Looking for an easy leftover turkey idea? Turkey pasta bake is the answer! This turkey pasta recipe has plenty of turkey, artichokes and sun-dried tomatoes. It’s generously topped with cheesy mozzarella and baked up until golden brown and bubbly. Sure to be a favourite in your home as it is ours.
As some of you may know, we recently celebrated Thanksgiving here in Canada.
Aside from the big meal, I always get excited about turkey leftovers, especially when I make this turkey pasta bake.
Remember that scene from A Christmas Story when a bunch of dogs got into the house and ravaged their turkey? Ralphie starts to rhyme off all the delicious eats one could have after the main meal. Unfortunately, he didn’t get to have those leftovers, but hopefully you will!
I mean, what’s not to love about leftovers? And this turkey pasta? There’s turkey, carbs and melty cheese. Sounds good, right?
With all the holidays this time of year, there’s lots of leftover turkey going around and there’s no complaints from me!
What I love about pasta bake recipes is that they come together so quickly. And, if you don’t have exactly the same ingredients, you could use what you have on hand.
There’s a lot of flexibility here, which I love.
Ingredients Needed for This Pasta Bake Recipe
- Leftover cooked turkey (of course): I used a combo for white and dark meat (no skin). Use what you have or what you enjoy best.
- Pasta: Gemelli pasta was used, but you could use your favourite small pasta variety.
- Pasta sauce: Rosee pasta sauce works lovely here, but you could you another variety, like a simple tomato pasta sauce.
- Broth: Unsalted chicken broth was used, but if you have leftover turkey broth, all the better!
- Half-and-half: This adds to the richness of the dish. You could replace with more pasta sauce, broth or even heavy cream if you prefer.
- Artichokes: Marinated artichokes were used. They were removed from their liquid and roughly chopped.
- Sun-dried tomatoes: Sun-dried tomatoes in oil were used. Simply remove from oil and chop.
- Seasonings, like salt, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes (you could omit the crushed red pepper flakes, or use less, if you aren’t a big fan of spice).
- Mozzarella cheese: This melts lovely, but you could use another variety of your favourite melting cheese.
- And, of course, olive oil and aromatics, like onion and garlic.
How To Make It
This turkey pasta bake is super easy to whip up! Aside from cooking the onion and garlic, you simply add everything in the pot, generously top with cheese and bake. Couldn’t be simpler (or tastier)! Full details are in the recipe card below, but here are the basics:
- Heat some olive oil in a pan and cook onion until softened.
- Add garlic and cook for just a minute.
- Stir in cooked leftover turkey, uncooked pasta, artichokes and sun-dried tomatoes
- Pour in pasta sauce, broth, half-and-half and seasonings. Give everything a little mix to combine. You can leave on the heat for just a few minutes to allow the liquid to warm through before baking.
- Top with shredded mozzarella cheese.
- Bake, then allow it to cool for a little bit before digging in.
Best Cheese To Use
I used a shredded mozzarella here (also known as “pizza mozzarella”), but you could use another cheese.
Just use a good melting cheese. Fontina, provolone, Swiss, young cheddar and Asiago also work great (or try a combo of your faves).
Pasta To Use
Gemelli pasta was used here, but you could easily substitute with your favourite similarly sized pasta.
Campanelle, cavatappi, rotini or penne would work too.
How Much Liquid Is Needed?
To cook pasta (along with everything in this pasta bake recipe), you’ll want about 5.5 cups of liquid, which comprises pasta sauce, broth and half-and-half.
It looks like a lot of liquid at first but will be absorbed or reduced as the pasta cooks. This is not an overly saucy pasta, but it’s super tasty!
Tip: Want to use a little more pasta sauce? Just reduce the quantity of broth by the same amount.
Pasta Bake Add Ins
Not into sun-dried tomatoes or artichokes or don’t have on hand? No worries! Try any of these:
- Sliced mushrooms (if using fresh, give them a little cook before adding to the bake)
- Roasted red peppers, cut into bite-sized pieces
- Diced bell pepper
- Sliced black olives
- Crisped bacon, pancetta or prosciutto
- Baby spinach or kale
- Try throwing some fresh or dried herbs into the pasta itself (like basil, thyme or rosemary)
Size of Pan To Use
Use an oven-safe 12-inch pan that’s about 2.5 to 3 inches deep.
I like to use my enameled cast-iron pan.
How Long the Leftover Pasta Bake Lasts
Find yourself with leftovers? The length of time this pasta bake lasts really depends on how fresh your leftover turkey was in the first place.
If your turkey is freshly made, leftover pasta bake will keep for about 2 to 4 days (properly stored in an airtight container the fridge).
If your leftover turkey was 3 days old when you make this pasta bake, enjoy right away.
How To Reheat Pasta Bake
Like most pasta bakes, this turkey pasta is best enjoyed when freshly made, but you can reheat. I love to reheat this pasta bake on the stovetop.
Simply place your portions into a pan with a little splash of water (about a ¼ cup or so, depending on how much you are reheating), cover and heat over medium heat until heated through.
Alternatively, you can bake in the oven (with oven temperature set to 350 degrees Fahrenheit). Place portions into an oven-safe dish, add a little water (again, about ¼ cup), loosely cover with aluminum foil and cook until heated through, about 20 minutes or so. Time may vary, depending on how big of a portion you are reheating.
What To Serve With Turkey Pasta
Feel like serving this turkey pasta bake with sides? Try any of these:
- Green salad
- Caesar salad
- Garlic bread
- Green beans
- Roasted broccoli or broccolini
More Leftover Turkey Recipes
If you make this leftover turkey pasta bake, be sure to leave a comment below!
Turkey Pasta Bake
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, or avocado oil
- 1 yellow onion, peeled and minced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 cups cooked turkey, roughly chopped (about ¾ pound)
- 12 ounces dried gemelli pasta, or similarly sized pasta like fusilli or penne (about 3 cups)
- ½ cup marinated artichoke hearts, removed from liquid and chopped
- ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes (packed in oil), removed from their oil and chopped
- 2 cups pasta sauce, "rosee" or your favourite variety
- 3 cups unsalted chicken broth, divided
- ½ cup half-and-half, or pasta sauce or unsalted chicken broth
- ½ to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon salt, optional
- 10 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese, about 2.5 cups
- Freshly chopped parsley, garnish to taste (optional)
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a 12-inch heavy oven-safe sauté/deep pan over medium heat on the stovetop, then add onion and cook, stirring often, for 3 to 5 minutes or until softened. Stir in garlic and cook for 1 minute. Stir in cooked turkey, uncooked pasta, artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes.
- Next, pour in pasta sauce (take ½ cup of the chicken broth and rinse out the jar of pasta sauce to get every last bit and pour that in too), remaining 2.5 cups of chicken broth, half-and-half, crushed red pepper flakes, black pepper and salt (if using). Stir to combine everything, ensuring pasta is submerged in the liquid. Keep the pot over the heat for 3 to 4 minutes just to let the liquid start to warm before placing into the oven.
- Top with shredded mozzarella cheese and bake (uncovered) for about 45 to 50 minutes (check on at the 45-minute mark) until bubbly, the pasta is cooked through and the cheese on top is melty and a little golden brown. Note: Ovens vary. If your cheese browns too quickly, you can loosely cover with aluminum foil (ensuring the aluminum foil isn't touching the cheese).
- Once done, carefully remove from the oven and let cool for about 10 to 15 minutes (don't skip this step) before garnishing with parsley (if using) and serving. Enjoy!
- If you don’t have gemelli pasta, use a similar sized-variety, like campanelle, cavatappi, rotini or penne.
- You can use another melting cheese, if you prefer, instead of mozzarella, like fontina, provolone, Swiss, young cheddar and asiago (or a combo of your faves).
- More recipe tips in body of post above.
A note on times provided: appliances vary, any prep and/or cook times provided are estimates only.
Tried this recipe?
If you do make this recipe, thank you!! It would mean so much if you could leave a comment below. Love to know how you enjoyed it, and it helps other readers too!