This Ground Turkey Pasta recipe has a creamy tomato sauce and lean ground turkey for a satisfying weeknight meal that’s easy to put together.
I’m loving exploring easy ground turkey recipes and this pasta dish is no exception. In under half an hour, you can have this delicious and filling ground turkey pasta on the table. It has ground turkey, a creamy tomato sauce, and pasta, of course.
Scroll down to read more about how it all comes together or click here to jump straight down to the recipe.
Ingredients And Substitutions
We’re using ground turkey for this recipe, but you could swap in ground chicken if you’d like. The dish is seasoned with onion, garlic, and Italian seasoning. If you don’t have Italian seasoning, use 1/4 teaspoon dry oregano and 1/4 teaspoon dry basil instead. Want a little kick of spice? Add in some red pepper flakes.
For this tasty pasta dish, I like to use penne pasta, but you can use another pasta shape like rotini if you prefer. The recipe below calls for twelve ounces, but if your box of pasta has 16 ounces and you want to use all of it, you can with a couple minor adjustments. Increase the amount of Italian seasoning to 3/4 teaspoons, the amount of tomato paste to 2 tablespoons, and increase the amount of heavy cream to 1/2 cup. Easy and you might even get leftovers out of it (though this dish disappears quickly in my house)!
The creamy tomato sauce is made with some tomato paste, a can of diced tomatoes, and heavy cream. You could use half and half instead, but milk isn’t a great substitute here. The higher fat content of the cream helps the sauce not to separate with the acidity of the tomatoes.
We’re adding to the creaminess with shredded cheese. If you don’t like the stronger flavor of Parmesan cheese, you can use shredded mozzarella in its place or combine the two. You’ll need 1 and 1/4 cups total of shredded cheese.
Pasta Tips For Ground Turkey Pasta
Often dishes like this have you add the drained pasta to the skillet of sauce. I find it hard to stir everything in there because at that point the pan is very full. Instead, after draining the pasta, return it to the pot you cooked it in, which should be a fairly large pot. Then add the turkey sauce to the pot and stir. It will be much easier to mix and to serve from there.
Don’t forget to snag that pasta cooking water before draining the pasta! Right when the pasta starts cooking, put a colander in the sink and put a measuring cup into the colander. That way, when you go to drain the pasta the measuring cup will remind you to get the pasta water.
If you forget anyhow, you can use a couple of tablespoons of heavy cream or of tap water. But it won’t be hot so it will cool it down a tad. Also, it won’t be seasoned like the pasta water, so taste the pasta after adding the water and add more salt if needed.
Optional Add Ins
This ground turkey pasta recipe is delicious as written, but if you want to add some extra vegetables (or need to clean out the veggie drawer) you absolutely can. Try adding in quick cooking vegetables like mushrooms, frozen peas, spinach, or kale towards the end of the cook time.
More Easy Weeknight Pasta Recipes:
If you’re looking for an amazing and adaptable pasta dinner, you need to take a look at my One-Pot Pasta Formula. It’s a great solution for an easy meal that allows you to pick your protein and veggies.
Here are some other great pasta dishes for you to try too.
Enjoy! – Christine xo
Podcast About Making Ground Turkey Pasta
Listen to me explain briefly about how to make this recipe, with some great tips along the way, by clicking the play button below:
- 12 oz. penne pasta
- 1 Tbsp. cooking oil
- 1 and 1/2 lbs. ground turkey
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning*
- 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 3 oz. Parmesan cheese, shredded (approx. 1 and 1/4 cups)
- Fresh basil leaves leaves (optional)
- Cook pasta according to package directions but reserve ½ cup of the cooking water just before draining the pasta.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add the ground turkey. Use a wooden spoon to break it up and to spread it out in the skillet. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Cook undisturbed for 4 minutes. Then, break it up some more and flip it over and stir.
- Stir in the onion, garlic, and Italian seasoning. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion has softened, 3-4 minutes.
- Add the tomato paste and diced tomatoes. Mix well.
- Stir in the heavy cream. Cook and stir for 30 seconds and then reduce heat to low. Stir in the Parmesan cheese.
- Return the drained pasta to the pot it was cooked in. Add the turkey mixture and stir.
- Stir in about ¼ cup of the reserved pasta cooking liquid so that sauce is silkier and lightly coats the noodles. Add more liquid if desired.
- Garnish with the basil leaves, if using, and serve.
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*Or use a combination of dried basil and oregano.