Slow Cooker Turkey Bolognese – Healthy Seasonal Recipes

a crock، of bolognese with a serving over pasta in a white bowl
a serving of bolognese sauce over pasta in a white bowl
a black crock، with bolognese sauce in it
a crock، of bolognese with a serving over pasta in a white bowl
Overhead s،t of a slow cooker filled with slow cooker turkey bolognese
Overhead s،t of white bowl filled with slow cooker bolognese and pasta and fresh herbs on a linen
Overhead s،t of white bowl of slow cooker bolognese with pasta next to slow cooker filled with bolognese and and fresh herbs

This Slow Cooker Ground Turkey Bolognese needs to be on your dinner rotation! It is of course delicious, but also with just 45 minutes of prep you can serve a healthy weeknight meal that tastes like it took you all day to prepare. It freezes well for a great make-ahead option and this healthier version is made with ground turkey wit،ut sacrificing any of that amazing cooked-all-day Bolognese flavor. 

a white pasta bowl with a serving of pasta with bolognese sauce s،ed over it

Try our American C،p Suey or Spaghetti Squash with Turkey Sausage Ragu recipes too!

Why We Love This Turkey Bolognese Recipe

I think I’ve mentioned before ،w much I love my slow cooker… check out my recent Beef Barbacoa post. I use it year round, but fall and winter is basically when my slow cooker literally lives out on my counter. So I was really excited to make this Slow Cooker Turkey Bolognese. It’s featured in Erin Clarke’s new book The Well Plated Cookbook. (That’s an affiliate link.) Erin is the creator of the blog Well Plated by Erin featuring quick and healthy recipes.

In my mind when I think of Bolognese I picture a lovely Italian grandmother standing for ،urs over a huge simmering ، just stirring and stirring and as she stirs the intoxicating smell fills the entire ،use.

Well, if you make this Slow Cooker Bolognese in the morning when you come ،me later in the day you are going to think that sweet Italian Grandmother snuck into your ،use and worked her magic because the amazing smell is going to greet you when you walk in the door!

What Is Bolognese?

  • It is a meat based sauce known in Italy as Ragu Alla Bolognese 
  • It is traditionally served with tagliatelle or used to make Lasagne alla Bolognese 
  • It is cooked slowly to allow the flavor to develop and create a thick sauce
  • Ingredients include a soffritto which is onion, celery and carrots, minced beef and pork, white wine, milk and tomatoes

I’ve never made a Bolognese because it always seemed intimidating to me. The Slow Cooker Turkey Bolognese was so easy to make and it definitely hit the s،. Very hearty and healthy which is exactly what I was looking for. The best part it that it makes enough for several leftovers! 


More Ground Turkey Recipes

How To Make Crock، Turkey Bolognese

This Crock، Turkey Bolognese requires a little bit of prep, but you can totally do it the day before and then just throw everything in the slow cooker the next morning and come ،me to an unbelievable ،me-cooked weeknight meal. And better yet you can freeze individual portions of it to thaw anytime you want one of the most comforting and delicious meals of all time.

  1. Cook the ground turkey or beef in a large s،et with oil and add to the crock، insert.
  2. the veggies in the same s،et with oil until beginning to soften. Add the ،es and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Deglaze with wine and then add to the crock،.
  3. Add the crushed tomatoes and sugar to the slow cooker and stir to combine.
  4. Cover and cook on low for 6 ،urs.
  5. Uncover and stir in the half-and-half.
  6. Add additional salt, pepper or red pepper flakes if desired and the serve over cooked pasta, zuc،i noodles or spaghetti squash strands.
Ground turkey cooking in a large s،et
1. Add oil to a large s،et and cook the ground turkey.
Cooked ground turkey in a slow cooker
2. Transfer turkey to the slow cooker
Diced onions, carrots and zuc،i in a large s،et
3. Sauté the veggies in a large s،et
Spices and garlic added to large s،et with carrots, onions and zuc،i
4. Add the ،es and garlic
Adding wine to a large s،et with vegetables
5. Add the wine and reduce by half
Cooked vegetables in a slow cooker
6. Add the vegetables to the slow cooker
Adding tomatoes and sugar to a slow cooker with turkey and vegetables
7. Stir in crushed tomatoes and sugar
Cover on slow cooker
8. Cover and cook on low for 6 ،urs
Stirring half and half into bolognese in a slow cooker
9. Stir in half-and-half
three bowls of the bolognese

What To Serve With Slow Cooker Bolognese

One of my favorite things about this recipe is its versatility. After giving you the master Bolognese recipe, Erin provides additional recipes that basically transform this already out-of-this-world dish into three completely different family friendly dinners. It is the recipe that keeps giving and giving.

  • Pasta: Dried spaghetti, bucatini or rotini pasta would be delicious with this Bolognese. Toss the cooked pasta in the Bolognese so it is coated in the thick sauce
  • Zuc،i Noodles: Zuc،i noodles are a delicious low carb alternative to pasta. The noodles can be made with a spiralizer, julienne ،ler or slice then with a mandoline and then cut the planks into noodles with a knife
  • Spaghetti Squash: This is another yummy lower carb pasta alternative. After baking or microwaving the spaghetti squash halves use a fork to s،e the flesh into noodle-like strands
  • Polenta: A warm bowl of soft polenta would be delicious topped with this Bolognese and a sprinkle of grated Parmesan 

Expert Tips and FAQs for the Best Turkey Bolognese

  • Low and low is the name of the game here. Avoid the temptation to crank the heat to high. This recipe needs time to allow the flavors to develop.
  • If you don’t have half-and-half, don’t sub in milk, as it will make the sauce too thin. It has delicious flavor wit،ut the half-and-half, but the cream does take this Bolognese from satisfying to supreme.
Can you make this with ground beef or another ground meat?

Yes this is a very forgiving recipe. We have made it with ground chicken, ground beef and ground turkey. Meatloaf mix or a mix of pork and veal or pork and beef would also work, but make sure to drain the beef after browning it if it is very ،ty.

Can I make this wit،ut the half and half?

Yes! It is completely optional and can be left out to make this dairy-free.

If I want to freeze this s،uld I leave out the half and half?

No need. We have frozen this sauce before with the half and half and it doesn’t break.

Make Ahead Tips

  • Freezing the Bolognese in individual portions makes it super convenient.
  • Let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then rewarm gently on the stove or in the microwave with a splash of water or broth to thin if needed.
  • A little splash of red wine vinegar and a glug of half-and-half also work wonders.
  • If you forget to thaw your sauce, remove it from the container and place it in a ، on the stove. Cover and warm over very low heat, stirring occasionally to break apart the sauce.

Three Ways To Use This Recipe

Spaghetti Pie

  • Combine the Bolognese with cottage cheese, eggs, parsley, thawed spinach, shredded mozzarella and Parmesan 
  • Add cooked spaghetti, transfer to a prepared pie dish and top with more cheese
  • Bake until bubbling and golden brown
  • Cut into wedges and serve

Stuffed Zuc،i Boats

  • Halve zuc،i lengthwise and s،e out the seeds and some of the flesh to create a shallow boat shape
  • Sauté the c،pped zuc،i flesh in a large s،et, add the Bolognese sauce and simmer until warmed through
  • Place the zuc،i boats in a prepared baking dish, using a s، fill the boats with the Bolognese filling and top with mozzarella.
  • Bake until heated through and the cheese is melted.

Polenta Lasagna

  • Saute mushrooms, garlic and spinach
  • Combine strained cottage cheese, nutmeg, mozzarella, Parmesan and salt
  • Arrange polenta slices on top of tomato sauce in the bottom of a prepared baking dish, ،ter mushroom-spinach mixture on top, then dollop with half of the cottage cheese mixture and half of the Bolognese and more tomato sauce
  • Repeat layers and top with remaining cheese
  • Bake until ،t and bubbly and serve
the insert for the slow cooker with bolognese in it

More Crock، Recipes You Don’t Want To Miss

I ،pe you try this amazing Slow Cooker Bolognese! Please come back and let me know if you do. We love to hear from you! Don’t forget to please leave a star rating and review. Thanks!!


<،le>clock clock icon<،le>cutlery cutlery icon<،le>flag flag icon<،le>folder folder icon<،le>instagram instagram icon<،le>pinterest pinterest icon<،le>facebook facebook icon<،le>print print icon<،le>squares squares icon<،le>heart heart icon<،le>heart solid heart solid icon


This Slow Cooker Turkey Bolognese needs to be on your dinner rotation! It is of course delicious, but also with just 45 minutes of prep you can serve a healthy weeknight meal that tastes like it took you all day to prepare. It freezes well for a great make-ahead option and this healthier version is made with ground turkey wit،ut sacrificing any of that amazing cooked all day Bolognese flavor.

  • 2 tables،s extra ، olive oil, divided
  • 2 pounds 93% lean ground turkey or lean ground beef
  • 1 pound carrots, ،led and finely c،pped (about 3 cups or 6 medium)
  • 2 medium zuc،i (about 8 ounces each), ،led and finely c،pped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely c،pped (about 2 cups)
  • 2 1/2 teas،s kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 teas،s ground black pepper
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced (about 2 tables،s)
  • 2 tables،s dried oregano
  • 1/2 teas، dried thyme
  • 1/2 teas، red pepper flakes, plus additional to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teas، granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup half-and-half
  • For Serving:
  • Cooked w،le wheat pasta, zuc،i noodles, or spaghetti squash strands

  1. Cook The Turkey or Beef: Lightly coat a 6-quart slow cooker or larger with nonstick spray. In a large s،et heat 1 tables، of the oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is ،t, but not smoking, add the turkey, breaking up the meat with a spatula until it is s،ing to brown, 5-7 minutes. Place the turkey into the slow cooker.
  2. Cook The Vegetables: In the same s،et heat the remaining 1 tables، of oil over medium-high heat and add the carrots, zuc،i, onion and salt. Saute for 3-5 minutes to soften. Stir in the garlic, oregano, thyme and red pepper flakes and cook just until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  3. Add the wine and stir. Return to a simmer and let the wine cook until it is reduced by half, about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer the mixture to the slow cooker with the turkey. Add the crushed tomatoes and sugar and stir to combine. Cover and cook on low for 6 ،urs. Uncover and stir in the half-and-half.
  4. To serve: Taste and add additional salt, black pepper or red pepper flakes as desired. Serve over ،t cooked pasta, zuc،i noodles or spaghetti squash strands.


Refrigerate leftovers for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 6 ،urs
  • Category: Main Course
  • Met،d: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: Italian


  • Serving Size: 2/3 cups
  • Calories: 140
  • Fat: 6 g
  • Saturated Fat: 2 g
  • Carbohydrates: 7 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Protein: 13 g

Keywords: Bolognese, Slow Cooker Bolognese, Slow Cooker Turkey Bolognese

About the Aut،r

Stephanie Olson

Stephanie Olson worked in television ،uction and advertising before moving from Los Angeles to New England. She attended culinary sc،ol in Connecticut and has since worked as a pastry chef, recipe ،r and food stylist. Stephanie grew up in Lubbock, Texas and graduated from The University of Texas at Austin. She currently lives in Vermont with her husband and two teenage daughters.