Chicken Tetrazzini Recipe (2024)

By Sam Sifton

Chicken Tetrazzini Recipe (1)

Total Time
1 hour 30 minutes
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Chicken tetrazzini takes its name from the Italian opera star Luisa Tetrazzini, and was a mainstay of upscale restaurant menus of the early 20th century. Today, though, it is hardly fancy. (And definitely not Italian.) The recipe that follows is built on the frame of what might be called a Mississippi-style tetrazzini, made with canned tomatoes and chiles and processed cheese. The chef Brad McDonald, who grew up in Yazoo City, at the top of the Delta, used to cook a bespoke version for his tasting menu at the Lockhart, a restaurant in London, using washed-rind Irish cheese and a mixture of roasted green bell peppers and jalapeños to flavor his shredded chicken, along with porcini mushrooms and guajillo chiles. I made a few changes of my own, and discovered a weeknight casserole of great distinction.

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Yield:6 to 8 servings

  • 1ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 4medium-size poblano peppers
  • 5dried guajillo chiles, ends snipped and seeds discarded
  • cups chicken stock, homemade or low-sodium
  • cups whole milk
  • 3cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1medium-size shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 8ounces Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1pound spaghetti
  • 1store-bought rotisserie chicken, the meat removed and shredded, approximately 1 pound
  • 1lemon, juiced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ¼cup parsley, roughly chopped, optional

Ingredient Substitution Guide

Nutritional analysis per serving (8 servings)

725 calories; 35 grams fat; 13 grams saturated fat; 0 grams trans fat; 13 grams monounsaturated fat; 6 grams polyunsaturated fat; 55 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams dietary fiber; 7 grams sugars; 46 grams protein; 863 milligrams sodium

Note: The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Chicken Tetrazzini Recipe (2)


  1. Step


    Turn broiler to high, and set a large pot filled with salted water over high heat to come to a boil. As oven heats, place the mushrooms in a small bowl, and pour boiling water over them, then leave them to soak for approximately 20 to 25 minutes, then strain and set aside.

  2. Step


    Place the poblanos on a small sheet pan, and set on the highest rack under the broiler so that the skin blackens, turning a few times so that the roasting is even, approximately 15 to 20 minutes. When the skin is blackened and blistered all over, place the peppers in a medium bowl, cover it with a plate and allow to rest.

  3. Make the sauce. Put the dried chiles in a medium pot set over medium-high heat, and allow them to cook until they become fragrant, approximately 5 to 7 minutes, then turn heat to low, and add the chicken stock, milk, garlic and shallots. Allow the mixture to cook at just below a simmer for approximately 10 minutes, or until the chiles have softened. Remove from heat, and pour into a blender, then add 6 ounces of the grated Cheddar, and process to a smooth consistency. Set aside.

  4. Step


    Meanwhile, remove the skin and seeds from the roasted poblanos, and cut them into thin strips. Set aside.

  5. Step


    Heat oven to 400. Cook the spaghetti in the boiling salted water in the large pot until just al dente, approximately 9 to 10 minutes. Drain, and rinse under cold water until cool, then drain again.

  6. Step


    Return the spaghetti to the cooking pot, and toss it with the roasted pepper strips, the mushrooms, the shredded chicken meat and the lemon juice, then season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a casserole dish, approximately 9 inches by 13 inches, and pour the reserved cheese sauce over it. Cover with the remaining shredded cheese, place in oven and bake until the cheese has melted and started to turn golden brown, approximately 20 minutes. Garnish with chopped parsley, if you like, and serve.



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Cooking Notes


The introduction to the recipe makes note of canned tomatoes -- and the picture certainly shows a tomato consistency. But there is no mention of tomatoes in the Ingredients list. Am I missing something?

Diane B

Tomato sauce? Jalapenos? It's a nice dish, but a Tetrazzini it's not. You should give it the dignity of its own name. Anyone who knows a Tetrazzini will be disappointed. Anyone who likes this and tries to order Tetrazzini in a restaurant will be disappointed. It needs a different name.

Frank Mason

Re rinsing cooked spaghetti? Usually recommended that cooked pasta not be rinsed. Why rinse?

Linda Lee Davis

Bears no resemblance to the luscious tetrazzini of the, say, 60's. That requires a veloute sauce brightened with lemon or white wine; juicy bits of roast chicken or turkey, and spaghettini or tagliarini. Saute 8 oz of mushrooms, a shallot, grated nutmeg and a dash of dry vermouth. Mix with sour cream. Put the chicken mix in a round baking dish leaving room in the center for the mushroom mix. Top with buttered breadcrumbs and grated parmesan or gruyere. Bake until topping is browned.


Made it & didn't care for it at all. Probably won't eat what was left after dinner.

Texture was a jumble, like a leftover mishmash. Flavor was earthy but unremarkable and indistinctive. Even the look was unappealing - was embarrassed just serving the family.

Guajillo chilies were hard to find, even in Manhattan. 2 oz porcini was $7 at Whole Foods. Preptime was 2 hours for two active cooks - way more than expected.

Most disappointed of any NYT recipe I've made.

Larry in Austin

Never made this recipe, but rinsing and COOLING the pasta keeps it from overcooking in the oven while the casserole finishes. You normally do not want to wash off the exterior starch so the sauce will cling to the pasta, but with this particular sauce in a problem.

Sam Sifton

Nope, no tomatoes. The cheese and softened peppers turn the milk and stock a pretty color that resembles the red of tomatoes. But there are no tomatoes in this recipe.

lynn rogers

Chiles, mushrooms (porcini), cheese, pasta, rotisserie chicken - all baked into goodness: this is seriously straight up, down home comfort food! If Sam Sifton says rinse the pasta, I will take his word for his because he did the hard work of refining this into the wonderful recipe that it is. Made it as is and it is great. And since leftover baked pasta is at room temp is a guilty pleasure carried on from a lasagne-filled childhood, this one really is all good. Make it as written.

Russell Mikel

I think you rinse the spaghetti to cool it down and keep it from overcooking before the casserole goes into the oven.


In step 3, are the dried peppers really placed in an empty pot on med-high heat? No oil or anything? They just cook in an empty pot for 5-7 minutes without burning?

Elizabeth Carrell

Put dried chiles in medium pot over medium heat and cook until fragrant. Since this made no mention of cooking with oil, butter or even water, I put them in dry and they immediately burned over medium heat. Did the author of this recipe mean to include some agent that would have prevented burning of dried peppers. The only fragrance I got was a burned fragrance which I can taste in the sauce. Also only one oz on the porcini mushrooms?

Bonnie C.

The intro notes mention canned tomatoes & the photo shows the casserole with a definite red hue, yet recipe doesn't mention using any tomatoes. What makes it red - the dried chilis?

Kathleen Davies

I just made this (with leftover Thanksgiving turkey) and it was delicious and elegant. Because I live in NM I have an abundance of our famous green chili, which I freeze and save for just such occasions. I substituted it for all the chili in the recipe and added red peppers for extra color and texture.

Margaux Laskey, Staff Editor

I made this last night, and it was a big hit! It's a sophisticated, complexly-flavored version of the "chicken spaghetti" I grew up on in Louisiana, Georgia and Mississippi. Be sure to season well with salt and pepper when Sam calls for it. If your finished dish is bland, that might very well be the reason.


To all those naming names and stating "never rinse pasta" please take a closer look the recipe. You don't have to worry about any sauce sticking to the pasta because it's a baked casserole, not pasta tossed with sauce. As Lynn noted earlier, just make it as written and see what you get.


It’s tasty. Let’s call it Chicken Mexizzini.


I made this last night and we both thought it was delicious! But yes, it’s a two hour ordeal, not a quick and easy dinner. I’d recommend roasting the poblanos on your stovetop if you have a gas stove: much faster than the broiler.


I used rotini instead of spaghetti and it was great. Could eat it in a bowl with a soup spoon.


I tried this but did not care for it. It's definitely not Tetrazzini and it doesn't hold a candle to the best chicken tetrazzini dish I've ever made (from The Time Life International Cookbook, pub. 1977, pg. 204). That one is delectable, with a sauce made from cream and sherry (one tip - double the sauce recipe. You won't regret it!). If you can find the book in a used book store, grab it - every recipe is a delight!


Nice flavors! I used fresh button mushrooms and guajilla peppers rather than dried products. Next time I would finely diced the garlic, peppers, and the shallots and skip the blender. I would also add all the ingredients (minus the spaghetti) to the sauteed veggies and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Renee Castle

A good looking dish with not much flavor. I even added extra chilis and garlic. Not worth all the work in the end.


Jack went nuts for this. And it's HUGE - easily can be made in advance - it's a casserole. I did a combo with the TT recipe on, mostly because I couldn't find the dried chilies. I liked the fact that SR started with a Roux, and especially the addition of Sherry - use more! Most of the above ingredients ended up in my version, including a variety of roasted chillies. But I added a lot more onion and spices like nutmeg to my sauce.


Have never heard of a tetrazzini that wasn’t a cream sauce base; hmmm


Like many I substituted turkey because I have a ton from Thanksgiving, and I substituted Hatch chilies for the poblanos because I had them already - worked out great. The recipe does make enough sauce for the dish, but I’d recommend doubling it and saving the other half to serve on the side as extra. [making extra sauce now for the leftovers]

Dana LaRue

Does anyone have the traditional recipe?


Total misnomer as this bears no resemblance to a tetrazzini.


This may not be official chicken Tetrazini, but we found it surprisingly delicious,, especially considering the minimal ingredients. I was out off mushrooms, didn't have any hot peppers so punted, adding various chili powders with the fried peppers


This is delicious. Seriously good comfort food, and lots of it.


This is not tetrazzini, which is fine, but call it southwest or something

Thomas Burns

Step 3 says put chilies in pan and cook. No liquid? If so how much? Help want to make this


You are toasting the chiles in the dry pan before adding the liquids.

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