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Creamy Chicken Tetrazzini with Kale and Sundried Tomatoes

Create a hearty, warm, filling dish with a balance of fresh acidic flavors in a thick cream sauce when you make this Creamy Chicken Tetrazzini with Kale and Sundried Tomatoes! It’s a rich and comforting casserole that combines shredded or cubed chicken (or any leftover meat) and spaghetti with a mushroom cream sauce. Topped off with a layer of mozzarella and parmesan, it’s the perfect make-ahead dish that will wow your family at the dinner table. The best part? The pockets of bright acidic flavors from the sundried tomatoes and lemon zest!

chicken tetrazzini on a plate served with a dutch oven in the back

The amount of food served around holidays always puts my household in a happy mood. But, it also means figuring out what to do with all the leftovers! You can absolutely make a chicken or turkey pot pie, but one of my favorite ways to use up leftover meat is in this easy tetrazzini. Today we’re using chicken but you can absolutely use leftover turkey or even ham!

Full scoop of Chicken tetrazzini one pot meal

🍲 What is tetrazzini?

Tetrazzini is usually prepared with turkey or chicken, a mushroom-cream sauce, and al dente pasta baked together. Sprinkle some cheese on top for the perfect bubbly and golden layer that melts into the pasta. Some versions have a bread crumb on top and some ingredient that brings a brightness such as green peas, spinach, or kale. We’re taking it up a notch.

Since there are a lot of rich ingredients involved here, I like to brighten the dish up with some lemon zest and sun-dried tomatoes. This is serious comfort food at its finest. This recipe makes enough to feed 16 people, is done completely in one pot, and can be made completely gluten-free and dairy-free with just a few adjustments!

🛒 Ingredients you’ll need for chicken tetrazzini 

Make this chicken or turkey tetrazzini recipe when you’re feeling lazy, or when you need to use up leftovers! Here’s what you’ll need:

Ingredients for chicken tetrazinni with kale and sundried tomatoes
  • Spaghetti – We want al dente spaghetti for this casserole, so start checking on it 1-2 minutes before the recommended cooking time on the package. Also, do not rinse pasta after draining it. The leftover starches help the sauce stick to the pasta. Make sure to save some cooking water just in case you need to thin out the sauce. To make this recipe gluten-free use DeLallo gluten-free spaghetti.
  • Meat – This is one of my favorite ways to use up leftover turkey! Just shred it, then add it right in. If you don’t have turkey, use cooked chicken breast shredded or cubed. Leftover ham can also be used and would pair wonderfully with green peas as your vegetable of choice.
  • Roux – Since we’ll be making a blond roux, you can use butter (or vegan butter). If you’d prefer a lighter option, use a neutral-flavored vegetable oil. You will also need all-purpose flour (or gluten-free flour) for the other component of the roux.
  • Mushrooms – Mushrooms are key for adding flavor to hearty dishes like this. Button, cremini, and portobello mushrooms are all perfect choices (fun fact: all three are the same mushroom, just different ages).
close up image of chicken tetrazzini
  • Onion – In addition to mushrooms, I use onion as a hearty, savory, and flavor-packed base for my tetrazzini. There is not much that goes together like mushroom and onion – except perhaps PB&J.
  • Garlic – Because everything needs garlic.
  • Chicken broth – You can choose to use a chicken broth/stock, turkey broth/stock, or vegetable broth. Homemade or store-bought both work. Some recipes will call for sherry or dry white wine to deglaze the pan first, but it’s completely up to you. We skipped it here.
  • Cream – You can use heavy cream, whole milk, or full-fat coconut milk to add a creamy thickness to the sauce. One cup will do, but you can add more to your liking.
  • Lemon zest – Since this dish is on the heavier side, I recommend adding lemon zest to brighten the flavors.
  • Sun-dried tomatoes – Similar to the lemon zest, sun-dried tomatoes add brightness and a hint of acidity.
  • Something Green – Add spinach or roughly chopped kale for a healthy dose of greens. Traditional Tetrazzini uses blanched peas. Keep in mind that the greens will cook down, so don’t skimp on the amount!
  • Salt, Pepper, and Oregano – To enhance the Italian flavors and add a little kick. Don’t forget to salt your pasta water! 
  • Cheeses – Mozzarella adds creaminess and a perfectly melted top layer while parmesan provides bursts of umami flavor. Use both for balance, or just one if that’s all you have on hand.

👩🏻‍🍳 How to make turkey tetrazzini

Now that you’ve gotten your ingredients out, it’s time to actually make your turkey tetrazzini! Check out this detailed collage and printable instructions if it’s your first time making it.

How to make chicken tetrazzini
  1. First, bring a large pot of water to a boil, then salt it generously. Cook the spaghetti until al dente (there should still be a tiny white dot in the center of the pasta). Drain the noodles, then set them aside without rinsing. Be sure to reserve about 1 cup of pasta water incase you want to thin the sauce later.
  2. In a large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven, heat the butter or oil over medium. Cook the mushrooms for a few minutes, then add in the onions. Continue cooking until the onions are translucent.
  3. To keep things simple, just leave the mushrooms and onions in the pan and incorporate them into the roux (although you can remove them if you’d prefer). Add the salt, pepper, oregano, and minced garlic and cook for one minute, followed by the chopped sundried tomatoes.
  4. Sprinkle the flour in an even layer over the vegetables. Mix it with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula for about 2 minutes to remove the raw flour flavor.
  5. Slowly whisk (affiliate link) in the chicken or turkey broth until no lumps remain, over medium heat until thickened. Add the cup of milk and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes. You can add in some leftover pasta water if the sauce is too thick for your liking.
  6. Add the meat of choice, cooked pasta, greens, and half of the mozzarella cheese. Mix well.
  7. Top the spaghetti with the rest of the mozzarella, parmesan, and the zest from the lemon.
  8. Bake at 350F uncovered for about 25-30 minutes until the cheese is melted and begins to brown. Top with fresh parsley and serve with rolls.

You and your family are going to love this dinner! See the recipe card below for a quick printout of these instructions.

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    🥘 Tips and notes

    Protein. Swap out the chicken for leftover turkey or ham. You can also try a seafood tetrazzini by making it with shrimp or prawns.

    Vegetables. Use different vegetables like green peas, broccoli, corn, cauliflower, or carrots.

    Crispy. Top the casserole with buttered breadcrumbs or panko for a contrast between crunchy and creamy.

    overhead image of chicken tetrazzini with kale and sundried tomatoes served with rolls

    Pasta. There are so many other kinds of pasta you can add other than spaghetti. Try linguine, bucatini, or fettuccine. If there are any gluten allergies in the house, use your favorite gluten-free pasta brand.

    Cooking water. It’s best to reserve some pasta cooking water just in case you need to thin out the sauce. Strain some into a bowl before fully draining the cooked pasta. 

    🌡 How to store turkey tetrazzini

    Whether you’re making it from scratch or using leftovers, this Dutch oven tetrazzini makes great dinners during bust weeks. 

    After baking, let the tetrazzini cool completely. Cover with your Dutch oven lid and refrigerate for up to 3-4 days. Or of course to an air tight food storage dish. But it’s just as easy to dish out from the Dutch oven to plates and reheat in the microwave.

    chicken tetrazzini with whole wheat rolls and fresh parsley

    To freeze tetrazzini before baking it, just build the recipe as you normally would, and store it covered in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw it in the fridge overnight before baking.

    To reheat the entire Dutch oven of tetrazzini, cover the room temperature dish with aluminum foil and bake at 350F for about 15 minutes, or until warmed through. Keeping it covered will bring a little more moisture back into the dish, reviving its creaminess, without locking in a ton of steam as the Dutch oven cover would do.

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    🍽 What to serve with chicken tetrazzini

    Make tetrazzini for a standalone meal, or serve it with dinner rolls or side salad. These are some of my other go-to options:

    Creamy Chicken Tetrazzini with Kale and Sundried Tomatoes

    Create a hearty, warm, filling dish with a balance of fresh acidic flavors in a thick cream sauce when you make this Creamy Chicken Tetrazzini with Kale and Sundried Tomatoes!
    Print Recipe
    Prep Time:20 mins
    Cook Time:40 mins
    Total Time:1 hr

    Equipment

    Ingredients

    • 3 Tablespoons butter
    • 1 medium yellow onion small diced
    • 4 ounces mushrooms rough fine chop
    • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
    • 3 cloves garlic minced
    • 4 ounces sundried tomatoes in oil oil drained and tomatoes chopped
    • 3 Tablespoons flour
    • 2 cups chicken broth
    • 1 cup heavy cream full-fat coconut milk
    • 3 cups cooked chicken 2 chicken breasts shredded or chopped, turkey or ham
    • 2 cups kale roughly chopped
    • ¾ pound spaghetti
    • 2 cups mozzarella cheese divided
    • 1 cup parmesan cheese
    • Zest of 1 lemon

    Instructions

    • Bring a 6-quart Dutch oven to a boil with water salted generously. Cook the spaghetti until al dente. Drain the noodles, then set them aside without rinsing. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water for later if desired to thin the sauce.
    • Heat the butter or oil over medium. Cook the mushrooms for a few minutes, then add in the onions. Continue cooking until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
    • Add the salt, pepper, oregano, and minced garlic and cook for one minute, followed by the chopped sundried tomatoes.
    • Sprinkle the flour in an even layer over the vegetables. Mix it with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula for about 2 minutes to remove the raw flour flavor.
    • Slowly whisk in the broth until no lumps remain, over medium heat until thickened. Add the cup of milk and allow to simmer for about 5-10 minutes. Add in the leftover pasta water if the sauce is too thick for your liking.
    • Add the meat of choice, cooked pasta, greens, and half of the mozzarella cheese. Mix well.
    • Top the spaghetti with the rest of the mozzarella, parmesan, and the zest from the lemon. Bake at 350F uncovered for about 25-30 minutes until the cheese is melted and begins to brown. Top with fresh parsley and serve with rolls.

    Nutrition

    Serving: 1cup | Calories: 292kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 54mg | Sodium: 504mg | Potassium: 303mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 1391IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 195mg | Iron: 1mg
    Servings: 16 cups
    Calories: 292kcal
    Author: Katie Chase

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    2 Comments

      1. Depends on what you’re serving with this. If serving by itself, a cup would be great for an adult. If you’re serving it with salad, a roasted vegetable, and bread, then cut back to a half cup. All depends on how much you want to serve 🙂

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