Creamy Ground Turkey Pasta Bake
This easy Ground Turkey Pasta Bake is loaded with lean ground turkey, hearty pasta, and fresh veggies, and smothered in a deliciously light creamy sauce.
Table of contents
Why We Love This Recipe For Ground Turkey Pasta Bake
Everyone loves a good pasta bake! They are so simple to whip together, they feed a crowd (this one serves 8) and they can be made ahead. So they are perfect for meal prep, entertaining or for Sunday Supper.
Typically pasta bakes are made with tomato sauce or pasta sauce, like our Veggie Pasta Bake, but this ground turkey pasta casserole I’m sharing today is a dreamy new cream sauce variation you won’t want to miss!
It is loaded with lean ground turkey, hearty pasta, and lots of veggies. Then everything then gets smothered in a lighter yet oh-so-flavorful sherry and Parmesan cream sauce. And then of course it is baked up to golden perfection with cheesy goodness on top.
What Makes This Ground Turkey Casserole Healthy
- Made with lean ground turkey which is low in saturated fat
- Loaded with extra veggies for lower calorie volume and bulk and added nutrients
- The light cream sauce is made with milk and Greek yogurt instead of heavy cream which helps to keep the calories and saturated fat in check
- Only one once of pasta per serving to help balance the carbohydrates with the other macronutrients
- Pasta: I like to use rigatoni or ziti, but another small pasta shape will work fine.
- Ground Turkey: Feel free to use any level of leanness of ground turkey, depending on your preference. Note: some packages are 1 pound while others are 20 ounces – either size will work for this recipe. Just be aware that there will be less protein in the dish if using 20 ounces.
- Vegetables: We loaded this pasta bake with all sorts of veggies for added nutrition and to make it a complete meal. We used a combination of Mushrooms, Carrots, Peas and Diced Onions.
- Cheese: We used Parmesan cheese in the cream sauce then topped the casserole in Fontina which is a great melting cheese.
- Greek Yogurt: We used full-fat plain Greek yogurt to add some richness to our cream sauce but feel free to use reduced-fat or fat-free if you’d like to save even more on the calories. Light sour cream would also be a wonderful swap-in if you’d prefer.
- Pantry Staples: Flour (to thicken), chicken broth (or chicken stock) and milk
- Seasoning: Garlic, Salt, black pepper, Sage and thyme
- Sherry: To deglaze the saute. You can also use white wine or just a little broth instead.
How To Make Turkey Pasta Bake
Step 1: Cook the Pasta
In a large pot or Dutch oven, boil salted water. Add pasta and cook according to the package directions until just al dente. Make sure not to cook pasta too long, as it will continue to cook in the creamy sauce. Drain and keep warm in the pot.
Step 2: Prepare Casserole Dish
While the pasta is cooking, preheat the oven to 400°F. Prepare a 9×13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
Step 3: Brown Turkey
In a large non-stick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Add turkey and cook until browned and no longer pink. Transfer turkey and juices from the skillet into a bowl and cover with foil to keep warm.
Step 4: Saute Veggies
Using the same large skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Add in the carrots, garlic, onion, fresh mushrooms, thyme, sage, pepper, and 1 ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook until tender, stirring often. If using, add in sherry, and stir until it is evaporated.
Step 5: Sprinkle in the Flour
To the veggie mixture, sprinkle in the flour and stir until completely dissolved.
Step 6: Make the Sauce
To the skillet, stir in broth and milk. Return turkey and juices to skillet. Bring to a simmer while continuously stirring. Simmer until the sauce has thickened. Remove from heat.
Step 7: Add in Greek Yogurt
Stir in Greek yogurt until smooth.
Step 8: Create the Bake
To the pot with the pasta, add the sauce, turkey meat sauce, peas, and Parmesan. Mix to combine.
Step 9: Transfer to Prepared Casserole Dish
Transfer the turkey pasta mixture to the casserole dish.
Step 10: Finish and Bake
Top with shredded Fontina. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is melted. Serve and enjoy!
FAQs and Expert Tips For This Turkey Pasta Casserole Recipe
Leftovers: Store any leftover casserole in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Reheating: Place leftovers in a microwavable bowl, cover, and warm on medium heat, or place in an oven-safe container and place in the oven at 375°F until warmed through.
Freezing: Assemble through step 9 but omit the cheese, and cover with plastic wrap and aluminum foil – heavy-duty foil is best for freezing. Freeze for up to 6 weeks. When ready to enjoy, remove the wrap and cover it with foil. Bake for 90 to 95 minutes, until heated through (check with a digital thermometer). Remove foil, top with cheese, and continue baking as directed in step 10.
Make Ahead: Prepare through step 9 up to 2 days in advance. Cover with foil and refrigerate. Bake covered until hot all the way through, bubbling along the edges; 50 to 55 minutes. Remove the foil and proceed with step 10.
To Make Gluten-free
You can sub in gluten-free pasta (we like brown rice pasta best for casseroles and lasagna.) Make sure to not overcook it in the boiling step as it will get softer when it bakes in the sauce. Use gluten-free flour (without coconut) to thicken the sauce.
What goes with turkey pasta bake?
- We like to round out this creamy, comforting casserole with a bright, fresh salad. We tend to pair this dish with our Lacianto Kale Caesar, Napa Cabbage Caesar, or a traditional Caesar salad using crisp romaine and dress it with our Egg Free Caesar Dressing and homemade croutons!
- If Caesar isn’t your thing, no worries! It is an easy dinner when paired with a simple Shaved Brussels Sprouts and Kale Salad or Beet Green Salad. The bright and acidic flavors of both these salads would perfectly complement the rich, creamy sauce of this pasta bake.
- And finally, no matter if you enjoy this turkey pasta bake with a side salad or not, we always recommend serving it with a piece of crusty bread or a slice or two of our 1-hour homemade whole wheat bread for one hearty and filling family meal!
Variations To Try
One reason we love this creamy pasta bake is how versatile it is! Feel free to change up the casserole with the following:
- For added nutrients, mix in spinach. Feel free to use either frozen that’s been squeezed dry or fresh that’s been wilted before adding it to the veggie saute
- Stir in chopped kale with the vegetables
- Not a fan of ground turkey? Try swapping for another lean protein such as ground chicken or amp up the flavor with a sweet Italian turkey sausage
- Use leftover turkey from Thanksgiving for one completely different and satisfying meal
- To make this gluten-free, use your favorite gluten-free flour and pasta
- To add additional fiber, use a whole-wheat pasta
- Instead of ground turkey breast, you can make leftover turkey pasta baked with shredded leftover Thanksgiving turkey too!
Additional Ground Turkey Recipes To Try
Thanks so much for reading! If you are new here, you may want to sign up for my email newsletter to get a free weekly menu plan and the latest recipes right to your inbox. If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review. I would love to hear what you thought!
Happy Cooking! ~KatiePrint
This Ground Turkey Pasta Bake is loaded with lean ground turkey, hearty pasta, fresh veggies, and deliciously creamy sauce.
- 8 ounces ziti or rigatoni pasta
- 1 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more for pasta cooking water
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 pound ground turkey
- 2 large carrots, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 yellow or sweet onion diced
- 10 ounces sliced mushrooms
- 1 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons dry sherry, optional
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 2 cup chicken broth, chicken stock or turkey broth
- 1 cups milk
- 1 cup full-fat plan Greek yogurt or light sour cream
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 1/2 cup frozen peas
- 2 cups shredded Fontina or Monterey Jack cheese (8 ounces)
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package instructions until just al dente. Drain and keep warm in the pot.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°F. Coat a 9 by 13-inch casserole dish with cooking spray.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high. Add turkey and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon until browned and cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes. Scrape the turkey and any juices from the skillet into a bowl and cover with foil to keep warm.
- Return the skillet to medium-high heat and the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Add carrots, garlic, onion, mushroom, thyme, sage, pepper, and 1 ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring often until the veggies are softened and browning, about 10 minutes. Add in sherry, if using, and stir until it is evaporated about 1 minute.
- Sprinkle flour over the veggie mixture, and stir until completely dissolved.
- Pour in broth and milk while stirring. Add in the turkey and any juices from the bowl. Bring to a simmer, stirring often. Simmer until the sauce is thickened, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat.
- Stir in Greek yogurt (or sour cream) until smooth.
- Combine the pasta, sauce, turkey, peas, and Parmesan in the pasta pot and stir to mix.
- Transfer the turkey pasta mixture to the casserole dish.
- Top with Fontina. Bake until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is melted 10 to 15 minutes.
Make Ahead: Prepare through step 9 up to 2 days in advance. Cover with foil and refrigerate. Bake covered until hot all the way through and bubbling along the edges, 50 to 55 minutes. Remove the foil and proceed with step 10.
- Prep Time: 35 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Category: Main Course
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: American
- Serving Size: 1 ¼ cup
- Calories: 480
- Sugar: 6 g
- Fat: 21 g
- Carbohydrates: 35 g
- Fiber: 4 g
- Protein: 36 g
Keywords: Ground turkey pasta bake, turkey pasta bake, baked pasta with ground turkey, ground turkey pasta casserole, turkey pasta casserole, creamy pasta bake