Recipes » Main Dish Recipes » Old Fashioned Turkey Tetrazzini Casserole

Old Fashioned Turkey Tetrazzini Casserole

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4.9 from 9 votes
Turn those Thanksgiving leftovers into one of the most delicious casseroles ever! Combine chopped roasted turkey and pasta with a creamy, cheesy mushroom sauce to create a hearty dinner your whole family will be excited about!
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Turkey tetrazzini in a casserole dish with serving tongs.

Turn those Thanksgiving leftovers into one of the most delicious casseroles ever! Combine chopped roasted turkey and pasta with a creamy, cheesy mushroom sauce to create a hearty dinner your whole family will be excited about!

This Old Fashioned Turkey Tetrazzini Casserole is my standard after-Thanksgiving, use-up-the-turkey casserole. Its ingredients are quite different from the flavors on the Thanksgiving menu and that makes it very welcome.

Turkey tetrazzini in a casserole dish with serving tongs.

If you’re wondering just what Turkey tetrazzini is, it’s an old-fashioned baked pasta casserole. You can make tetrazzini with either turkey or chicken. It’s a perfect casserole for using up leftovers! 

While the name may sound like it has Italian roots, the recipe actually doesn’t. It was created in America in the early 1900s. The name comes from a famous Italian soprano, Luisa Tetrazzini.

As with many food origin stories, the exact birthplace of Turkey Tetrazzini is debatable. This one has stories based on both the east and the west coast.

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Some say it originated at the Knickerbocker Hotel in New York City while others claim that it came from the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. Which is correct? We’ll probably never know. The only thing that is certain is that it’s one incredibly delicious recipe.


  • A delicious way to use up leftover turkey
  • Classic comfort food that will leave you feeling satisfied
  • Kid-friendly pasta dish

Equipment You’ll Need

For this recipe, you’ll need a large pot for cooking the spaghetti, a large saute pan, and a 9×13 baking dish.

Ingredient Notes

Photo of ingredients for this recipe.

Many tetrazzini recipes make use of canned condensed soup and I have absolutely no problem with that. But instead of the standard cream of mushroom soup, for this recipe, I prefer making a creamy cheese sauce with sauteed fresh mushrooms.

  • Spaghetti (You can also use angel hair pasta, bow ties, penne, or any other pasta you have on hand. The whole wheat pastas are also good in this casserole.)
  • Fresh Mushrooms (Substitute well-drained canned mushrooms if you don’t have fresh.)
  • Chicken Broth (If you have homemade chicken broth or leftover turkey broth, it’s even better than canned.)
  • Cream Cheese (Having the cream cheese at room temperature will help it melt and blend easier.)
  • Parmesan Cheese (Use fresh grated, bagged shredded, or the finely grated boxed type.)
  • Pimiento (The pimiento is optional but really does add a lot of flavor and eye appeal.)
  • Cooked Turkey or Chicken (This recipe is great for using up turkey leftovers from Thanksgiving or roast chicken leftovers from Sunday dinner. You can also use the meat from a rotisserie chicken in this recipe.)
  • Italian Parsley (Dried parsley can be substituted.)

You’ll find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the recipe at the bottom of this post.

How to Make Turkey Tetrazzini

Let’s Go Step-by-Step

I always like to show you the photos and step-by-step instructions for my recipes to help you picture how to make them in your own kitchen. If you just want to print out a copy, you can skip to the bottom of the post where you’ll find the recipe card.

Preheat the Oven and Cook the Spaghetti

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cooked spaghetti in a large pot.

Cook the spaghetti according to the package directions. Set aside.

Saute the Vegetables

Coat a large pan with cooking spray and place over medium-high heat. Add butter or margarine. When melted, add mushrooms, onions, and celery. Cook, stirring frequently until tender.

Mix the Flour and Milk into the Vegetables

Whisk together the flour and milk until smooth.

Add the flour-milk mixture along with the chicken broth, salt and pepper to the sautéed vegetables. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add Remaining Ingredients to Sauce

Remove from the heat and add cream cheese, stirring until melted. Stir in half the Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, pimiento, turkey, spaghetti, and parsley.

Add to Dish and Bake

Turkey tetrazzini mixture in a baking dish.

Spoon the mixture into a shallow baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining Parmesan cheese. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

A single fork full of turkey tetrazzini casserole.

How to Serve

I serve this with garlic bread or my cheesy onion and herb bread and a fresh mixed salad with a classic vinaigrette dressing. You could also serve roasted leeks or oven roasted asparagus as a side dish.

Variations

  • For a bit of spice, add 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes to the sauce.
  • Some cooks add a cup of frozen green peas in the sauce.
  • Vary the pasta and use whatever you have on hand. Angel hair pasta is great in this recipe.
  • To make a crunchy topping, toss the remaining Parmesan cheese with a cup of Panko bread crumbs and about two tablespoons of olive oil.
  • Make your casserole even richer by substituting half and half for the milk.

Storage and Freezing

Storing: Leftovers can be stored tightly covered in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

Freezing: Because of the cream sauce, I can’t recommend freezing. It’s very likely that the sauce would break and the result wouldn’t be great.

Reheating: Reheat in the microwave in one-minute increments, stirring in between to avoid drying out or burning the pasta.

Have you tried this recipe? I’d love for you to give it a star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating in the recipe card and/or in the comments section further down. You can always stay in touch on social media by following me on FacebookInstagram, or Pinterest and Sign Up to Get my Newsletter, too!

Recipe

Turkey tetrazzini in a casserole dish with serving tongs.

Old Fashioned Turkey Tetrazzini Casserole

Turn those Thanksgiving leftovers into one of the most delicious casseroles ever! Combine chopped roasted turkey and pasta with a creamy, cheesy mushroom sauce to create a hearty dinner your whole family will be excited about!
4.89 from 9 votes
Print It Rate It
Course: Main Dishes
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 298kcal
Author: Lana Stuart

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces spaghetti
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 tablespoon butter or margarine
  • 3 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 small onion minced
  • 2 ribs celery minced
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • 14.5 ounces canned chicken broth
  • 3 ounces cream cheese
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ cup diced pimiento
  • 2 cups chopped cooked turkey or chicken
  • ½ cup chopped Italian parsley

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Cook the spaghetti according to the package directions. Set aside.
  • Coat a large pan with cooking spray and place over medium-high heat. Add butter or margarine. When melted, add mushrooms, onion and celery. Cook, stirring frequently until tender.
  • Whisk together the flour and milk until smooth.
  • Add the flour-milk mixture along with the chicken broth, salt and pepper to the sautéed vegetables. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Remove from the heat and add cream cheese, stirring until melted. Stir in half the Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, pimiento, turkey, spaghetti and parsley.
  • Spoon the mixture into a shallow baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining Parmesan cheese. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Notes

Ingredients:
  • For the spaghetti, you can also use angel hair pasta, bow ties, penne, or any other pasta you have on hand. The whole wheat pastas are also good in this casserole.
  • Substitute well-drained canned mushrooms if you don’t have fresh.
  • If you have homemade chicken broth or leftover turkey broth, it’s even better than canned.
  • Use freshly grated Parmesan, bagged shredded, or the finely grated boxed type.
  • The pimiento is optional but really does add a lot of flavor and eye appeal.
  • Dried parsley can be substituted for fresh.
Variations:
  • For a bit of spice, add ¼ teaspoon of red pepper flakes to the sauce.
  • Some cooks add a cup of frozen green peas in the sauce.
  • Vary the pasta and use whatever you have on hand. Angel hair pasta is great in this recipe.
  • To make a crunchy topping, toss the remaining Parmesan cheese with a cup of Panko bread crumbs and about two tablespoons of olive oil.
  • Make your casserole even richer by substituting half and half for the milk.
Storage and Freezing:
  • Storing: Leftovers can be stored tightly covered in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
  • Freezing: Because of the cream sauce, I can’t recommend freezing. It’s very likely that the sauce would break and the result wouldn’t be great.
  • Reheating: Reheat in the microwave in one-minute increments, stirring in between to avoid drying out or burning the pasta.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1 | Calories: 298kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 49mg | Sodium: 552mg | Potassium: 469mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 845IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 157mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your health care provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.

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— This post was originally published on December 1, 2010. It has been updated with new photos and additional information.

Classic Turkey Tetrazzini in a casserole baking dish with a red kitchen towel in the foreground.

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28 Comments

  1. Looking forward to making this. I don’t have leftover turkey. I am going to use leftover chicken.sounds delish.

  2. We used our leftover 20 lb turkey from Easter to make this. Our family has made it for decades with stuffed green olives with pimentos but I left those out but subbed sautéed red bell pepper. We boil the turkey wings and part of the carcus to get all of the meat off the bones and then use the turkey water to boil the spaghetti, making the pasta alot more flavorful. Takes more time doing this but it’s worth it!

  3. 5 stars
    I think I have tried every Turkey Tetrazzini recipe there is, and then I came across this one! I about fell over with how it all went together, and how easy it was, but wait…AND how delicious!! Had some friends over and they all loved it! My new standard “go to” recipe! Thank you SO much.

  4. You are so lucky Lana, my mom died before I ever had kids and my grandmother shortly after my first daughter was born. My kids simply never had the childhood I did of family gatherings with generations present. How special!

    Turkey Tetrazzini is a given for us after the holidays but I do dress it up a bit. There is BACON! :)

  5. This is the sweetest story of all time. I got a little weepy at the picture of your family together on Thanksgiving. I’m absolutely going to try the recipes. Thank you for sharing your story.

  6. What a joy to have five (count ’em five) generations together for Thanksgiving dinner, and how I envy you for that. And what a joy your turkey tetrazzini recipe is too! For some reason, I ALWAY associate this dish with the southern part of the US and find myself wondering how and why it became such a dinnertime favorite here. My version, which I make often, is similar to yours except for your superb idea of including cream cheese. That is such a good idea and one I plan to adopt pronto.

    1. I agree, Barbara, that tetrazzini is a decidedly southern casserole but have no idea why that is so. Unless it started with homemade noodles or thin dumplings at the beginning and gradually evolved to the more easily prepared dried pasta. Just a guess.

  7. now Lana, that is something to be proud of, having all in one place, and what a beautiful picture… nothing better than family photos and nothing better that being able to spend time with the ones you love… hey, this recipe is out of sight, Momma taught me to do a chicken version many years ago and is it very similar…. reminds me to git out my cookbook and start cooking family favorites…

  8. Beautiful picture, beautiful family. 5 generations is really something. You must have had a terrific holiday!
    Your recipe looks delish as always ;)

  9. I adore the picture of your multigenerational family. What a wonderful tribute to them! Our turkey is gone, but I’ll remember your recipe for next time. It sounds delicious and homey.

  10. What a great photo, I’m so happy for you, I know you’ll treasure it! Your turkey tet looks mighty good too:@)

  11. Wow! What a beautiful family! And FIVE generations?…that’s impressive! We would brag about 4 generations until we lost grandmother at 93 1/2 a few months ago! You come from a dandy stock lovely lady!