Let’s talk turkey (Tetrazzini): transforming holiday leftovers


The Easter ham.

It’s not a given, you know. Just because everyone else serves ham (or, for real traditionalists, lamb) on Easter, the Food Police won’t come knocking at your door if you dare to defy tradition and serve something else as the main dish.

Like lasagna, as my Italian in-laws often do.

Or roast turkey. After all, where is it writ that turkey can ONLY be served at Thanksgiving?

Admittedly, it may be difficult to find a whole fresh turkey at any time of the year outside November. But fresh or frozen turkey breast (for white-meat fans), and turkey drumsticks and thighs (for proponents of dark meat), are both readily available.

Roast enough of either, and you’ll have one of my favorite dishes:


Which, in the case of turkey, leads to another favorite: Turkey Tetrazzini, a rich, creamy spaghetti-turkey-and-mushroom concoction perfectly positioned to take care of your leftover turkey – be it Thanksgiving, or Easter.

And, speak about perfect positioning, your Zojirushi bread machine can happily step in for your casserole dish and oven, baking a generous 6 to 8 servings of this comforting dish in just 45 minutes, using its bread bucket.

Sound simple? It is.

First, take half a pound of uncooked spaghetti (half of a typical box; regular or fat, not angel hair), and break it into pieces: grab the whole handful and break it in half, then in half again. Cook until al dente, toss with a bit of oil so it doesn’t stick to itself, and set aside.

Next, the sauce.

In a frying pan set over medium heat, melt 4 tablespoons butter and sauté 4 cups (8 ounces) mushrooms until they’ve given up their liquid, and the liquid has evaporated.

Stir in 2 1/2 tablespoons King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, then add 1 3/4 cups (a 14- to 15-ounce can) chicken broth.

Cook until the mixture thickens; this will only take a few minutes.

Add the following:

1/2 cup heavy or whipping cream
2 tablespoons dry sherry (optional, but tasty)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black or white pepper
1/2 cup (packed) freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Stir until smooth, and remove from the heat.

Remove the paddles from the bread machine bucket. Lightly grease the inside with non-stick vegetable oil spray.

Place about one-third of the cooked spaghetti in the bottom of the bucket.

Add 1 to 1 1/2 cups diced cooked turkey or chicken…

…and one-third of the mushroom sauce (about 1 cup).

Repeat, as follows (note that you’ve already done the first 3 layers):


Make the topping by combining the following:

2 cups soft, fresh bread crumbs
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/3 cup, packed, freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Sprinkle the topping evenly over the sauce.

Program the machine for bake, 45 minutes; add the keep warm option, if desired.

Press Start. The red light (under Start) should light up. If it doesn’t, press Start again.

45 minutes later, you’ll see that the topping has browned a bit around the edges, and the filling is hot and perhaps a bit bubbly.

Remove the bucket and transfer the casserole to a serving dish.

Or simply serve the Tetrazzini right from the bucket, in all its creamy, savory deliciousness.

Aside from the requisite turkey sandwich with mayo and coarse black pepper on a fresh-baked soft roll, this is by far my favorite thing to do with leftover turkey. Truly, Tetrazzini is comfort food at its best.

Even better – here’s what the pan looks like once you’ve scooped the casserole out. A quick rinse with hot, soapy water, and you’re good to go. Who wants to scrub a casserole dish when you can rinse a bread machine bucket?!

Leftover leftovers? Pack them in individual servings, and freeze. Great for one of those “What’s for supper?” days…

For those of you without a bread machine, it’s super-simple to bake this in a 9″ x 13″ pan or similar-size casserole dish.

Simply stir together the turkey/mushrooms/sauce and pasta; spread in the lightly greased pan; and top with the butter/cheese crumbs. Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for about 45 minutes, until bubbling and very lightly browned.

Voilà! A simple, satisfying supper; and a truly tasty way to give leftover turkey a new lease on life.

Read, bake, and review (please) our recipe for Turkey Tetrazzini.

Print just the recipe.

Interested in other ways to use your Zo as a mini oven? Check out these posts:

•Sloppy Joes, creamy risotto, and warm peach cobbler
•Scalloped potatoes, classic bread stuffing, and homemade cranberry sauce
•Tomato-onion pasta bake and savory cheese bread
•Easy chocolate pudding cake

PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...


  1. argentyne

    You can also do what I do and buy an extra turkey or turkey parts at Thanksgiving, then parcel it out, vacuum seal it, and freeze it for later!

    I just thawed out a pair of legs and thighs from last fall and made them into Turkey Shepherd’s Pie (with hidden veggies). And I still have the bones to make into stock later.

  2. sandylee6

    Ummmmmmmmmmm I agree, one of my all time favs too. This looks like such an easy way to make Tetrazzini too, less power used, less pans and now I know I can freeze it too! Fabulous, and I LOVE my ZO for many reasons!

  3. misoranomegami

    Mmm I’m Argentyne. Ever year after Thanksgiving and Christmas I hit the stores that overstocked frozen turkeys and buy some for the chest freezer. I’ve gotten them as low as $.15. A couple of weeks ago I finally had the time to dig one out, thaw it and turn it into turkey sausage. 20lbs of frozen turkey that I paid $5 for; 1 package of baby spinach as the squirrels got to my garden spinach first $3, 2 packages of store bought feta as I was being lazy $5. Result is about 12 lbs of turkey, spinach feta sasuage for $13 when it goes for $7 a lb at the local gourmet mart. It’s sooo good. And if I hadn’t been quite so lazy I could have gotten more meat out of the turkey and a stock pot of good quality turkey broth.

  4. ltlfb

    I have no bread machine and if I make, will probably use slow cooker.

    That should work – or just pop the pan in your regular oven; you’ll find instructions in the recipe. PJH

  5. takefive34

    Looks absolutely dee-lish!!!!! I’d make only one substitution – rather than watery chicken broth, I’d use Kitchen Basics stock (the company makes wonderful chicken, vegetable, beef, seafood, clam, and turkey stock, the latter available in stores at holiday time). No leftover turkey at our house as the meal was held at a relative’s home; however, will be buying a small turkey for our own use. Turkey tetrazzini (and other recipes), here we come!!!!!

    Thanks for the tip – I’ll have to look for that stock. Enjoy your turkey leftovers – PJH

  6. debbey

    can you please teach us to make eggless pasta dough from whole wheat flour?

    Sorry, Debbey, it’s not in our plans right now. However, we’ll put it on the list for possible future projects, OK? In the meantime, you might take a look at this eHow recipe… PJH

  7. Lynn

    This was my favorite meal as a child, so admittedly I had high expectations for this recipe, but I found it to be a little bland. (Could it be that my childhood favorite was also bland? Probably!) If I made it again, I would leave off the bread crumb topping and use that parmesan in the filling. Also, I made extra sauce and think it would have been super dry without.


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