This healthy Ground Turkey Pasta recipe with broccoli is a super-easy, family-pleasing dinner ready in less than 30 minutes. It's so hearty and flavorful!
If you're looking for quick and easy lean ground turkey recipes, look no further, because this recipe is the perfect meal for busy weeknights.
This is an entree that is a guaranteed family-pleaser in my house! My Ground Turkey Pasta Broccoli Dinner is ready in 30 minutes or less, AND it's a complete dinner all in one dish. Absolutely my kind of easy recipe!
You don't need to add anything, but to make it go farther, you could round it out with a simple salad, and you have everything you need for a great meal. Even my pickiest eater loves this dish!
👩🏻🍳 Recipe Back Story
This recipe is one of my weeknight go-to meals, and here's why!
- This recipe is such an easy weeknight dinner, yet I always get big smiles when I tell the kids we are having this for dinner.
- It doesn't take much time or much brain-power to make this. I confess that I'm often a little fried at the end of the workday, and I really don't want to undertake a big project to get dinner on the table!
- This recipe is a complete dinner all in one, with the turkey, pasta, and broccoli. Sometimes I serve another vegetable along with it, or I make a quick side salad, but most of the time I just serve it all by itself!
- This dinner isn't full of empty calories! The turkey adds a lean protein and the broccoli lends green-veggie nutrition. Use a whole wheat pasta (or fiber-enriched pasta) to minimize empty carbs.
- The basil in this dish provides nutritional and medicinal benefits! Basil is actually rich in antioxidants, certain vitamins and minerals, and even has antibacterial properties!
If you don't usually have fresh basil handy and use it in cooking, I recommend buying a large bunch of basil from the store. You should then have plenty to make this recipe, and you can use any remaining leaves to make my broccoli pesto sauce or use them as toppings on my easy pan pizza.
I like to keep a couple of 1 pound packages of ground lean turkey (or other extra lean ground meat) in my freezer, because they are great to have on hand for whipping up quick dinners.
Very lean ground meats are good choices because the minimal amount of fat means you don't have to deal with all that messy spattering while you are cooking. Ground turkey is a healthier option than ground beef, but either work well in this recipe.
🥘 Ingredients Needed
- 1 box of pasta - I like to use spiral pasta, but you can use your favorite.
- broccoli florets - cut these into bite-sized pieces.
- olive oil - you don't need a lot, I often use even less than I list in the recipe.
- ground turkey - I like to buy organic.
- paprika - adds a great mild earthy flavor!
- crushed red pepper flakes - just a little kick! You can skip this if desired.
- minced garlic - you can skip this in a pinch.
- fresh basil - it's possible to substitute dried if you don't have fresh handy.
- Parmesan cheese - use store-bought grated or grate your own.
Step 1. Cook the pasta in a large pot according to the package instructions for al dente pasta, until the last 2 minutes.
Step 2. During the last 2 minutes of cooking, add the broccoli florets. Then drain the pasta and broccoli, return to the pot, and set aside.
Step 3. While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet.
Step 4. Add the turkey, paprika, garlic, red pepper flakes, and salt.
Step 5. Brown the ground turkey while breaking it up and combining it with the spices.
Step 6. Add the turkey mixture, the remaining olive oil, and the basil into the pot with the cooked pasta.
Step 7. Mix well to combine. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese. Garnish with more fresh basil or fresh parsley.
Absolutely! Leftover turkey breast or even dark meat instead of ground turkey will be delicious. If you are using leftover cooked turkey, simply chop it into small pieces. Then, after you heat the olive oil in the skillet, add the garlic and other spices and saute until the garlic start to brown. At that point, add the turkey into the skillet and continue to saute until it warms through.
Yes. Use the leanest ground beef you can get. You will want to drain the fat from the skillet before adding the cooked ground beef mixture to the pasta and broccoli.
I used cellentani pasta because I like the spiral shape, but you can use any pasta in this dish. Rotini, fusilli, and macaroni work well. You can also use penne, gemelli, or mini shells. There are over 600 types of pasta shapes to choose from! For this dish, I recommend pasta shapes that aren't too small (like orzo) or long and stringy (like spaghetti and fettuccine).
Fresh herbs are always best! I don't personally like using dried basil unless I have no other choice. The flavor is not very good and so, if I don't have fresh, I usually just choose to go without.
However, it can be a little tough to keep basil fresh for long enough to be able to use it in a recipe, especially if you only do your food shopping once a week like I do.
Luckily, there is another option now which is a really good one! Gourmet Garden has a lightly dried basil which has a really good flavor and stays fresh up to 4 weeks in your refrigerator. It's a great alternative!
💭 Other Helpful Tips
- Use a whole grain pasta for extra fiber and nutrition.
- You can reduce the amount of olive oil for an even leaner meal. Use ½ tablespoon for browning the ground turkey and then only ½ additional tablespoon later in the recipe.
- Once you get the pasta into to boiling water, start browning your turkey. That is the best way to get dinner on the table as quickly as possible!
- Use jarred minced garlic instead of fresh. It's just as good in this dish and saves you the step of mincing the garlic yourself.
- You can buy bags of pre-washed fresh broccoli florets. This will save you time in cutting and separating the broccoli. I find that sometimes there are large florets, however, so I just look through and cut a few of them here and there to make sure they are all around the same bite-sized dimensions.
- I usually reserve the Parmesan cheese for my family to sprinkle on themselves, but you can certainly just add it in ahead of time by combining it with the rest of the ingredients in the last step.
This ground turkey pasta recipe is a complete dinner on it's own, but make it go further with a side salad or a steamed veggie like green beans or asparagus for an extra nutritional boost!
- Substitute different veggies - spinach, green beans, cauliflower, snow peas, corn, etc. Experiment with different combinations and find the one your family loves the best!
- Try different pastas, such as whole wheat, fiber-enriched, and/or different shapes and sizes. If you have young kids, it might be fun to try alphabet pasta!
- Increase the amount of red pepper flakes if you like a little more heat.
- Change up the flavors by using some black pepper for another layer of flavor, or even a touch of chili powder!
- Use extra lean ground beef or ground chicken instead of ground turkey.
- Throw in a (drained) jar of mushrooms to make this dish even more substantial. Or, if you are feeling really ambitious, use 8 ounces of fresh mushrooms, washed and sliced, and cooked until soft.
- Add in some ranch dressing mix (from packet), Italian seasoning, or even seasoned salt (like the kind from Lawry's) for some extra flavor!
- For a cheesier dish, sprinkle some shredded mozzarella cheese on top and allow to melt before serving.
🥫 Storage and Reheating
Place leftovers in an airtight container or cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.
You can freeze leftovers for up to 3 months in a sturdy freezer safe container. The best way is to use a glass container that can go from freezer to fridge to oven. That way you don't need to thaw before reheating
To reheat, make sure you remove any plastic wrap or non-oven safe lids. Bake at 375 degrees F until hot, about 40 minutes for refrigerated leftovers or about an hour for frozen.
🥗 Suggested Side Dishes
This entree doesn't really need a side dish, but if you would like to have something else on the table, a steamed green veggie, or a side salad, or even these Pretzel Bites with Olives and Parmesan are great choices!
If you have a little bit of extra time, these Crispy Breaded Green Beans are always one of our favorite recipes for side dishes!
🍞 Related Recipes
If you are a fan of ground turkey and pasta, you might also like this One-Pot Turkey Taco Pasta , or this Quick Turkey Spaghetti. Or, this Ground Turkey Alfredo Casserole is a perfect, easy weeknight meal the whole family will love!
Or, use the ground turkey to make these delicious turkey smash burgers!
For a vegetarian one-pot pasta dish, try this Easy One Skillet Cheese Tortellini Recipe, which is a meal my whole family loves!
Another easy ground turkey recipe is my Air Fryer Turkey Meatballs recipe. I love these as a healthier option to beef-based meatballs. There are oven directions too, so check it out even if you don't have an air fryer!
For a rather unique yet totally tasty pasta option, try my Bacon and Pumpkin Pasta dish. It's really easy to make, too!
Simple Ground Turkey Broccoli Pasta Recipe
Love this recipe? Awesome! Please give it a 5 star ⭐ rating below! And if you make this, snap a photo and tag me on Instagram. You can find me at DizzyBusyandHungry or #dizzybusyandhungry!
📋 Recipe Card
Easy Ground Turkey Broccoli Pasta Dinner
- 1 box spiral pasta (12-16 oz box)
- 8 ounces broccoli florets (cut to be bite-sized)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
- 16-20 ounces ground turkey (to substitute leftover cooked turkey, see notes)
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ⅓ cup chopped fresh basil
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
- Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package. During the last 2 minutes of cooking, add the broccoli.1 box spiral pasta, 8 ounces broccoli florets
- Drain the broccoli and pasta and return to the pot. Cover and set aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat.2 tablespoons olive oil
- Add the turkey, paprika, garlic, red pepper flakes and salt.16-20 ounces ground turkey, 1 teaspoon paprika, 2 teaspoons minced garlic, ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, ½ teaspoon salt
- Break the turkey into pieces, while cooking until browned. (see notes)16-20 ounces ground turkey
- Add the turkey mixture, the remaining olive oil, and the fresh basil to the pasta pot⅓ cup chopped fresh basil
- Mix until combined.
- Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese when serving (or mix in just prior to serving).¼ cup Parmesan cheese
- For extra fiber and nutrition, use a whole grain pasta.
- For an even leaner meal reduce the amount of olive oil to 2 tbsp, with 1 tablespoon for browning the ground turkey and 1 additional tablespoon later in the recipe.
- To be efficient with your time, start browning your turkey right after you get the pasta into the boiling water.
- Jarred minced garlic works great in this recipe and saves you the steps of peeling and mincing fresh garlic.
- Using a bag of pre-washed fresh broccoli florets saves you time as well, just make sure you go through and trim some of the larger florets.
- To use leftover cooked turkey, simply chop it into bite sized pieces. Hold off on adding it to the skillet until after the garlic and other spices are already heated and beginning to brown. Then add the turkey pieces and cook until they are warmed through.
- My family loves this as it is, but if your family would prefer some extra flavor, amp it up by adding some ranch dressing mix, Italian seasoning, or seasoned salt (like Lawry's)!
Nutritional information is an estimate. The nutritional values for your final dish may vary based on measuring differences and products used.
Update Notes: This post was originally published in July 2015, but was republished with tips, step by step photos, and a recipe change in June 2019 and with further enhancements in March 2022.
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Pretty good, especially that fresh basil flavor! One note: As a person who's relatively inexperienced with meat, I wish you'd given some guidance on how long to cook the turkey ("until browned" is some guidance but is pretty vague, especially if you're inexperienced) because I cooked it maybe a minute too long and it's quite dry, which messes up the whole dish 🙁
It's hard to give guidance on time because there are so many variables that affect the duration - but I would say 10-14 minutes is a good guideline. I hope that helps!
Great combination with no red sauce. Love it.
So glad to hear it!
I love this recipe. I used organic fusilli pasta, fresh garlic, basil and broccoli. I am dairy free and used nutritional yeast instead. I also used a little tumeric. I did use a little more olive oil at the end Thank you for sharing!
That's wonderful. So glad you liked this! 🙂
Loved it! As far as those saying it has no flavor, sure it does! It is not a pasta sauce style recipe, my kids dont like heavy sauces on their pastas so they enjoyed this recipe. As with any recipe make it your own! I added some butter and pepper and used farfalle pasta and zucchinni instead of broccoli. I also used the writers tip on mixing the parmesan cheese in rather than sprinkling it on top (although I did that too) Overall easy lunch/dinner. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you! And I totally agree, I love how adaptable this recipe is. I love your ideas, I think I will try them next time I make this! 🙂
Unfortunately this recipe did not please the family. It lacked flavor to the point that it had to altered quite a bit to eat.
Hi Meredith, my family and many others love this recipe as it is, but I understand there are others who prefer more flavor. That's why I have included in the recipe notes some suggestions: "...if your family would prefer some extra flavor, amp it up by adding some ranch dressing mix, Italian seasoning, or seasoned salt (like Lawry's)!" I hope that helps! Thanks for stopping by!
Pretty good! I added in a little butter, red onion, garlic salt, Italian seasoning, and mushrooms!
Glad to hear you liked this!
This is SO GOOD! And it looks so pretty! Very light, very great mix of seasoning! I couldn’t find the spiral pasta like that so I used protein rotini. This was just lovely and light! Muah! Perfection! Especially for a pasta lover!
Oh so glad to hear that! Thanks for stopping by to let me know! 🙂
I really don't want to leave a bad review, but this recipe is bland, dry, boring and basically flavorless. Think about it, there's NO SAUCE! 1-2/3 Tablespoons of olive oil is nothing for a pound of pasta and 1/2 broccoli. Halfway through, I was trying to fix it with 1/2 cup of basil, 1/2 cup of Parmesan and an extra Tablespoon of olive oil. To no avail. Sorry, this recipe will not go in my binder.
I am really sorry to hear that you didn't like this! However, there is no sauce by design. This recipe is meant to be a light, healthyish meal and to bring out the flavor of the ground turkey with the seasonings. If you are used to dishes being drowned in a sauce or seasonings, then that would make this dish seem bland in comparison. I have honestly made this for my family many times and we love it, so it sounds like our taste profiles just don't match up (at least not for this dish). I do have other recipes that are saucier you might like (try my Easy One Skillet Tortellini or One Pot Curry Pasta). In any case, I thank you for stopping by and for your honest review!
Do you serve this cold or hot??
I generally serve it hot, but have enjoyed leftovers cold!
As a pastaholic, I approve of this pasta! Love the colors and flavors combination