauce. Use equal parts condensed soup to liquid or 1 part soup to half the amount of liquid for a richer consistency. You’ll need 4 total cups for the turkey tetrazzini.
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- 4 quarts water
- 5 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 1 pound spaghetti, or linguine
- ½ cup unsalted butter, divided
- ½ cup diced yellow onion, ¼" dice
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- ½ teaspoon dried Italian seasonings
- 1 pound sliced brown mushrooms, ¼" thick, about 6 cups
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups unsalted chicken stock, or broth, or turkey
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided
- 4 cups chopped turkey, cooked, ½" dice
- 1 cup peas, fresh or frozen
- ¼ cup breadcrumbs, plain or panko
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- Preheat the Oven – Set the oven rack to the middle position and the temperature to 375°F (190ºC).
- Cook the Pasta – In a large dutch oven or pot, bring water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and stir to dissolve. Add in the spaghetti. Cook it according to package directions until al dente, about 9 to 10 minutes.Drain in a colander, and rinse with cool water for about 30 seconds to immediately stop the cooking process. Separate them with a spoon so they do not stick together. Leave some moisture on the surface and set it aside.
- Cook the Vegetables – Heat a large pot over medium heat. Melt 2 tablespoons butter, then add the onions. Saute until fragrant and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and Italian seasonings, and saute for 30 seconds.Add the mushrooms, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Cook until most of the moisture is released and mushrooms are tender, about 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- Make the Sauce – Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in the pan. Stir in the flour, and cook until the roux turns golden blonde in color, about 2 minutes. Turn the heat up to medium-high. Gradually whisk in the chicken stock, stirring constantly until thickened. Stir in the heavy cream, whisking until a smooth sauce is formed.Turn off the heat. Stir in ½ cup of the mozzarella and ½ cup of parmesan cheese until melted. Stir in 1 teaspoon of salt. Season the sauce to taste with more salt and pepper if desired.
- Combine Ingredients – Add the pasta, turkey, peas, and mushrooms to the pot. Stir to combine.
- Layer the Casserole – Lightly grease a 13-inch by a 9-inch baking dish with olive oil or butter. Spread the pasta mixture evenly in the pan. Evenly sprinkle ½ cup mozzarella cheese, ½ cup parmesan cheese, and bread crumbs on top.
- Bake – Bake until the edges are hot and bubbly and the surface is lightly golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. For an extra crispy and golden brown surface, broil for 2 to 3 minutes. Watch carefully for the color change to prevent burning.
- Serve – Garnish with some of the chopped parsley and serve hot.
- Recipe Yield: 16 cups
- Serving Size: 2 cups
- Storing: Cool and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Place in a resealable bag for up to 1 month, and defrost before using.
- Reheat: Cover and microwave on high for 15 to 30 seconds, stirring in between, until hot. If needed, add in a small amount of water to make the sauce creamy.
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.
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