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Ragu bolognese sauce, a meat-based sauce originating from the area of Bologna, Italy, is made with wine, tomatoes, celery, and onions. This recipe is a version of a classic bolognese sauce cooked up with ground turkey meat instead of beef or pork.

Turkey bolognese recipe on a plate with chili pepper seeds and parmesan in bowls by it.

This turkey bolognese recipe is full of rich flavors, making it a comfort food recipe perfect for a hearty meal. This bolognese recipe was inspired by another Italian classic recipe, Toscana Zuppa Soup, here on the site.

For delicious bread to go along with your Ragu Bolognese, be sure to try my Italian Cheesy Pull-Apart Bread. And don’t forget a simple green salad with Homemade Zesty Italian Seasoning to complete this meal that’s sure to be a hit with your family and friends.

If serving up this turkey bolognese recipe as part of a dinner party, don’t forget to start off the meal with some delicious Green Marinated Sicilian Olives and this Authentic Italian Almond Biscotti with a fresh brewed espresso following dinner.

Why we enjoy this recipe

  • It’s easy to prepare in advance for future use to create delicious dinner meals throughout the week.
  • A mostly hands-off Italian meat sauce makes it easy to serve during the week.

Ingredient notes

While a good bolognese sauce takes time to make, it’s prepared from fresh, easy-to-find ingredients found in your local grocery store.

Turkey bolognese recipe ingredients on the counter.
  • Extra virgin olive oil: For best flavor, choose moderate to good quality extra virgin olive oil when cooking classic Italian meals. 
  • Onion: White or yellow onion is best to use when cooking sauces.
  • Garlic: For the best flavor, make this recipe with fresh garlic and not garlic powder.
  • Carrot: Adding diced carrot to the base of the sauce is one of the major differences between regular spaghetti sauce and a bolognese sauce.
  • Celery stalk: Along with the carrot, finely diced celery is added to the base of the sauce giving it a slightly different flavor than other Italian tomato sauces.
  • Ground turkey meat: Choose lean ground turkey with only 7% fat
  • Canned stewed tomatoes: Using this chunky canned tomato product means slightly less cooking time since the tomatoes are already partially cooked.
  • Fresh parsley: Adds more fresh flavor to the sauce and makes a great addition to sprinkle over the top before serving.
  • Fresh basil, thyme, and rosemary: Making bolognese sauce with fresh herbs adds a lot of flavor and makes an incredible difference in how this meat sauce tastes.
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper: Enhances the flavor, but you can easily adjust to your tastes.

See the recipe card further down on the page for a complete list and quantities for each ingredient.

Step by step instructions

Follow along to see how easy it is to make this slow-cooked meat sauce in just a few simple steps.

Cooking the onions, garlic and other vegetables to make turkey bolognese recipe.
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, sauteeing until the onion is soft, about 4 minutes.

2. Add the celery and carrot, continuing to cook over medium heat for 5 more minutes, stirring frequently.

Cooked turkey in pan to make turkey bolognese recipe and then the fresh herbs are added on top of meat.

3. When the vegetables are tender, increase to medium-high heat and add the ground turkey meat. Use a 5 blade meat chopper or the side of a wooden spoon to break up the meat, cook until turkey meat is browned and no longer pink inside.

Use a spoon to drain grease from the large pan of turkey meat. Add a paper towel to soak up any grease left, then discard.

4. Add the chopped parsley, basil, thyme and, rosemary to the cooked meat and saute for 1 minute.

Tomatoes in blender and tomatoes on top of cooked turkey meat to make turkey bolognese recipe.

5. Blend stewed tomatoes in a food processor or blender until they are mostly smooth with small chunks.

6. Add the tomatoes to the pot and cook the sauce over medium heat for about 20 – 30 minutes, stirring frequently to allow the excess liquid to evaporate. 

Give it a taste and add salt and pepper before serving.

Serve up ragu bolognese over your favorite pasta and top with grated Romano cheese or parmesan cheese.

Hint: Easily cook ground beef and ground turkey with this multi-functional meat chopper utensil

✔️ Substitutions

Here are a couple of easy substitutions for ingredients in case you don’t have everything on hand or want to swap some things out.

  • Stewed tomatoes: Swap out the stewed tomatoes with canned whole tomatoes or crushed tomatoes. When making this swap you will need to cook the sauce for additional time since these varieties of canned tomatoes are not cooked in advance.
  • You could use ground beef instead of turkey.

💭 Tips for making the recipe

  • Be sure to remove as much of the oil as possible from the pan after cooking the meat so the sauce doesn’t end up too greasy.
  • Use a meat smasher or chopper to quickly and easily break up the meat in the pan.
  • Serve up with perfectly cooked al dente pasta for a meal the whole family will enjoy!

🥖 Don’t forget the garlic bread to soak up all the juices in the bowl!

Turkey bolognese recipe on a plate with chili pepper seeds and parmesan in bowls by it.
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Turkey bolognese recipe on a plate with chili pepper seeds and parmesan in bowls by it.
5 from 1 rating

Turkey Bolognese Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 6
This classic Italian turkey bolognese recipe makes a hearty sauce to serve up with your favorite pasta. Tomatoes are slow cooked with onions, garlic, celery, carrots and lots of fresh herbs for a pasta dinner eveyone will love!

Note: Be sure to read through the recipe’s post for tips and details about this recipe.

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Ingredients
 

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 14 cup carrot, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 1 pound ground turkey, 93% meat 7% fat
  • 28 ounces stewed tomatoes , blended in a mixer so there are not any large chunks
  • 1/4 cup parsley, fresh, chopped
  • 1/4 cup basil, fresh, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon thyme, fresh, stems removed
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary, fresh, chopped fine
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground

Instructions
 

  • In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Sautee until onion is soft, about 4 minutes.
  • Add the celery and carrot. Sautee over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Raise heat to medium-high and add the ground turkey meat. Using a 5 blade meat chopper. Cook until turkey meat is browned and no longer pink inside.
  • Drain any grease from the turkey meat with a spoon. Add a paper towel to soak up any grease left, then discard.
  • Add parsley, basil, thyme and, rosemary to the cooked meat. Saute for 1 minute.
  • Blend stewed tomatoes in a mixer unlit they are mostly smooth with small chunks.
  • Cook over medium heat until the excess liquid is evaporated. This should take about 20 to 30 minutes. Stir frequently.
  • Add salt and pepper
  • Pour bolognese over your favorite pasta and top with grated Ramano cheese or parmesan cheese.

Notes

Be sure to remove as much of the oil as possible from the pan after cooking the meat so the sauce doesn’t end up too greasy.
Use a meat smasher or chopper to quickly and easily break up the meat in the pan.
Don’t forget the garlic bread to soak up all the juices in the bowl!
Serving: 1g, Calories: 333kcal, Carbohydrates: 39g, Protein: 22g, Fat: 12g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 7g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 42mg, Sodium: 931mg, Potassium: 1519mg, Fiber: 10g, Sugar: 19g, Vitamin A: 50492IU, Vitamin C: 35mg, Calcium: 168mg, Iron: 4mg
Cuisine: Italian
Course: Main Dish
Author: Gina Dickson

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