Slow Cooker Turkey Tetrazzini Recipe

Sharon emailed me last week and said that she had a hanker'n for some Turkey Tetrazzini a la Slow Cooker. I didn't know that I had a hanker'n until I read her email and the recipes she linked for me to look at.
But I did. I seemed to have had a hanker'n. She sent links to Epicurious, AllRecipes, and Food Network.

After reading through the recipes, I wrote one of my own to work with the slow cooker. It worked, eventually. I at first didn't include enough pasta, so my tetrazzini was more like wallpaper paste than a creamy pasta dish. This was easily fixed, however, and the end result was a nice comforting meal we enjoyed on an unseasonably chilly night.

Thank you, Sharon!

The Ingredients.

1 (16-ounce package) dry spaghetti noodles (maybe divided. Please read the entire recipe and decide for yourself how you'd like to proceed!) I used brown rice noodles from TJ's.
1-2 pounds turkey breast tenders, cut in small chunks
5 ounces sliced mushrooms
1 small onion, diced
1 (14.5-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 (8-ounce) block cream cheese, chunked
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 cups chicken broth (check for gluten!)
salt to taste at the table

The Directions.

Use a 5-6 quart slow cooker, and spray the inside well with cooking spray.

What I did: I initially used a half-package of spaghetti noodles, and broke them in half, and laid them on the bottom of the stoneware. I then layered the other ingredients on top, in the order I typed up above. But! after cooking on low for 3 hours, I noticed that the noodles pretty much disappeared, so I cooked the remainder of the package on the stovetop in heavily salted water (super-heavily salted, the top of the container fell off!) until barely al dente, then stirred the drained pasta into the slow cooker.

I then cooked on low for only one more hour, then clicked it to warm for another 3. The turkey was fully cooked, the noodles were perfect, but the onion that I didn't cut fine enough had still a bit of a crunch.

The Verdict.

So. My dilemma is in deciding if it would have been better to put the entire package of pasta into the machine and then layer the ingredients in and cook on low for 3-5 hours (not high!) or if it is better to leave all the pasta out, and just cook it on the stove, then mix it in.
Or, do what I did.
I just don't know.

I do know that this worked, but it certainly wasn't a very hands-off meal. And we ate it, even the leftovers for lunch the next day (the onion was soft by then!)

other pasta dishes that work well:

traditional lasagna
buffalo chicken lasagna
macaroni and cheese

Do you love this article?

Please share it with your friends!

Posted by: Stephanie O'Dea | A Year of Slow Cooking at June 05, 2009

Sign up for the A Year of Slow Cooking newsletter and get the Top Ten Reader Favorite Recipes sent directly to your inbox!

What they say about this article

  1. Thanks Steph! I've been thinking about this since I wrote to you. Not in a OCD way, or a weird stalker way.

    This dish ranks up there with all my other 1970's dishes we used to eat:
    Shit on a Shingle (S.O.S.)
    Chop Suey
    Sloppy Joes

    I think I'll put on an episode of the Brady Bunch, open a can of green beans, and have some Tetrazzini!

    Sharon the Blogger Queen

  2. I have never had much luck with noodles in the crock-pot either. But I would bet if you substituted rice, which does hold up better in a crock-pot, it would be delicious.

  3. Funny how some things do just disintegrate in there. My mom used to make an awesome pork thing (sorry) with pork chops and pepperoni and potatoes in a tomato sauce in the crockpot but would race to throw in the green beans from the can as soon as she got home so they'd warm up without disappearing entirely. I don't think it would be too hard to make the noodles and add at the end, and when I try this that's what I'll do. Thanks!

  4. so funny! I just modified our favorite chicken tetrazzini recipe to be healthier (like 212 cal per 1/2 cup) , and made this 2 days ago, because we ALSO had a hanker'n for it too! My son loves this stuff!

    Thank you :)

  5. Anonymous6/05/2009

    Omigosh. I just found this blog. I don't know if I could use a crockpot 365 days, but I sure would like to use mine more! Usually crockpot cookbooks turn me off...but your recipes are really great (all tho I might skip this looks like it went the way of my Matzoh ball soup in a crockpot recipe--not recommended.


  6. ground turkey works fine too

  7. I wonder if it's just the brown rice noodles that disintegrated. Would regular white-flour pasta do the same thing?

  8. I have a version of chicken tetrazini that I do either in the oven or the crockpot. I assemble the whole casserole and then cook it. It works well.

  9. Hi. I'm new here and have discovered I love your recipes. I was thinking about the pasta issue. I've done lots with my crockpot and never have had any luck doing pasta in there unless it was cooked first and added at the end. Now you've set me on the road to investigation. :-)

  10. I have leftover tice and ground turkey - guess what we are having for dinner tomorrow??

  11. Anonymous6/06/2009

    Delurking! I love your recipes - so delicious! I am hoping I can help with the noodle dilemma. Growing up, my mom used the crockpot for everything! Two of her specialties was crockpot spaghetti and stroganoff with egg noodles. In order to keep the noodles from turning to mush, she would let sauce and meat "simmer" in the crock all day, and she added the noodles approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour before serving.

    This allowed the flavor to develop, without mushy noodles. This is how we always did it growing up, so it should work with this recipe too! At lease it would make it a little more hands off...


  12. We love turkey tetrazzini, but haven't had it in a long time. This post makes me want some! I always follow Alicia's advice for any pasta dish in the crockpot. I think I'll be making this next week and I could see it being a great dish for our support group soon. :-)

    Thanks, Stephanie!

  13. Anonymous6/08/2009

    I love this site. Please KEEP posting.

  14. Anonymous6/08/2009

    I think sometimes you just have to take that 20 minutes and make pasta the way it's supposed to be made.

  15. Whenever I add pasta to a crockpot meal I always cook the pasta separately on the stove. It never came out right when I put it in first...I can't wait to try this recipe!! I wish I had the ingredients to make it tomorrow!!

  16. I've yet to try crock-pot cooking but it does look like a great way to cook tasty, healthy meals.

  17. First off, I love this blog. Seriously...amazing. The crockpot was my post-marriage introduction into cooking edible food. I've branched out since then but it will always hold a special place in my heart. During our recent move I dropped my first crock. It was like loosing an old friend...

    Anyways, I have a question for you. I am going to get a friend (a poor, college, cooking impaired friend) a crockpot as a wedding present. To make it extra special I want to assemble the fixings of a meal and include it with the recipe. Any ideas? I am looking for something that highlights the ease, speed, and potential frugality of the crocking way (which easily tops the zen way in my book). Thanks so much!

  18. Hi Tater,

    what a cute idea! If you can lug the cans, I'd go with the components in taco soup--listed in the ABC guide (I'm on a crappy connection, or I'd link). You can include the onion, but not the ground meat ---it tastes great vegetarain, anyhow.


  19. Anonymous6/10/2009

    This is the first time I have been to your blog. I had no idea what to expect. I cannont tell you how hysterical the picture of you hugging your crockpot is to me. I am a connoisseur of all things funny, and you take the cake...which of course can be made in the crockpot. You have a marvelous sense of humor. You made my day!

  20. I stumbled across your crock of a blog while surfing cooking related blogs and like what I see. I currently own three crocks of which one is a dinosaur passed on from my late grandmother.During the holidays we will get get together the gang of crocks to cook and contain all of our appetizers using these handy plugins. Keep up the great work...though I think bread is best left to the oven!

  21. Thanks for the new recipe!
    My fiance and I threw this together on Sunday night, and turned the crockpot on Monday morning. Monday night, we had the most AWESOME dinner ever!
    You rock with your crockpot!!

  22. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this blog and recipes!

    We are living in my in laws basement and I do most of my cooking in a crock!

    Check out my new blog and save some $$$$!

  23. Stephanie,

    I tried the turkey tetrazzini recipe. Since you had a problem using spaghetti noodles, I tried fettuccine since it's a much heavier noodle. It worked pretty well, but I will use less than the full pound next time. I also need a LOT more liquid (maybe 1/3 - 1/2 times the amount) and adding the additional liquid (I broke the rule and took off the top and stirred it up a few times, too) I thought it was not quite creamy enough so I added a little more cream cheese (light worked fine for me) also. I waited until about the last hour for the peas so they stayed pretty and green. I love the idea of using ground turkey...that seems even easier!

  24. Since the bacon, chicken, and cheese was a hit, I'm going for the turkey tetrazzini.

    I have some turkey meat left from a fried turkey my husband did, do you think that would work if I take it off the bone and kinda shred it?

  25. Hi Danah, I do think that it would work just fine, but I would probably keep the noodles separate, or add them at the very end.

    xox steph

  26. I tried it with the shredded turkey and it was delicious!! Mine was a little runny the first day, but it thick when we had leftovers.

    I'm getting addicted to my crockpot now. I've used it three times in the past week and have two recipes I plan to do this week.

    It has been perfect for us since our house is on the market right now. Instead of me messing up the kitchen and a whole bunch of dishes, I just use the crockpot. I can leave at the drop of a dime because I have nothing to clean up in the kitchen (I can focus on the other rooms my kids have destroyed).

  27. I made this recipe over the weekend using frozen chicken tenders instead of turkey (the only turkey we had in the house were 2 of those disgusting little frozen loafs in the tin foil pan that my husband bought by mistake - reminds me of SPAM, gross!). Anyway, the taste was great but the dish was soupy. Was it beacuse I used frozen chicken instead of fresh? Does frozen chicken create more liquid? I also added cooked pasta at the end right before serving; I did not cook it in the crock. Just wondering what I can do to make it less soupy next time - cuz there will be a next time! =)

  28. Hi Krys,

    I like to use frozen meat in the crock, and while it does create a bit of extra "juice" it doesn't really add too awful much. I think your added moisture might be because you didn't cook the pasta in the pot, so there wasn't a need for all that much fluid. I'd probably cut the chicken broth back by 1/2 to a full cup (depending on how soupy your soupiness was!).

    I'm glad you liked it!
    xoxo steph

  29. I made this recipe last night. I decided to just cook the sauce in a skillet and cook the pasta separately. I used leftover turkey and bowtie pasta and it was great and fast. All I saw were marinated artichoke hearts, but that seemed to work well.

  30. Anonymous8/10/2009

    I made this recipe last night, it was delicious! It was pretty runny even with just 1 cup of stock, but I decided instead of doing noodles on the stove, i'd mix in egg noodles since they cook so quickly. It was the best, and turned out just right! Thank you!

  31. Anonymous9/13/2009

    i am making this now. i am 4 hours in. its on high just because im hungry and started at 8pm. i bought all the stuff, replaced peas with brocoli and such but its like soupy. its not creamy at all. i just added pasta noodles so i can eat soon and put like another cup of shredded parm cheese in. i stirred it once and my cream cheese looks like cottage cheese. this is the 3rd thing ive ever cooked in a crock pot. whats wrong?

  32. My wife is pregnant and we both work full time so I like to make a simple recipe on the weekend for both of us to enjoy. I made this this last weekend and it came out great! I used boneless chicken breast instead of turkey, and used canned peas instead of frozen. I avoid working with raw meat so I let the chicken fall apart by itself, which it did very well. I cooked the pasta completely separately and therefore only needed one cup of broth. Total cook time was 5 hours on low. In the last hour of cooking, I threw in the peas and six slices of cooked and chopped bacon (I was going for a carbonara style). Great recipe, keep them coming!

  33. Hey Steph! I love love love your blog, and I've tried almost every recipe on it! I'm not even sure if you'll see this comment on your old post, but I thought I'd write anyway.

    I played with this recipe a bit, and it turned out perfect! Just wanted to share in case you're interested!

    Chicken Tetrazzini

    1.5 pounds of cubed (raw) chicken breasts
    1 can of cheddar cheese soup
    1/2 c of skim milk
    3 c of chicken broth (I used homemade which I think gave it more flavor)
    2 green onions, diced
    1 cup of frozen peas
    1/2 cup of blended shredded cheese (I used a Mexican blend)
    1/4 cup of bread crumbs mixed with 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
    1 (16oz) box of thick spaghetti
    A few shakes of red pepper flakes
    Salt & pepper to taste

    This was super easy! I took a small handful (not all) of the spaghetti and broke it into 2-3 inch chunks and lined the bottom of the crockpot with it. I then dumped everything in (except the cheese and seasoned breadcrumbs) on top of that, and stirred it around while also stirring in the remainder of the broken up spaghetti. I topped the mixture with the seasoned breadcrumbs and shredded cheese and cooked on low for 1 hour. After 1 hour, I mixed it all up and turned it on high for another 1 hour, 45 minutes. I stirred it twice during this period. It turned out perfect (not mushy like other pasta-based crockpot meals).

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  34. Anonymous5/31/2011

    This recipe works out great with pre cooked brown rice instead of pasta. Mix in 2-3 cups of cooked brown rice towards the end of the cooking process, leave on low or warm for another 30 minutes or so. The rice absorbs the liquid nicely and tastes great. Makes it a lot easier than having to use pasta. Not soupy at all! This is one of my favorite crock pot recipes so far!