8 leftover turkey pasta recipes (because we can't eat another sandwich)

My favorite way to use up turkey looks nothing like a typical plate of leftovers

By Courtney Kassel

Published November 27, 2021 6:00AM (EST)

 (Linda Xiao / Food52)
(Linda Xiao / Food52)

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Picture this: It's two days after Thanksgiving, and you've consumed more "Moist Maker" turkey sandwiches than any one person needs to eat. And yet, when you open the fridge, there's still pounds upon pounds of cooked turkey leftovers staring back at you. We've all hit the wall of Thanksgiving leftovers: the flavors of sage, rosemary, and turkey gravy infiltrating every taste bud, the thought of cold, dry turkey haunting your dreams.

1. Turkey Pho

Vietnamese noodle soup may not be the first thing that comes to mind when staring at a fridge full of leftover turkey, but it should be. Raid your pantry for spices like coriander, cinnamon sticks, star anise, and cloves to transform leftover chicken or turkey broth (or homemade from the turkey bones if you're feeling ambitious!). Rice noodles are traditional in pho, but cellophane noodles or any other thin non-wheat noodle you have on hand will work in a pinch.

2. Creamy, Cheesy Artichoke and Chicken Pasta Bake

Chunks of briny artichoke hearts and strands of wilted spinach are interspersed between pasta and big hunks of crusty bread, all encompassed in an absurdly creamy cheese sauce, then baked until golden brown with sprinkles of mozzarella on top. Sold yet? Erin Alexander's decadent pasta bake is inspired by Artichoke Basille's namesake pizza, and exactly the dish to make if you want to double down on comfort post-Thanksgiving. While this recipe calls for grilled chicken breast, you could (and should!) swap in cubed turkey breast.

3. Sesame Noodles with Swiss Chard and Chicken

If you substitute shredded leftover turkey breast for the poached chicken in this recipe, you're minutes away from an easy, elegant dinner. Adapted from a recipe in Chrissy Teigen's cookbook "Cravings," this recipe is adjustable to whatever you do (or don't) have on hand. No Swiss chard? Use any hearty greens that weren't used up for Thanksgiving dinner.

4. Baked Penne Pasta with Butternut-Sage Sauce

Have lots of leftover roasted butternut squash or sweet potatoes? Riff on this quintessential fall baked pasta and hide some cubed turkey breast or shredded dark meat right in the casserole for some added heft and nutrition.

5. Turkey Tetrazzini

If you're unfamiliar, tetrazzini is a retro pasta bake that's begging to be resurrected. This version is specially designed for Turkey Day leftovers, but it still utilizes the traditional cream sauce and mushrooms. It's creamy, quintessential comfort food—and a welcome detour from stuffing and gravy.

6. Red Curry Chicken Noodle Soup

For a total flavor palate refresh, try on this curry noodle soup for size. Utilize the dark turkey meat here, shredding into bite-size pieces for easy spoonfuls.

7. One-Pot Spicy and Creamy Chicken Pasta

Substitute leftover white or dark meat for chicken in this one-pot pasta that tastes nothing like Thanksgiving leftovers. If you have any fresh herbs that didn't make it into the turkey cavity, put them to good use cutting through the richness in this creamy, comforting pasta.

8. Thankful for Leftover Turkey Soup

This orzo-filled, dill-flecked soup is a perfect option if you're craving something lighter after the big feast. Lemon and herbs add a hint of Mediterranean flavor that's fresher than your standard chicken soup. Author and community member inpatskitchen writes, "I often make this one with chicken, but those little pieces of turkey pulled off the bone work equally as well."


Courtney Kassel

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Food Food52 Holidays Pasta Thanksgiving Turkey