4.68 from 75 reviews

Easy Shell Pasta with Ground Turkey

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My ground turkey pasta is a versatile, easy-to-make pasta recipe perfect for busy weeknights. It’s a crowd-pleaser that combines the hearty, satisfying pasta with lean protein, all smothered in a delicious tomato sauce.

I also like to add mushrooms and bell peppers to give it depth of flavor, add fiber, and sneak in some seasonal produce. Much like my roasted tomato and bell pepper pasta and my chicken fajita pasta!

It comes together with fridge and pantry staples such as canned tomato sauce, beef broth, Italian seasoning, garlic, and veggies!

But one of the best things about this recipe is its simplicity. With just a few basic ingredients and straightforward steps, you can quickly prepare a delicious, homemade meal. It’s one of my family’s go-to recipes for a satisfying weeknight dinner, and it doubles as a perfect meal prep recipe, too!

shell pasta in a white bowl.

Why this recipe works

  • 30-minute meal!
  • The sauce coats the pasta perfectly.
  • Ideal for weekday dinners or meal prep.
  • Easy to customize based on what you have!

How to make ground turkey pasta

(For the full recipe, scroll down to the recipe card below)

an up close image of shell pasta with ground turkey.


Can I use a gluten-free pasta?

Yes! Lentil pasta, chickpea pasta or your favorite gluten-free pasta works well. These pastas typically provide more protein and fiber which is great, too!

Can I use a different protein?

Ground chicken, ground beef or ground Italian sausage are all great options. Remember ground beef has a higher fat content, so you may need to drain excess fat after browning the meat.

What other veggies can I add?

Spinach, zucchini, carrot, or peas would be great options. I would saute the zucchini or carrots along with the onions and garlic, but stir the spinach or peas in at the end.

ground turkey pasta in a white bowl garnished with basil.
shell pasta in a large dutch oven.

Tips and storage

  • Fresh Parmesan: For the best flavor, buy a block of Parmesan cheese and grate it yourself, or buy the pre-shredded Parmesan in a bag. Avoid the powdered stuff in a shaker can, as it’s not as flavorful and doesn’t melt well.
  • Salt in Layers: Season the ground turkey as it cooks and adjust the seasoning after adding all of the ingredients to ensure balanced flavors.
  • Tomato Paste: Add a tablespoon of tomato paste in with the sauteed veggies for a richer tomato flavor.
  • Let It Rest: Allow the combined pasta and sauce to sit for a few minutes before serving. This lets the pasta absorb the flavors of the sauce.
  • Sides: Serve the pasta with a simple side salad, garlic bread, or roasted vegetables for a complete meal.
  • Refrigerate: Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop, adding a splash of water or extra sauce to keep it from drying out.
  • To freeze: Allow the pasta to cool completely, then transfer it to an airtight container or freezer-safe bag. Label with the date and freeze for up to 2-3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.

What is your favorite short noodle shape?

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4.68 from 75 reviews

Ground Turkey Pasta

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
This easy weeknight Ground Turkey Pasta combines lean ground turkey, tender pasta shells, and a rich, savory tomato sauce in 30 minutes or less. Perfect for families and customizable with your favorite vegetables and spices.


  • 12 oz. medium shell pasta (or pasta of choice)
  • 1 lb. (16 oz.) ground turkey
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 large red bell pepper, diced small
  • 4 oz. white mushrooms, thinly sliced or diced small
  • 1/2 large white onion, diced
  • 1 tsp. salt (taste and add more as desired)
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 2 Tbsp. all purpose flour
  • 2 cups beef broth (or chicken broth)
  • 1, (15oz.) can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • fresh basil for garnish (optional)

Last step! If you make this, please leave a review and rating letting us know how you liked this recipe! This helps our business thrive & continue providing free recipes.


  • Boil the water for the pasta and follow directions on the shell pasta box. Typically 8-10 minutes to cook medium shells.
    12 oz. medium shell pasta
  • In a Dutch oven or wide stock pot, heat 2 Tbsp. of the olive oil over medium heat and cook the ground turkey. Season the ground turkey with salt and pepper. Once cooked, drain excess fat/liquid in the pan and place the ground turkey in a bowl and set aside.
    3 Tbsp. olive oil, 1 lb. (16 oz.) ground turkey
  • Then, add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the same pan. Sauté the garlic, bell peppers, mushrooms, and onions with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning until fragrant (about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally). Then, whisk in the flour until combined.
    2 cloves garlic, minced, 1/2 large red bell pepper, diced small, 4 oz. white mushrooms, thinly sliced or diced small, 1/2 large white onion, diced, 1 tsp. salt (taste and add more as desired), 1/2 tsp. pepper, 1 tsp. Italian seasoning, 2 Tbsp. all purpose flour
  • Pour in the beef broth and tomato sauce and let it come to a simmer. Then add in the cooked ground turkey.
    2 cups beef broth (or chicken broth), 1, (15oz.) can tomato sauce
  • Pour in the cooked shells or pasta of choice, heavy cream, and Parmesan. Stir to combine.
    1 cup heavy cream, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • Taste and adjust salt and pepper or other seasonings as desired. It may seem soupy initially; just simmer and stir occasionally until the sauce thickens. If you would like it creamier, add more heavy cream. Garnish with fresh basil and more Parmesan cheese and enjoy! The pasta will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
    fresh basil for garnish (optional)




  • Other seasonings that make a great addition but are not necessary include garlic powder, onion powder, fennel seed, red pepper chili flakes, dried oregano, and even a pinch of cayenne. 
  • You may substitute shell pasta for a different-shaped pasta, such as rotini or penne. I’ve even made it with cheese tortellini and added spinach for a fun twist!
  • If you make it with more pasta (16 oz box of shells), add in more heavy cream or tomato sauce. 
  • To make as a pasta bake: Cook the recipe as written, and then place everything in an oven-safe dish (or leave it in a Dutch oven), top with Parmesan or even shredded mozzarella cheese and bake at 350° F. for an additional 20 minutes or until everything is hot and bubbly. 

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1serving, Calories: 569kcal (28%), Carbohydrates: 51g (17%), Protein: 32g (64%), Fat: 27g (42%), Saturated Fat: 12g (75%), Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 10g, Trans Fat: 0.01g, Cholesterol: 92mg (31%), Sodium: 487mg (21%), Potassium: 571mg (16%), Fiber: 3g (13%), Sugar: 4g (4%), Vitamin A: 1112IU (22%), Vitamin C: 19mg (23%), Calcium: 166mg (17%), Iron: 2mg (11%)

Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is automatically calculated. It should only be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Kroll’s Korner can’t make any guarantees to the accuracy of this information.

Krolls Korner

Krolls Korner

Welcome to my tiny “korner” on the Internet! I am a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who loves cookies as much as kale. (OK, maybe I like cookies a little bit more but shh, don’t tell anyone). I am so glad you’re here! Follow along for hassle free, realistic and approachable recipes.

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4.68 from 75 votes (52 ratings without comment)
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My partner and I both loved this! Thanks, looking forward to trying more of your recipes. I used a roasted red pepper from a jar, and whole milk instead of heavy cream because it’s what I had on hand and it still worked wonderfully. Thank you! 😋

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Samantha T

This was delicious, easy to make, and even our 3 year old ate his entire portion. Next time I’ll be making breadsticks to go with it!

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Yummy dinner. Love the addition of cream. Next time I will use ground beef for more flavor and more Italian seasoning.

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Since I/ we had this for dinner,
I am writing this review. It was delicious.

If you had not already done so, Joanie would have used Turkey instead of Beef.

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Just really not a fan. It came out really soupy even though I followed the recipe exactly. Maybe it was the broth, more tomato would’ve been better

Mom Loves to Cook

Fantastic! Adding it to my regular repertoire.

Marcinda Tischer

This was fantastic! My whole family loved it. I love it because it tastes great and it was very easy to make! This will now go into my meal rotation. Thank you!


Really tasty and easy to make! I didn’t have bell peppers, but I used broccoli and yellow squash instead. It worked really well and quick to make. Thanks!

Shelly Schmidt

We are eating less beef this year, so looking for alternative proteins. I am also allergic to milk, so cannot have any dairy. I substituted the cream with Vegan Shredded Mozzarella Cheese alternative. I served Parmesan cheese for those who wanted to add it at the table. Family gave it 2 thumbs up- and were licking the plates : )


This was absolutely amazing! I will be adding this into my rotation. Thank you so much for sharing!