My Mom's Recipe for Turkey Tetrazzini

Wondering about good ways to use up leftover turkey? (Or leftover roast chicken?) Here's one recipe idea, an old favorite from my mother. It's home-cooking good and will be on the table in no time. And for anyone feeling less than svelte after the holiday? In Weight Watchers points, it's just six PointsPlus for a main dish serving, about as good it gets!

Turkey Tetrazzini, an old-fashioned recipe, leftover cooked turkey cooked in a creamy sauce with plenty of vegetables for color, texture and good health. Easily #GlutenFree. Another Quick Supper from #KitchenParade.

My home ec-teacher mom was my personal cooking help line, as much as it pained her to answer my some times clueless questions. You see, I’d been allowed to pass out of Foods I, the beginning high school cooking class she taught, straight into Foods II taught by another home ec teacher.

“Hello, Mom? How do I make … ”

From the other end of the phone came the audible sigh I’d come to expect. With each gap in my knowledge, she’d berate, “If you’d only taken Foods I.” Luckily, it became our little joke, a private moment of shared history.

Today’s young cooks have no idea what it’s like to face a mother like this. After all, we now have the Internet to answer cooking questions with no afternoons off to play bridge or objections to queries in the middle of the night.

Not long ago, a reader wrote, “I love your new recipes, especially the ones from your mother.” Between the lines I read, ‘more of your mom’s recipes, please!’

Well, this isn’t my mother’s recipe, per se, but only because she could make Whatever on Toast in her sleep and would never deign to write it down except perhaps in a lesson plan. I’d bet my best turkey stock it was a recipe she taught in Foods I. It’s quick, it’s thrifty, it’s eminently variable. It’s good ol’ plain home cooking and proud of it.

GLUTEN-FREE TURKEY TETRAZZINI To make Turkey Tetrazzini gluten-free, it's easy to omit the flour entirely. Just use two or three egg yolks instead of flour to thicken the creamy sauce. You'll need to "temper" the yolks though so they don't cook when hitting the hot liquid. To do this, whisk the yolks in a bowl, then whisk in a tablespoon or two of hot liquid at at time to the bowl until it's more liquid than egg yolk, then whisk the combined mixture into the skillet.

DAIRY-FREE TURKEY TETRAZZINI Use good chicken stock instead of milk for the sauce. If you can handle some dairy, stir in a splash of cream.


Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Time to table: 20 minutes
Makes 5 cups
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 carrots, chopped small
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups milk (skim is fine, so is whole milk)
  • 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 tablespoon good mustard
  • 3 cups cooked turkey
  • Salt & pepper to taste

In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil on medium high until shimmery. Add the carrots, onion and celery as they’re prepped and cook until just soft and turning golden. Stir in the flour and let cook for a minute, then slowly pour in the milk, stirring to incorporate all the while. Add the remaining ingredients and heat through.

Serve over toast, Fried Bread, curly egg noodles, cooked potatoes or Lighter Mashed Potatoes. To reheat, add a splash or two of milk to get the right consistency again.

ALANNA’s TIPS No turkey leftovers? Use leftover chicken or even a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. I’ve bulked this up with vegetables but feel free to add even more. Mushrooms are traditional in tetrazzini. I like to throw in frozen peas at the end. Roasted peppers would be lovely, especially roasted poblanos. I see other recipes for tetrazzini that are fat, literally, with butter (a whole stick, why?) and cheese (it’s needed because why?) and cream. This is my virtuous version, perfect for post-holiday excess and still ever so satisfying.
Per Cup, not including toast: 238 Calories; 6g Tot Fat; 1g Sat Fat; 64mg Cholesterol; 179mg Sodium; 16g Carb; 3g Fiber; 10g Sugar; 28g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 5 & WW PointsPlus 6 This recipe has been 'Alanna-sized' with reductions in fat and calories and increases in fiber-rich and low-calorie vegetables.
Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. In 2009, Kitchen Parade celebrates its 50th anniversary with a special collection of my mother's recipes. Do you have a favorite recipe using leftover turkey that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Become a Kitchen Parade fan on Facebook!

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Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. I love Turkey Tetrazzini. This recipe looks fabulous. My only suggestion would be to add a tablespoon or 2 or pimento. Then it would be "perfect". Love your web site and love your recipes. Thanks so much for all your creativity and efforts. Rest assured they are greatly appreciated.

  2. Pat ~ Thanks so much, your kind words mean the world. Pimento would be perfect, more color!

  3. I thought Turkey Tetrazzini was made with noodles (and turkey!).

  4. Sally ~ Aii, I need an editor! Turkey tetrazzini is of course made with turkey -- though chicken is such a convenient back up. As for the noodles, at my house, curly noodles, of course! But the 'comfort' version is the way my mom made it, Turkey Tetrazzini on Toast! Hope your Thanksgiving was good!


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna