Looking for an easy leftover turkey idea? Turkey pasta bake is the answer! This Turkey Pasta 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, melty cheese … say no more, am I 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: Rosée 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.
- Olive oil
- Aromatics, like onion and garlic
- Seasoning, like salt, pepper and chili flakes (you could omit the chili 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.
How to Make a Pasta Bake
This 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 a little oil in a pot on medium heat 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 placing in the oven.
- Top with shredded mozzarella cheese.
- Bake until golden brown and cooked through. Allow to cool for a little before digging in.
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Best Cheese to Use
I used a shredded mozzarella here (also known as ‘pizza mozzarella’), but you could use another cheese.
Just opt for 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.
Do You Cook Pasta for Pasta Bake?
Nope! You just put the uncooked pasta in the pot, along with everything else, and bake until cooked through.
How Much Liquid Is Needed
I used a rosée pasta sauce (which works lovely with this recipe), but you could use whatever you enjoy best.
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/reduced as the pasta cooks. This is not an overly saucy pasta, but super tasty!
Tip: Want to use a little more pasta sauce? Just reduce the quantity of broth by the same amount.
Size of Pan to Use
Use an oven safe 12-inch pan that’s about 3 to 4 inches deep.
I like to use my enameled cast-iron pan.
Can You Make Pasta Bake The Day Before?
You can prep everything a day in advance, cover, store in the refrigerator and bake the next day.
Just remove from the fridge for about 15 minutes to take the chill off a bit.
You may need to bake just a tad longer as your sauce will be chillier to start with. Bake until the pasta is cooked and the top is bubbly, melted, golden brown and everything is heated through.
Honestly, though, this comes together so quickly since you are using leftover turkey, I’d just go ahead and fully prepare the day you are going to enjoy.
How to Reheat Pasta Bake
Like with most pastas, I love to reheat this pasta bake on the stovetop.
Simply place your portions into a skillet with a little splash of water (about a ¼ cup or so, (depending on how much you are reheating)), cover and heat on medium until warmed through.
Alternatively, you can bake in the oven. You can place portions into an oven safe dish, add a little water (again, about ¼ cup), cover with foil and heat until warmed through, about 20 minutes or so. Time will vary, depending on how big of a portion you are reheating.
Can You Freeze Pasta Bake?
You certainly can!
I like to allow the pasta bake to cool. Then, I portion, store into freezer safe containers (that are dated and labeled) and freeze.
Thaw in the refrigerator when ready to enjoy and reheat.
How Long Does Pasta Bake Keep In The Fridge
This really depends on how fresh your leftover turkey was in the first place.
If you turkey is freshly made, this pasta bake will keep 3 to 4 days properly stored in the fridge.
If your leftover turkey was 3 days old when you make this pasta bake, enjoy right away.
Other 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. Basil, thyme or rosemary all work lovely.
What to Serve with this Turkey Pasta
- Green salad
- Caesar salad
- Garlic bread or this fun parmesan garlic monkey bread from Spiced
- Green beans
- Roasted broccoli or broccolini
More Leftover Turkey Recipes
Hope you love this turkey pasta bake as much as we do!
If you make this turkey pasta, be sure to leave a comment below. Love to know how you enjoyed!
Turkey Pasta Bake (delicious leftover turkey idea)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (or avocado oil)
- 1 yellow onion , peeled and minced
- 3 cloves garlic , minced
- 3 cups cooked turkey (meat only) , roughly chopped (about ¾ pound)
- 12 ounces uncooked gemelli pasta (about 3 cups)
- ½ cup marinated artichokes (removed from liquid and chopped)
- ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes (removed from their oil and chopped)
- 2 cups pasta sauce (I used 'rosée'. Use 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 red chili flakes (or to taste)
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon salt (optional)
- 10 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese (or about 285 grams or 2.5 cups or so)
- Fresh parsley (garnish, optional)
- In an oven safe 12-inch wide pan that's about 3 to 4 inches deep over medium heat, add olive oil. Preheat your oven at this point too to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- When oil is shimmering, add onion. Cook 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add garlic and cook 1 minute.
- Stir in cooked turkey, uncooked pasta, artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes.
- Next, pour in pasta sauce (take ½ cup of broth and rinse out jar of pasta sauce to get every last bit and pour that in too), remaining 2.5 cups of broth, half-and-half, red chili flakes, black pepper and salt (if using). Stir to combine everything, ensuring pasta is submerged in the liquid. Keep the pot on the heat for 3 to 4 minutes just to let the liquid start to warm before placing in the oven.
- Top with shredded mozzarella cheese and bake (uncovered) for about 45 to 50 minutes (check on at the 45 minute mark). Note: Ovens vary. If your cheese browns too quickly, loosely cover with foil (or a pot lid), ensuring you aren't touching the cheese. Alternatively, if your cheese is not brown enough at the end of cook time you could always increase the temperature/place under the broiler for the last few minutes of cook time.
- Let cool about 10 to 15 minutes before garnishing and digging in (don't skip this step). 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.
Nutrition information (if provided) is provided as a courtesy and should be considered an estimate only. Ingredients can vary and Girl Heart Food makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.