Turkey Tetrazzini — Wondering what to do with your leftover Thanksgiving turkey? This rich casserole features al dente spaghetti, a decadent cream sauce, tender vegetables, cheese, and of course your extra turkey! It’s EASY to make and may be even better than your Thanksgiving feast! You can also sub leftover chicken or rotisserie chicken!
Turkey Tetrazzini Recipe
What’s the best part of Thanksgiving? The leftovers, of course! It’s like reliving the day again (and again and again depending on just how much Foolproof Oven Roasted Turkey I made!)
The day after Thanksgiving is probably the busiest day of the year for my microwave.
While all of your favorite holiday side dishes can be zapped and eaten just as they are, I like to get a little creative with my leftover turkey. Do I sneak quite a few bites of cold turkey right out of the Tupperware? Absolutely. But I also like to make totally different meals like this easy turkey tetrazzini recipe.
Put simply, this no-fuss turkey tetrazzini recipe is pure bliss. Spaghetti noodles, a rich cream sauce, tender veggies, cheese, breadcrumbs, a medley of mouthwatering seasonings, and all that leftover turkey you were wondering what to do with.
This comfort food recipe comes together in a single baking dish to make an amazing comforting casserole.
And this easy leftover turkey casserole recipe is fast to make. Just about 15 minutes to prep and another 30 minutes to bake.
It’s a delightfully quick dinner that’s made with simple yet inexpensive ingredients and hassle-free steps.
Tip: If you want to make this tetrazzini recipe other times of the year, feel free to use leftover chicken. Or to make it super fast and easy for busy weeknights, pick up a rotisserie chicken and use it because I know you may not always have leftover holiday turkey laying around.
Ingredients in Turkey Tetrazzini
The day after Thanksgiving (or Christmas, if you like to serve turkey on Christmas too) when you already have the turkey ready to go in the fridge, grab the remaining common fridge and pantry ingredients and let’s get started!
Here’s what is in the turkey tetrazzini:
- Spaghetti noodles (or linguine or another long-strand pasta)
- Unsalted butter
- Green bell pepper (or yellow)
- Cream of chicken soup
- Spaghetti sauce OR cream of mushroom soup
- Heavy cream
- Cream cheese
- Leftover cooked turkey (or leftover chicken or rotisserie chicken)
- Shredded Colby Jack cheese
- Italian-style breadcrumbs
- Fresh parsley
Note: Scroll down to the recipe card section of the post for the ingredients with amounts included and for more complete directions.
How to Make Turkey Tetrazzini
This dinner recipe using your leftover turkey requires just about 15 minutes of prep work before a 30 minute bake.
It’s really as simple as boiling the pasta, sautéing the veggies, making the creamy sauce, and tossing it all in a casserole dish with some cheesy, buttery Italian breadcrumbs on top.
Your kitchen is going to smell positively heavenly as this turkey casserole bakes. It’ll be enough to have your family running to the kitchen to see what’s for dinner.
Here’s an overview of how the easy turkey tetrazzini is prepared:
Step 1: Cook the pasta and drain it. Reserve a cup or so of the pasta water if you’d like to make your sauce even creamier.
Step 2: Preheat your oven and spray a casserole dish with cooking spray.
Step 3: Melt the butter in a skillet, then sauté the onions and garlic.
Step 4: Add the celery, bell peppers, salt, pepper, and cook momentarily.
Step 5: Finally, add the mushrooms and saute for 4 minutes.
Step 6: Add the cream of chicken soup, optional spaghetti sauce, heavy cream, cream cheese, and stir until smooth and creamy. Then stir in the turkey.
Step 7: Toss the noodles and cream sauce together.
Step 8: Assemble the casserole by adding the saucy noodles to the prepared casserole dish and sprinkle with cheese.
Step 9: Melt the remaining butter, add the breadcrumbs, toss to combine, sprinkle them on top, and bake for 30 minutes before garnishing with parsley and digging in!
Do I Have to Use Condensed Soup?
I know condensed soup and “cream of …” type soups can sometimes get a bad rap. However, condensed soup has been used for generations and in this recipe in particular which came from my grandma, I have never not used it.
I use cream of chicken soup AND sometimes even some cream of mushroom soup in place of spaghetti sauce. My results are always creamy and delicious. I’m a big fan of the motto, “if it’s not broke, don’t break it.”
This recipe works amazingly well with condensed soup and I don’t recommend trying to replace it. If it’s not your jam, that’s fine. I am sure you can find another recipe for turkey tetrazzini without it.
Why Is There Spaghetti Sauce in the Recipe?
This is a family recipe that’s been around for quite some time and wouldn’t have it any other way even though I realize spaghetti sauce isn’t a traditional turkey tetrazzini ingredient.
However, spaghetti sauce adds a tangy, flavorful note that really enhances this savory meal and gives it another flavor dimension.
And before you ask, no, this leftover turkey tetrazzini does not taste like spaghetti with red sauce! However, if you are opposed to using the spaghetti sauce, omit it. In place of it, I recommend using cream of mushroom soup.
Can I Use This Recipe to Make Chicken Tetrazzini?
Yes, you certainly can! If you’re craving a good chicken tetrazzini dinner, you can use this exact recipe – just swap the Thanksgiving turkey for cooked chicken.
You can always keep thing simple by using an already cooked rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, or make my favoritePoached Chicken which is a great swap here, too.
What to Serve with Turkey Tetrazzini
You know all of those leftover side dishes you have in your refrigerator? They will all plate perfectly alongside a heaping serving of homemade Turkey Tetrazzini!
Some of my favorite Thanksgiving sides that I make every single year include Green Bean Casserole, Cabernet Cranberry and Blueberry Sauce, The Best Sweet Potato Casserole with Butter Pecan Topping, The Best Classic Stuffing, and my Classic Marshmallow Sweet Potato Casserole.
They all reheat like a dream in the microwave, so they’ll be ready to go when that fast turkey tetrazzini comes out of the oven.
Or if you’re just ready for some French bread or Texas toast, go for it. Also if you are craving some fresh and healthy after a big holiday meal, my Waldorf Salad is fast, easy, and fresh.
How to Store Leftovers
Curious about how to store your leftovers of this leftover-based dish?
After the turkey tetrazzini has cooled to room temperature, pop it into an airtight food storage container and place it in the fridge where it’ll keep for up to 5 days.
It’ll also keep airtight in the freezer for up to 3 months. Reheat it gently in the microwave.
Tips For The Best Turkey Tetrazzini
Pasta: Whether you use spaghetti noodles or another type of pasta, it’s important not to overcook them. Follow the package instructions and cook them just until al dente. They’ll cook more in the oven, and you don’t want them to become mushy, so it’s important not to overdo it when boiling them.
Additionally, you can use another type of long-strand noodle such as linguine.
Pasta Water: I always reserve about 1/2 a cup or more of the water that the spaghetti is cooked in. The starchy water makes the cream sauce a little thinner if it’s a little too thick. You can add more or less of the pasta water based on how it’s looking to you. Better to reserve it and not need it, than vice versa.
Cream Sauce: Does it seem like there’s too much sauce? Don’t worry! As the casserole bakes, the noodles will soak up a good amount of the sauce. Additionally, any time pasta or noodles sit in the fridge, they always continue to soak up a bit more of the sauce so don’t worry. Better to be saucy than dry!
The Dairy: I like to use heavy cream but half-and-half should be fine.
Make sure to use full-fat, brick-style cream cheese and nothing labeled “lite” because it contains too much water and it’ll create a too-thin sauce.
I use shredded Colby Jack in my easy turkey or chicken tetrazzini. However, feel free to use shedded mozzarella, shredded Parmesan, or another favorite cheese. And you can always add more than the 1 cup the recipe calls for. I never say no to more cheese!
Pin This Recipe
- 1 pound spaghetti noodles (or linguine or another long-strand pasta), plus 1/2 cup reserved pasta water
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 1/4 cup white or yellow onion, diced small
- 3 to 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1/2 medium green bell pepper, seeded and diced small (yellow bell pepper may be substituted)
- 1/4 cup celery, diced small
- 3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- 1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms (white, button, baby portobello, etc.)
- two 10.5-ounce cans cream of chicken soup*
- 1 1/2 cups spaghetti sauce OR one 10.5-ounce can cream of mushroom soup**
- 1 cup heavy cream (half-and-half may be substituted)
- 4 ounces brick-style full-fat cream cheese (do not use lite products)
- 2 cups leftover cooked turkey, shredded or diced small (leftover chicken or rotisserie chicken may be substituted)
- 1 cup shredded Colby Jack cheese, plus more optionally to taste (shredded mozzarella or shredded Parmesan may be substituted)
- 1 cup Italian-style breadcrumbs
- 2 teaspoons fresh parsley, finely minced; optional for garnishing
- Cook the spaghetti according to package directions until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water. Drain noodles and set them aside in a large bowl.
- Preheat the oven to 350F and spray a 3 to 4-quart casserole dish or 9x13-inch baking pan with cooking spray; set aside.
- To a large skillet, add 3 tablespoons butter, the onions, garlic, and saute over medium-high heat for about 4 minutes, or until the onion is beginning to soften. Stir nearly constantly so you don't burn the garlic.
- Add the bell peppers, celery, salt, pepper, and saute for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add the cream of chicken soup, spaghetti sauce OR cream of mushroom soup, heavy cream, cream cheese, and stir continuously until the cream cheese melts and you have a smooth cream sauce.
- Add the turkey (or chicken) and stir to incorporate.
- If desired to thin out the sauce a bit if it seems a bit thick, add the pasta water, a couple tablespoons at a time, stirring after each addition, until sauce reaches desired consistency.
- Either add the spaghetti to the saute pan if it's big enough pan, or pour the sauce over the spaghetti if you have it in a bowl, and toss very well to combine.
- Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish.
- Evenly sprinkle with the cheese; set aside.
- To a small saucepan, add the remaining 3 tablespoons butter, and heat over medium-high heat to melt; stirring constantly.
- Add the breadcrumbs to the butter and stir to toss and coat evenly.
- Evenly sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the cheese layer over the coated spaghetti in the casserole dish.
- Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the top is bubbling and is as lightly golden browned as desired. Tip - Based on what kind of cheese you used, your exact casserole dish and oven, etc. baking time will vary so keep an eye on it starting at 25 minutes. Based on your variables, if it takes 40 minutes to bake, so be it and I would not be surprised. Bake until done.
- Optionally garnish with parsley and serve. Leftover turkey tetrazzini will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Reheat leftovers gently in the microwave before serving.
*Cream of chicken soup (and potentially cream of mushroom soup, see below) are the only way I know how to make this recipe and have never substituted them.
*No, this easy turkey tetrazzini does not taste like spaghetti with red sauce but use cream of mushroom soup instead if you're concerned.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 606Total Fat: 37gSaturated Fat: 20gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 127mgSodium: 1167mgCarbohydrates: 44gFiber: 3gSugar: 8gProtein: 24g
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