A lighter version of a classic recipe, Bolognese sauce. This Slow Cooker Bolognese Sauce is made with ground turkey and slowly cooks in the Crock Pot for maximum flavor. The perfect recipe for busy week nights!
This easy to make Turkey Bolognese Sauce recipe could be put together in the morning and it simmers away all day. It is the most delightful thing to come home at the end of the day and smell the comforting sauce waiting for you! If you're looking for the more traditional Bolognese recipe, I made it here with our Potato and Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Bolognese Sauce. This Skillet Lasagna Bolognese is an idea where it's made with the ground meat...one pan and soooo good!
Originally posted on November 2020 and republished November 2021. I thought on a day like today we could all use a little Italian comfort food. This recipe is paleo and Whole30 friendly. Simply omit the wine to make this delicious sauce fit Whole30.
When the temperatures finally drop, we can’t wait to get cooking in our slow cooker. The Crock Pot is always on the counter and something delicious is simmering most week nights and even on the weekend.
Slow Cooker Turkey Bolognese Sauce
This recipe is a lightened up version of a Bolognese sauce and is made with ground turkey instead of ground pork or beef, and no pancetta (which is traditionally used in a Bolognese sauce). This sauce could be made in the slow cooker, Instant Pot or on the stovetop. It’s up to you!
Double the portion and you could freeze the sauce for last minute easy and delicious dinner. Enjoy it with pasta, baked spaghetti squash and even quinoa. My husband and kids all love this sauce!!
TIPS FOR MAKING BOLOGNESE IN THE SLOW COOKER
It is really easy to make this lightened up Bolognese in a sauce pan or Dutch oven, but I usually make this in the slow cooker in the winter time. It’s so easy to prep ahead the veggies and in the morning start in a sauce pan. Add it all to the slow cooker and let it do the work for you all day.
Cook it on a low setting if you’ll be gone all day. If you are home, you could cook it on high and it will be ready much quicker. I always brown the veggies and ground turkey in the skillet and like to add the red wine to all of it. this really enhances the flavor of the sauce.
HOW DO YOU MAKE A HEALTHY TURKEY BOLOGNESE SAUCE - TURKEY MEAT SAUCE?
Did I already mention how easy this sauce is to make? Super easy and super delicious!
- Heat a touch of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Stir in the onion, carrot, and celery.
- Add in the ground turkey. Cook until the meat has brownies a little. Add in the spices, salt and pepper.
- Add in the red wine and San Marzano tomatoes.
- Add every thing to your slow cooker and let it simmer away all day.
Some step-by-step photos to show you how I make the sauce. Gather all your ingredients together. You could use white wine. I happened to have a bottle of Chianti on the counter and used the last glass for this sauce. I also used a shallot (because I happened to have one on hand)but a regular onion will do just fine!
It all starts in a large skillet. Heat the oil and saute' the onion and veggies.
After cooking the veggies a few minutes, add the ground turkey. Break it up as you're browning it with your wooden spoon.
Next, add in your dried spices (I had a combo of dried sage and rosemary from my mother-in-law in Italy. You could add dried sage, rosemary or even thyme. I don't like oregano in my Bolognese sauce). Then add in your wine.
Is red wine in a meat sauce Paleo?
That's a good question and the answer is (from what I have researched and read), that a little bit of red wine on Paleo is ok to do. And most importantly, keep in mind, that the wine is reduced from slow cooking and most of the alcohol does evaporate. If you want to keep this sauce Whole30 friendly, do not add in the red wine.
Cook it down for a couple minutes, then add in your San Marzano plum tomatoes. I just break up the tomatoes with my wooden spoon. I like it a little more chunky and it does break apart when it's slow cooking. Season with salt and pepper.
Carefully spoon it all into your slow cooker and set it on low if you're leaving it for the day. If you'll be around the slow cooker, you could put it on high and it will be ready in a few hours (I don't like to leave my slow cooker on high if I'm not at home to check on what's cooking).
Healthy and delicious! If you have super finicky kids you could finely pulse the carrots, celery and onion in a food processor so they won’t notice them in the sauce.
WHAT DO I SERVE THIS TURKEY MEAT SAUCE WITH?
There are so many different serving options for this healthy turkey. Why don’t you serve them with:
- Traditional pasta – we like it with penne, pappardelle and even spaghetti! Gnocchi are a favorite with the kids!
- Low carb ideas: veggie noodles – zoodles (zucchini noodles), swoodles (sweet potato noodles), spaghetti squash, etc.
- Mashed cauliflower or even quinoa.
- Polenta is fantastic with this sauce!
What would YOU serve this healthy turkey bolognese with?
Freezer Friendly Bolognese
I mentioned earlier that you can freeze this sauce…it’s so easy to do! Simply spoon any extra sauce into a freezer bag. Get out any extra air, seal and then place in the freezer (mark the date on the bag). When ready to reheat, let the bag defrost a little on the counter and then add the sauce to a pan and heat up on the stove in a sauce pan. If time is of the essence, you could also place the bag in a bowl of warm water to help it defrost quicker and then heat up in the sauce pan.
PIN for later!
More slow cooker recipes:
- Slow Cooker Whole Chicken Soup
- Slow Cooker Italian Beef Stew
- Slow Cooker Beef Broth
- Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili
Slow Cooker Turkey Bolognese Sauce
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 carrots peeled finely chopped (~ 1 cup)
- 2 celery stalks finely chopped (~ 1 cup)
- 1 medium onion finely chopped
- 1 pound ground turkey
- ½ cup red wine leave out for Whole30
- 1 teaspoon dried sage
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 28- ounce can San Marzano plum tomatoes
- salt and pepper to taste
- a few sprigs fresh basil-for garnish
- Heat oil in a large saute pan on medium. Add carrots, celery, onion. Saute until onions are translucent, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add ground turkey to pan and cook until no longer pink, breaking up pieces. Add the spices.
- Add red wine and continue cooking until there is no more liquid in the pan. Add the tomatoes breaking them up a little with your wooden spoon. Add salt and pepper. Cook for about 2 minutes.
- Spoon the sauce into the crockpot. Add a bay leaf.
- Cook for 6-7 hours on low. I always check my sauce and stir it a little. If after a couple hours it seems too thick, you could thin it out a little with a bit of water.
- Serve with your favorite cooked pasta or veggie noodle (we love it with baked spaghetti squash and also gnocchi!).
Please keep in mind that the nutritional information presented below is an approximation and may vary depending on the exact ingredients used.