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Rich, Thick Turkey Bolognese Sauce in a Pot

BEST Turkey Bolognese Sauce (Shortcut Included)

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5 from 29 reviews

  • Author: Suzy Karadsheh
  • Total Time: 3 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves up to 6


This turkey bologense sauce is a lightened up version of the beloved Italian classic, but it is every bit as thick, delicious and hearty. Be sure to view the step-by-step tutorial above and review the recipe notes for tips and shortcut options. 


  • 3 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil (I used Greek Private Reserve)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 2 small carrots, chopped
  • 3/4 lb ground turkey (or lean ground beef, if you prefer)
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 cup/ 250 ml whole milk
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 7 whole canned plum tomatoes (about 1 1/2 cup), cut up


  1. In a heavy saucepan, add extra virgin olive oil and onions. Heat on medium. Cook and stir the onions until translucent about 5 minutes, then add celery and carrots. Cook for another 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
  2. Add ground turkey (or lean ground beef, if you prefer). Add a large pinch kosher salt and ground black pepper.  Using a wooden spoon, break up the meat. Stir well until meat is no longer raw and it loses its red color.
  3. Add milk and let it come to a gentle simmer. Stir frequently until milk has completely bubbled away. Stir in nutmeg.
  4. Add wine and let it simmer until it has completely evaporated, then stir in the plum tomatoes.
  5. Once tomatoes come to a gentle bubble, turn heat down to a very low simmer. Cook sauce, uncovered, for 3 hours or so.
  6. IMPORTANT: occasionally check if you need to add a little liquid to the sauce. If it looks dry or starts to stick, you can add about 1/2 cup of liquid (water or some of tomato water from your plum tomato can.)  At the end, there should be no water remaining.
  7. Taste the bolognese sauce and correct for salt.
  8. Toss with your favorite cooked and drained pasta with a side of Parmesan.


  • Cook's Tip: Classic Bologense sauce uses ground beef and butter, this turkey bolognese is a lightened up version. If you like, use ground beef. And in place of 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, use 3 tbsp of butter.
  • Cook's Tip: To achieve the best texture, thick and hearty bolognese, do not rush the cooking. Bolognese is meant to cook low and slow.
  • Make Ahead Instructions: You can make this sauce a night or two ahead and refrigerate, or even a couple of weeks ahead, in which case, you need to freeze it.  Cool the sauce completely, then transfer it to a container and refrigerate or freeze for future use. Bring the sauce to a simmer before using.
  • Short Cut: If you are really in a pinch, you can try this shortcut to bologense using store-bought maranira sauce. I adapted this from Giada De Laurentiis. It's tasty and works well, but don't expect the same results as far as authentic flavor and texture, of course. Follow step #1 as written. In step #2, once you add the meat, cook for about 1 minute. Add marinara sauce. Bring heat to medium-low and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring regularly to allow flavors to meld. Toss with your favorite pasta!
  • Browse our Online Store for quality extra virgin olive oils and all-natural spices for Mediterranean cooking and more!
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 3 hours
  • Category: Entree/Meat and Poultry
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian