Classic Chicken Tetrazzini

Classic chicken tetrazzini recipe

The Spruce / Victoria Heydt

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 105 mins
Total: 2 hrs
Servings: 12 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
899 Calories
56g Fat
28g Carbs
69g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 899
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 56g 72%
Saturated Fat 24g 122%
Cholesterol 304mg 101%
Sodium 1536mg 67%
Total Carbohydrate 28g 10%
Dietary Fiber 3g 10%
Protein 69g
Calcium 441mg 34%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

A great dish to make for a crowd, this chicken tetrazzini can be made a day or two in advance and refrigerated until one hour before serving time. It's a great dish for a potluck a big family get-together.

Tetrazzini was named for an Italian opera star, Luisa Tetrazzini. There are many variations on the recipe, from turkey tetrazzini to tuna tetrazzini and ham tetrazzini. The creamy sauce usually contains cheese and is often made with a splash of sherry. Mushrooms are added in many versions, and the pasta dish is usually baked with a crunchy topping of breadcrumbs, almonds, or canned fried onions.


  • For the Chicken:
  • 2 pounds chicken breasts
  • 3 pounds chicken leg quarters with thighs
  • 3 cups water (or unsalted chicken stock)
  • 2 medium carrots (sliced)
  • 1 medium onion (quartered)
  • 3 celery tops
  • 3 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • For the Sauce: 
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 4 cups milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup dry sherry
  • For the Pasta: 
  • 1 pound thin spaghetti
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 12 ounces mushrooms (sliced)
  • 16 ounces cheddar cheese (shredded)

Steps to Make It

Make the Chicken

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for chicken
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  2. Place the chicken in a large Dutch oven or kettle with the water, carrots, onion, celery tops, parsley, 2 teaspoons salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 hour until tender.

    Place chicken in large Dutch oven
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  3. With a slotted spoon, remove chicken to a bowl and set aside to cool.

    Remove chicken
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  4. Strain the broth and return to the kettle. Bring to a boil and boil gently, uncovered, for about 30 minutes, or until the broth is reduced to about 2 cups.

    Strain broth
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  5. Meanwhile, remove the chicken from the bones and dice, discarding the skin. There should be about 6 cups of diced chicken. Set aside.

    Remove chicken
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt

Make the Sauce

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for sauce
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  2. For the sauce, melt 3/4 cup of butter in a large saucepan.

    Melt butter
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  3. Remove from heat. Stir in the flour, 2 1/2 teaspoons salt, and nutmeg. Stir until smooth and well blended.

    Remove sauce from heat
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  4. Return to medium heat. Gradually add the milk and the 2 cups of reduced broth, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes, or until slightly thickened.

    Return sauce to medium heat
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  5. Beat the egg yolks in a small bowl with the heavy cream.

    Beat egg yolks
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  6. Whisk in about 1 cup of the hot mixture from the saucepan.

    Whisk in hot mixture
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  7. Then return the egg mixture to the saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly, over low heat until sauce is hot. Do not boil.

    Return egg mixture to sauce pan
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  8. Remove from heat and stir in the sherry.

    Remove sauce from heat
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt

Make the Pasta

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for pasta, cheese, mushrooms
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  2. Cook the spaghetti in boiling, salted water in a large pot following the package directions for al dente. Drain thoroughly.

    Angel hair pasta
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  3. While the spaghetti is cooking, heat the tablespoon of butter in a skillet over medium heat and saute the mushrooms for 5 to 7 minutes, or until browned. Set aside.

    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  4. Return the spaghetti to the pot. Add 2 cups of the sauce to the spaghetti toss to coat well.

    Add sauce to spaghetti
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  5. Remove another 2 cups of sauce to a small bowl. If making ahead, store in an airtight container in the fridge.

    Remove sauce
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  6. Add the diced chicken and sauteed mushrooms to the remaining sauce.

    Add chicken and mushrooms
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt 
  7. Divide the spaghetti into two 8-inch square baking dishes, making a well in the center. Spoon half of the chicken and mushroom mixture into the center of each. Sprinkle 2 cups of shredded cheese over each dish.

    Divide spaghetti
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  8. Cover with foil and preheat the oven to 350 F. Alternatively, refrigerate until 1 hour before serving and preheat the oven.

    Cover with foil
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  9. Bake foil-covered casseroles for 30 to 45 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

    Bake foil-covered casseroles
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt 
  10. Just before serving, heat the reserved sauce.

    Heat sauce
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  11. Drizzle over the baked spaghetti and enjoy!

    Spoon sauce over spaghetti
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt


  • If possible, use freshly grated cheese. Commercially grated cheese is a convenient choice, but there are drawbacks. Some pre-shredded cheeses contain additives and cellulose. Freshly grated cheese melts more smoothly is cheaper.
  • Save the chicken bones for future stock. Store in a zip-top bag and freeze until you're ready to make more chicken broth.

Recipe Variations

  • Sprinkle toasted buttered breadcrumbs over the casserole before drizzling with the remaining sauce. To make the breadcrumbs, toss 1 cup of soft breadcrumbs with 1 tablespoon of melted butter and a dash of kosher salt. Cook the breadcrumbs, stirring frequently, in a skillet over medium heat until browned and crisp.

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