This Turkey Casserole is delicious, and the perfect way to use Thanksgiving turkey leftovers.
If you are swimming in turkey left overs, you can either freeze your leftover turkey or you can turn it into this delicious turkey casserole! It is full of amazing flavors that go perfectly with turkey, a rich creamy sauce, squash, and cheese. You do not want to miss this recipe.
How to Make Turkey Casserole
- Roast the butternut squash. While you are preparing the other ingredients, roast the diced butternut squash with a little olive oil.
- Cook the pasta. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and cook the pasta. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water before draining it. Read my tips and tricks on cooking pasta below.
- Make the sauce. Melt butter in a skillet and whisk in flour. Slowly whisk in the reserved pasta water. Then whisk in milk and seasonings. Simmer for five minutes to thicken the sauce. Remove from the heat.
- Combine the ingredients. Add the pasta, squash, and left over (thawed if you froze it) turkey, and one cup of cheese to the skillet. Once fully combined, transfer it to the casserole dish. Top with more cheese.
- Bake for 10 minutes and enjoy.
How to Cut Butternut Squash
We cook this squash cut up in cubes. To prepare the squash, peel it. Then slice off just enough of the top and bottom to clear the stem. Cut the squash in half. Then scoop out the pulp and seeds. Finally, dice the squash.
Pasta Cooking Tips
While cooking pasta seems like just about the easiest thing in the world, I always like to mention a few things to make sure it turns out perfectly.
- Use enough water. In this recipe we are using half a pound of pasta. So 2 to 4 quarts of water will be enough.
- Bring the water to a full boil. It shouldn’t be small bubbles, there should be big roaring bubbles.
- Salt the water. Before you add the pasta, add about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of kosher salt to the water.
- Set a timer. Note the time listed on the box and set a timer. This is the best way not to over cook your pasta.
Why Reserve Pasta Water for Turkey Casserole
Saving starchy pasta water is one of my favorite cooking tricks. That starchy and salty water deepens the flavor of the sauce. It’s perfect for making a sauce for a turkey noodle casserole.
This turkey noodle casserole is great to make ahead of time. Make just to the point where you are going to put it in the oven. Cover with foil and put it in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. When you are ready take the casserole out of the refrigerator, bake for 20 minutes covered and 10 minutes uncovered.
Freezing Turkey Casserole
If you are making this with turkey you haven’t frozen yet, this is a great casserole to freeze. I suggest making this casserole in a disposable casserole dish. That way you can take it from freezer to oven without the dish breaking.
Make the recipe to the point that you are going to put it in the oven. Cover with foil and then wrap three times with plastic wrap. It can be stored in your freezer for up to three months. When you are ready to bake it, take off the plastic wrap and bake covered for 45 minutes, remove the foil and bake for 10 minutes.
Other Great Noodle Casseroles
If you make this leftover turkey casserole, please leave me a comment and let me know what you think!
Turkey Butternut Squash Casserole
- 1 small to medium butternut squash peeled, pulp removed and diced
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon sage rub
- 1 teaspoon ground thyme
- 8 ounces small shells
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1 cup skim milk
- 2 cups mozzarella shredded and divided
- 2 cups cooked turkey
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Add the squash to the baking sheet and toss with olive oil. Bake for 35 minutes. (Keep the oven on and at 425 degrees after removing the squash.)
- While the squash is baking, bring a pot of water to a boil. Salt it and cook the zitti according to the length of time on the package. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water before draining.
- When the pasta is done, melt the butter in a skillet. Once it is completely melted, whisk in the flour. Once fully combined, very slowly whisk in the reserved pasta water a little at a time to make a roux. This should take no more than a minute.
- Whisk the milk, salt, sage, and thyme into the sauce. Bring to a simmer and cook over low heat for five minutes. Remove from the heat.
- Add the cooked pasta, cooked squash, turkey, and one cup of cheese to the skillet. Toss gently. Transfer to a 2 quart baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray.
- Top with the remaining cheese and bake, uncovered, for 10 minutes in the hot oven.
Julie | This Gal Cooks says
Oh yum. This is totally happening if we have leftover turkey. Which we will, since it will just be my SO and I this year!
Do you think this would work with Rice instead of RIgatoni?
Lisa Longley says
I’m sure it would, but I can’t give you the details on how to make that happen.
Allie | Baking a Moment says
Oh Lisa, you had me in tears over here. I can so relate! My dad also passed away 7 years ago. It was 2 months before my first was born. He had cancer too, also stage 4, and also battled for 5 years. We talk about him a lot here, but I brought my kids up knowing him as “Granddad.” He told me that was what he wanted to be called. The holidays can be such a tough time of year when you’ve lost a loved one, but it’s so wonderful that your family keeps her memory alive. You should be so proud of Gavin and Quinn for having such understanding and empathy and love, for your mom and for you. God bless!
heather @french press says
I can only imagine that you are just like your mom :) and this dish totally make me want to make an extra large turkey to make sure we have leftoers
Stephanie @ Back for Seconds says
Oh, Lisa. You have me crying over here. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to become a mom…without your mom. I’m so sorry. How wonderful that your children wonder about her. They know she was someone very special.
Oh, and this casserole looks perfectly delicious. Definite comfort food!
Brandie @ HomeCookingMemories says
I really love that you talk about your mom and keep her memory alive — it’s very clear, by the sweet things your children say, that she is very much a part of their lives and that’s the important stuff in life. My Dad passed away suddenly almost 3 years ago and I am constantly talking about him and don’t imagine I will ever stop. I miss him terribly…the holidays are especially hard.
Your casserole looks wonderful — I thought that from the first photo but when I got to the one with the stringy cheese, you definitely had me sold.
Lisa Longley says
Oh, Brandie. I’m so sorry to hear about your dad. And that you lost him suddenly. I can’t even imagine that. And yes, the holidays are the worst. Hang in there!
This casserole looks so heavenly, it’s on my “soon to make” list. Pinning.
jd wolfe says
so glad i found your site while surfing pinterest for turkey recipes. i still have my 93 yr old mom! your mom stories here are wonderful. must have been hard to hold your first born knowing your mom had passed. makes me tear up to read that. your kids totally get it! that is not a surprise. my two youngest were only six and eight when my dad died. they had been very close to him, seeing him several times a week. it was especially hard on the eight year old. the six year old was a bit oblivious for several years. the older ones got it quickly of course as they had been warned about his likely demise. he was only 67 and died far too young but it’s a reality we must all deal with at some time.
thanks for your blog.
Lisa Longley says
Thank you so much for this sweet comment!
This recipe is really good. I use salmon instead of turkey. My family love it. Thanks for sharing!!
Chariti Kimbir says
Oh, this is really yummy food. Thank you so much lisa! You have given delicious recipe with all items and method to cook this is. Besides, I am emotional to read top part of this post. Overall, this post is really mesmerizing.
Lisa Longley says
What is sage rub? I have ground sage spice. Will that work?
Lisa Longley says
Yes! That will work perfect!