Turkey bolognese is a low fat and protein packed version of a traditional bolognese. It still has all the delicious flavour of a bolognese, but a little bit lighter. Ready in under 30 minutes, it's an easy week night meal that the whole family will love. It also freezes really well, making it great for batch cooking.
This is hearty comfort food at its finest, but a little bit lighter. We have taken all the delicious flavours of a traditional bolognese, but swapped the beef mince for turkey mince to make it lower in fat. Although turkey can sometimes be a bit dry, cooking it in this delicious sauce keeps it nice and juicy and full of flavour.
This bolognese is also a great way to use up vegetables, as it is very forgiving and almost anything goes. We have given some options below of different vegetables you can add to it. Although ideally a bolognese would be cooked low and slow, this quick version still packs a flavour punch and is just what you need when you need to get dinner on the table in under 30 minutes.
Why you will love it
- Total comfort food - There isn't much more comforting than a big bowl of bolognese. It's warming and filling.
- Low in fat - Swapping beef for turkey mince makes this bolognese lower in fat than a more traditional version.
- Freezes well - This turkey bolognese freezes really well, making it perfect for batch cooking and storing in the freezer for busy school nights.
- Family friendly - Bolognese always goes down well with my kids and it's easy to hide some vegetables in too. If you am making it for my kids, I will swap the red wine for beef stock.
- Turkey mince - This is the star of the bolognese. We used turkey mince instead of beef, to keep it nice and lean. We used a 2% fat turkey mince, but you could use 7% fat which would have more flavour.
- Onion and carrot - This is the base of any good bolognese. You could swap the onion for shallots, which would have a sweeter flavour or you could use frozen diced onions to save time. Make sure to dice the carrots finely so that they are soft once the bolognese is cooked.
- Mushrooms - These are a must in a bolognese are far as we are concerned. Mushrooms have a really meaty texture, so you can get away with using less meat. We used mini portobello mushrooms, but regular white mushrooms would be fine.
- Chopped tomatoes - This is what makes up most of the bolognese sauce. We use Mutti chopped tomatoes, as they are the best quality and give the best flavour sauce. Try to buy the best quality tomatoes you can, as the cheaper ones tend to be really watery and you won't have the same flavour.
- Red wine - This takes a bolognese to the next level. Turkey mince doesn't have quite the same rich flavour as beef mince does, but adding a splash of red wine gives the turkey bolognese that richness. If you didn't want to use wine, then replace it for beef or vegetable stock.
- Garlic - Freshly crushed is best, but you could save time by using frozen. If you are crushing it yourself, then make sure it is almost paste like, so that there is even distribution of garlic in the bolognese.
- Oil - We used a good quality olive oil to soften the onion and carrot in.
- Oregano - This gives it a real Italian flavour.
- Salt and pepper - Season to taste.
- Worcestershire sauce - Although this might not be very traditional in a bolognese, this is a very common addition if you grew up in England. A little splash adds lots of flavour.
- Tomato puree - This helps to thicken up the sauce. You may need to use a bit more if you have used cheaper tinned tomatoes.
A full ingredients list with measurements is in the recipe card below.
Step by step
One: Heat the oil in a large pan and cook the onion and carrot until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Two: Add the turkey mince and cook for 5 minutes, breaking it up as it cooks.
Three: Add the remaining ingredients, stir well and simmer for 10 minutes. Add a splash of pasta water and stir before serving.
Health benefits of turkey
Turkey isn’t just an alternative to red meat, it is really delicious in its own right. It has lots of flavour, but the added bonus of being high in protein and low in fat. Turkey is also a rich source of niacin, vitamin B6 and the amino acid tryptothan and it also contains zinc and vitamin B1.
We wanted to keep this fairly traditional, apart from swapping the beef for turkey. However, there are a few ways that you could change it up. You could swap half the turkey mince for some cooked lentils, which would still make it protein packed, but lower in fat.
If you wanted to add some extra vegetables to it then you could dice some bell peppers, courgette and aubergine and add them at the same time as the carrot. You could also stir in some spinach 5 minutes before it has finished cooking.
What to serve with turkey bolognese
Once you have this delicious turkey bolognese made, you need some side dishes. We serve it with spaghetti and of course garlic bread and pasta are the perfect match in our opinion.
You could also keep it simple with a big green salad. The key to an epic green salad is to use a variety of greens, like romaine, spinach, kale and rocket. You want leafy greens, but crunch too. Then you need the perfect dressing. Why not try our Lemon Vinaigrette, Honey and Mustard Dressing or Tomato and Basil Vinaigrette? You could also try our Grilled Little Gem Salad.
Frequently Asked Questions
Wait for leftovers to cool completely and then you can transfer them to an air tight container and keep them in the fridge for 2 days.
Yes, this freezes really well. Once cooled, transfer to a freezer container and then it will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. You could put it in a freezer bag and lay it flat.
Once fully defrosted in the fridge, you can heat it through in a frying pan, or in the microwave. You will need to add a splash of water when reheating it, otherwise it will be a bit dry.
Yes, you can easily do this in the slow cooker. Follow our recipe for Slow Cooker Bolognese, but swap the beef for turkey.
Adding starchy pasta water (just 50ml is enough) helps to make the sauce really silky smooth. Make sure you scoop out the water just before draining, as this ensures that it is nice and starchy.
As long as you leave out the Worcestershire sauce (or use a GF certified one) and make sure there is no cross contamination, then this is gluten free.
• You can easily take out the red wine and use a good quality beef stock instead.
• To make this turkey bolognese extra indulgent, then add a splash of cream and stir it in just before serving.
• Make sure you season the bolognese well with a generous pinch of salt and pepper.
• If the bolognese is starting to look a bit dry, then you can add a splash of stock.
• Save a bit of time by using frozen onion and garlic.
• If you wanted to hide vegetables in this, then you can grate them or put them in the food processor.
More turkey recipes
If you’ve tried this turkey bolognese recipe, then let us know how you got on in the comments below.
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Easy Turkey Bolognese
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 carrot - diced
- 1 onion - diced
- 100 g mushrooms - sliced
- 500 g turkey mince
- 3 grlic cloves - crushed
- 400 g chopped tomatoes - canned
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 pinch sea salt and black pepper
- 2 tablespoon tomato puree
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 75 ml red wine
- Heat the oil in a large pan and cook the onion and carrot until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for a further 5 minutes.1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 carrot, 1 onion, 100 g mushrooms
- Add the turkey mince and cook for 5 minutes, breaking it up as it cooks.500 g turkey mince
- Add the remaining ingredients, stir well and simmer for 10 minutes.3 grlic cloves, 400 g chopped tomatoes, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 pinch sea salt and black pepper, 2 tablespoon tomato puree, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 75 ml red wine
- Add a splash of water from the pasta and stir in before serving.
- You can easily take out the red wine and use a good quality beef stock instead.
- To make this turkey bolognese extra indulgent, then add a splash of cream and stir it in just before serving.
- Make sure you season the bolognese well with a generous pinch of salt and pepper.
- If the bolognese is starting to look a bit dry, then you can add a splash of stock.
- Save a bit of time by using frozen onion and garlic.
- If you wanted to hide vegetables in this, then you can grate them or put them in the food processor.