Turkey Bolognese

Turkey bolognese is an easy and healthy pasta sauce recipe. The thick, rich sauce tastes like it’s been simmering all day, but it’s ready in 45 minutes. Perfect for a weeknight dinner!

Sometimes, a lady needs to cheat. For example, when she is making turkey bolognese sauce.

Plate of pasta with turkey bolognese sauce

This recipe is sponsored by Giovanni Rana.

What this lady should do to make proper, non-cheating Turkey Bolognese:

  • Painstakingly chop all vegetables (carrots, onions, celery, garlic).
  • Simmer the sauce on the stove for a minimum of two hours, all day if you are going for bonafide nonna status.
  • Make the pasta from scratch.
  • Use heavy cream.
  • Use some wine in the sauce. Drink the rest with dinner.

Oh, and she probably shouldn’t be using turkey.

What this lady actually did:

  • Leave the veggies chunky and declare them “rustic.” Because it’s so much faster.
  • Ditch the celery. Because one less veggie to chop.
  • Simmer the sauce for 10 minutes, then taste it to see if it’s “close enough.” (Spoiler, it’s delicious!)
  • Use high-quality, premade refrigerated pasta instead of making from-scratch pasta (more on that in a moment).
  • Use wine in the sauce. Drink more wine while making pasta. Open a new bottle to serve with dinner if necessary. Because cook’s prerogative.
  • Use regular milk instead of heavy cream and ground turkey instead of beef to make the bolognese healthy. Because more room for dessert!

saute pan filled with turkey bolognese sauce

You can call it “cheating,” “experimentation,” or “this is what was in my pantry, so let’s go with it.”

Regardless of how you decide to describe it, adapting classic recipes is, for me, what keeps cooking exciting and seasonal. In the case of Turkey Bolognese, adapting makes it achievable on a weeknight.

Healthy Turkey Bolognese — Tips for Fast Bolognese Sauce

Classic bolognese sauce usually takes hours to prepare and can be on the heavy side. My goal to transform it into a lighter but still comforting healthy Turkey Bolognese recipe that’s ready in 45 minutes, while a little tricky, turned out to be even more delicious than I’d dreamed!

I swapped the traditional ground beef for ground turkey, adding extra seasoning to keep it from tasting bland. The heavy cream I ditched in favor of whole milk, which still yielded a sauce that tasted thick and decadent.

The trickiest part was figuring out a way to make the bolognese sauce taste as if it had been simmering for hours instead of minutes. Tomato paste, which has an intense flavor, along with a bold red wine did the trick.

The easiest part was figuring out how to make the pasta noodles taste homemade. I used refrigerated Giovanni Rana Tagliatelle, which tastes incredibly fresh and cooks in less than two minutes.

Pan of healthy turkey bolognese sauce

That’s right. Less than two. You are just minutes away from noodles that taste homemade, without having to go to the trouble of actually making them. (Look for Giovanni Rana in the refrigerated section of your grocery store.)

dinner plate with pasta and healthy turkey bolognese sauce

Turkey Bolognese – Freezer Friendly Pasta Sauce

This recipe makes a generous amount of the turkey bolognese sauce. The leftovers freeze easily, so you can enjoy them at a later date or simply cook a bit of extra pasta to suit the size of your crowd.

Healthy weeknight Turkey Bolognese. Easy recipe and tastes authentic! The thick, rich sauce tastes like it’s been simmering all day, but is ready in minutes, not hours. Recipe at wellplated.com.
5 from 4 votes
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Turkey Bolognese

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time:
20 mins
Cook Time:
25 mins
Total Time:
45 mins
Quick and easy healthy Turkey Bolognese. The thick, rich sauce tastes like it’s been simmering all day but is ready in minutes. Great for weeknight dinner!


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 medium carrots — peeled and finely chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 1 small yellow onion — finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 pound ground turkey — I use 93% lean; I wouldn’t recommend 99% lean, as it will easily dry out, or ground chicken
  • 3 cloves garlic — minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup dry red wine — such as Cabernet Sauvignon (or substitute an additional 14.5-ounce can of crushed tomatoes)
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes — (14.5 ounces)
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 package Giovanni Rana Tagliatelle or Fettuccine pasta — (10 ounces)
  • For serving: freshly grated parmesan — chopped fresh basil, and/or chopped fresh parsley


  1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high. Add the carrot, onion, salt, and pepper and cook until the vegetables are beginning to soften, about 5 to 7 minutes. Increase the heat to medium high, add the ground turkey, and cook, breaking it up with a spoon, until it’s starting to brown, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes and cook just until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  2. Pour the wine into the skillet and stir, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, and milk and stir to combine. Bring the sauce to a boil, then lower the heat and let simmer for 10 minutes. Taste and add additional salt, black pepper, or red pepper flakes as desired.
  3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the Giovanni Rana Tagliatelle or Fettuccine just until al dente. Drain and place in a serving bowl. Top with your desired amount of sauce and serve hot, sprinkled with fresh Parmesan, basil, and/or parsley.

Recipe Notes

  • I recommend topping the noodles with the Bolognese sauce just before serving. Leftover sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or frozen for 3 months. This recipe makes a generous amount of sauce, so depending upon your preferred noodle/sauce ratio, you may have some sauce leftover. If this is the case, I recommend enjoying it over a fresh batch of noodles, since refrigerated pasta usually tastes at its prime right after it is made. That said, we also at it rewarmed in the microwave (including the noodles), and it still made for a delicious dinner.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: Healthy Dinner Recipe, Turkey Bolognese

Nutrition Information

Amount per serving (0.25 of the noodles with 1 cup sauce) — Calories: 341, Fat: 9g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 63mg, Sodium: 319mg, Carbohydrates: 37g, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 6g, Protein: 22g

Did you try this recipe? I want to see! Follow Well Plated on Instagram, snap a photo, and tag it #wellplated. I love to know what you are making!

I am sharing this post in partnership with Giovanni Rana. As always, all opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands and companies that make it possible for me to continue to create quality content for you!

collage image of turkey bolognese sauce

This post contains some affiliate links, which means that I make a small commission off items you purchase at no additional cost to you.

About Erin Clarke

I’m fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food taste incredible. Wearer of plaid, travel enthusiast, and firmly convinced that sweets and veggies both deserve a place at the table. MORE ABOUT ERIN…


  1. This looks like exactly my kinda dinner! I love bolognese but have never made it at home, in large part because of the significant time investment. I’m looking forward to trying this!

  2. You had me at wine and more wine lol! This sounds wonderful I can’t wait to try it! Thank you for sharing.

  3. Hi Erin, Yummy! I’m going to make it tonight! Thanks for this awesome recipe!

  4. hey girl- this looks amazing!

  5. This is going to happen this weekend. Last week i made a glorious pot of turkey chili with butternut squash, so good, seasonings are trght on. Thank you so much for creating delicious, simple, craveable recipes that my family and I love!

  6. I wanna dive into this bolognese!! Looks AMAZING!

  7. This looks amazing! I can’t wait to try!

  8. Made this last night and loved it! My son who is 2 also loved it. I did use heavy whipping cream because it was in my fridge by accident. Will make again!

  9. I don’t care what this is made with or how the veggies are cut – it looks so delicious and I wish I had this for lunch today!

  10. I love using turkey in pasta recipes! Thanks for the healthier recipe.

  11. So much delish – I need to make this!!

  12. I’m adding this turkey bolognese to next weeks dinner menu. Looks delicious! :)

  13. I absolutely love your “rustic” approach to bolognese! I have to try this, such an easy  and quick recipe!

  14. I love their pasta!! This looks like the perfect use of it and so easy!! 

  15. This was dinner for the not vegetarians in my family tonight and they liked it a lot. I used almond milk, due to a lactose problem with one of them, and it seemed to work well. Also, I had more time than I thought I would so I simmered the sauce longer, but added twice as much crushed tomatoes to compensate for the evaporation. Dinner ended with full tummies and a debate about who would get what part of the leftover sauce. Thanks for a great recipe!

    • Vivian, thanks so much for giving this recipe a try and taking the time to report back! I’m so glad to hear the recipe was a hit.

  16. Yum! So perfect this time of year.

  17. How easy is this recipe? EASY! Can’t wait to try it.

  18. excellent meal- I have made this 3-4 times now and it doesn’t disappoint
    I usually add 2 turkey sausage links crumbled to the meat
    and a bunch of finely chopped kale to the veggies
    also add more crushed tomatoes because of these additions
    if I have time I make it ahead and let it simmer but it really doesn’t need it

  19. What size skillet did you use? Love your recipes!

    • Hi Annie, my skillet is pretty big…probably at least 14 inches. I love using 6-quart dutch ovens for pasta dishes like this too!

  20. Hi Erin, Just made this. I used the 99% fat free turkey, it wasn’t dry at all, and used it on top of zucchini noodles. It was absolutely wonderful!! Maybe too good, two of us ate it all :).  I did all the chopping early in the day so when I got home it was ready quickly. 

  21. I don’t have crushed tomatoes or tomatoes paste only tomatoe sauce. Is it doable and if so what would the substitution be? Thanks so much!

    • Hi Nicole! I haven’t tried it myself, but you could experiment with one can (about 14-15 ounces) of tomato sauce. If the sauce is too thick you can add a little water, and if it’s too thin you can let it cook down a little further. I hope you enjoy!

  22. Madelaine Kukanza Reply

    Looks great! Do you think this could be made in the Instant Pot? How long would you suggest on high pressure?

    • Hi Madelaine, I have not tried this recipe in the Instant Pot, so I can’t say for certain. I’ve seen anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes on similar recipes online, so if you decide to experiment, I’d love to hear how it goes.

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