Turkey Tetrazzini is the perfect leftover Thanksgiving turkey recipe with tender turkey, creamy sauce, pasta, vegetables, and a crispy Parmesan topping. You may want to cook extra turkey this year for this casserole. Or make it with rotisserie chicken for Chicken Tetrazzini.
Turkey—diced or shredded cooked
Pasta—linguine or spaghetti
Aromatics—onion and garlic
Vegetables—celery, frozen peas, mushrooms (optional)
Pantry—milk, chicken broth, butter, flour, salt, black pepper
Topping—Italian panko breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese
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Featured Comment from CG:
"5 stars. I really enjoyed this easy recipe. It is a great way to use up leftover items and very family friendly."
Use that leftover Thanksgiving turkey with this classic turkey tetrazzini casserole recipe. The whole family will love this easy-to-make casserole.
I try not to use a "can of soup" or cream cheese in pasta recipes, which are unnecessary here. Fresh from scratch is better, and this recipe uses a roux instead to thicken the sauce.
👨🍳How to Make Turkey Tetrazzini
Preheat the oven to 350° convection or 375° conventional.
Cook the pasta. Cube or shred about 4 cups of leftover turkey.
Dice the onion and celery, and crush the garlic. g
Melt butter over medium heat and add onion, celery, and mushrooms. Cook for about 3-4 minutes until the celery is clearing. Add the four cloves of crushed garlic and cook one more minute. Add salt and black pepper.
Add sprinkle in the flour. Stir until browning some, about 2 minutes.
Add the chicken or turkey broth while continuously stirring. Continue to stir, bring to a boil, and when it starts to thicken, add the milk and some Parmesan cheese. Continue to simmer and stir while thickening—about 3 more minutes.
Remove from heat add the turkey, cooked pasta, and frozen peas. Mix and pour into a 9 by 13 inch baking dish coated with PAM or butter.
Mix Italian Panko breadcrumbs with shredded or grated Parmesan cheese and sprinkle over the top of the casserole.
Bake for about 35 minutes until golden brown and bubbling.
For more details, keep reading. See the Recipe Card below for complete instructions and to print.
🦃Ingredient options and variations
Turkey or chicken
Turkey meat must be previously cooked and may be either turkey breast or dark meat cut into cubes or shredded. Browned ground turkey may also be used.
To make Chicken Tetrazzini instead, use precooked chicken like a rotisserie. Otherwise, the recipe is unchanged.
Linguine is the perfect pasta for this turkey casserole, but any other standard pasta like spaghetti, bow tie pasta, or egg noodles cooked al denta will work well.
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.
In other tetrazzini recipes, fresh baby spinach, sliced green beans, black olives, broccoli, and red or green peppers may be added.
Only one topping is acceptable in our house—a mixture of Parmesan cheese and Panko breadcrumbs. I suggest using Italian-flavored breadcrumbs, but use what you want.
⬇️How to make this recipe half-size
The full recipe makes 12 servings in a 9 by 13 casserole pan. A half-size recipe for 6 servings fits in a 6 by 9 or an 8 by 8 baking dish.
- Use the recipe card and adjust the number of servings to six.
- Use the amount of ingredients in the ingredient list, not the instructions—those do not adjust.
- Cooking time will only be slightly less. You are cooking to a nicely browned topping—all the ingredients are already cooked and safe.
📖Leftover Turkey Recipes
While this Turkey Tetrazzini is my favorite, here are a few other choices. My Simple Chicken Pot Pie includes Turkey Pot Pie. You can also use leftover turkey meat in Three Bean Turkey Chili or Cheesy Chicken, Broccoli, and Rice Casserole.
Part of the Leftover Ham and Turkey Recipe Roundup, where you will find more leftover recipes.
How to make turkey tetrazzini ahead
You can make this casserole ahead in an oven-safe pan. After adding the topping, seal well and freeze for 3-4 months.
Be sure to defrost the frozen casserole overnight in the refrigerator before cooking.
Storing leftover turkey casserole
Once cooked, this pasta casserole is good refrigerated for 4 days or frozen for 3 months.
To reheat, thaw overnight in the refrigerator if frozen. Then reheat in the microwave, covered in the oven, or air fryer.
Previously cooked meat like rotisserie chicken, other poultry, or ham are good substitutes. There are seafood versions, but I'm not going there with this recipe.
If you don't have leftovers, cook some baked chicken or turkey breast.
There is no reason for canned cream of mushroom soup or cream cheese. This sauce is made 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. or mam
See How to Make Gravy from Scratch for more information on the roux method of thickening.
To make tetrazzini gluten-free, use gluten-free panko breadcrumbs and pasta. Plus, an alternative thickener for the flour. Corn starch would be a good choice if not being frozen.
To make tetrazzini dairy-free, the turkey or other meat must be cooked without dairy. The butter and milk can be alternative dairy-free versions. The Parmesan is replaced with a goat version of Ramano cheese.
Like any dish, check each specific ingredient for gluten or dairy if you need them eliminated—they tend to creep in unexpectedly.
What is Tetrazzini?
While 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. Tetrazzini recipes usually have poultry or seafood and mushrooms with a Parmesan sauce, then served over linguine or spaghetti or as a baked casserole. Some wine can be involved in the cooking.
The sauce found in most versions of tetrazzini is very similar to Alfredo sauce.
SO... I'm still calling it Italian.
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Have you tried this recipe, or have a question? Join the community discussion in the comments.
Leftover Turkey Tetrazzini
- 1 pound pasta - spaghetti or linguine preferred
- 4 cups diced or shredded cooked turkey - about
- 1 small onion -
- 2 stalks celery
- 1 cup sliced mushrooms - optional
- 4 cloves crushed or minced garlic
- ½ cup butter - one stick
- ½ cup flour
- 14 oz chicken broth
- 3 cups milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese - shredded or grated
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 cup Italian Panko bread crumbs
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese - shredded or grated
- Preheat the oven to 350° convection or 375° conventional.
- Cook 1 pound of linguine or spaghetti to al dente per package instructions. Cube or shred 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 and add onion, celery, and mushrooms. Cook for 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 black pepper.
- Add ½ cup flour by sprinkling over the pan. Stir until browning some, about 2 minutes.
- Add one 14 oz can of chicken or turkey broth while continuously stirring. Continue to stir, bring to a boil, and when it starts 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 or shredded cooked turkey, one pound of cooked pasta, and one cup of frozen peas. Mix well and pour into a 9 by 13 inch baking dish 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.
Your Own 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. See the post for details.
- I skipped the mushrooms as usual due to family food allergies. Cook about 1 cup in with the celery if you wish.
- Good refrigerated for 4 days or frozen for 3 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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Adapted from Turkey Tetrazzini on Allrecipes.com.
Publisher's Note: Originally published November 29, 2015. Updated with expanded options, refreshed photos, and a table of contents to help navigation.