This creamy leftover turkey pasta is the perfect recipe to make with those Thanksgiving or Christmas turkey leftovers. It's super easy to make in just 30 minutes, and the sauce is lightened up for a guilt-free post-holiday treat.
Leftover turkey is quite a common occurrence - you cook a large bird for Thanksgiving or Christmas and end up with lots of delicious leftover roast turkey.
So if you're looking at all those turkey leftovers and decide that you want something much better than a cold sandwich with cranberry sauce, this creamy leftover turkey pasta should be on your list of recipes to try.
If you have Christmas or Thanksgiving turkey leftovers, that's a sign your family may have indulged over the past few days, so a lighter dish is in order.
Since this is still a pasta dish, it feels like a proper treat, but it's lighter than you'd expect because it's made with a mix of half and half (single cream) and low-fat creme fraiche instead of being smothered in heavy cream.
Why you'll love this leftover turkey pasta
- It's super easy to make, and you can have it on the table in under 30 minutes - just perfect for those lazy post-holiday days.
- You can make it with any kind of turkey leftovers you have - leg or breast are both great options.
- This is the perfect recipe to use up any leftover veggies you may have from your Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. Green beans, carrots, broccoli sprouts and parsnips can all go in.
What goes into this creamy turkey pasta
Olive oil - You can use a knob of butter instead of olive oil to saute the onion and garlic in.
Onion - Substitute the onion with shallots for a milder flavor.
Garlic - Freshly chopped garlic is always best for pasta sauces like this.
White wine - Any dry white wine works in this recipe; I typically go for Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio. If you don't cook with alcohol, you can sub the wine with the same quantity of chicken stock.
Leftover turkey - Add as much leftover turkey as you like to this pasta. I recommend 1 lb cooked turkey, chopped into ½-inch pieces. That's the equivalent of about 3 cups of cooked turkey.
Chicken stock - Both homemade and shop-bought chicken broth work in this recipe.
Half and half (single cream) - Using half and half instead of heavy cream keeps the sauce lighter.
Creme fraiche - I added low-fat creme fraiche to help thicken the sauce.
Baby spinach - Kale also works here but remember it takes a bit longer to wilt.
How to make pasta with turkey leftovers
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it generously and cook the pasta according to the package directions. Reserve 1-2 cups of pasta water before draining.
Add the garlic and cook for another minute, then stir in the white wine and cook until the alcohol evaporates.
Lower the heat and simmer for 1-2 minutes, then stir in the baby spinach.
Once the spinach has wilted, transfer the cooked pasta to the pot and toss to combine.
Stir in the grated Parmesan, season to taste and serve immediately.
Leftovers and storage
- This creamy turkey pasta dish is best served immediately. If you have any leftovers, you can reheat them in the microwave.
- You may need to add a splash of milk if it looks too thick. Since this is a creamy sauce made with low-fat creme fraiche, it may look grainy when reheated.
- The turkey pasta will keep well in the fridge for up to 3 days in an airtight container. I don't recommend freezing this pasta dish.
Recipe notes and tips
- You can turn this recipe into a creamy turkey pasta bake by transferring it to a baking dish, sprinkling it with grated mozzarella or low-fat cheddar cheese and baking until the cheese is bubbling.
- If you have any Thanksgiving leftovers such as ham, bacon or sausages, you can dice them up and add them to this pasta dish.
- You can also add sundried tomatoes, mushrooms or frozen peas to this leftover turkey recipe.
If you liked this creamy leftover turkey pasta, you might also like some of my other easy creamy pasta recipes:
- Creamy Pasta with Bacon and Peas
- Creamy Rasta Pasta Recipe
- Creamy Chicken Piccata Pasta
- Creamy Mushroom Zucchini Pasta
- Creamy Chicken Feta Pasta
- 8.8 oz (250 g) pasta
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 large garlic cloves
- ⅓ cup (75 ml) dry white wine
- ¼ teaspoon red chili flakes
- 1 lb (450 g) leftover turkey, cut into ½-inch pieces
- 1 cup (250 ml) chicken stock
- 1 cup (250 ml) half and half (single cream)
- 1 cup (200 ml) low-fat creme fraiche
- 2 cups (75 g) baby spinach
- ⅓ cup (30 g) grated Parmesan
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it generously and cook the pasta according to the package directions. Reserve 1-2 cups of pasta water before draining.
- Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large, deep pan or Dutch oven and saute the onion for 3-4 minutes over medium heat until softened.
- Add the garlic and cook for another minute, then stir in the white wine and cook until the alcohol evaporates.
- Stir in the red chili flakes, then add the turkey, chicken stock, half and half and creme fraiche. Stir continuously until you have a creamy sauce and bring to a simmer.
- Lower the heat and simmer for 1-2 minutes, then stir in the baby spinach.
- Once the spinach has wilted, transfer the cooked pasta to the pot and toss to combine.
- Stir in the grated Parmesan, season to taste and serve immediately.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 520Total Fat: 30gSaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 154mgSodium: 486mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 2gSugar: 6gProtein: 41g
Nutritional information is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator.