Creamy but Lightened Up Turkey Tetrazzini

Other than turkey soup, one of the more popular dishes to use up your leftover bird is Turkey Tetrazzini. This delicious casserole combines leftover turkey meat and cooked pasta in a homemade creamy Parmesan cheese sauce. But my memory of indulging in this dish was decades ago and I recall it being heavy and not very diet-friendly. Russ has never had it, so when I mentioned that a coworker has a family tradition of making it on Black Friday, we both thought it might be time for us to give it a whirl.

Since Tetrazzini typically uses a lot of butter and heavy cream, I wanted to pare back on these caloric, fat-laden ingredients, but not lose the rich flavor. Plus I had to be cognizant of Russ’ wheat allergy, so I substituted gluten-free versions of the panko, spaghetti and flour. (You can also substitute chicken for both the turkey and broth.)


Google can be your best friend when researching, so I looked up several recipes (Food Network, Epicurious, Emeril Lagasse, etc.) and combined what I liked from a few of them to concoct the following recipe. It includes very little butter, lite cream cheese, less pasta, more turkey and additional healthy vegetables. Of course our homemade turkey stock added more depth of flavor than any store bought broth could, so if you have the opportunity to make some ahead of time, you won’t regret it.

I made ours the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend with the intention of having it on Monday evening after work. Therefore once it was cooled, I covered it with tinfoil and refrigerated it overnight. The next day, I knew the entire casserole would be way too much for the two of us, so I portioned enough out for dinner and reheated in a 400 degree oven for about 40-45 minutes (see the TIP below). With a side salad, it made for a great dinner and lunches during the week.

FYI: Although I don’t personally recommend it, shortcut recipes for home cooking sometimes use canned cream of mushroom soup or other cream soups.



  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1cup onion, finely chopped
  • 34 cup carrot, finely chopped
  • 13 cup celery, finely chopped
  • 1teaspoon pepper
  • 1teaspoon salt
  • 3cup frozen peas
  • 8 ounces sliced white mushrooms
  • 12 cup white wine or sherry
  • 12 cup flour
  • 4 cups turkey broth (homemade if possible)
  • 4 ounces lite cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese
  • 3+ cups cooked turkey, shredded
  • 8 ounces thin spaghetti, cooked al dente
  • 12 cup panko breadcrumbs

Finely chop the carrots, celery and onion and slice the mushrooms.

Once the veggies are tender, add flour and stir to coat.

Once the broth is added, bring to a boil then simmer for 5 minutes.

After done simmering, remove from heat and add the cream cheese and half of the parmesan.

When the cheese has melted, add the turkey, peas and spaghetti and lightly mix.

Pour the mixture into a prepared casserole dish and top with the combined panko and other half of parmesan.


  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Melt butter in large sauté pan.
  3. Cook and stir onion, celery, carrots and mushrooms in butter in a large skillet on medium heat until tender.
  4. Add flour and stir until vegetables are coated.
  5. Add wine and stir quickly until flour is absorbed.
  6. Gradually add broth, stirring constantly.
  7. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  8. Remove from heat.
  9. Add cream cheese and 1/2 cup parmesan, stir until melted.
  10. Add the peas, turkey and cooked spaghetti.
  11. Mix lightly.
  12. Transfer to 13 x 9 inch baking dish.
  13. Combine panko and 1/2 cup parmesan; sprinkle evenly over top of casserole.
  14. Bake at 350º for 30 minutes until lightly browned.
  15. Let rest 15 minutes before serving.

  • Reheat: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Unwrap the foil, discard the plastic and re-cover with the foil. Bake until the center is warm, 30 to 35 minutes; uncover and bake for 10 to 15 minutes to recrisp the topping.
  • Freeze: Double-wrap (in plastic wrap and foil) the cooled dish and freeze for up to 2 weeks.

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