This turkey pasta bake is perfect for leftover Thanksgiving turkey, or you can even use chicken! It has a creamy pesto sauce, mushrooms, and plenty of melty mozzarella.
Why you'll love it
Whenever I make my Roast Turkey, chances are that there are plenty of leftovers even if I'm feeding a crowd. If you're tired of making sandwiches and wondering what to do with leftover turkey, you've found the right recipe! Just a few everyday ingredients you likely have on-hand already make for one tasty and comforting turkey pasta bake.
I wanted to make this turkey baked pasta recipe really simple since you probably need a break after everything that's involved with cooking a big holiday feast. A handful of readily available ingredients combine for a hassle-free and decadent meal. The pesto taste isn't super strong in here, just enough to give it a bit of a herby flavor!
What you'll need to make it
- Rigatoni - a hearty pasta that holds up well in this bake
- Oil and butter - for sautéing the mushrooms
- Onion and garlic - I rarely make a pasta bake without these delicious aromatics. Vidalia (sweet) onions are my choice, and I like to mince garlic effortlessly with a garlic press.
- Mushrooms - cremini is the variety I used. Sometimes they're labeled as baby bellas.
- Pesto - use a good-quality variety in a jar or Homemade Pesto if you prefer
- Heavy cream - to add a luxurious creamy touch
- Cooked turkey - there's always so much to use up, and this pasta bake is the best way to do it!
- Mozzarella cheese - it's a fantastic melting cheese
- Parsley - a bit of chopped parsley brings freshness and a little bit of color
How to make this turkey pasta bake
This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
Cook the pasta for a couple of minutes less than the package directions suggest. Meanwhile, sauté the onions and mushrooms in a skillet until browned, then add in the garlic, followed by the pesto and cream.
Let it cook for a couple of minutes until slightly thickened, then stir in the turkey meat. Transfer the drained pasta to a 9x13 casserole dish once it's cooked.
Transfer the turkey and sauce mixture to the casserole dish, add half the cheese, and toss. Smooth it in an even layer.
Top with the remaining cheese, cover, and bake until hot and bubbly!
- My favorite brand for jarred pesto is DeLallo (and I've tried a lot).
- You could easily sneak some more veggies in here. Frozen peas would work if you've got some or finely diced carrots.
- Some grated fresh parmesan would add even more flavor to this dish if you happen to have some! Mix it in or sprinkle it on top.
Substitutions and variations
- You could swap the pasta for another shape. Penne or ziti would work instead of the rigatoni, for example.
- This recipe would work with leftover Cooked Chicken or rotisserie chicken easily.
- If you sub the cream for something lower fat, I can't predict what results you will get. The heavy cream thickens up nicely and is not likely to curdle/separate. You could make a roux to thicken the sauce if you want to swap the cream for something with a lower fat content.
Leftovers and storage
- You probably don't want leftovers of leftovers, so if you only want 4 portions, cut the recipe in half and use an 8x8 (or similar size) baking dish vs. the suggested 9x13.
- Reheat any leftovers of this dish slowly over a low heat in a saucepan, or pop it back in the oven, covered with foil, at a lower temperature until warmed through.
- I don't recommend freezing it. The texture won't come out the same after thawing.
What to serve with this turkey pasta casserole
Questions about this easy leftover turkey bake recipe, or did you make it? Let me know in the comments below! You can also find me on Instagram.
Leftover Turkey Pasta Bake
- 12 ounces uncooked rigatoni or penne
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 medium onion chopped
- 7 ounces cremini or white mushrooms sliced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1/4 cup pesto
- 2 cups heavy/whipping cream
- 2-3 cups cooked turkey cut up
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese shredded
- Fresh chopped parsley optional, to taste
- Preheat oven to 375F and move the rack to the middle position.
- Cook the pasta for 2 minutes less than package directions indicate. Once cooked, drain and add to a greased 9x13 casserole dish.
- Meanwhile, add the oil and butter to a skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion and mushrooms until the mushrooms have released their water and it's cooked out and everything is nicely browned (about 8 minutes).
- Stir the garlic in and cook for about 30 seconds.
- Stir in the pesto and cream and once the sauce starts to bubble, cook for about 2 minutes or until it's slightly thickened (don't let it get too thick as it'll thicken more in the oven). Take the skillet off the heat.
- Stir in the turkey and some salt & pepper to taste.
- Transfer the skillet mixture to the casserole dish, add half the cheese, and toss.
- Top with the rest of the cheese. (Note: if you want it extra cheesy, feel free to add more than the suggested 1 cup on top.)
- Cover the casserole dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes or until it's warmed through.
- Take the foil off and broil the top for a few minutes if you want to brown the cheese (optional). Watch that it doesn't burn!
- Let it sit for a few minutes prior to serving. Sprinkle with chopped parsley if using.
- Serves 6-8 depending on portion size. 12 oz is 3/4 of a 16 oz. package of pasta.
- Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.