I’m panning ahead this year. No need to waste that leftover turkey (or ham or chicken). Dial those leftovers up a notch in this leftover turkey pasta bake. Just add some vegetables, pasta, cheese and a creamy sauce and you have a wonderfully simple and delicious dinner.
So, the festivities are over and now you’re wondering what to do with leftover turkey. If you’re like me, you always have leftovers no matter how hard you try not to. This recipe was born out of that.
Heart-warming, stomach-filling creamy pasta and all you need is one pan and 25 minutes of hands on time. That’s it.
What you’ll need
With just some basic seasonings – salt, pepper, garlic – and a touch of oil, you only need a few more ingredients to make this flavourful turkey pasta bake.
- Turkey (3): I use leftover turkey after making my slow cooker turkey breast but you can also use other meats too.
- Stock / broth (1): If you have some homemade turkey or chicken stock great, but if not make sure to buy a really good flavourful stock.
- Cream (2): This creates a gorgeous, silky-smooth creamy sauce.
- Vegetables (4, 5 & 6): Leek, mushrooms and baby spinach are what I use but, this is a great opportunity to use up some leftover veg too.
- Pasta (12): Simple dried pasta is all you need – shells work a dream since they have little pockets that hold onto the sauce but also add structure to the bake.
- Cheese (7): There are two types of cheese in this – mozzarella and gruyere. These give a wonderful combination of melty cheese and flavour.
Variations and substitutions
This one pot pasta bake is extremely versatile so you can change it up to use up whatever leftovers you have on hand.
- Meat: Try adding raw ground turkey and cook it with the leek at the start. Other leftover meats like ham or rotisserie chicken will also work.
- Vegetables: Try capsicum (bell pepper), kale, celery or even tinned champignons work great. The leek is a light onion-y flavour but a single small red onion or a couple of shallots are a good swap.
- Cheese: Swap out the mozzarella for another mild melty cheese like gouda or a light cheddar. The gruyere can be swapped for something stronger – parmesan or romano would be perfect but a strong cheddar will do the job too.
- Pasta: You could use penne, rigatoni, macaroni – something shaped with ridges works best.
Handy tools to have
- A stove to oven pan: I love my large enamel casserole pan, that can go from the stovetop straight into the oven.
How to make turkey pasta bake
You are going to love how easy this is. Everything is cooked together in one pan, including the pasta, just the same way as my chicken pesto pasta bake.
- First cook the leek and mushrooms until softened (image 1).
- Follow that up with garlic, right before adding pasta, stock and water (image 2). Let this bubble for a bit until the pasta is still slightly firm but doesn’t taste raw.
- Now add most of the remaining ingredients (images 3 & 4), holding back some cheese for the top (image 5).
- Bake it for 15-20 minutes and serve it up hot.
What else can I do with leftover turkey
There are so many ways to use up leftover turkey so nothing needs to go to waste.
- Try adding it to chowder or soup
- Use it to top pizza or flatbread
- Turn it into a stir-fry or these easy lettuce cups
Or you could just make a good old turkey sandwich. I always cook extra turkey just so that I can do this.
Creamy and comforting but also full of fresh vegetables this one pot leftover turkey pasta bake will give new life to those turkey leftovers.
Recipes perfect for leftovers
- Creamy Turkey Corn Chowder – add Thanksgiving turkey or rotisserie chicken.
- Easy Flatbread with Turkey and Basil Pesto – use your turkey for this turkey pizza.
- Quick and Healthy Turkey San Choy Bow – finely chop some Thanksgiving turkey.
- One Pan Chicken Pesto Pasta Bake – use leftover rotisserie chicken or turkey.
- Chicken Basil Pesto Pasta – use leftover rotisserie chicken or turkey.
- Creamy pumpkin pasta – use leftover roast pumpkin and use ham instead of sausage.
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Leftover Turkey Pasta Bake
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (notes)
- 1 leek, roughly chopped
- 1 cup sliced mushrooms
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 250 g dry shells or macaroni pasta (3 level cups / 8.8oz)
- 1 cup chicken / turkey stock
- 1 ¼ cups water (310ml)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 2 big handfuls fresh baby spinach leaves
- 3 cups cooked turkey, roughly chopped (about 450g / 1 pound)
- 1 cup thickened cream (heavy cream)
- 1 cup shredded gruyere (notes)
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella (notes)
- Preheat the oven to 190C / 375F / 170C fan forced.
- Using a large pan that can go from the stove-top to the oven, heat theoil over medium-high heat.
- Saute the leek and mushroom, 2-3 minutes, until softened.
- Add the garlic and saute, stirring, for 1 minute.
- Add the pasta, stock, water, salt and pepper. Cook for about 12 minutes until pasta is almost cooked through (it should still have bit of bite but not taste raw). If it's nearly dry but not cooked through add up to another ½ cup water and give it a mix before cooking another few minutes.
- Add the spinach, turkey cream plus ⅔ of the combined cheeses. Stir well to combine until the cheese has melted in.
- Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top.
- Bake, uncovered for 15-20 minutes until starting to turn golden on top.
- I use a standard Australian 20ml tablespoon.
- You can swap the mozzarella for another mild melty cheese like gouda or edam. You can swap the gruyere for cheeses like parmesan, romano or even a strong cheddar.
- You can use any pasta with ‘body’ like spirals, penne or macaroni.
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