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A lighter take on a classic, this Turkey Bolognese Recipe is packed with vegetables and flavor!
Step by step photos and instructions below!
I do love me good spaghetti bolognese sauce! It’s total comfort food and perfect for making a lot of for family and friends. We are known for hosting spaghetti night for anyone and everyone who shows up on the day.
This is one of our favorite meals to make! It is not an authentic Italian recipe, this is very much an Americanized “Bolognese” sauce that my family enjoys. Don’t hate.
This recipe is lightened up with the use of turkey vs beef, but you can make it either way.
It is a full flavored sauce thanks to the addition of the veggies, garlic, seasonings and a little half and half. While it might seem odd, the half and half adds a richness to the sauce that might not otherwise exist.
Why you’ll love this recipe:
- This uses ground turkey instead of ground beef, so is lower in fat – but not lower in flavor!
- Packed full of vegetables. They add flavor and nutrients, it’s a win-win!
- Easy to make, double, make ahead or freeze.
What to serve with Turkey Bolognese
I typically serve this sauce with spaghetti pasta, zucchini spirals or roasted spaghetti squash. If I’m feeling like I need a green veggie, I might do some Roasted Broccoli.
I have included step by step photos and instructions, as well as tips and tricks in the post. If you’d rather skip all that, scoot right on down to the full recipe card located at the bottom of the post.
The full list of ingredients and quantities is found in the printable recipe card below.
- Olive Oil. You can use any oil you like, as long as it is a neutral flavor.
- Carrots, Onion and Celery. These form the flavor base of the meat sauce.
- Ground Turkey. You can use any kind you like, I use the 97% blend if I can find it. I have also used ground chicken.
- Garlic. I use freshly minced garlic.
- Italian Seasoning. Grab this from the spice aisle, or make your own Italian Seasoning.
- Tomatoes. I use both crushed tomatoes and diced tomatoes for this, for some different textures. You can use a large can of tomato sauce if you like your sauce smoother.
- Tomato Paste. This will add a more concentrated tomato flavor. Since turkey alone is pretty bland, we need to flavor it up.
- Half and Half. You can use heavy cream or whole milk if you prefer. This adds a richness to the sauce.
- Spaghetti. To serve with your sauce. You can also roast up some Spaghetti squash instead if you want to watch carbs.
- Parmesan Cheese. this is optional, but recommended!
- Basil. This adds a yummy fresh flavor to the finished sauce.
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- Chopping Board
- Dutch Oven
How to make this recipe
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The full list of ingredients, quantities and instructions can be found in the printable recipe card below.
Peel and dice the onion, carrots and celery. Open the ca
Cook the vegetables
Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven, and add the onion, carrots and celery.
Cook until the vegetables soften, then add the garlic.
Cook for a minute longer, then season with salt and pepper and Italian Seasoning.
Add the remaining ingredients
Add the ground turkey and cook breaking it up by stirring until it begins to brown.
Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and half and half.
Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Test for seasoning and add more salt/pepper if desired.
Cook the pasta
While the sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and add salt. Cook your choice of pasta until al dente. Drain the pasta save a little of the water.
Add the pasta to the Turkey Bolognese and toss to combine. If too dry, add a little of the reserved pasta water.
Serve in bowls with fresh parmesan and fresh basil.
Save a little of the water used to cook the pasta. It’s great for if you need to thin out your sauce a little.
What to do with leftovers
Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat until it is piping hot!
You can use any blend of tomatoes, or even use pasta sauce (aka marinara sauce) if you prefer.
This recipe can be frozen after cooking. You can freeze just the sauce, or the sauce mixed with the pasta. Just place in a container, seal, label and freeze. To eat, thaw and heat to piping hot.
More delicious sides:
Want more Easy Pasta Recipes?
- Chili Mac with Turkey. We’re bringing childhood back! Lightened-up with turkey vs beef, and made in one pan – this one is a family favorite!
- Florentine Chicken Lasagna Rolls Spinach, garlic, and cheese are all winners for this weeknight dinner! Delicious homemade Alfredo sauce is the key to these!
- Homemade Marinara Sauce. Super easy to make, and tastes so much better than jarred store bought sauce. Control the ingredients, and control the flavor!
Turkey Bolognese Recipe
For the sauce
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup diced onion (1 medium onion finely diced)
- 1 cup diced carrots (about 3 medium carrots peeled and finely diced)
- 1 cup diced celery (3 stalks, finely diced)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 lb ground turkey
- 3 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning
- 1 can crushed tomatoes
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- ½ cup half and half (can use whole milk)
- 1 lb spaghetti
- ¼ parmesan cheese (shredded)
- ¼ cup fresh basil (cut into ribbons (aka chiffonade))
- Peel and dice the onion, carrots and celery.
Cook the vegetables
- Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven, and add the onion, carrots and celery.
- Cook until the vegetables soften, then add the garlic.
- Cook for a minute longer, then season with salt and pepper and Italian Seasoning.
Add the remaining ingredients
- Add the ground turkey and cook stirring until it begins to brown.
- Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and half and half.
- Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes
- Test for seasoning and add more salt/pepper if desired.
Cook the pasta
- While the sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and add salt. Cook your choice of pasta until al dente. Drain the pasta save a little of the water.
- Add the pasta to the Turkey Bolognese and toss to combine. If too dry, add a little of the reserved pasta water.
- Serve in bowls with fresh parmesan and fresh basil.
Add a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes for a little heat.
Use ground chicken instead of turkey.
You can use diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes or even tomato sauce if that is what you have available.
Nutritional information is an estimate and provided to you as a courtesy. You should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.