Turkey Tetrazzini

Turkey Tetrazzini
From a very old Betty Crocker cookbook, adapted by Tera’s Mom 

Ahhhh, the rare family recipe from Tera’s side.  Not because we didn’t eat home-cooked food when I was growing up, and not because it wasn’t good, but because I’m 100% convinced my mother is sabotaging my efforts by giving me inaccurate recipes.  She claims it’s not so, but thus far we’ve flopped on the family meatball recipe, the family spaghetti recipe, the family artichoke recipe…the list goes on.  So when I asked for my mom’s recipe for turkey tetrazzini, a perennial post-Thanksgiving classic, I didn’t have high hopes.  But John and I made a 12-pound turkey for two the other night, and the giant tub of leftover meat wasn’t going to eat itself.

The first email I received in response to my request was a pretty straightforward, albeit typo ridden, recipe, which I assumed was taken verbatim from my mom’s beloved, falling apart, 1969 edition of the Betty Crocker Cookbook.  After reviewing it I had a few basic questions, things like what size can is Betty referring to for the mushrooms, and what was the weight of “1 box” of spaghetti in 1969.  The email I received back was classic mom.

“Well, the truth is I doubled the amount of butter, flour, broth and cream….I added extra spaghetti from another box….I have never measured the turkey….double that too….”

You get the idea.  Wary from my many past failures I placed a phone call to mother dearest, teased out as much exact information as I could, said a prayer to the food gods and dove in.  And, in what can only be described as a Christmas miracle, it was delicious!  It tasted just like mom’s, and we truly felt like we were channeling the 1960’s version of ourselves throughout the meal.  So if you’re still sitting on that last chunk of turkey, it might be time you make this one part of your family tradition, too.  Just remember to write down the real recipe for your kids one day!


  • 12 ounces dry spaghetti
  • 5 Tbsp butter, divided
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 cup chicken broth (we used leftover turkey stock we had lying around)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups cooked turkey, chopped
  • 1 (6.5oz) can mushrooms (about 3/4 cup, if you want to use fresh)
  • 1/2 cup celery, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp white wine
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (we used the stuff in the green can)
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs (we used Italian seasoned breadcrumbs, but I’m sure anything would be fine)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.
  3. Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over low heat.
  4. Whisk in flour, salt and pepper.  Cook, whisking constantly, until smooth and bubbly.
  5. Remove from heat for a moment and whisk in broth and cream.
  6. Return to heat and turn up to medium-high.  Bring to a boil, whisking constantly.  Boil, whisking, for 1 minute.
  7. Remove from heat and stir in cooked spaghetti, turkey, mushrooms, celery and white wine.  Toss to combine.
  8. Pour mixture into an un-greased casserole.  We used a relatively deep 9×9 Corningware dish.  A shallower 9×13 would probably work too.  It doesn’t really matter, as long as it all fits.
  9. Sprinkle with Parmesan.
  10. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter and toss with the breadcrumbs. Sprinkle breadcrumbs over the top.
  11. Bake 30-35 minutes, until top is golden brown.
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9 Responses to Turkey Tetrazzini

  1. Mary Ellen Gardels says:

    You absolutely crack me up! I am seriously sitting in my living room watching (well only sort of) the Packers vs NY Giants with Tim while perusing my e-mail and laughing out loud (loling??)! Tim asks what are you laughing at and I respond… “Dor’s daughter doesn’t trust her Turkey Tetrazzini recipe”!!

    Honestly… I’m gonna guess it was delicious, not only because it came from Betty, via Doreen, but because it has delicious noodles, wine and heavy cream – some of our favorite food groups!

    I can’t wait to try it! Thanks so much for your blog… it not only gives me great recipes, but many chuckles to boot! PLEASE keep up the great work.

  2. Doreen Dodero says:

    This recipe is an all time favorite and always turns out (even without measuring any of the ingredients). I gave this recipe to someone I worked with in 1979 who was having company and did not know how to cook. It was such a success, she repeated the meal the next 5 times she had company over. At that point, she did request another meal to make. In case you are wondering what my next suggestion was………..get ready……..it was pork tenderloin.
    I loved this blog entry. Hilarious!

  3. pam says:

    I am stealing this recipe for our next year’s supper club dinner (and all the other parties of the whole year)..How much does a 1 lb box of noodles weigh though?! LOL Alex told me on Thanksgiving Eve to NEVER wash the mushrooms – she is way more into the cooking channel than I am – and so she was individually rubbing each fresh mushroom one by one for our stuffing. I couldn’t believe it. I never knew that one! Can’t wait for the next entry!!

  4. Maureen says:

    Your mom’s cooking style resembles my mom’s – a little bit of this, a little bit of that!! I could never trust my mom’s written recipes because that was not how she truly prepared them. Congrats on nailing the tettrizinni!

  5. Kris says:

    Wow! Great recipe and loved your commentary! I added my own twist by adding 1 tsp. garlic powder to the sauce, more wine to taste and 1/2 c. shredded parmesan cheese as well. The 1/2 c. cooked petite peas I added with the turkey made it very colorful and tasty too! Thanks! Kris

  6. Bertie says:

    Essays like this are so important to brnoiendag people’s horizons.

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