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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I was pleasantly surprised with how this turned out. I expected this to not have much flavor but it’s delicious! I may have added a little extra salt and garlic. Parmesan was the perfect touch. Thanks for the great recipe!
Glad to hear it, Monica. You are welcome! I appreciate you stopping by! 🙂
I thought the same thing. Was pleasantly surprised by how flavorful it was (and I left out the red pepper flakes because I really really really don’t like it). My kids are it without complaint and it was super fast.
Yay, I'm glad the kids liked it! My kiddos always gobble it up too. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂
Used tri color rotini added some crumbled bacon and a dollop of some fresh ricotta because well BACON lol loved it
Glad to hear it! Thanks so much!
Kurts Wife, I like your idea of using bacon and the ricotta. I like my pasta to have a little sauce so I found it on the dry side so I will add ricotta next time. I didn't have fresh basil so I used a lot of Basil pesto.
Oh, basil pesto sounds delish! 🙂
Looks good! Where did you get your nutrition info about calories? I'm not really familiar with kilocalories. Is the whole meal 719000 calories or just one serving? What is a serving size?
Hi! I'm really sorry, the calorie information was incorrect. I have fixed it now. The serving size should be approximately 1/6 of the total recipe. The calories are 436 per serving. Thanks for making me aware of the issue!
Thank you for the simple recipe. Perfect for getting my teenager involved in cooking family dinner. For those looking to more flavor and more veggies (and sneak by the kids) try a pasta made with veggies. Our favorite is red penne made with carrots and tomato.
Great idea! Adds a pop of color too! 🙂
I love the flavor , i won't use the full box of pasta next time , a little too much noodles but i love this
Awesome, thanks Kim! 🙂
Loved it! So quick easy....added few more spices onions peppers and mushrooms.....oh and of course more cheese lol. Thank you definitely a go to from now on.
Love your variation ideas! So glad you like this! 🙂
Mother of 3
This sounds fabulous! I have been looking for something to cook up with leftover turkey that I still have in our freezer from Christmas. Thanks so much for sharing with us at Encouraging Hearts and Home. Pinned.
Ah yes, please! This looks great! I will have to try it.
Helen at the Lazy Gastronome
Easy and good!! Looks fabulous - Thanks for sharing at the What's for Dinner party!
This sounds amazing!!
I would love for you to share this with my Facebook Group for recipes, crafts, tips, and tricks: https://www.facebook.com/groups/pluckyrecipescraftstips/
Thanks for joining Cooking and Crafting with J & J!
Soooo, at what point do you cook the broccoli? Not sure if I missed something or not.
Hello! The broccoli cooks in step 1 when you add it to the boiling pasta water. Cooking the broccoli that way gives it a nice tender-crisp texture. I hope you enjoy it! Thanks for stopping by!
Can we use frozen broccoli? Or is fresh best?
You can definitely use frozen! I will say that fresh is best, but frozen will do in a pinch. 🙂