Turkey Tetrazzini

published Jul 19, 2021
Turkey Tetrazzini

Turkey Tetrazzini has many variations, but at its heart it is a baked noodle casserole.

Serves6 to 8

Prep50 minutes

Cook40 minutes

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Turkey Tetrazzini in a white serving dish on a marble table
Credit: Meleyna Nomura
Turkey Tetrazzini

Turkey tetrazzini is one of those dishes that many people have heard of, but might not be familiar with the specifics of it. It’s some sort of casserole, but why the name? And why turkey?

What Does Tetrazzini Mean?

While the dish sounds vaguely Italian, it’s actually very much American. It doesn’t refer to the ingredients or even a cooking technique, but was likely named after famed opera singer Luisa Tetrazzini in the early 1900s. The story goes (well, one of them anyway) that Tetrazzini held a free concert in the streets of San Francisco in 1908, a bit of a balm to the city she called home after the devastating 1906 earthquake. The city’s famed Palace Hotel created the dish in her honor. (The hotel is also known for creating green goddess dressing.)

The recipe has many variations, but at its heart it is a baked noodle casserole typically studded with poultry, peas, and mushrooms. A milk-based sauce keeps things cozy.

Why Do We Use Turkey?

The earliest version of tetrazzini I could find is in my 1943 edition of the Joy of Cooking. Specified as a lunch dish, the recipe calls for either turkey or chicken, cooked specifically for the recipe. More modern recipes emphasize convenience; ingredient lists call for leftover Thanksgiving turkey, chicken pulled from a grocery store rotisserie bird, or even canned tuna.

Credit: Meleyna Nomura
Turkey Tetrazzini

Four Steps to a More Flavorful Turkey Tetrazzini 

Today’s tetrazzini often capitalizes on shortcuts. And while I’m all for streamlining a recipe, convenience doesn’t need to be a compromise on flavor. Leftover turkey is an excellent way to simplify this dish, but I skipped the canned cream of mushroom soup.

  1. Use precooked or leftover turkey to free up time to make the creamy sauce from scratch.
  2. Sauté shallots, soy sauce (a favorite casserole secret that I lifted from traditional green bean casserole), and a little lemon help avoid a one-note dinner.
  3. Par-cook linguine (instead of using fully cooked egg noodles) to give the dish a bit more texture.
  4. Use pasta water in the sauce to keep things creamy and comforting without being too thick.

Turkey Tetrazzini

Turkey Tetrazzini has many variations, but at its heart it is a baked noodle casserole.

Prep time 50 minutes

Cook time 40 minutes

Serves 6 to 8

Nutritional Info


  • 12 ounces

    cremini mushrooms

  • 2

    shallots (about 4 ounces each)

  • 7 tablespoons

    unsalted butter, divided

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt, divided

  • 1/4 cup

    dry white wine

  • 1/4 cup

    all-purpose flour

  • 1 1/2 cups

    low-sodium chicken or turkey stock

  • 1 1/2 cups

    whole milk

  • 1/2 cup

    heavy cream

  • 1

    bay leaf

  • 12 ounces


  • 3 cups

    cooked turkey (white or dark meat, or a mix of both)

  • 1 cup

    frozen peas

  • 1 tablespoon

    lemon juice, from one half of a lemon

  • 2 teaspoons

    soy sauce

  • 1/2 cup

    grated Parmesan cheese, divided

  • 1/3 cup

    panko breadcrumbs

  • Kosher salt


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F and adjust the rack to the center of the oven. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

  2. Thinly slice 12 ounces cremini mushrooms and finely chop the shallots. Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet (preferably not nonstick) over medium-high heat. Add sliced mushrooms and stir to coat in butter. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are browned, 8 to 10 minutes.

  3. Reduce heat to medium and stir in the chopped shallots and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Cook until the shallots have softened, 3 to 4 more minutes. Add 1/4 cup dry white wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to pull up the brown bits and simmer 1 to 2 minutes, until the wine has mostly evaporated. Transfer the mushroom mixture to the largest bowl you have.

  4. Return skillet to the stovetop (no need to clean it first) and melt 3 another tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add 1/4 cup all-purpose flour and cook, whisking occasionally, for 1 to 2 minutes or until the mixture starts to turn golden-brown. Gradually pour in 1 1/2 cups chicken stock, a splash at a time, whisking constantly to prevent lumps from forming. Then whisk in 1 1/2 cups whole milk, 1/2 cup heavy cream, and 1 bay leaf, and bring to a simmer. Once mixture reaches a simmer, reduce heat to medium-low and let cook for 10 minutes, whisking frequently to prevent the bottom from scorching.

  5. While the sauce simmers, cook 1 pound linguine until very al dente, about 3 minutes less than the package indicates. Reserve 1/2 cup of cooking water then drain the pasta. Add the pasta to the bowl with the mushrooms.

  6. To the same bowl, add 3 cups cooked turkey and 1 cup frozen peas. (No need to thaw the peas.) Remove and discard the bay leaf from the sauce. Add the sauce to the bowl, along with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 2 teaspoons soy sauce, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, and 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta cooking water. (The mixture should be quite liquid at this point, but will thicken as it bakes in the oven.) Stir and taste for seasoning, adding some kosher salt if necessary.

  7. Pour pasta mixture and sauce into a 9x13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle over remaining 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese and 1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs. Cut the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter into small pieces then dot the top of the casserole. Bake, uncovered, until top is golden-brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Let sit 15 minutes before serving.

Recipe Notes

Leftovers can be stored covered in the refrigerator for three days. Reheat in the microwave or covered in a 300°F oven.