If you have lots of turkey leftover and you are looking for a quick, easy and family friendly way to use it then why not give this Turkey Pasta a try? Spaghetti in a creamy cheesy sauce with chunks of leftover turkey and some greens thrown in too. All ready in under 15 minutes.
We always say we won't have loads of leftover turkey, and then we end up with more than we know what to do with! For a quick and easy leftover turkey recipe that we know the kids will enjoy, we make this turkey pasta recipe. It's hearty and comforting, easily adaptable and doesn't need a lot of turkey, so it's good if you only have a little bit leftover.
If you are looking for some other recipes with leftover turkey, then why not try our Leftover Turkey Soup, Leftover Turkey Curry, Leftover Turkey Sandwich and Leftover Turkey Pie?
Why you will love it
- Less than 15 minutes - This leftover turkey pasta just takes as long as it takes for the pasta to cook. If you use quick cook pasta, then you can keep this meal under 10 minutes.
- Minimal ingredients - Most of them you probably already have in your kitchen. You could just keep it simple with the creme fraiche, turkey and pasta, but the extra ingredients are really worth it in our opinion.
- Cheap - This is such a budget friendly meal. We always have pasta in, so that and the leftover turkey in this recipe make an easy and cheap meal.
- Adaptable - Use this is a base recipe and then adapt it to suit your own tastes and it's a great recipe to use up leftovers. We have given some ideas below of our favourite ways to adapt it.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Pasta - Any pasta goes here. We like using spaghetti or linguine as the sauce really clings to it and you can see the chunks of leftover turkey. But feel free to use whatever you have.
- Oil - We used olive oil to cook the vegetables in.
- Leeks - Instead of using onions, we have used leeks as that gives the turkey pasta a more intense flavour. You could swap it for a small brown onion or even some shallots.
- Mushrooms - These add a nice chunky texture so you could use less meat if you wanted to. Any mushrooms work, and we like to use a nice mixture like shiitake and oyster for a mix of textures.
- Garlic - Freshly crushed is always best. Make sure it is crushed into a paste so you get an even distribution in the sauce. You can use ready crushed garlic to save time if you need to.
- Turkey - The star of the pasta! You can use any leftover turkey and have it shredded or chopped into chunks. We use leftovers from our Slow Cooker Turkey Crown or Roasted Turkey Breast.
- Creme fraiche - This is where the creaminess of the sauce comes from. You could use cream if you wanted, and it's a good way to use leftover cream. Use reduced fat creme fraiche to lighten this up.
- Spinach - We love anything we can give a green vegetable boost to and spinach is an easy way to do that. You could add kale to leftover turkey pasta if you prefer.
- Parmesan - Creamy pasta has to be cheesy, right? We used Parmesan as it has a really strong flavour. You could use cheddar or mozzarella if you prefer.
- Pasta water - This helps to loosen up the sauce and make it really silky smooth. You only need about 75ml.
- Mustard - This adds a nice kick of flavour to the turkey pasta sauce. We used wholegrain, but Dijon would work too.
- Salt and pepper - Generously season.
A full ingredients list with measurements is in the recipe card below.
How to make leftover turkey pasta - Step by step
One: Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions, usually 10-12 minutes.
Two: Heat the oil in a large pan and cook the leeks, mushrooms and garlic until softened, about 5 minutes.
Three: Add the turkey and Parmesan.
Four: Add the spinach, pasta water, creme fraiche, mustard, salt and pepper. Continue heating, stirring regularly, until the spinach has wilted, about 2-3 minutes.
Five: Once cooked, serve the topping on top of the drained pasta.
Turkey pasta sauce
There is no need to spend ages making a creamy pasta sauce, as you can make an incredible one with some creme fraiche (or even cream cheese), Parmesan and starchy pasta water.
Adding starchy pasta water (just 75-100ml is enough) to a fat like creme fraiche will create an emulsion and this gives a really silky smooth sauce and helps it cling to the pasta. Make sure you scoop out the water just before draining, as this ensures that it is nice and starchy.
You could also use single cream if you had some leftover from Christmas.
Leftover turkey - This recipe is a great way to use up leftovers. We added shredded leftovers from our Slow Cooker Turkey Crown, but you could use our Roasted Turkey Breast recipe too. If all you have is chicken, follow our Leftover Chicken Pasta Recipe.
Ham, bacon or chorizo - If you want to add some extra meat to this leftover turkey recipe, then you can add chopped ham or cooked bacon or chorizo. If you like chorizo pasta, why not try our Chorizo Mac and Cheese recipe?
Sweetcorn or peas - Use frozen and add them to the pasta and cook at the same time.
Cherry tomatoes - These not only add colour, but a little pop of flavour when you bite into them too.
Rocket (arugula) - Instead of spinach, you could also add rocket lettuce (arugula), which adds a nice peppery flavour.
Asparagus - We finely chop some asparagus and cook it at the same time as the pasta and it adds a nice bit of crunch.
Goats cheese - If you don't want to use Parmesan, then melting some goat's cheese into the sauce works well and it makes it extra creamy.
Gnocchi - If you fancy something a little different from pasta, but still keeping it ready in under 10 minutes, then use gnocchi instead
Sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes or olives - Give this dish a Mediterranean vibe by stirring in some chopped sun-dried tomatoes, olive or artichokes in oil from a jar.
Fresh herbs - You can lighten the whole dish up by sprinkling over some fresh basil before serving.
What to serve with leftover turkey pasta
If you want to bulk this meal our a bit, then serve it with some garlic bread. Either buy some ready made, or make your own easy garlic bread by cutting up some French stick and spreading it with a mix of butter, crushed garlic and dried herbs. Then pop it in the oven for 10 minutes. Why not try our Easy Cheesy Garlic Bread?
You could also keep it simple with a big green salad. The key to an epic green salad is to use a variety of greens, like romaine, spinach, kale and rocket. You want leafy greens, but crunch too. Then you need the perfect dressing. Why not try our Lemon Vinaigrette, Honey and Mustard Dressing or Tomato and Basil Vinaigrette. You could also try our Grilled Little Gem Salad, or Cucumber and Radish Salad.
If you want to add a big side of vegetables, then we recommend our Roasted Tenderstem Broccoli, Garlic Green Beans, Air Fryer Carrots, or Roasted Lemon Asparagus.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, it's an easy way to make the sauce really silky smooth, with no extra effort.
If you use your favourite gluten free pasta and make sure that there is no cross contamination, then this is a delicious gluten free meal.
You can easily double this recipe and it doesn't change the cooking time. Just make sure that you have a big enough frying pan to hold double the ingredients.
Yes, you can swap the cream cheese, milk and Parmesan for a tomato based sauce. Why not try our Easy Pasta Sauce recipe?
Since the turkey has already been reheated to make this recipe, we don't recommend storing leftovers and reheating it again.
• To make this even quicker, use some fresh tagliatelle which is ready in a few minutes.
• Don't forget to reserve some of the pasta water. You really don't want to skip this step, as it makes the sauce so silky.
• If you like your food spicy, then add a sprinkle of red chilli flakes on top before serving.
• Add a splash of olive oil to the pan before serving for an extra boost of flavour.
• Serve with extra Parmesan and cracked black pepper if you like.
• Why not make a leftover turkey pasta bake. Follow the recipe and then put everything in a baking dish, top with cheese and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
More turkey recipes
If you’ve tried this leftover turkey recipe, let us know how you got on in the comments below.
Tag us in your creations on Instagram @hungryhealthyhappy - Use the hashtag #hungryhealthyhappy too.
Leftover Turkey Pasta
- 140 g (4.94 oz) Spaghetti
- 2 Garlic cloves - crushed
- 175 g (2 cups) Leek - sliced
- 75 g (0.75 cups) Mushrooms - sliced
- 1 tablespoon Olive oil
- 150 g (5.25 oz) Leftover turkey - shredded
- 100 ml (0.5 cups) Creme fraiche
- 1 tablespoon Wholegrain mustard
- 40 g (0.33 cups) Parmesan - grated
- 50 ml (0.25 cups) Pasta water
- 2 pinch Sea salt and black pepper
- 60 g (2 cups) Spinach
- Cook 140 g Spaghetti according to the packet instructions, usually 10-12 minutes.
- Heat 1 tablespoon Olive oil in a large pan and cook 175 g Leek, 75 g Mushrooms and 2 Garlic cloves until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add 150 g Leftover turkey and 40 g Parmesan.
- Add 60 g Spinach, 50 ml Pasta water, 100 ml Creme fraiche, 1 tablespoon Wholegrain mustard and 2 pinch Sea salt and black pepper. Continue heating, stirring regularly, until the spinach has wilted, about 2-3 minutes.
- Once cooked, serve the topping on top of the drained pasta.
- To make this even quicker, use some fresh tagliatelle which is ready in a few minutes.
- Don't forget to reserve some of the pasta water. You really don't want to skip this step, as it makes the sauce so silky.
- If you like your food spicy, then add a sprinkle of red chilli flakes on top before serving.
- Add a splash of olive oil to the pan before serving for an extra boost of flavour.
- Serve with extra Parmesan and cracked black pepper if you like.
- Why not make a leftover turkey pasta bake. Follow the recipe and then put everything in a baking dish, top with cheese and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
Made this recipe? Let me know!