Lighter Turkey Casserole
Updated Aug 21, 2023
This post may contain affiliate links. See my disclosure policy.
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole
- Whole30 Chicken Broccoli Casserole
- Healthy Breakfast Casserole
- Healthy Green Bean Casserole
If you make this recipe, let me know how it turned out! I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below.
Lighter Turkey Casserole
- 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.
- 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.
©Downshiftology. Content and photographs are copyright protected. Sharing of this recipe is both encouraged and appreciated. Copying and/or pasting full recipes to any social media is strictly prohibited.