Quick and Easy Turkey Bolognese Sauce

When I was growing up, cooking sauce for Sunday dinner was an all-day affair. I loved going over to the stove, grabbing a spoon or a bit of bread and sampling the Sunday sauce my mom would cook up. I still love doing that.

Sunday sauce is an artform and it does take all day to perfect. What do you do when you want to make a quick pasta dinner and you don’t have enough time or ingredients?


This recipe is the result of working with what I had during the Coronavirus quarantine. It’s simple and doesn’t require all day to make. You can easily make this any weeknight when you’re in a hurry.

This is tasty and it works in a pinch. Read on to discover a fabulous and easy Bolognese sauce.

What’s in a Typical Bolognese Sauce?

There is a lot of debate about what’s in and not in a traditional Bolognese sauce. There are variations depending on who’s Italian grandmother you talk to.

An authentic Bolognese sauce has chunks of beef and pork, along with a sofrito of onions, carrots, celery, and pancetta. It also has milk and wine and the sauce is reduced for hours until you have chunks of chuck beef falling apart to the touch of a fork.

The classic Bolognese sauce recipe was from famed Italian chef and cookbook writer Marcella Hazan.

Turkey Bolognese Sauce Ingredients

This sauce is really simple and is as stripped down as you can get. All you need is a little garlic, a little wine, an onion, a pound of turkey, a can of crushed tomatoes.

I’m keeping this version stripped down because it’s important to have something easy that you can throw together during the week.  A simple version doesn’t mean that this sauce won’t have flavor, though. This sauce is still flavorful even though it’s simple.

chopped garlic and onions

If you want a traditional Bolognese sauce, make Marcella Hazan’s recipe on a Sunday. You’ll have the time you need to make it and you’ll get an amazing sauce.

It’s simple but there are dozen different ways you can go with this recipe. All of which will impact the flavor and texture of the sauce.

Quick and Easy Turkey Bolognese Sauce

Don't have all day to make Sunday sauce? Try this tasty and healthy recipe for Bolognese sauce.
Prep Time12 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time32 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian, Mediterranean
Servings: 6 Cups
Calories: 252kcal


  • 1 Lb Ground Turkey
  • 1 tsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Onion Diced
  • 3 Cloves Fresh garlic
  • 28 oz Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1 Cup Red Wine
  • 1 Tbs Basil and Oregano


  • Heat up pot on stove or saute on Crock-Pot Express. Add olive oil, garlic, and onion.
  • Saute the onion for about 5-7 minutes, until translucent.
  • Add the ground turkey and heat until thoroughly browned.
  • Add the wine to deglaze the pot.
  • Add crushed tomatoes, basil and oregano.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • You can simmer over low heat for an hour or set the Crock-Pot Express to low pressure for about 3 minutes. You want the flavors to mix together.
  • Serve over pasta.

Tips and Substitutions

There are a couple of common questions that are asked when making this recipe.

What kind of ground turkey should you use? It depends on what your goals are. Do you want something that’s healthier than ground beef and has less calories and fat? You’ll want to use a lean ground turkey, at least 93% lean.

At 99% lean, you’ll see the most benefits. You just have to be careful not to overbrown the meat because it can get dried out.

If you just want to limit how much red meat you consume, then an 85% lean turkey will be fine.

I’ve used both and have found there to be too much of a difference in the end result.  

A traditional Bolognese sauce can use a white or red wine. I favor red wine because a Bolognese sauce is a bold sauce that requires a bold red wine.

You’ll definitely want to go with a merlot or a cabernet sauvignon. If you don’t have either one on hand, any dry table red will do.

If you decide to try a white wine in your sauce instead, make sure it’s a dry white wine, like a Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio.

Enjoying Turkey Bolognese Sauce

Simplicity is the name of the game with this Turkey Bolognese sauce recipe. It’s tasty, has a marvellous texture, and picks up amazing flavors.

It’s great to have when you’re short on time and you need something fast. You can serve this sauce over any pasta, including penne pasta.

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Heather McDaniel is the founder of Invincible Women Fitness Academy, and a nationally certified fitness and nutrition coach. Inspired by her Italian roots and living in Spain, she loves to explore and share the benefits of the Mediterranean Lifestyle. She works with women all over the world, helping them rediscover their strength, health, and confidence.

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