Lighter Turkey Casserole


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A lightened-up, healthy turkey casserole is the perfect recipe for your leftover Thanksgiving turkey. Turkey bits are tossed with wild rice, peas, and a simple mushroom gravy sauce. The best part? This recipe won’t weigh you down!

A turkey casserole dish on a table with a spoon in it.

If you’re wondering what to do with all that leftover Thanksgiving turkey in your fridge, I’ve got you covered. You could make a turkey cobb salad, or you could make this lighter turkey casserole.

Unlike most turkey casseroles that are dense, and creamy, this version is light, and fluffy. There’s no cream in this recipe, just a simplified turkey gravy mixed with sauteed mushrooms and onions to amp up the sauce.

Wild rice adds great texture to this recipe (though you could use any variety of rice), and that bag of frozen peas that’s been sitting in your freezer gets used up. You could even toss in leftovers from your healthy green bean casserole if you have them! I do add a little cheese to my casserole, but it’s completely optional if you’d like to make this recipe dairy-free. In other words, flexibility is the name of the game here.

Turkey Casserole Ingredients

The great thing about this recipe is that it won’t weigh you down. A welcome respite from perhaps a little overindulging on your Thanksgiving menu, right? *wink*

  • Turkey: I’m using leftover turkey in this recipe, but you could always cook a few turkey breasts just for this casserole.
  • Wild Rice Blend: Creates a fluffy and texturized base. If you prefer white or brown rice, feel free to use those.
  • Turkey or Chicken Broth: For additional moisture and depth of flavor.
  • Arrowroot Powder: Mixes with the broth to thicken up the sauce.
  • Mushrooms: I’m using baby bella mushrooms, but cremini work as well.
  • Onion and Garlic: Must haves for savory aromatics.
  • Thyme: Seasons all the ingredients in the most earthy and delicious way.
  • Cheese (optional): Sharp cheddar is my go-to, but gouda or asiago work great here.

Find the complete recipe with measurements below

Ingredients for a turkey casserole on a table.

Create The Best Leftover Turkey Casserole

  • Prepare the rice. Follow the boxed instructions and set aside.
  • Sauté the vegetables. Preheat your oven to 350F. Sauté the onions and mushrooms with oil in a large skillet.
  • Add the aromatics. Stir in the garlic, thyme, salt and pepper.
  • Make a slurry. Pour the broth into the pan and give it a stir. Then make a slurry in a separate bowl with the arrowroot powder and water. Stir the slurry into the pan until it’s thickened.
  • Add everything to a casserole dish. Mix together the turkey, frozen peas, cheese, wild rice, and onion mushroom sauce.
  • Bake for 15 minutes or until it’s cooked all the way. You can sprinkle on a little extra cheese in the last 5 minutes.
  • Serve. Remove from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes before serving.
Sauteing onion mushroom sauce for a turkey casserole

Customize Your Turkey Casserole

Make the best of your leftovers from Thanksgiving, or even ingredients in your fridge! Have a bundle of spinach that’s about to go bad? Toss it in. Still have some roasted butternut squash? That works too. Treat this as a blank canvas to transform leftover veggies into a scrumptious meal.

  • Add in extra leafy greens. Grab any leafy greens you have on hand, whether it be spinach or kale. These make for easy add-ins.
  • Mix in leftover roasted vegetables. Toss in any of your side dishes from roasted Brussels sprouts, roasted sweet potatoes, to roasted spaghetti squash. I always say the more veggies, the better!
  • Switch up the meats. If you didn’t have turkey for Thanksgiving, not to worry. You can also use poached chicken, or shredded chicken.
  • Make it cheesy. If you like your casseroles more on the cheesy side, you can add a little extra cheese before baking.
Mixing ingredients in a dish for a turkey casserole.

Storing and Reheating Leftovers

Casseroles are one of the easiest ways to meal prep. Throw this together after Thanksgiving, and you’ve got a few meals covered throughout the week.

  • To Store: This will keep in the fridge for about 4 days. You can either store in an airtight container or cover the casserole dish.
  • To Freeze: Bake the casserole completely, then let cool to room temperature. Transfer portions into airtight containers, and freeze for up to 3 months.
  • For Reheating: Let the casserole thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then reheat in the oven at 350F until warmed through. You could also reheat individual portions in the microwave.

A plate with turkey casserole next to a dish.

Easy Casserole Recipes

If casseroles are your jam, you’re going to love these recipes. They’re hearty, filling, and make your weeknight meals a breeze.

If you make this recipe, let me know how it turned out! I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below.

A large pan with turkey casserole on a table.

Lighter Turkey Casserole

4.94 from 15 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 45 minutes
Total: 1 hour
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan


This turkey casserole is an easy, comforting, and delicious blend of turkey, wild rice, mushroom, peas and a sprinkle of cheese!


  • 1 cup wild rice blend
  • 3 cups cooked turkey, cubed or shredded
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 8 baby bella or cremini mushrooms, diced
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3/4 cup turkey or chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder, mixed with 1 tablespoon water
  • 10 ounces frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup sharp cheddar (optional), or asiago, gouda, or your other favorite cheese


  • Cook the wild rice blend as per package instructions.
  • Preheat oven to 350F/175C. Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and mushrooms and saute for 4-5 minutes, or until the onions are translucent.
    Onions and mushroom in a pan for a turkey casserole.
  • Add the minced garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper, and stir for another minute.
  • Pour in the chicken broth and give it all a stir. Then, make a slurry in a separate small bowl with the arrowroot powder and an equal amount of water. Add the slurry to the pan and stir for a minute or two until it's thickened.
  • In a 9×13-inch casserole dish, add the cooked wild rice, cooked turkey, frozen peas, cheese, and onion mushroom sauce.
  • Stir all of the ingredients together, then transfer to the oven and cook covered for 15 minutes, or until it's warmed through. If you'd like to top it with extra cheese, you can do so in the last 5 minutes, then serve.
    Turkey casserole in a white baking dish.

Lisa’s Tips




Calories: 305kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 46mg | Sodium: 229mg | Potassium: 525mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 484IU | Vitamin C: 23mg | Calcium: 104mg | Iron: 2mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Leftover turkey casserole, leftover turkey recipe, Turkey Casserole
Did you make this recipe?Mention @downshiftology or tag #downshiftology!

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About the author

Lisa Bryan

Lisa is a bestselling cookbook author, recipe developer, and YouTuber (with over 2.5 million subscribers) living in sunny Southern California. She started Downshiftology in 2014, and is passionate about making healthy food with fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients.

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Recipe Rating


  1. This was so much better than I thought it would be. I did take another reviewer’s advice and added some half-and-half and a splash of vermouth to the sauce. Gruyere, cheddar, and a touch of mozzarella on the top. I could eat the whole thing, and it still tastes light.5 stars

  2. Outstanding! Just made a double batch with leftover Thanksgiving turkey. My husband and I follow a nutritional plan and we were pleased this healthy casserole hit all the marks for our plan. Nice to know this healthy deliciousness will be available in our freezer for the next few months! Thank you so much for posting this recipe! :)5 stars

  3. I just made this with ground Turkey as that’s all I had in the fridge. It worked great I think! The mushroom flavour is great and I cut it up nice and small so that my son can eat it.;) 5 stars

    1. Is there another type of gravy I could make for it that’s not with mushrooms, I’m allergic. It sounds delicious and I would love to try it though!

  4. I made this for dinner with leftover Christmas turkey.  I substituted the slurry with 1 cup of leftover gravy, which I added to the sautéed garlic, onions and fresh oregano since I didn’t have thyme.  Then I diluted this mixture with 3/4 cup of water.  My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed this, I wish I had more leftovers to make more of this dish!  Your health and wellness journey is inspiring.  We are trying to eat healthier and this was a refreshing change from the usual heavy leftover Turkey recipes.  I highly recommend this recipe! Thank you Lisa for creating healthy and delicious easy to follow recipes😊5 stars

  5. This had some good for you ingredients, the wild rice brown basmati rice combo, the three cups of turkey, and the Cremini mushrooms were good, but the amount of peas was too much, it looked and tasted like it was “all peas”. I weighed out 10 ounces and I expect I would have liked 2 to 3 ounces at most. I added some unsweetened oat milk creamer to make it more creamy as I felt the sauce was fairly bland and thin, and added dried tarragon and spicy white pepper to kick it up a bit . I doubled the cheese on top using the Asiago as noted and a lower sodium grated blend to add with that. I have realized that I like casseroles that have some kind of creamy white sauce as a base and the challenge is to do that without a lot of added fat and sodium. It’s a good base recipe to start with and add to it as you like and what your diet dictates!4 stars

  6. What a delicious way to make use of our Thanksgiving turkey! It’s also a great dish throughout the year. I switched up the peas for broccoli. Husband isn’t a fan of peas. Go figure. Thank you for this delightful recipe!

  7. This comes together so easily and is enjoyed by our whole family. I have made this dish many times now. Thank you!5 stars

  8. Hi Lisa, made the “lighter Turkey casserole” and was delicious! Thank you for the leftover turkey recipes!!!! Love your ideas and recipes so much. I have hashimotos and am always looking for easy delicious recipes. My husband loves them too :)5 stars

  9. We’re not huge turkey eaters, but always eat it at Christmas and then wonder what to do with the leftovers. This recipe sounds ideal – nice and simple with some wholesome ingredients. Thats Boxing Day (I’m in the UK) sorted out.5 stars

    1. Hi Jane – it’s always nice to have options for all that leftover turkey. Hope you enjoy this recipe on your Boxing Day!

  10. What a tasty way to enjoy leftover turkey! This sounds so delicious and I love that its healthier too.5 stars