This classic turkey tetrazzini casserole with spaghetti noodles, cooked turkey, mushrooms, and peas in a lush and creamy sauce makes me want to make Thanksgiving turkey leftovers any time of year.
Turkey tetrazzini is a holiday and potluck favorite, and next to my Curry Turkey Pot Pie, is one of my favorite ways to use up leftover turkey. But why wait for leftovers? This dish is so good I’ll readily fix my favorite turkey breast recipe any day of the week regardless of whether there’s a special occasion to celebrate or not.
Instead of heavy cream, I make a luxe sauce with a simple butter and flour roux thickened with chicken broth, white wine, and a splash of milk. Fresh thyme, a squeeze of lemon, and Parmesan cheese add the ultimate umami flavor, lushly coating the tendrils of spaghetti, mushrooms, peas, onion, and chunks of turkey topped with breadcrumbs for a crunchy topping. Serve it as is in the skillet or transfer it to a casserole dish for a classic potluck meal.
What Is Turkey Tetrazzini Made Of?
Typically, turkey tetrazzini casseroles are a great vehicle for using up leftover Thanksgiving turkey.
- Spaghetti noodles
- Cooked turkey breast (or dark meat if you prefer)
- White onion
- Peas (frozen peas work well here)
- Fresh thyme
- All-purpose flour
- Chicken stock or turkey stock
- White wine (I use boxed wine for cooking)
- Whole milk
- Fresh lemon juice
- Dry breadcrumbs (plain or use panko breadcrumbs)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
How to Make Turkey Tetrazzini
Chop the onion and mushrooms and cube the turkey into similar size chunks. The best part of casseroles is getting a bit of every ingredient in each bite, so make them all similar in size. However, don’t slice the mushrooms too thin or they’ll disappear after cooking.
Use leftover Thanksgiving turkey or prepare a baked turkey breast to have extra meat on hand. Because it’s the most popular part of the turkey, I always cook an extra turkey breast at holiday celebrations to make sure there are always leftovers.
Make the Creamy Sauce
Instead of heavy cream, make a simple bechamel sauce from butter, flour, broth, and a bit of milk. Melt the butter then whisk in the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes so it browns and loses the raw flour flavor.
Slowly add the chicken or turkey broth, whisking to keep lumps at bay. I like using my homemade chicken broth or turkey stock, but a good quality store brand works too.
My favorite kitchen tool is this whisk with silicone balls on the ends. It’s the best for making gravies and sauces because it gets into the corners of any pan and won’t leave scratches on your good pans.
Remove from the heat and add the Parmesan cheese and lemon juice. The sauce may taste a little strong at this stage but will be perfectly balanced later when added to the rest of the ingredients later.
Sauté the Veggies
Cook the vegetables in butter just until tender. Sauté the onion just until soft, and lessen its strong flavor. Don’t overcook the vegetables as they will continue cooking in the oven.
Use fresh thyme leaves and add more if desired. If fresh thyme isn’t available, use half as much dry thyme (or to taste depending on freshness.)
Add the Turkey and Rest of the Goodies
No need to thaw the peas. Go ahead and toss them in frozen, they’ll thaw in the heat of the skillet.
Add the sauce to the turkey mixture, thinning with broth or pasta water if needed. If the sauce has cooked down too much and is thick, add some reserved pasta water or more chicken broth to thin it. The sauce shouldn’t be as thin as soup, but thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon.
Use tongs to toss the cooked spaghetti with the sauce and turkey. Gently but thoroughly toss the spaghetti noodles with the creamy sauce so the whole mixture is well coated.
How Long to Bake Turkey Tetrazzini
Whether serving straight from the skillet or in a casserole dish, sprinkle the top with crispy breadcrumbs for crunch. Melt the last of the butter in the microwave and toss with the breadcrumbs before sprinkling them on top of the spaghetti to brown and crisp in the oven.
To toast the breadcrumb topping, put the skillet in the oven to bake or transfer it to a 9 X 13 casserole dish. 10-15 minutes at a high temp is all you need to give the topping a quick toast.
How to Freeze Turkey Tetrazzini
Place the tetrazzini in a freezer-safe dish and wrap it tightly with plastic wrap and then foil. Freeze for 1-3 months.
How to Reheat Turkey Tetrazzini
To reheat frozen turkey tetrazzini, remove the foil and plastic wrap then bake at 350°F direct from frozen (do not thaw) for 50-60 minutes or until warmed through.
More Ways to Use Leftover Turkey
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Turkey Tetrazzini Recipe
This classic turkey tetrazzini is a creamy turkey and spaghetti noodle casserole with mushrooms, onion, and peas topped with a crunchy topping of breadcrumbs to make a perfect recipe for leftover Thanksgiving turkey.
- 16 ounces spaghetti noodles
- 12 tablespoons butter , divided, plus more for the baking dish
- 2 cloves garlic , pressed
- ½ pound cremini mushrooms , sliced
- 1 medium yellow onion , chopped
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves , stems removed
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 1/2 cups chicken or turkey broth
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese , divided, plus more for garnish
- juice of one lemon
- 2 cups frozen peas , thawed
- 4 cups cooked turkey breast , cubed or shredded
- 1/3 cup dry bread crumbs
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F and prepare a 13 X 9-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon of butter. Cook the spapghettin in salted water until al dente. Reserve ¼ cup of the pasta water, drain the pasta and transfer to a large bowl then set aside.
While the pasta cooks, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant, then add the mushrooms and onions. Cook until the vegetables soften, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in the fresh thyme leaves and season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Stir in the turkey and peas.
In a separate saucepan, melt 8 tablespoons butter over medium heat and whisk in the flour, stirring constantly until the flour smells nutty and is lightly golden, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the broth, wine, milk, and nutmeg and raise the temperature to medium-high, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in ¾ cup of the Parmesan cheese, and lemon juice.
Add the turkey mixture to the skillet with the sauce and toss to coat. Taste for seasoning and add more kosher salt or pepper to taste. Use tongs to add the cooked spaghetti to the skillet, tossing to coat well. If the mixture is too thick, add a little reserved pasta broth or milk until creamy.
Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in the microwave. Add the bread crumbs and reserved ¼ cup Parmesan cheese to a small dish and drizzle with the melted butter, tossing to mix well.
Pour the spaghetti mixture into the casserole dish and sprinkle with the breadcrumbs. Bake for 15 minutes or until the mixture is bubbly and the top is golden brown and serve.
Calories: 508kcal | Carbohydrates: 48g | Protein: 33g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 99mg | Sodium: 937mg | Potassium: 599mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 788IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 159mg | Iron: 2mg
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