Turkey broccoli casserole is a comforting meal made with leftover sliced turkey, egg noodles, broccoli, and a creamy, homemade sauce. This hearty casserole feeds up to eight and is ready in less than 45 minutes.
Turkey broccoli casserole is a classic comfort meal to serve for the next family dinner. Filled with egg noodles, broccoli, sliced turkey, and a homemade cream sauce (no canned soups here!), this casserole is filling and crowd-pleasing!
Serve turkey broccoli casserole for a quick weeknight meal - it's ready in less than an hour. You may also like my recipes for chicken noodle casserole and cheesy tuna noodle casserole (a reader favorite!).
Ingredients and substitutions
- Cooked turkey - This is a great recipe for using up that leftover Thanksgiving turkey. Or, substitute with any lightly seasoned, cooked and shredded chicken (like rotisserie chicken) or cubed ham.
- Egg noodles - I prefer medium egg noodles, but any thickness will work. Or, substitute with any medium sized pasta, like farfalle, shells, or macaroni.
- Broccoli- You'll need one large head of broccoli. If using frozen broccoli, thaw beforehand. This can also be substituted with frozen peas and carrots or mixed vegetables. Peas and carrots can be mixed into your sauce with the turkey, no need to pre-cook.
- Unsalted butter - Can be substituted with salted butter (be sure to omit half of the salt listed in the recipe).
- Onions and garlic - add flavor to your casserole.
- Flour - All purpose flour combined with butter makes a roux, which thickens the homemade cream sauce.
- Milk - Whole milk makes creamiest sauce, but 2% or 1% will also work (your sauce will be on the thin side).
- Chicken broth - can be substituted with vegetable broth.
- Seasoning - Paprika, salt, and pepper add depth of flavor to your casserole.
- Panko bread crumbs - They make the best crunchy crust, but can be substituted with traditional bread crumbs or crushed butter crackers (like Ritz brand).
- Sharp cheddar cheese - The cheese layer can be omitted if desired, or substituted with another melty cheese like gruyere or monterey jack cheese.
Don't have leftover cooked turkey on hand? Here are several easy substitutions:
- Shredded rotisserie chicken
- Leftover cooked chicken
- Canned (drained) chicken or tuna
- Cubed ham
- Cooked and crumbled ground turkey
To make turkey for this recipe: Lightly season 12 ounces of turkey tenderloin (turkey breast) with ½ teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of poultry seasoning. Bake at 425 for 30 to 35 minutes, or until turkey reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit in the center.
Tips and tricks
- Use a 3 quart 9x13 casserole dish.
- Lightly grease your casserole dish before adding the ingredients. Softened butter or cooking spray works well.
- When adding the flour to make a roux, whisk until no flour lumps remain. When adding the milk and broth, whisk continuously until smooth and creamy.
- Cook your pasta to al dente - no more. Overcooked pasta will only get mushier in the oven. Undercooked pasta will continue to absorb liquid from the sauce, making your casserole dry.
- When broiling the crust, do not walk away. The broiler can take your crust from browned to burnt in just a few extra seconds.
Do you have to cook the broccoli beforehand?
You may be wondering, do you have to cook the broccoli before adding it to the casserole? Yes, the broccoli needs to be cooked before baking.
The baking time in this recipe is intended to warm up the casserole and melt the cheese on top, but is not enough time to cook raw broccoli. Increasing the baking time can cause the cream sauce to break and overcook the noodles. I don't recommend doing this.
Since we're already boiling noodles for the casserole, all you need to do is add your broccoli florets to the boiling noodles during the last 3 minutes. Strain the noodles and broccoli all together, then pour into your casserole dish.
Leftovers and reheating
Leftover turkey broccoli casserole reheats well and keeps for 3-4 days in the refrigerator when stored in a tightly sealed container.
Dairy based and pasta recipes generally do not freeze and thaw well, so I do not recommend freezing this recipe.
Turkey Broccoli Casserole
- 12 ounces egg noodles
- 1 large head of broccoli, cut into florets
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 ½ cups milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon thyme
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 12 ounces cooked turkey, cubed
- 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease a 9x13 casserole dish and set aside.
- In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook egg noodles according to package directions for al dente pasta. During the last 3 minutes, add broccoli florets. Drain and pour noodles and broccoli into prepared 9x13 pan. Set aside.
- In a saucepan over medium heat, add butter. Once hot and melted, add diced onions. Cook until onions begin to brown and turn translucent. Add garlic and flour, then cook for 1 additional minute.
- Add chicken broth and milk, whisking continuously until incorporated and smooth. Bring to a simmer and cook until sauce has thickened slightly, about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Remove from heat and add salt, pepper, paprika, and sliced turkey, stirring to combine. Pour mixture over noodles and gently toss to coat. Top with shredded cheddar cheese.
- In a separate bowl, combine bread crumbs, melted butter, and optionally, a pinch of salt. Sprinkle evenly over casserole.
- Bake uncovered for 15-18 minutes, or until casserole is hot and bubbling in the center. Optionally, broil for 2 minutes to brown crust on top. Do not walk away from your oven while broiling, your crust will brown quickly.
- Turkey can be substituted with shredded rotisserie chicken, cooked and shredded chicken breast and thighs, cubed ham, cooked ground turkey, or canned (drained) chicken or tuna.
- Leftovers will keep for 3-4 days in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator. Cream based sauces and pasta do not freeze/thaw well, so I do not recommend freezing leftovers.