Easy Shell Pasta with Ground Turkey

Dinner  |  Published Dec 20, 2018  |  Updated Sep 11, 2020  |  By Tawnie

creamy shell pasta in a white bowl

Creating this shell pasta recipe

When I am in a pinch and don’t know what to make for dinner, shell pasta is typically the answer.

It’s easy, quick, perhaps better than running to get fast food, and tastes good! Paired with a veggie and a glass of wine, I’m a happy camper.

Growing up, when my mom would work late nights and my dad was on dinner duty, we had three options: pizza, Chinese (takeout), or he’d make pasta.

I don’t think he ever made anything like this ground turkey pasta recipe; he was more of a bag of frozen ravioli and a jar of red sauce kind of guy. My dad was quite the chef (*wink, wink*).

Psst…before we move on…be sure to check out this post on 10+ quick ground turkey dinner recipe ideas!

This ground turkey recipe is easily made with fridge and pantry staples and is a restaurant-quality pasta. To balance out this easy shell pasta recipe, serve with a yummy side salad.

Sometimes I feel we all think we need to overcomplicate dinner. Cooking is only as hard as you make it out to be. It’s a mindset, right? “I don’t want to cook. I don’t want to have to clean the dishes or go buy ingredients at the store.” It’s something you may need to take time to plan for and make time for. If it’s important to you, it’ll happen!

ground turkey pasta in skillet with wooden spoon

Ground turkey pasta ingredients

For this easy recipe using ground turkey, you’ll need:

  • Medium shells
  • Ground turkey
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic
  • Bell pepper
  • White mushrooms
  • White onion
  • Spices
  • Beef broth
  • Flour
  • Tomato sauce
  • Heavy cream
  • Parmesan cheese

You’re welcome to play around with the veggies you add into this ground turkey pasta. Zucchini would pair nicely with the creamy tomato sauce, as would different types of mushrooms.

How to make ground turkey pasta

  1. To cook this easy ground turkey recipe, you’ll need one large pan to make everything in.
  2. Boil water for the pasta and cook pasta according to the package directions.
  3. Cook ground turkey in a few tablespoons olive oil and set it aside.
  4. Sauté fresh minced garlic in a little bit of extra virgin olive oil with bell peppers, mushrooms, and onion. Season and cook for about 5 minutes, or until onions become translucent. You’ll thicken with flour (gluten-free if you need it), beef broth, and tomato sauce and simmer until thick and bubbly. So far so good, right?
  5. Stir in cooked pasta with heavy cream, Parmesan and you’ve got a winning, really delicious, easy dinner!
ground turkey shell pasta recipe

Can I make this ground turkey pasta gluten-free?

Absolutely! Nowadays, there are so many great pasta alternatives if you want to switch it up (or are gluten-free) — lentil pastas, chickpea pastas, black bean pastas, etc. would all work in this ground turkey pasta recipe. These pastas typically provide more protein and fiber, which is great.

Tips for making ground turkey pasta

Not a ground turkey fan? No problem! You can also opt for ground beef or Italian sausage if you’d prefer.

But if you’re new to the world of recipes using ground turkey, make this shell pasta as written the first time you cook it. With the right seasonings, ground turkey can be incredibly flavorful.

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 really melt.

Sometimes I place my creamy shell pasta in the oven at 350 degrees F in an oven-safe dish to get it nice and bubbly. If everyone isn’t ready to eat yet, keep it in the oven!

What is your favorite short noodle shape?

creamy shell pasta in a white bowl
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Ground Turkey Pasta

This Ground Turkey Pasta is made with shell pasta, peppers, mushrooms, and onions smothered in a cream tomato sauce!
4.68 from 50 reviews
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 605kcal

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 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
  • 4 oz. white mushrooms, sliced
  • 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. flour
  • 2 cups beef broth (or chicken broth)
  • 1 can (15oz.) tomato sauce
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  • Boil water for pasta and follow directions on the shell pasta box. Typically 8-10 minutes to cook medium shells.
  • 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, place ground turkey in a bowl and set aside.
  • Then place remaining tablespoon olive oil in 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. Pour in the beef broth and tomato sauce and let it come to a simmer. Then add in the cooked ground turkey.
  • Pour in the cooked shells or pasta of choice, heavy cream and Parmesan. Stir to combine. Taste and adjust salt and pepper, as desired. If you would like it creamier, add more heavy cream.
  • *Optional to make a pasta bake: place pasta in an oven safe dish (or leave in dutch oven) and bake at 350° F. for and additional 20 minutes. You can top with more Parmesan if desired. Enjoy.
  • Other seasonings that make a great addition, but not necessary include garlic power, onion powder, red pepper chili flakes, dried oregano and cayenne. 

Video

Notes

  • Add red pepper chili flakes for a little heat!
  • If you don’t want to use heavy cream, you can make this pasta creamy by using whipped ricotta. (or use half heavy cream and whipped ricotta, it’s fun to play with pasta recipes, you can’t really “mess” it up!)
  • May sub shell pasta for a different shaped pasta such as rotini or penne. I’ve even made it with cheese tortellini and added in spinach as well for a fun twist!
  • Other seasonings that make a great addition, but not necessary include garlic power, onion powder, fennel, seed, dried oregano and cayenne. 
  • If you make with more pasta (16 oz box of shells) add in more heavy cream or tomato sauce. 
  • Can add in more ground turkey if you want too!
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Nutrition

Serving: 1.5cup | Calories: 605kcal | Protein: 27.5g
 

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Marie
3 years ago

Can I make this ahead of time and then reheat it in the oven? Should I increase the broth or tomato sauce so it doesn’t dry out while it’s reheating?

Jessica
3 years ago

Can you make this with chicken broth or water instead of beef broth ? Don’t really eat beef,

Janelle
3 years ago
Reply to  Jessica

What does putting it in the oven do?

Jen
3 years ago

Unless I missed it, I didn’t see when to put the ground turkey back into the recipe. I just did it when I had the sauce simmering. Also, could the broth be cut down to make it less saucy? Thanks

Deb
2 years ago
Reply to  Jen

Look at step three

Beth Cabral
3 years ago

This is delicious!! My family loved it with a green salad and brown and serve bread

Emily Bruno
3 years ago

One of my kiddos has a beef allergy so I’m always looking for more recipes with turkey!

3 years ago

Great pasta recipe for this season! Looks so creamy and tasty!

3 years ago

Ground turkey is a go to protein at our house and this pasta looks rich and delicious. Can’t wait to try!

Sonal
3 years ago

That pasta looks so warm, comforting and inviting. A must try recipe for sure especially during this brutal
Cold season.

Kelly Anthony
3 years ago

Ground turkey is SO underrated! I love it and we use it all the time. This is an excellent way to put it to good use. My kids would adore this!!!

Emily
3 years ago

My dad was on dinner duty too! He only had 5 dishes he knew how to do, so he made the heck out of them. I cannot eat broiled chicken to this day. But anyway, this recipe looks really tasty. I can’t wait to try it out on my family.

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