Turkey Bolognese offers a delightful twist on the classic Italian Bolognese sauce, incorporating ground turkey as a lighter alternative to the traditional beef or pork. This innovative variation not only caters to those looking for a healthier option but also adds a unique flavor profile that is both rich and satisfying. Ideal for a cozy family dinner or a nutritious meal prep option, Turkey Bolognese maintains the heartiness of the original dish while providing a leaner protein choice. if you want more yummy recipe visit this Easy Cherry Smoothie shake

Turkey Bolognese

In the crafting of Turkey Bolognese, chefs blend the ground turkey with a medley of aromatic vegetables like onions, carrots, and celery, simmered gently in a robust tomato sauce. The inclusion of herbs such as basil, oregano, and thyme infuses the sauce with layers of complexity and depth. This sauce pairs wonderfully with a variety of pastas, from spaghetti to zucchini noodles, making it a versatile component in the culinary repertoire of those aiming for a balanced diet without sacrificing flavor.

Moreover, Turkey Bolognese stands out for its adaptability to different dietary preferences, including gluten-free and low-carbohydrate diets. Its preparation encourages experimentation with ingredients, allowing for the incorporation of alternative pastas or additional vegetables to enhance its nutritional value. This dish exemplifies how traditional recipes can be reinvented to suit modern health-conscious lifestyles, offering a comforting and wholesome meal that can be enjoyed by everyone.

Prep time15 minutes
Cook time30 minutes
CourseMain course
Servings4 persons

What Is Bolognese?

Bolognese is a classic Italian sauce known for its rich, slow-cooked harmony of flavors. Originating from Bologna, Italy, it combines ground meat—traditionally beef, pork, or a mix—simmered with onions, carrots, celery, tomatoes, and sometimes milk or wine, to create a thick, hearty sauce. Bolognese sauce is most commonly served with broad, flat pasta like tagliatelle, offering a deeply satisfying meal. Its slow cooking process melds the ingredients together, resulting in a complex and comforting dish beloved around the world.

Kitchen Tools Needed

  • Large skillet or Dutch oven
  • Wooden spoon or spatula
  • Chef’s knife
  • Cutting board
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Can opener (if using canned tomatoes)
Turkey Bolognese

Ingredients for Turkey Bolognese

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 1 celery stalk, finely diced
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup red wine (optional)
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (for serving)
  • Fresh basil leaves (for garnish)
  • 12 ounces pasta (tagliatelle, spaghetti, or your choice), cooked according to package instructions

Which Shape Pasta Is Best For Turkey Bolognese?

For Turkey Bolognese, broad, flat-shaped pastas are ideal because their wide surface area is perfect for holding onto the hearty, chunky sauce, allowing for an optimal sauce-to-pasta ratio with each bite. Tagliatelle and pappardelle are excellent choices for this reason. These types of pasta ensure that the rich, flavorful sauce clings to the pasta, rather than slipping away.

Fettuccine is another good option, slightly narrower than the previous two but still effective at capturing the sauce. If you’re looking for a more commonly available option, spaghetti also works well, offering a classic pairing that’s both satisfying and easy to find.

How To Make Turkey Bolognese?

Prepare the Vegetables

  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the chopped onion, minced garlic, diced carrot, and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes.

Brown the Turkey

  • Increase the heat to medium-high and add the ground turkey to the skillet. Break the turkey apart with your spoon or spatula. Cook until the turkey is browned and no longer pink, about 8 minutes.

Add Liquids and Seasonings

  • Stir in the crushed tomatoes, red wine (if using), and chicken or vegetable broth. Sprinkle in the dried oregano and basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Simmer the Sauce

  • Reduce the heat to low and let the sauce simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes. The sauce should thicken as it cooks. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.

Final Touches

  • While the sauce simmers, cook your pasta according to the package instructions. Drain the pasta once it’s al dente.


  • Taste the Bolognese sauce and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve the sauce over the cooked pasta, garnished with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and fresh basil leaves.
Turkey Bolognese

What To Serve With?

  • Garlic Bread: A classic accompaniment, garlic bread offers a crispy, flavorful contrast to the rich and savory Bolognese.
  • Caesar Salad: The crisp freshness of a Caesar salad with its creamy dressing balances the hearty depth of the Bolognese sauce.
  • Roasted Vegetables: Seasonal vegetables like zucchini, bell peppers, and eggplants, roasted to perfection, add a healthy and colorful side to the meal.
  • Polenta: Creamy polenta serves as a comforting, warm base that pairs beautifully with the Bolognese, offering an alternative to pasta.
  • Sautéed Greens: Greens such as spinach or kale, lightly sautéed with garlic, complement the dish with their earthy flavors and nutritional boost.
  • Caprese Salad: The simplicity of ripe tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, and balsamic glaze in a Caprese salad offers a light, refreshing side.
  • Grilled Asparagus: Asparagus, grilled until tender and seasoned with olive oil and lemon, adds a sophisticated touch to your Bolognese meal.
  • Parmesan Risotto: For an indulgent side, creamy Parmesan risotto pairs luxuriously with the turkey Bolognese, echoing Italian culinary traditions.

Making Ahead, Storage and Reheating

Making Ahead

Turkey Bolognese is an excellent dish for preparing in advance, as the flavors deepen and meld when given time to rest. To prepare ahead, simply follow the recipe to completion, then allow the sauce to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, it can be transferred to airtight containers and stored in the refrigerator or freezer, depending on how far in advance you’re preparing.


  • Refrigerator: Store Turkey Bolognese in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. This short-term storage option is perfect for enjoying leftovers throughout the week.
  • Freezer: For longer storage, place the cooled Bolognese sauce in freezer-safe bags or containers. It can be frozen for up to 3 months. Be sure to label the containers with the date, so you know when it was stored.


  • Refrigerated Bolognese: To reheat, simply transfer the desired amount of Bolognese into a saucepan. Warm over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through. If the sauce seems too thick, a splash of water or broth can be added to reach your preferred consistency.
  • Frozen Bolognese: For frozen Bolognese, it’s best to thaw it overnight in the refrigerator before reheating. Once thawed, reheat in a saucepan over medium heat, adding liquid as necessary, until it’s warm and simmering. Alternatively, you can reheat it directly from frozen over a lower heat, stirring frequently and adding a bit more liquid to help it along.

Health benefits

  • Lean Protein Source: Ground turkey provides a high-quality protein that is lower in fat and calories compared to traditional red meats, supporting muscle growth and repair without the extra saturated fat.
  • Rich in Vitamins and Minerals: The vegetables in Turkey Bolognese, such as carrots, onions, and celery, contribute essential vitamins like vitamin A, vitamin C, and minerals like potassium, which are crucial for maintaining overall health and boosting the immune system.
  • Heart-Healthy: Using olive oil instead of butter or other saturated fats helps in maintaining a healthy heart by contributing monounsaturated fats, known for their cardiovascular benefits.
  • Fiber Boost: Whole-grain or alternative pasta options paired with the sauce offer a good source of dietary fiber, which aids in digestion and helps maintain a healthy weight by keeping you feeling full longer.
  • Low in Calories: Opting for Turkey Bolognese can contribute to a lower-calorie meal, which is beneficial for those monitoring their calorie intake for weight management or health reasons.
  • Mood Enhancing: The complex carbohydrates in pasta can help in the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that boosts mood and promotes a sense of well-being, making it a comforting meal that can help reduce stress.
  • Versatile for Various Diets: Turkey Bolognese can be easily adapted for gluten-free, low-carb, or high-protein diets, making it an inclusive option for individuals with specific dietary needs or preferences.
Turkey Bolognese

Tips and Tricks

  • Use a combination of dark and white turkey meat: While lean white meat is healthier, adding some dark meat will enhance the flavor and juiciness of your Bolognese without significantly increasing the fat content.
  • Sauté vegetables until golden: Take the time to cook your onions, carrots, and celery until they are well caramelized. This step builds a deep, sweet foundation that will infuse your Bolognese with a rich, umami-packed base.
  • Incorporate a touch of anchovy paste or soy sauce: Even if you’re keeping it turkey-based, a small amount of anchovy paste or soy sauce can add a surprising depth of flavor to the sauce without making it taste fishy or overly salty.
  • Deglaze with wine wisely: If you choose to use wine, let it simmer and reduce after adding it to your sautéed meat and vegetables. This process cooks off the alcohol and concentrates the wine’s flavors, enriching the sauce.
  • Simmer slowly and patiently: Allowing your Bolognese to gently simmer on the lowest heat setting lets the flavors meld together beautifully. A slow cook time also ensures the turkey stays tender and doesn’t become tough.
  • Finish with fresh herbs: While dried herbs are great during cooking, stirring in some fresh basil or parsley right before serving can add a bright, fresh flavor that lifts the entire dish.
  • Adjust thickness as desired: If your sauce is too thick, don’t hesitate to thin it with a bit of pasta water or broth. The starch in the pasta water can also help the sauce cling to your noodles more effectively.
  • Let it rest: Just like a good stew, Turkey Bolognese benefits from sitting a while after cooking. If time allows, let it cool slightly before serving; this resting period allows the flavors to become even more pronounced.
  • Experiment with cheese: Beyond Parmesan, consider serving your Bolognese with a dollop of ricotta for creaminess or a sprinkle of pecorino for a sharper bite.
  • Make it ahead: Turkey Bolognese tastes even better the next day after the flavors have had more time to develop. Don’t hesitate to make a large batch and enjoy the leftovers.


  • Spicy Turkey Bolognese: Add red pepper flakes or diced jalapeños to the sauce for a spicy kick that elevates the flavors.
  • Creamy Turkey Bolognese: Stir in a splash of heavy cream or coconut milk towards the end of cooking for a richer, creamier sauce.
  • Mediterranean Twist: Incorporate olives, capers, and a sprinkle of cinnamon for a Mediterranean-inspired version of the classic Bolognese.
  • Vegetable-Loaded Bolognese: Boost the nutritional content by adding mushrooms, bell peppers, zucchini, or spinach, making the dish more colorful and fiber-rich.
  • Wine-Infused Bolognese: Use a good quality red wine in place of broth for cooking, adding depth and a slight acidity that complements the turkey beautifully.


  • Meat Alternatives: For a vegetarian option, lentils or a plant-based ground meat substitute can replace ground turkey, maintaining a hearty texture.
  • Pasta Alternatives: Zucchini noodles, spaghetti squash, or whole-grain pasta offer healthier, lower-carb alternatives to traditional pasta.
  • Dairy-Free Option: Nutritional yeast or vegan Parmesan cheese can substitute for Parmesan, providing a dairy-free way to enjoy the cheesy flavor.
  • Alcohol-Free Cooking: If avoiding wine, increase the broth and add a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar for a similar depth of flavor without the alcohol.
  • Herb Variations: Fresh herbs like rosemary or sage can be used in place of dried oregano and basil for a different aromatic profile and fresher taste.

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Frequently Asked Questions – FAQ’s

Absolutely! To make Turkey Bolognese gluten-free, simply substitute traditional pasta with a gluten-free alternative, such as rice pasta, quinoa pasta, or zucchini noodles. Additionally, ensure that all other ingredients, including canned tomatoes and broth, are labeled gluten-free to avoid any cross-contamination.

Enhancing the flavor of Turkey Bolognese can be achieved through a few key steps. Begin by ensuring your vegetables are well caramelized before adding the meat, as this builds a rich flavor foundation. Incorporating a small amount of concentrated umami sources, like anchovy paste or soy sauce, can also add depth. Don’t shy away from herbs, both dried and fresh, and consider a splash of good quality red wine during cooking to introduce complexity and richness.

Turkey Bolognese can be a healthier alternative to traditional Bolognese made with higher-fat meats. Turkey, especially lean turkey, is lower in fat and calories while being a great source of protein. By including a variety of vegetables, you’re also boosting the dish’s fiber, vitamin, and mineral content. For an even healthier version, pair with whole-grain pasta or a vegetable noodle.

Yes, Turkey Bolognese freezes exceptionally well. Allow the cooked sauce to cool completely before transferring it to airtight containers or freezer bags. Properly stored, it can last in the freezer for up to 3 months. To use, thaw overnight in the refrigerator and reheat gently on the stove, adding a little water or broth if the sauce seems too thick.

Turkey Bolognese can be a kid-friendly meal with a few adjustments. Consider using pasta shapes that are fun and appealing to children, like fusilli or penne. You can also puree the sauce if your children are sensitive to the texture of vegetables. Adding a touch of sweetness with a sprinkle of sugar or shredded carrots can make the sauce more palatable to young taste buds. Lastly, serving it with a side of garlic bread or topping it with plenty of cheese might make it more enticing for them.

Turkey Bolognese


Turkey Bolognese stands as a splendid testament to the versatility and adaptability of classic culinary traditions. By substituting turkey for the usual beef or pork, this dish offers a lighter, healthier alternative that doesn’t compromise on flavor or satisfaction. It’s a perfect example of how traditional recipes can be modified to fit modern dietary preferences, making it a suitable option for a wide range of palates and nutritional needs.

Whether served over a bed of al dente pasta, a pile of steamed vegetables, or a comforting scoop of mashed potatoes, Turkey Bolognese brings warmth and comfort to any meal table. Its ability to be made ahead, stored, and reheated without losing its charm further elevates its status as a go-to meal for busy weeknights, leisurely weekends, and everything in between.

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