This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
Imagine a healthier, quicker but just as equally delicious recipe for bolognese that you can make any night of the week to the delight of the whole family. Enter this Healthy Turkey Bolognese recipe, which is rich, meaty and the perfect hearty meal. We’ve also included options to make it Paleo and Whole30 friendly.
Easy Turkey Bolognese Recipe
A good bolognese sauce is pretty remarkable. It typically consists of ground beef, with some aromatic vegetables, tomatoes and often wine and cream thrown in for good measure. The whole thing is cooked over a very low flame for several hours. Sometimes we are really into cooking a recipe like that, but more often than not, we’re stretched for time yet still want to be able to enjoy that memorable meal. This Turkey Bolognese recipe solves that problem by making a few swaps of ingredients and technique to yield for an umami-packed meaty sauce that is so good.
Aside from the reduced cooking time, we also make this sauce just a bit lighter by using ground turkey and omitting the heavy cream altogether. Instead, it relies on some white wine and tomato paste to extend a punch of flavor. And at the very end, we recommend adding in a tablespoon of butter to get that rounded flavor that is traditional. If needed for dietary restrictions, it’s fine to leave this out.
Because we’re using turkey, it doesn’t need as much cooking time. This dish cooks in under an hour, which means, you can have enough time to clean up the kitchen, boil the pasta and maybe have a glass of wine yourself before dinner is done.
To Make this Paleo and Whole30 Compliant
We’ve already skipped the cream in this. But if you need this to be made without alcohol, simply omit the step of cooking down the wine. It’ll be fine, just substitute in extra chicken broth! And of course, leave off the parmesan cheese and butter for the garnish. This would be great served over zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash!
Skip the chopping!
This recipe calls for onions, celery, and carrots to be very finely diced. Instead of spending your time doing it, just toss them in the food processor. This also helps them disappear into the sauce, which can be helpful for picky kids.
Our biggest tip: Don’t cook this over high heat. Make sure to use a simmer for this recipe. When you boil ground turkey it can result in tougher meat, which is the opposite of what you want for this sauce.
Best Way to Serve Bolognese
It just feels classic to serve this with fresh pasta. But honestly, save that for your weekend project. We are so lucky that we live in a time when store-bought fresh pasta is easily found. And even luckier that there are a few gluten-free fresh pastas available, if you need. We used a gluten-free fresh Fettucine for our tests of this recipe, and it was so good.
We enjoyed putting a bit of fresh parmesan and parsley on top of this as a garnish, but feel free to omit the cheese (and the wine, as mentioned above) for a fully Whole30 and paleo meal and serve over compliant veggie noodles.
Can this be frozen?
Most defintely! Meat sauce is great for freezing. Simply cool down the bolognese fully, and then transfer to a freezer-friendly container. When you are ready to use, it’s best to let it defrost overnight. If that’s not possible, place your container in a bowl of warm water, until the outside of the sauce defrosts and you can remove the frozen bolognese from the container. Place the bolognese in a pot with 1/4 cup water, and cook over low heat until it reaches a simmer. Let simmer for 5 minutes, and then serve.
If you like this healthy Italian inspired recipe, check out these others:
- Spinach Basil Pesto
- Chopped Antipasto Salad with Chicken
- Spaghetti Carbonara (Gluten-Free)
- Zucchini Spaghetti with Homemade Meat Sauce
Healthy Turkey Bolognese
- 1 medium yellow onion peeled
- 1 medium carrot peeled
- 1 medium celery stalk
- 1 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 lb. ground turkey
- 1-1/2 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ cup dry red or white wine
- ½ cup +1 tablespoons tomato paste or ½ slightly heaping cup
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 tablespoons butter optional12 ounces gluten-free fresh fettuccine (or pasta-of choice)
- Parmesan cheese for garnish
- Place onion, carrot and celery in a food processor and process until very fine pieces. Alternatively you can dice them very fine.
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium pot. Add onion mixture and salt cook for 5 minutes, until sweated down.
- Add turkey, salt, and pepper and cook, breaking up the turkey, until no pink remains, about 5 minutes.
- Add wine and cook until reduced, about 5 minutes.
- Add tomato paste, bay leaf and chicken stock and bring up to a gentle simmer.
- Simmer for 30-35 minutes, until the liquid has reduced and the sauce is slightly thickened.
- Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package instructions.
- Once bolognese is finished, turn off heat and mix in (optional) butter. Taste, and adjust seasoning.
- Toss pasta with 1 cup of bolognese and divide into 4 bowls. Divide remaining bolognese on pasta and sprinkle with (optional) parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.
- For Whole30 omit wine, butter and parmesan cheese. Replace the wine with an equal amount of extra chicken stock. Serve with zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash.
- For Paleo omit cheese and butter and serve with zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash.
We love love this recipe in our house! Have made with Turkey and 93/7 grass fed beef and it is amazing. Served jt for Christmas Eve and everyone loved it too and asked for the recipe!