Lemon Pesto Turkey Pasta

DinnerQuick and EasyPestoTurkey

This Lemon Pesto Turkey Pasta is an easy way to use up leftover holiday turkey! With bowtie pasta, basil pesto and lemon zest, carbonara style

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Leftover turkey anyone? Welcome to my new favorite way of putting turkey leftovers to good use.

This is a quick and easy “carbonara” style pasta dish, with bow tie pasta, onions, chopped cooked turkey, and a couple of eggs mixed with basil pesto and lemon zest to help make a creamy sauce.

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So good!

I ate the whole batch. Not in one sitting, mind you, as much as I wanted to, but over several days.

It reheats well. I used prepared basil pesto, but any good green pesto would work well, as long as it includes Parmesan cheese and garlic.

Lemon Pesto Turkey Pasta

Lemon Pesto Turkey Pasta Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 3 to 4


  • Salt
  • 2 eggs (large)
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1/2 cup prepared basil pesto
  • 1/2 pound of farfalle (bow tie) pasta
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 heaping cup of chopped onion (about one medium onion)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 cups chopped cooked turkey meat (leftover turkey thigh meat works great)
  • Freshly ground black pepper


1 Boil salted water for pasta: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1 Tbsp of salt for every 2 quarts of water.  (While the water is coming to a boil, prep the ingredients to save time.)

2 Make egg, zest, pesto sauce: In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, lemon zest, and pesto. Set aside.

3 Cook the pasta: Add the pasta to the boiling water. The pasta should take 10 minutes to cook to al dente, cooked through but still a little firm. Cook on a rolling boil, uncovered.

4 Cook onions, add chopped cooked turkey: While the pasta is cooking, cook the onions in a large sauté pan in olive oil on medium heat until translucent. Add the garlic and chopped cooked turkey meat. Cook until heated through, then remove from heat.

5 Drain pasta: When the pasta is ready, reserve 1/2 a cup of the pasta cooking water and drain the pasta.

6 Add pasta, sauce to onions and turkey: Add the hot, drained pasta to the pan with the onions and turkey. Pour the egg mixture over everything and quickly stir to combine. The heat of the pasta will cook the eggs sufficiently, though keep the pan off the heat or the eggs in the sauce will curdle.

7 Season to taste: Salt to taste (depending on the saltiness of your leftover turkey and the saltiness of the pesto, you may not need any additional salt).

Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper to serve. (If you want, sprinkle with a little fresh lemon juice as well.) Add back a little of the reserved pasta water if you want the pasta a little more loose, or if it is too dry.

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Easy Roasted Lemon Pesto Turkey from Sarah's Cucina Bella

Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

More from Elise

21 Comments / Reviews

No ImageLemon Pesto Turkey Pasta

Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Sue

    Easy, tasted great. I added halved cherry tomatoes. My husband ate two bowls.


  2. [email protected]

    It was really good and really easy. Much appreciated after 5 hours in the kitchen on thanksgiving! We usually don’t like to eat leftover turkey because of the taste but this hid it well. Will keep it for chicken or bacon next.


  3. roberta hardin

    This was so freaking delicious!!! Family loved it! I used ground turkey and smoked bacon. I put green onions for color and at the end sprinkled some lemon juice. This is going in our keep file.


  4. Argelia Avila

    I just made this for diner, I loved it my kids loved it. Tweeked it a lil by adding asparagus and toasted pine nuts!!! Simply delicious thank you!!!

  5. Gloria Gower

    We had friends at our home in Spain over Christmas and New Year and, despite all the excesses at that time, this recipe proved to be a great hit with all. It was quick and easy to make and very tasty. Thank you for sharing it.

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