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!
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 turkey ragu with almost any shape of pasta you like or pair it with zucchini noodles or even spaghetti squash.
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.
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.
Step 1. Sauté the Mirepoix
To get started sauté the carrot, celery, and onion (aka mirepoix), then add in the garlic and ground turkey.
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.
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!
FAQs + Expert Tips
Yes! You can use ground chicken, pork or beef for this recipe.
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!
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.
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The Best Turkey Bolognese
- 2 lbs ground turkey
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 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
- 1/2 c tomato paste
- 1 c dry white wine
- 2 c chicken stock
- 1/2 c heavy cream or milk
- 1 lb pasta any shape
- 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 and reduce the heat to medium/low and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
- After an hour, stir in the cream then simmer for an additional 15 minutes. During that time cook and drain the pasta. Fold the cooked pasta into the sauce. Divide between bowls, top with parmesan cheese and serve!
- 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.
- 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