This delicious Turkey Alfredo perfectly represents holiday-time comfort! It's a rich, hearty, and delicious take on the classic Italian-American comfort food staple. Use up your leftover Thanksgiving turkey to create this easy, super cozy, and crowd-pleasing Turkey Alfredo!
🧀 The Best Alfredo From Scratch
If you're on the hunt for an extra creamy, comforting dinner that jazzes up Thanksgiving leftovers, look no further than Turkey Alfredo! Alfredo sauce is everyone's favorite comfort food - what's not to love about a rich and indulgent white sauce that clings onto hot pasta? But add in hearty bites of turkey, sweet peas, and a pinch of nutmeg for easy upgrades to an all-time favorite dish.
This quick Turkey Alfredo is easy to customize to whatever's in your fridge. After all, who wants to do more shopping after the holidays? Staples like butter, flour, and Parmesan cheese is all you really need. It's also a little lighter since there's no heavy cream in this recipe - just whole milk! So skip the store-bought jars and enjoy this homemade, 30-minute fettucine alfredo that the whole family will love!
Why You'll Love It
- Uses leftovers: This recipe is perfect for your leftover Thanksgiving turkey. Sometimes we forget just how versatile turkey can be. After Thanksgiving, you can only enjoy it for so long before it starts to feel mundane. Turkey Alfredo is a great way to reduce food waste and enjoy your leftovers in a whole new way.
- Crowd pleaser: Everyone loves Alfredo sauce. It seems simple but it's delicious, cheesy, and satisfying. If you've got family staying with you after the holidays or a group of hungry kids, this is the perfect recipe!
- Quick and easy: Cooking your protein is often the most time-consuming part of a meal. Since this recipe uses leftover turkey, the whole meal is done in just a fraction of the time. All you need is 30 minutes to whip up this Turkey Alfredo!
- Pasta: I use fettuccine for this recipe, but any pasta will do. Since we're using starchy pasta water in the sauce, I recommend grain-based pasta like conventional (white flour), whole wheat, or brown rice. Alternatives like chickpea or lentil pasta won't hold up as well.
- Butter: I recommend using unsalted butter for better control of the seasoning.
- Onion: White or yellow onions are an excellent option for this recipe. White onions tend to be a bit stronger, whereas yellow onions are sweeter and have a more mellow taste. I prefer to use yellow onions in all my cooking.
- Garlic: Fresh minced garlic is an essential aromatic in sauces. It not only adds excellent flavor but also makes the Alfredo sauce smell amazing.
- All-purpose flour: To create a roux. It acts as a binder to thicken the sauce into a nice creamy texture.
- Nutmeg: Adds a subtle nutty flavor that provides a lot of dimension. It can be overpowering though so make sure to begin with a tiny pinch.
- Whole milk: The base of our creamy Alfredo sauce. It's what I usually have on hand and keeps the sauce a little lighter. Feel free to use heavy cream or half and half as alternatives.
- Turkey broth: Broth isn't traditional in Bechamel sauce but I love the savoriness it adds. Feel free to use leftover turkey broth from Thanksgiving or chicken broth.
- Parmesan cheese: The signature ingredient in classic Alfredo sauce! It's nutty, savory, and full of umami. Also helps to make the sauce super creamy and silky! I highly recommend using fresh Parmesan cheese instead of shelf-stable cheese for better taste and texture.
- Leftover turkey: This recipe is a great way to revamp your leftover turkey from Thanksgiving and turn it into something completely new. If you don't have turkey, use pre-cooked or rotisserie chicken or even leftover Hawaiian Garlic Butter Shrimp.
- Peas: Adds color and brightness to a seemingly heavy dish. You can use frozen, steamed, or canned peas for this recipe.
Substitutions & Variations
- If you want an extra rich and creamy Turkey Alfredo, try swapping out the milk for half and half or heavy cream. Heavy cream will be ultra-rich and luscious but will add quite a bit of fat to the meal. Half half half is a good middle ground because it's half milk and half cream.
- Replace turkey with rotisserie chicken or cooked chicken breast for an easy swap. You can also use crispy bacon, Chicken Meatballs, or leftover ham. Or simply leave it out!
- Feel free to use a blend of Parmesan cheese, such as Parmesan with Romano or Asiago. You can also add in 1-2 ounces of softened cream cheese for extra creaminess and tang. Just be sure to whisk it into the sauce thoroughly.
- Feel free to add more vegetables or swap the peas with your favorites. Mushroom, broccoli, spinach, asparagus, and kale will all taste amazing and add even more nutrients. It's easiest to cook them in a separate pan or steam them first. Then, add the veggies to your Turkey Alfredo at the end, as I did with the peas.
- Add a sprinkle of Italian seasoning or fresh chopped herbs to finish your Turkey Alfredo with a pop of color.
- Gluten-free? Swap out the all-purpose flour for your favorite gluten-free flour for the roux. You can also use your preferred gluten-free pasta or even spiralized zucchini for the pasta.
👩🏻🍳 How To Make Turkey Alfredo
⬇️ Please scroll down to the recipe card to see full ingredient amounts and instructions.
STEP ONE: First, prep your ingredients and get your mise en place ready. Slice or cube the turkey, chop the onion and garlic, and grate the fresh Parmesan cheese.
STEP TWO: Then bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta for 2 minutes less than the package instructions, and reserve 1 cup of pasta water. Continue with the sauce while the pasta is cooking.
STEP THREE: In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat until lightly frothy. Add the onions along with a pinch of salt and cook for 2 minutes or until the edges start to become translucent.
Then stir in the garlic for 30 seconds until fragrant.
STEP FOUR: Add the flour and continuously whisk until all the butter is absorbed. This should take about 2-3 minutes and will form a light golden roux.
STEP FIVE: Next, keep whisking while you slowly pour in the warm milk. Repeat with the warm broth. Season with nutmeg and an additional pinch of salt and pepper. Then turn heat to low and let simmer until the pasta is ready, stirring occasionally.
STEP SIX: Once the pasta is par-cooked, use tongs or a slotted spoon to transfer the pasta directly from the boiling water to the skillet. Also add in a ladle of starchy pasta water, the Parmesan cheese, and frozen peas. Then mix thoroughly until the pasta is cooked and the sauce has thickened to a creamy consistency. If it's too thick, add a splash of pasta water until you reach your desired consistency.
STEP SEVEN: Top or stir in the cooked turkey and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
💭 Top Tips
- To prevent lumps in the Bechamel sauce, use warm milk and broth. I usually just microwave it for 30-60 seconds until warm to the touch. Warm or hot liquids will incorporate better into the roux.
- Don't boil the sauce. This will cause the milk to scald and separate or curdle. Instead, adjust the heat to keep it warm and lightly reducing until the pasta is ready.
- Only par-boil the pasta and let it finish in the sauce. This will allow the fettucine to absorb some of the Alfredo sauce and become more flavorful. The pasta should still be hard in the center when it's added to the skillet. If you're unsure, it's better to add the pasta earlier than later.
- Use fresh Parmesan cheese. Since it's the main flavoring component of our Turkey Alfredo, use high-quality cheese. Blocks of Parmigiano Reggiano that can be grated fresh work best. But avoid the shelf-stable green plastic jars - they have a lot of preservatives and fillers which prevent them from melting completely. And no one wants a grainy Turkey Alfredo pasta.
- Serve Turkey Alfredo immediately. As it cools, the sauce loses its silky texture and the pasta will continue absorbing the sauce.
🥡 Storing & Freezing
Storing: Let the Turkey Alfredo cool completely. Then store in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Freezing: There's a lot of cream and cheese in this recipe, so I do not recommend freezing Turkey Alfredo. The dairy products are more likely to separate upon thawing so it'll be oily rather than creamy.
Reheating: For best results, add the Turkey Alfredo to a pot and reheat over low heat. If it looks dry, add a splash of broth or milk to rehydrate.
Alternatively, you can microwave it for 1-2 minutes until heated thoroughly, stirring halfway.
Make Ahead: Prepare the Alfredo sauce 4-5 days in advance by following the recipe as directed and simmering the sauce for 2-3 minutes. Keep it on the runnier side for now. Then let cool and store in a tight-fitting jar in the refrigerator.
The day-of, cook the pasta fresh and reserve some pasta liquid. Transfer the pasta to a skillet, pour in the pre-made Alfredo sauce, and add a ladle of pasta water. Stir over medium heat until creamy and mix in any vegetables or protein.
📖 Recipe FAQs
Alfredo sauce is traditionally made from grated Parmesan cheese, butter, and cream. American versions tend to start with a roux, but it's not necessary.
Typically, Alfredo is a high-fat dish with lots of butter and cream. While it's tasty, having healthier options is always good. My recipe uses a mix of broth and milk rather than cream for a lighter option.
Any issues with the sauce are likely due to problems when making the roux. The roux is a simple but essential step to making a creamy sauce. Over-measuring flour or not whisking enough can make it lumpy. Be sure to use the spoon and sweep method when measuring flour. If the sauce is runny, it could be that not enough flour was absorbed, or there's too much liquid, and it needs to cook down more.
🍽 Looking For More Pasta?
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- 8-10 oz pasta I used fettucine
- 2 tablespoon unsalted butter
- ¼ onion diced; about ½ cup
- 4-5 cloves garlic minced
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- Tiny pinch of nutmeg
- 1 cup whole milk warmed
- ¾ cup low sodium turkey or chicken broth warmed
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 cups cooked turkey cubed, sliced, or shredded
- 1 cup frozen peas
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta 2 minutes less than package instructions and reserve 1 cup pasta water. Continue with the sauce while the pasta's cooking.
- In a large wide pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion along with a pinch of salt and cook for 2 minutes or until edges start to get translucent. Then stir in garlic for 30 seconds.
- Add flour and whisk well, cooking for 2-3 minutes.
- Gradually whisk in milk, followed by the broth, until there are no lumps. Season with nutmeg and an additional pinch of salt and pepper. Turn heat to low and let simmer until the pasta is ready.
- Use tongs or a slotted spoon to transfer the al dente pasta to the sauce, along with a ladle of starchy pasta water. Add Parmesan cheese and frozen peas, stirring well until pasta is evenly coated. Add more pasta water until you reach your desired sauce consistency.
- Top or stir in the cooked turkey and season to taste. Serve immediately.
- I use fettuccine for this recipe, but any pasta will do. Since we're using starchy pasta water in the sauce, I recommend grain-based pasta like conventional (white flour), whole wheat, or brown rice. Alternatives like chickpea or lentil pasta won't hold up as well.
- Use high quality Parmesan cheese in this recipe. Refrigerated tubs of grated cheese or blocks of Parmigiano Reggiano work best. Avoid the shelf-stable green plastic jars - they have a lot of preservatives and fillers which prevent them from melting completely.
- Feel free to use heavy cream or half and half instead of whole milk.
- If you don't have leftover turkey, use rotisserie chicken or cook 1-2 chicken breasts beforehand.