Leftover Turkey Risotto with Butternut Squash and Asparagus

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Trying to think of something unique and delicious to do with all that leftover Thanksgiving turkey? This is your answer!

This dish is a perfect way to use up some of your scrumptious leftover turkey from the holiday feasts. Making homemade risotto is easier than you might think. Starting with made-from-scratch chicken stock (or turkey), puts the dish over the top. And leftovers are also amazing!

An overhead view of a large silver skillet filled with risotto with left-over turkey, roasted butternut squash, and asparagus.

How to Make Leftover Turkey Risotto


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The Ingredients You Will Need

This risotto is so wonderfully delicious, we have it all year long. When we don’t have loads of leftover turkey in the fridge, then we go with roasted chicken! Here’s what you’ll need to have on hand:

Pancetta – Cubed. This can usually be found in the deli area of most well-stocked supermarkets. You can substitute bacon for the pancetta. To make the dish vegetarian, omit the pancetta.
Arborio rice – This can be found in the dried rice section of most supermarkets. If you can find it, try Carnaroli (usually only at Italian markets). These types of Italian rice yield a creamy texture that you’re looking for.
White wine – Go with a decent Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc. 99.5% of the alcohol will cook off. If you do not want to cook with wine, simply omit it.
Butternut squash – Cut into bite-sized pieces. Most produce sections have it already pre-cut and packaged. This is the way to go.
Asparagus – Cut about 1 inch off of the stem. Then cut into bite-sized pieces. We prefer the thicker asparagus rather than the extra-thin. But, that’s a matter of taste.
Oil – Olive oil or extra-virgin is what you’ll want to coat the vegetables.
Seasonings – Salt and pepper is all you need. See NOTES regarding salt levels. 
Broth or stockHomemade is definitely what makes this dish special. Be sure to have it heated before you start. And you’ll want to have extra on hand.
Parmesan cheese – Grated, preferably from a block.
Parsley – Flat-leaf. For garnish.

EXPERT TIP: Roasting the butternut squash and asparagus is very simple. The squash takes 30 minutes to roast. After 20 minutes, simply add the asparagus. Give them all a stir every now and then.

A person using a wooden spatula to lift up several pieces of roasted butternut squash over a baking sheet filled with more of the squash and pieces of roasted asparagus.

Tips for Making Perfect Leftover Turkey Risotto

Use Homemade Stock – Use our roasted chicken stock recipe to make turkey stock which will infuse the risotto with rich, savory flavors from the leftover turkey. Make sure the stock is heated before adding it to the rice.

Add the Stock in Stages – You’ll want to add no more than about a cup of the hot stock to the rice. Let it fully absorb the liquid, and then add another cup. Continue doing this until the rice is just barely al dente.

Incorporate the Roasted Vegetables at the Right Time: Add the roasted butternut squash and asparagus towards the end of the risotto cooking process to maintain their texture and prevent them from becoming mushy.

Watch The Salt Levels – Because you are using ingredients that have probably already been prepared (ie, left-over turkey, stock), and they already made we well seasoned with salt, take caution when adding more salt to the risotto. Start with a 1/2 tsp, and then taste near the end, and add more, if needed.

A person pouring chicken stock from a metal ladle into a large silver skillet filled with arborio rice and crispy pancetta.

Risotto should almost feel creamy in texture. When you spoon a helping onto a plate or bowl, it should gently spread, like an ocean wave, or, as they say in Italian: “all’onda”. Meaning “on the wave.” It should be creamy and not a blob of sticky rice.

We serve this risotto with warm, crusty, Italian bread.

Let folks serve themselves directly from the skillet, or plate the risotto for them.

EXPERT TIP: Add the turkey and roasted vegetables in the last 5 minutes of cooking. You just want to heat them through. You may still need to add more hot stock at this point. Remember to keep it creamy in texture!

A person adding pieces of cooked turkey into a skillet filled with cooked risotto and pieces of roasted butternut squash and asparagus.

Other Recipes to Use Leftover Turkey

There are all kinds of ways to use leftover turkey from the big Thanksgiving feast. Here are some of our favorites:

Turkey Tetrazzini
Day After Thanksgiving Panini
Leftover Turkey and Dressing Casserole
Monte Cristo
Kentucky Hot Brown
Chicken and Rice Casserole with Broccoli (Substitute turkey for chicken)

These are all amazing and the perfect way to use leftover turkey. But, in the meantime, isn’t this dish catching your eye?

A straight-on view of a shallow white dinner bowl filled with risotto with left-over turkey, roasted butternut squash, and asparagus.

This dish is so comforting and can easily be adapted to each family’s own tastes.

If you don’t have extra turkey on hand, then grab a rotisserie chicken from the supermarket and sub it in for the turkey.

We can’t stress enough that making the broth first really elevates the risotto. But, even good-quality store-bought will work, too.

Every bite is a true taste sensation!

A dinner fork that has pierced roasted asparagus, left-over turkey, and butternut squash, and is being raised up.

Ready to make the best turkey dish since, well, since Thanksgiving? Go for it!

And when you do, be sure to take a photo of it, post it on Instagram, and tag @HowToFeedaLoon and hashtag #HowToFeedaLoon!

A straight-on view of a shallow white dinner bowl filled with risotto with left-over turkey, roasted butternut squash, and asparagus.

Leftover Turkey Risotto with Roasted Butternut Squash and Asparagus

This risotto is the perfect way to use up leftover turkey from the holidays. However, it is also fantastic with roasted chicken. Either roast it yourself (see NOTES) or use a rotisserie chicken from the market. Making the stock from scratch puts this dish over the top!
4 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Entree
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: how to make risotto, leftover turkey recipe, Risotto
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 553kcal


  • Large skillet
  • Wooden spoon


  • 7 cups chicken stock heated
  • 4 oz pancetta cubed
  • ¼ cup shallots chopped
  • cup Arborio rice
  • ½ cup white wine
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups butternut squash cut into bite-size pieces
  • 8 oz asparagus ends cut off and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 cups turkey fully cooked, or cooked chicken
  • ¼ cup pine nuts lightly toasted
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese grated
  • 1 tbsp flat-leaf parsley chopped, for garnish


  • Preheat oven to 400° F. Heat the stock/broth over medium-low heat in a pot.
    7 cups chicken stock
  • Cook the pancetta in a large skillet over medium heat until just starting to get crisp. Add the shallots and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes, until softened.
    4 oz pancetta, ¼ cup shallots
  • Add the rice and cook, stirring often, until lightly toasted, about 6 minutes. Add the wine and cook until almost completely evaporated, a couple more minutes. Stir in ½ tsp salt and ½ tsp black pepper (See NOTES regarding salt levels).
    1½ cup Arborio rice, ½ cup white wine, Kosher salt and black pepper
  • Ladle in enough of the hot stock to just cover the rice. Stir frequently with a wooden spoon until almost all of the stock has been absorbed by the rice. Continue this process until the rice is soft and just barely al dente. This will take about 25 to 30 minutes, and you'll use between 6 to 7 cups of stock. Once the rice is almost tender, do a taste taste. Add a little more salt, if needed.
  • Meanwhile, add the butternut squash in a bowl and toss with 1 tbsp of olive oil and a liberal pinch of salt and pepper. Place the coated squash on a baking sheet and place in the oven. In the same bowl, toss the asparagus with 1 tbsp olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Set the asparagus aside.
    2 tbsp olive oil, 2 cups butternut squash, 8 oz asparagus
  • After 20 minutes of roasting, add the asparagus and cook for 10 minutes more. (Total baking time: Squash: 30, Asparagus: 10). Remove from the oven and set aside.
  • Add the roasted vegetables and cooked turkey (or chicken) to the risotto. Add a little more stock. The rice should have a creamy texture.
    2 cups turkey
  • Remove from heat and stir in toasted pine nuts (save some for topping the risotto) and Parmesan cheese.
    ¼ cup pine nuts, ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
  • Garnish with parsley, pine nuts, and a little more freshly grated Parmesan. Serve at once.
    1 tbsp flat-leaf parsley


See the video near the top of the blog post for visual guidance. If you liked the video, please subscribe to our YouTube channel
To use roasted chicken, start with one or two skin-on, bone in chicken breasts. Brush all over with olive oil and then liberally salt and pepper. Place on the baking sheet (the same you'll be using to roast the butternut squash and asparagus). Total baking time: Chicken 45 minutes / Squash: 30 minutes / Asparagus: 10 minutes.
Remember to heat the stock before adding the rice. Add the stock in stages (about 1 cup at a time). 
Be careful with adding salt. Your leftover turkey and stock may already be well seasoned with salt. Start with just a 1/2 tsp to the rice, and then do a taste test near the end of the cooking process and add more, if needed. 
Leftovers can be reheated in the oven (350°F) for 20 minutes, or just heat in the microwave on HIGH for a couple of minutes, or until heated through. Leftovers will keep covered in the fridge for up to 5 days. 


Calories: 553kcal | Carbohydrates: 60g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.05g | Cholesterol: 48mg | Sodium: 635mg | Potassium: 773mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 5371IU | Vitamin C: 14mg | Calcium: 103mg | Iron: 5mg
Tried this recipe? Take a Picture!Mention @HowToFeedALoon or tag #HowToFeedALoon!

POST UPDATE: This recipe was originally published in March 2014, but was updated with improved tweaks to the recipe with new tips and photography, and a fabulous new video in November, 2023!


  • 4 stars
    Hey guys. A lot of prep went into this meal and it was super flavorful. Only caution, is watch the salt. Back off on the rice (after wine add) or better, leave out the salt in the broth building (which I did with the carcass) and add during the recipe. Love the meal and anxious to try again!

    • Hi Mark! Thanks so much for sharing! Salt levels can be so difficult to judge when you’re using previously prepared ingredients (ie, turkey, stock, etc). We should have been more clear on that. We are glad you made the dish and (other than the salt levels) enjoyed it! We hope you and your family have the happiest of holidays…and stay in touch! All the best, Kris & Wesley

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