Turkey Tetrazzini

5 from 2 votes

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Leftover turkey mixed with sautéed fresh mushrooms and a delightful cream sauce spiked with sherry, sage, and parsley is nestled under a cheesy, crunchy breadcrumb topping. This tetrazinni casserole is anything but boring!

Turkey Tetrazzini and salad on a white plate.

If you think turkey tetrazzini is not that exciting a dish, let’s discuss it after you make this recipe. Nothing bland or boring about it! Thanks to a cheesy, crunchy breadcrumb topping, sautéed fresh mushrooms, and a delightful cream sauce spiked with sherry, sage, and parsley, this is a more sophisticated take on a dish that should be back in the spotlight.

This turkey tetrazzini recipe is a great way to use up leftover turkey, whether it be from a big Thanksgiving roasted turkey or a slow cooker turkey breast you made for your family. It is creamy, crunchy, and super luxurious while still being humble. I like to serve it with a nice fresh escarole salad or bright, lemony Brussels sprouts.

Turkey Tetrazzini in a white baking dish.

Turkey Tettrazini: Leftover turkey mixed with sauteed fresh mushrooms and a delightful cream sauce spiked with sherry, sage and parsley is nestled under a cheesy crunchy bread crumb topping. This casserole is anything but boring!

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What Is the Origin of Turkey Tetrazzini?

Did you know that Turkey Tetrazzini was named after an opera singer? Luisa Tetrazzini is one hell of a great name. Apparently, the dish was created in San Francisco, where Tetrazzini lived in the early 1900s, and created by a chef named  Ernest Arbogast at the Palace Hotel. There are other accounts that state that the dish was created at the Knickerbocker Hotel in NYC, and still other theories, but I’m sorry, I have to lean towards the story where someone is actually named Tetrazzini.

Turkey Tetrazzini Ingredients

Leftover turkey is the perfect springboard for this turkey tetrazzini recipe.

For the Breadcrumb Topping:

  • Fresh breadcrumbs – If you have stale bread, make your own breadcrumbs by placing a few slices in the food processor. Another smart use of leftovers!
  • Unsalted butter – Melt the butter so it can coat the breadcrumbs completely.
  • Gruyere or Swiss cheese – This recipe calls for two kinds of cheese, not a whole lot of each, but just enough to elevate the dish without being overpowering. The tempting gold brown topping made with breadcrumbs and Gruyere cheese adds another level of sophistication and flavor. You can use grated Swiss cheese if you don’t have access to gruyere.

For the Turkey Tetrazzini:

  • Dried spaghetti – The spaghetti should be broken in half; see below for my tips on how best to do that.
  • Unsalted butter – Part of the butter is used to sauté the vegetables, and the rest is used to make a roux, which will thicken the sauce.
  • Vegetables – A combination of onions and mushrooms gives the dish sweetness and savoriness.
  • All-purpose flour – Thickens the sauce.
  • Dried sage – Herbs make this dish aromatic and fresh at the same time.
  • Chicken broth – Using a combination of broth and whole milk (plus the butter used to sauté the vegetables) gives this sauce a great amount of savoriness and creaminess.
  • Whole milk – Makes the sauce creamy and rich.
  • Dry sherry – The sherry is optional, but it adds a nice flavor boost if you choose to include it.
  • Cooked turkey – This is a great use for leftover turkey or even leftover chicken if you have some in the fridge.
  • Frozen peas – Thaw before using.
  • Fresh parsley – Part of the sauce, plus hold a little more on the side to sprinkle on top for a nice presentation.
  • Parmesan cheese – Gives the sauce body and salty richness.
Turkey Tetrazzini topped with Parmesan cheese on a plate with salad.

How to Make Turkey Tetrazzini

  1. Cook the spaghetti: While the oven preheats, break the spaghetti in half and cook it according to the package directions. Set aside.
  2. Sauté the vegetables: Cook the onions and mushrooms in butter until they start to brown. Set aside.
  3. Make the topping: Combine the breadcrumbs, salt, melted butter, and Gruyere or Swiss cheese. Set aside.
  4. Make the sauce: Melt the remaining butter, then add the flour. Stir constantly until toasty and golden brown. Then add the sage, broth, and milk and bring the whole mixture to a simmer until the sauce thickens.
  5. Assemble: Add the cooked vegetables, pasta, turkey, parsley, and Parmesan to the sauce. Pour the mixture into a baking dish and cover with the breadcrumb topping.
  6. Bake: Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the top gets golden brown and crispy. With a little sprinkle of parsley to finish, the tetrazzini is ready to serve!
Woman using utensils to put Turkey Tetrazzini on a white plate.

Tips for Cooking Turkey Tetrazzini

  • Don’t overcook this casserole! The components are basically all already cooked (the vegetables in the sauce, the leftover turkey), so all you want to do is heat everything through and allow the flavors to meld a bit more.
  • Use fresh mushrooms. You can use button mushrooms, cremini, or any combo of fresh mushrooms available to you, but just don’t use canned. Canned vegetables are fine in some cases, but canned mushrooms will never really brown, and they have a spongy, slack texture.
  • Don’t skip the breadcrumb topping. The buttery, cheesy crunchiness is the perfect contrast to the creamy, tender filling.
  • If you prefer to use another herb instead of the sage, go right ahead. Thyme, marjoram, or rosemary would be good choices.
  • Break the spaghetti in half. More on that right below!
Fork scooping Turkey Tetrazzini from a plate.

How to Break Spaghetti in Half

First of all, why are we breaking the spaghetti in half? This does not seem very authentically Italian. The only reason I chose to do this is because shorter strands make the casserole easier to serve and eat, and since this isn’t exactly authentic Italian cuisine to start with, it made sense.

The following method allows you to do this easily without the mess of shards of pasta flying all over your kitchen.

  1. Wrap the spaghetti (or another long thin pasta noodle) in a clean dishtowel.
Woman placing uncooked spaghetti on a clean dishtowel.
  1. Place the middle of the wrapped pasta against the edge of your kitchen counter. Press both ends with equal force so that the bundle of spaghetti snaps in the middle.
Woman breaking spaghetti in half on a cutting board edge.
  1. Unwrap and cook up that pasta!

What to Serve With Turkey Tetrazzini

Turkey Tetrazzini and salad on plates and serving dishes.

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5 from 2 votes

Turkey Tetrazzini

Leftover turkey mixed with sautéed fresh mushrooms and a delightful cream sauce spiked with sherry, sage, and parsley is nestled under a cheesy, crunchy breadcrumb topping. This tetrazinni casserole is anything but boring!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 8 People
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Ingredients 

For the Bread Crumb Topping:

  • ½ cup fresh bread crumbs
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (melted)
  • ½ cup shredded gruyere or Swiss cheese

For the Turkey Tetrazzini:

  • 12 ounces dried spaghetti (snapped in half)
  • 6 tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted butter (divided)
  • 1 medium onion (chopped)
  • 8 ounces sliced mushrooms (any kind)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon dried sage
  • 1 cup chicken broth (preferably less-sodium)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons dry sherry (optional)
  • 3 cups cubed cooked turkey
  • 2 cups frozen peas (thawed)
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley (plus more for sprinkling)
  • ¼ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 400 F. Spray a 13 x 9 baking dish (or another similar shallow 2 ½ quart baking dish) with nonstick spray. Cook the spaghetti according to package directions. Drain.
  • Meanwhile, in a large, deep saucepan, melt the 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions and mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes until they are browned and any liquid they have released evaporates. Remove to a plate.
  • While the vegetables cook, make the topping: in a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, salt, 2 tablespoons melted butter, and Gruyere or Swiss cheese. Set aside.
  • Return the skillet to medium heat and melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of the butter. Sprinkle over the flour and cook, stirring 1 to 2 minutes until the flour is incorporated and turns golden. Stir in the sage, broth, and milk and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently for about 4 minutes until the sauce thickens.
  • Add the cooked mushrooms and onions, drained pasta, turkey, ½ cup parsley, and Parmesan (if your pan is not big enough, you can mix it all together in a large mixing bowl). Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish and sprinkle with the breadcrumb mixture.
  • Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until bubbly and golden brown. Sprinkle with a bit more parsley and serve.

Notes

This recipe calls for two kinds of cheese, not a whole lot of each, but just enough to elevate the dish without being overpowering, Parmesan bolsters the sauce, and the tempting gold brown topping made with bread crumbs and gruyere cheese adds another level of sophistication and flavor. You can use grated Swiss cheese if you don’t have access to gruyere.

Nutrition

Calories: 466kcal, Carbohydrates: 49g, Protein: 23g, Fat: 19g, Saturated Fat: 11g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 72mg, Sodium: 443mg, Potassium: 497mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 1120IU, Vitamin C: 23mg, Calcium: 203mg, Iron: 2mg
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About Katie Workman

Katie Workman is a cook, a writer, a mother of two, an activist in hunger issues, and an enthusiastic advocate for family meals, which is the inspiration behind her two beloved cookbooks, Dinner Solved! and The Mom 100 Cookbook.

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1 Comment

  1. Wendy Williams says:

    Delicious. Made exactly as recipe directed.