Turkey Tetrazzini combines leftover turkey, egg noodles, mushrooms, and peas in a creamy cheese sauce. Dig into delicious layers covered in crunchy topping!
As much as we love our traditional Thanksgiving dinners, we love eating the leftovers more! There’s no need to stick to sandwiches and reheated plates when you can create new meals like this Turkey Tetrazzini!
What is Tetrazzini?
It’s an American dish made with diced poultry and mushrooms in a creamy, buttery cheese sauce. It was originally served as a sauce over noodles, with a garnish of breadcrumbs or almonds, as well as cheese.
The dish was created around 1908 by Ernest Arbogast, chef at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. He named the dish after Italian opera star, Luisa Tetrazzini, who made her American debut at San Francisco’s Tivoli theater.
Today, there are many variations of tetrazzini – and a casserole is probably the most common way of serving it today. Some have chicken or turkey, others have seafood, and short-cut recipes using canned soups became popular when it was included on can labels. (We prefer homemade!)
Our Spin on a Turkey Tetrazzini Casserole
Our Turkey Tetrazzini recipe couldn’t be easier (or any more delicious), and we make it in a somewhat non-traditional way.
Unlike most recipes, our version starts with dry egg noodles that are layered in with the other ingredients. The noodles cook up perfectly creamy and tender – not at all mushy like so many baked noodle casseroles tend to get!
Then we finish the entire dish with an amazing, crunchy-cheesy topping made from crushed potato chips and Swiss cheese.
Why you are going to love Turkey Tetrazzini!
- It’s 100% from scratch (no canned soup) but still easy to prepare.
- Goes from prep to plate in just over an hour.
- Makes plenty for guests who are staying over.
Key Ingredients and Substitutions
- Poultry – While we love this tetrazzini recipe made with Thanksgiving turkey leftovers, you can easily prepare it throughout the year. Cook up a smaller turkey breast, or substitute a cooked chicken instead.
- Stock – Use your favorite low-sodium canned or jarred stock, or make some of our homemade turkey or chicken stock instead.
- Cheese – We love the flavor of Fontina in this tetrazzini, and it’s also a cheese that melts easily. If you can’t find it, Gruyère Swiss cheese, provolone, or gouda are all wonderful substitutes. Keep the Swiss in the topping as is, or swap it for a good aged white cheddar.
- Veggies – Mushrooms, onions and celery are the traditional vegetables to include in any Tetrazzini recipe. You can swap in other vegetables – just as long as they don’t give off much moisture. (Excess moisture can make this casserole soggy instead of creamy.)
- Potato chips – Yes, you read that right! Trust us – the difference in flavor and texture is incredible. Any variety will do, whether they are thin, ridged, or baked. If you still prefer something more traditional, combine panko breadcrumbs with a little butter before stirring in the cheese.
How do I make Turkey Tetrazzini?
- Reduce chicken stock – This creates the base for the sauce that has a more intense flavor. Once reduced, stir in the dairy liquids, cheese, and seasonings. Don’t let the mixture come to a boil, or it will scald and curdle.
- Sauté vegetables – Cook onions in melted butter in a separate pan until softened. Then add the mushrooms. Stir in flour to create a roux. Then pour the sauce into the pan a third at a time. Don’t worry if it appears thin – it will thicken in the oven.
- Assemble the casserole – Start with some sauce on the bottom of the baking dish, and then layer half of the noodles, meat, peas, and sauce before repeating with the other half.
- Make the topping – Combine the crushed chips and cheese in a bowl before sprinkling over the top of the casserole.
- Bake – Leave it uncovered, and switch to broil during the last few minutes so the top can get nice and crispy. Cool for about 10 minutes so the sauce can thicken before serving.
Use a deep casserole dish, about 3-4 quart capacity, to bake this Turkey Tetrazzini recipe. If it’s filled to the brim, place some foil on the rack below to catch any drips or spills. For ovens with only one rack, place the dish on a rimmed baking sheet instead.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What do you serve with turkey tetrazzini? Since it is quite filling on its own, keep your sides simple. A green salad and some dinner rolls are more than enough to round out the plate.
- I don’t like egg noodles. Can I use spaghetti instead? Sure! Most tetrazzini recipes tend to call for thin wheat pasta varieties like spaghetti or linguine. That said, you will most likely need to partially cook the pasta first – as they take longer to cook than egg noodles. Follow package instructions, but under cook slightly so they don’t get too soft as they finish cooking in the casserole.
- What’s the best way to reheat leftovers? Either put them back in the oven until warmed through or heat smaller portions on the stove. Add a splash of milk or broth as needed if it seems too thick. A reheat in the microwave will also work, although the topping won’t stay crunchy
- Can I make this turkey tetrazzini recipe ahead of time? Yes. You can either reheat it like leftovers or freeze for later. To freeze, tightly wrap the entire dish in a layer of plastic and foil once cooled. Store for up to 6 months in the freezer. Then thaw in the refrigerator overnight, and bake uncovered until warmed through – about 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees.
More Turkey Leftovers:
- Leftover Turkey Noodle Soup
- Turkey & Stuffing Turnovers
- Turkey Pot Pie
- Turkey Stuffing Meatloaf
- New England Turkey Chowder
You will need a large 3-4 quart casserole dish for this recipe. We used a deep 9X13 casserole dish.
- 3 cups low sodium chicken or turkey stock
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 cups heavy cream
- ½ pound Fontina cheese, shredded
- 1 teaspoon salt (if using salted stock, omit salt or salt to taste)
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- 5 tablespoons butter
- 2 cups thickly sliced onion (slice onion in half vertically and lay flat, then slice with the grain into thick slices).
- 1 12-ounce package button mushrooms, cut into thick slices
- 3 tablespoons flour
- Non-stick cooking spray
- 8 ounces uncooked extra broad egg noodles (we used No Yolk brand)
- 1 pound cooked turkey (white or dark) cut into bite sized pieces
- 2 cups frozen green peas
- 2 ounces finely shredded Swiss cheese
- 2 ounces plain potato chips, crushed
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Place chicken stock into medium to large sauce pan and bring to a boil. Boil until reduced to one cup, letting two cups evaporate. This will give you a triple strength stock. Add all of the milk and cream and bring to hot but not boiling. Add Fontina cheese, salt, pepper and nutmeg, stir and keep mixture on medium low heat.
- While stock is reducing, melt butter in a large pot over medium heat and add onions. Sauté for five minutes and add mushrooms. Sauté for five more minutes and add flour. Reduce heat and stir to make a roux. Cook for three minutes. Add hot stock and milk mixture to butter, mushroom and flour mixture one third at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon. This sauce will be intentionally thin.
- Spray a 3-4 quart casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray and ladle in some sauce to coat the bottom.
- Spread half the dry noodles, half the cooked turkey, half the frozen peas and half of the hot cream sauce. Repeat with remaining noodles, turkey, peas and sauce.
- Mix the finely shredded Swiss cheese with the crushed chips in a small bowl and sprinkle over the top of the casserole. (if you used a smaller casserole dish and it is filled to the top, place a sheet of foil on the rack below the casserole to catch any drips).
- Bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes. The liquid should be bubbling and hot. Place under brolier for a minute or two to brown and crisp the top if desired. Remove from oven and allow the casserole to set up for ten minutes before serving.