The Best Turkey Bolognese

This is my all-time favorite turkey bolognese recipe! It’s light and healthy but still full of flavor. This unfussy, homemade turkey bolognese is perfect for weeknight dinners or special occasions! Top it with freshly grated parmesan cheese, and chili flakes if you like a little spice!

a white ceramic bowl filled with pasta on a light blue/grey background. Surrounding the bowl is a hunk of parmesan cheese a white lined napkin and a glass of white wine.

When I was a private chef one of the most requested dinners from both kids and adults with this creamy slow-cooked turkey bolognese. It’s healthy, comforting, and flavorful. You can serve this ground turkey ragù with almost any shape of pasta you like or pair it with zucchini noodles or even spaghetti squash.

Don’t take my word for it! Check out this rave-review:

This was a massive hit with the family, we all loved it! Will be making this a staple from now on!!


Tips and Tricks for a Great Bolognese:

Build Flavor Right From The Start

A good bolognese starts with finely chopped mirepoix. Mirepoix is a combination of chopped carrot, celery, and onion. After the mirepoix, it’s all about layering in flavor from the ground turkey to the tomato paste, white wine, and chicken stock. Individually these ingredients may not seem like much but when cooked all together they create a powerhouse of flavor!

Cook the Sauce Low and Slow

Developing that rich, slow-cooked flavor takes time. Remember that when you’re slow cooking a sauce like a bolognese it should be at just barely a simmer, not a roaring boil. Stir occasionally to prevent scorching on the bottom of the pan. If the sauce looks dry or over reduced this is a sign that your flame is too high, add a little bit more chicken stock or water, and reduce the heat to low.

Finish with Cream (or Milk) and Parmesan Cheese

Finishing the bolognese with milk or cream balances out the acidity of the wine and tomatoes and gives the sauce a velvety smooth texture. Milk is more traditional, but I like the flavor and consistency of cream better. If you’re aiming for a healthier bolognese then do go with milk instead of heavy cream.

Ingredients:

Here’s what you’ll need to make the best turkey bolognese: ground turkey (white meat or dark), pasta, butter, olive oil, tomato paste, chicken stock, celery, carrot, onion, garlic, white wine (something dry, like a Pinot Grigio), cream (or milk), and parmesan cheese for serving.

Scroll to the bottom of the recipe card for ingredient notes and substitutions!

recipe ingredients individually portioned and labeled; a white onion, a bowl of chicken stock, a bag of pasta, ground turkey, carrots and celery in a bowl, butter, milk, garlic and tomato paste

Recipe Steps

Step 1. Sauté the Mirepoix

To get started sauté the carrot, celery, and onion (aka mirepoix), then add in the garlic and ground turkey. You can chop the mirepoix ingredients by hand or toss them all into a food processor and then pulse until finely chopped. I love using my mini food processor to do this!

left: a pot with minced celery, carrot and onion cooking. right: a pot with ground turkey cooking.

Step 2. Simmer the Sauce

Next, add the tomato paste. Cook the tomato paste for about 5 minutes then add in the wine followed by the chicken stock. Simmer for 1 hour.

left: a pot with ground turkey bolognese simmering. right: a pot with pasta and tomato meat sauce.

Step 3. Add the Pasta

Finish with cream then carefully fold in the cooked pasta and voila! Top with plenty of freshly grated parmesan cheese and serve!

a messy half-eaten bowl of pasta with a silver spoon digging into the bowl.

FAQs + Expert Tips

Can I use ground chicken for this bolognese?

Yes! You can use ground chicken, pork or beef for this recipe.

What is the best type of pasta to serve with bolognese?

Hearty meat sauce and ragu, like this turkey bolognese, need an equally hearty pasta shape to go along with it. Bolognese sauce is traditionally served with tagliatelle. I like to use rigatoni, bucatini, pappardelle, and orecchiette. Gluten-free brown rice pasta works too!

How do you freeze turkey bolognese?

Prepare the sauce and let it cool completely. Transfer the sauce to a freezer-safe airtight container or freezer ziplock bags. Freeze for up to three months. 

Check Out More Great Recipes:

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a white ceramic bowl filled with pasta on a light blue/grey background. Surrounding the bowl is a hunk of parmesan cheese a white lined napkin and a glass of white wine.

The Best Turkey Bolognese

This unfussy turkey bolognese is perfect for weeknight dinners or special occasions! Top it with freshly grated parmesan cheese, and chili flakes if you like a little spice!
5 from 18 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 586kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion finely chopped
  • 2 large carrots finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic finely chopped, or grated
  • 2 lbs ground turkey
  • 1 6oz can tomato paste about half a cup
  • 1 c dry white wine
  • 2 c chicken stock
  • 1/2 c heavy cream or 1c milk
  • salt
  • 1 lb pasta any shape

Instructions

  • Melt the butter and oil in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat then add the onion, carrot, and celery, and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Next, stir in the ground turkey, garlic, and a generous pinch of salt. Use a wooden spoon to break up the meat. Cook for about 5 minutes until the turkey is mostly cooked.
  • Next, add in the tomato paste. Cook the tomato paste for 5 minutes then, add the wine and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook until the wine is mostly reduced then add the chicken stock. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to low, simmer for 45 minutes-1 hour, stirring occasionally.  
  • Last, stir in the cream/milk then simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes. During that time cook and drain the pasta, reserving 1c of pasta water. Fold the cooked pasta into the sauce along with 1/2c of pasta water, add more as needed. Divide between bowls, top with parmesan cheese and serve!

Notes

Ingredient Substitutions: 
  • Turkey: You can use ground chicken, beef, or pork for this recipe. 
  • White Wine: Substitute chicken stock or omit completely. 
  • Heavy Cream: Milk or omit completely for dairy-free.
How To Freeze Bolognese:
  • Prepare the sauce and let cool completely. Transfer the sauce to a freezer-safe airtight container or freezer ziplock bags. Freeze for up to three months. 
  • Defrost in the refrigerator overnight and reheat in a pot on the stove.

Equipment:
Enamel Dutch Oven | Wooden Spoons 

Nutrition

Calories: 586kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 62g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 150mg | Sodium: 1263mg | Potassium: 1851mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 7427IU | Vitamin C: 22mg | Calcium: 146mg | Iron: 5mg
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7 Comments

  1. Made this tonight with scratch fettuccini made with my brand new pasta maker! It was quite good but needed something for a little more depth of flavor. Ground turkey is probably a little bit bland…need to kick up it up a notch.

    1. Hi Maria, it sounds like your heat was on too high. The sauce should gently simmer on low with occasional stirring. If you notice you’re losing liquid or the sauce is scorching lower the heat and add in more stock or water.

  2. 5 stars
    Just wanted to say I made this tonight and it was so yummy! I didn’t have celery, just really used what I had in the fridge at the moment 🙂 and I only let simmer for 30 minutes because that’s all the time I had, but it’s really good! Paired it with garlic bread 😍