Looking for ground turkey recipes? This simple ground turkey pasta recipe is a filling dinner ready in 30 minutes that’s made with a ground turkey red sauce and shell pasta.
“Delicious! This recipe was super easy to make but felt kind of fancy. I was skeptical about the anchovy paste but used it anyway, and I’m glad I did. This recipe has great flavor!” – Nicole
If this doesn’t scream dinner, I don’t know what does. We’ve been all about the easy ground turkey recipes lately and this one tops our list! And my toddler’s 😀
This ground turkey pasta is so filling, savory, and crowd-pleasing. It’s made with macaroni shells and the most delicious ground turkey red sauce that has a bit of cream added right at the end. It’s served with parmesan cheese and fresh parsley.
PS: if you love this recipe, try our Ground Chicken Bolognese, but swap the chicken for turkey!
What You Need for Ground Turkey Pasta
- Noodles: It wouldn’t be ground turkey shells without the shells! But, you’re more than welcome to use your favorite noodle. Some favorite include spaghetti, rigatoni, pappardelle, and elbows.
- Onion and garlic: onion and garlic are our holy grail when making a red pasta sauce. Feel free to use more or less of each.
- Ground turkey: you’ll need 1-lb. of ground turkey for this recipe. We suggest buying your meat directly from the butcher, but if you can’t, any kind will work.
- Italian seasoning: we were feeling a little extra and used our homemade Italian seasoning for this recipe. It a mixture of all the right spices that will make this pasta taste delicious.
- Tomato products: since this is a red sauce, you’re going to need tomato sauce and tomato paste.
- Anchovy paste: hear us out. Anchovy paste adds such a wonderful flavor. If it’s not your jam or you can’t find it, feel free to omit it.
- Heavy cream: a little bit of cream really brightens up the ground turkey pasta recipe!
- Parmesan cheese: it wouldn’t be pasta without the parm!
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More about Ground Turkey
This recipe is all about the meaty red sauce and today we’re using ground turkey! Ground turkey is a high-protein, lower in fat meat in comparison to ground pork and beef.
What is ground turkey made from? Ground turkey is made from leftover dark and light turkey meat, including the skin. Because it’s made with light and dark meat, it’s a pretty affordable meat product.
Ground turkey calories: per 4-oz. serving ground turkey has 170 calories, 8g fat, 21g protein, 0g carbs, 0g sugar, and 0g fiber.
Check the ingredient list in your Italian seasoning: The homemade Italian seasoning we make and use in this recipe includes salt and garlic. If you are using a store-bought Italian seasoning, check to see if it has salt listen in the ingredients. You may need to add more salt and/or garlic to the sauce as many store-bought Italian seasonings are salt-free.
Whisk ingredients thoroughly: Be sure you thoroughly whisk the tomato paste and anchovy paste into the sauce and then bring the sauce to a simmer. This is important to really cook down the ingredients.
Make sure to save starchy pasta water: After boiling your pasta, remember to reserve 1 cup of starchy pasta water to add to the sauce later — it helps thicken the sauce perfectly.
Is ground turkey healthy?
Ground turkey is a lower in fat, high protein meat that is a great option for a healthy diet.
Is ground turkey a good substitute for ground beef?
While ground turkey has far less fat than ground beef, it is a great substitute for ground beef.
Does ground turkey taste like hamburger?
Ground turkey tastes similar to hamburger, but it has less fat making it less rich.
Which ground turkey is best?
Our favorite ground turkey is organic ground turkey that you can buy directly from your local butcher.
Transfer cooled pasta into an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 3-5 days.
To reheat: transfer pasta back into a skillet and add a little water or broth. Reheat over medium heat until hot.
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Ground Turkey Pasta
- 8 oz. medium dried pasta shells
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion minced
- 1 teaspoon salt separated
- 5 garlic cloves peeled and minced
- 1 lb. ground turkey (we used 93% lean, 7% fat)
- 3 tablespoons homemade Italian seasoning
- 1 15-oz. can tomato sauce
- ½ cup starchy pasta water
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons anchovy paste
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup fresh chopped parsley
- Cook the pasta. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta. Cook the pasta until al dente. Before straining the pasta, set aside 1 cup of starchy pasta water. Strain the pasta. Rinse the pasta with cold water and set aside for later.
- Heat a large skillet over medium/high heat. Add olive oil. When the olive oil is fragrant, add the onion to the pan and sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon of salt. Sauté the onion for 2-3 minutes and then add the garlic to the pan. Toss with the onion and cook for an additional 1 minute.
- When the garlic is fragrant add the ground turkey to the pan and sprinkle with the Italian seasoning. Break the ground turkey up into small pieces and cook the turkey until it is almost cooked but has bits of pink still left.
- Add the tomato sauce and ½ cup of the starchy pasta water to the pan and stir to combine. Next, add the tomato paste and anchovy paste to the pan and whisk the two ingredients into the tomato sauce. Bring the mixture to a boil.
- Turn the heat to low and allow the tomato sauce to simmer and continue to cook the ground turkey (about 4-6 minutes). Taste the sauce and add ¼ teaspoon more of salt to the sauce. If you desire more salt, add ¼ teaspoon more at a time until you’re satisfied.
- While the sauce is still on a low simmer, slowly add in the heavy cream, while constantly stirring the tomato sauce until combined.
- Finally, fold the pasta into the tomato sauce. Let the noodles heat up in the sauce.
- Top with parmesan cheese and fresh parsley and enjoy.
Tips & Notes
- The Italian seasoning we make and use in this recipe includes salt and garlic. If you are using a store-bought Italian seasoning you may need to add more salt or garlic to the sauce.
- You can use whatever dried pasta you would like! Be sure you thoroughly whisk the tomato paste and anchovy paste into the sauce and then bring the sauce to a simmer. This is important to really cook down the ingredients.
- Feel free to add more parmesan to this dish if desired.
Photography: photos taken in this post are by Ashley McGlaughlin from The Edible Perspective.