Use that leftover turkey from Thanksgiving with this classic turkey tetrazzini recipe. This easy-to-make casserole has chunks of turkey in creamy homemade sauce, pasta, vegetables, and wonderful parmesan topping—the mouth just waters.
Many of us (me usually) end up with too much turkey, and you can only do so many turkey sandwiches. So let's do something great with it. Leftover Turkey Tetrazzini is an excellent choice for those leftovers haunting you.
I try not to use a "can of soup" in recipes, which is not needed here. Fresh from scratch is better.
I loosely based this recipe on Turkey Tetrazzini on Allrecipes.com. There were issues: no salt, no pepper, no taste. These and others were pointed out by over 600 comments, which fixed the problems and gave it 5 stars anyway.
A 4.5 from the wife and a straight four from me.
What is Tetrazzini?
While we Americans think of this as a classic Italian dish, it is all American. Named after Italian opera star Luisa Tetrazzini, it first appeared in San Francisco in the early 20th century, where Tetrazzini was a long-time resident.
There is no exact definition, so the recipes do vary a lot. It is usually poultry or seafood with a Parmesan sauce, and usually mushrooms served over linguine or spaghetti. There can be some wine involved in the cooking, and it is frequently baked as a casserole.
The sauce found in most versions of Tetrazzini is very similar to Alfredo sauce.
SO... I'm still calling it Italian.
🦃Ingredients for Leftover Turkey Tetrazzini
Turkey is the obvious answer, but what turkey? It should be previously cooked and can be either dark or white meat cut into cubes or shredded.
Linguine is the perfect pasta for this dish. Some will use spaghetti, and any other standard type of pasta cooked al denta will work well.
Egg noodles are suggested in some recipes, but I don't find them a good fit for casseroles.
Celery, onion, mushrooms, and peas are very typical additions. The celery, mushrooms, and onion need some precooking since the casserole doesn't cook that long. The peas are better if added frozen.
Other suggestions I have seen are sliced green beans, black olives, broccoli, and red or green peppers.
There is only one topping acceptable in our house—a mixture of Panko bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. But feel free to top as you want.
👨🍳How to Make Leftover Turkey Tetrazzini
- Cook pasta al dente.
- Prepare meat, topping, and casserole dish.
- Chop onion and celery. Crush garlic.
- In a large pan, melt better and saute onion and celery until starting to clear then add the garlic briefly. Add seasoning.
- Sprinkle with flour, stir to make a roux, and cook a few minutes.
- Add broth and whisk until thickened. Add in the milk and cheese. And continue to stir and thicken.
- Add meat, frozen peas, and cooked pasta. Mix well and move to casserole dish.
- Add topping and bake until golden brown and bubbling.
👨🍳Make It Half Size
This is an easy recipe to cut in half, but I usually cook for leftovers and company, so I always do full size.
You can adjust the number of servings in the recipe card below. It will calculate the ingredient adjustments for you but not change the instructions. You will need to do those yourself.
A half-size recipe fits in a 6 by 9 or an 8 by 8 baking dish. Cooking time will only be slightly less. You are cooking to a nicely browned topping. All the ingredients are already cooked and safe.
Previously cooked meat like rotisserie chicken or other poultry is a good substitute. Also, leftover ham works excellent. There are seafood recipes, but I'm not going there with this recipe.
The sauce is made by using a traditional roux method of thickening for sauces or liquids. It mixes flour with fat, is cooked briefly, and then combined with liquid and whisked until thickened.
See How to Make Gravy from Scratch for more information.
You can make this ahead in an oven-safe pan. Prepare up to the cooking point but seal well and freeze for 3-4 months. Be sure to defrost the frozen casserole overnight in the refrigerator before cooking.
Once cooked, this casserole is good refrigerated for 3-4 days or frozen for 3-4 months.
📖Leftover Turkey Recipes
While this Turkey Tetrazzini is my personal favorite, here are a few other choices.
Simple Chicken Pot Pie - Includes Turkey Pot Pie
Cheesy Chicken, Broccoli, and Rice Casserole - Leftover turkey substitution included.
Part of the Leftover Ham and Turkey Recipe Roundup
📖Other Leftover Recipes
This recipe is listed in these categories. See them for more similar recipes.
🖼️Step-by-Step Photo Instructions
Preheat the oven to 350° convection or 375° conventional.
Cook 1 pound of linguine or spaghetti to al dente per package instructions. Cube about 4 cups of leftover turkey.
Dice 1 small onion, crush four cloves of garlic and dice two ribs of celery.
Melt one stick of butter (½ cup) over medium heat. Add onion, celery, and mushrooms if used. Cook about 3-4 minutes until the celery is clearing. Add the four cloves of crushed garlic and cook one more minute. Add one teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper.
Add ½ cup flour. Stir until browning some, about 2 minutes.
Add one 14 oz can of chicken or turkey broth while continuously stirring. Bring to a boil, and when starting to thicken, add three cups of milk and one cup of shredded or grated Parmesan cheese. Continue to simmer and stir while thickening — about three more minutes.
Remove from heat, and add four cups of cubed turkey, one pound of cooked pasta, and one cup of frozen peas. Mix well and pour into a 9 by 13 inch baking dish that has been coated with PAM or butter.
Mix one cup of Italian Panko breadcrumbs with ½ cup of shredded or grated Parmesan cheese and sprinkle over the top of the casserole.
Bake for about 35 minutes until golden brown and bubbling.
Leftover Turkey Tetrazzini
- 4 cups diced turkey - about
- 1 onion - small
- 2 stalks celery
- 1 cup sliced mushrooms - optional
- 4 cloves garlic
- ½ cup butter - one stick
- ½ cup flour
- 14 oz chicken broth
- 3 cups milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 1 ½ cup Parmesan cheese - shredded or grated - divided
- 1 pound pasta - spaghetti or linguine preferred
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 cup Italian Panko bread crumbs
- Preheat oven to 350° convection or 375° conventional. Coat a 9 by 13 baking dish with PAM of butter.
- Cook 1 pound of pasta to al dente per package instructions—use Linguine or spaghetti. Cube about 4 cups of leftover turkey.
- Dice 1 small onion, crush four cloves garlic, dice two stalks celery.
- Melt one stick butter (½ cup) over medium heat. Add onion, celery, and mushrooms if using. Cook about 3-4 minutes until the celery is clearing. Add the four cloves of crushed garlic, and cook one more minute. Add one teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper.
- Add ½ cup flour by sprinkling over the pan. Stir until browning some about 2 minutes.
- Add one 14 oz can chicken broth while continuously stirring. Bring to a boil, and when starting to thicken, add three cups of milk and one cup Parmesan cheese. Continue a light boil and stirring while thickening — about three more minutes.
- Remove from heat, add four cups cubed turkey, one pound cooked pasta, one cup of frozen peas. Mix well and transfer to a 9 by 13-inch baking dish that has been coated with PAM or butter.
- Mix one cup Italian Panko breadcrumbs with ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese and sprinkle over the top of the casserole.
- Bake for about 35 minutes until golden brown and bubbling.
My Private Notes
- You can use light or dark meat. I prefer cubed, but shredded is OK. You can also use precooked chicken, like rotisserie chicken, or even ham.
- This recipe moves a bit fast. Please read and understand the recipe before starting. And have the ingredients out and ready to go.
- Use pasta of your choice, but spaghetti or linguine are preferred.
- This is an easy recipe to cut in half. Adjust the servings under the ingredient list. It will do the calculations for you in the ingredient list but the instructions will not adjust. You can handle that.
- If doing the half recipe, use a 6 by 9 or 8 by 8 baking dish. Also, the cooking time may be a bit less.
- I skipped the mushrooms as usual due to family food allergies. Toss about 1 cup in with the celery if you wish.
- Good refrigerated for 3-4 days or frozen for 3-4 months.
To adjust the recipe size:
You may adjust the number of servings in this recipe card under servings. This does the math for the ingredients for you. BUT it does NOT adjust the text of the instructions. So you need to do that yourself.
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Publisher's Note: Originally published November 29, 2015. Updated with expanded options, refreshed photos, and a table of contents to help navigation.