This Bolognese Sauce (aka Sunday Sauce) is hearty, robust and full of depth and flavor! Make it in a slow cooker, on the stovetop or in an Instant pot. We lighten it up with ground turkey (optional) and add mushrooms for extra umami. 

This hearty Bolognese Sauce is rich and flavorful with a meat sauce so tender, and flavorful, your whole family will love it. To lighten this up we use ground turkey and mushrooms- both are optional! Make this in a slow cooker, on the stovetop, or even in your Instant Pot, your choice!  

Make a big batch, perhaps even a double batch in your crock pot and freeze in smaller portions for quick and easy dinners. Serve with pasta, zucchini noodles, or my favorite, roasted spaghetti squash, keeping it gluten-free.

Bolognese Sauce Ingredients

  • Ground meat: This recipe uses ground turkey as a lean and healthy substitute for traditional ground beef or pork. Feel free to use ground beef, pork, lamb, veal or a combo.
  • Onion and Garlic: Adds flavor, depth and aroma to the sauce.
  • Olive oil: Used for sautéing the ground turkey and onion.
  • Carrots: Provide natural sweetness and texture to the sauce.
  • Celery: Adds flavor and crunch to the sauce.
  • Mushrooms: Enhances the umami and depth of flavor in the bolognese. We use mushrooms instead of pancetta here!
  • Spices: salt, black pepper, bay and oregano.
  • Tomato paste: Gives the sauce depth and richness.
  • Red wine: Adds complexity and depth to the sauce- feel free to sub chicken broth or beef broth and a tiny splash of balsamic.
  • Canned tomatoes: Whole canned tomatoes (mashed) , crushed tomatoes or diced tomatoes along with their juice form the base of the sauce.
  • Soy sauce: as strange as it seems, it adds depth and enhances the umami flavor in the sauce. Give it a try!
  • Parmesan rind (optional): Adds extra depth and richness to the sauce.
  • Garnishes: parmesan cheese or pecorino cheese, basil or parsley

These ingredients work together to create a hearty, robust, and flavorful bolognese sauce.

ingredients cooking in a dutch oven.

Slow Cooker Bolognese Instructions

  1. In a very large Dutch oven ( over medium-high heat) or using the saute function of a slow cooker, saute the ground meat and onion in the olive oil, for 7-9 minutes until lightly browned.  If there is a lot of liquid, drain. Add the garlic, carrots, celery and mushrooms. Continue sauteing and stirring cooking the veggies until tender, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add all the spices and salt.
  3.  Make a well in the pan and add tomato paste, saute it for 1-2 minutes, which will give the sauce depth. Mix it all together then add the wine, scraping up all the brown bits.
  4. Let simmer on medium heat until wine is reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the can of tomatoes and their juice, breaking them up with the metal spatula. Stir in the soy sauce. Toss in the parmesan rind (optional) to add even more depth and a bay leaf.
  5. Place this in a slow cooker on its lowest setting for 6 hours (or medium heat for 3 hours). Adjust seasonings, add more salt to taste, discard parmesan rind and bay leaf.
  6. *Alternately, you can continue to simmer in the dutch oven on the stovetop, covered, for 1-2 hours, on the lowest heat, adding chicken stock if necessary (if it gets too dry) or uncovering, and cooking off liquid if it seems too liquidy. Taste and adjust salt to your liking. See notes for Instant pot!
This Bolognese Sauce (aka Sunday Sauce) is hearty, robust and full of depth and flavor! Make it in a slow cooker, on the stovetop or in an Instant pot. We lighten it up with ground turkey (optional) and add mushrooms for extra umami. 

Expert Tips

  • Browning the onions, meat and mushrooms gives this bolognese added flavor and depth.
  • Saute the tomato paste until it deepens in color, also giving depth.
  • For extra depth of flavor, add a little soy sauce or, (as weird as it seems) a splash of fish sauce, or a parmesan rind.
This Bolognese Sauce (aka Sunday Sauce) is hearty, robust and full of depth and flavor! Make it in a slow cooker, on the stovetop or in an Instant pot. We lighten it up with ground turkey (optional) and add mushrooms for extra umami. 

Ways to Serve Bolognese Sauce

Serve over pasta with fresh grated pecorino cheese and fresh Italian parsley.

  • Spaghetti Bolognese is traditional! Or serve over any other pasta.
  • Use as the filling for lasagna
  • Over roasted  Spaghetti Squash
  • Over Zucchini Noodles
  • Over a baked potato!
This Bolognese Sauce (aka Sunday Sauce) is hearty, robust and full of depth and flavor! Make it in a slow cooker, on the stovetop or in an Instant pot. We lighten it up with ground turkey (optional) and add mushrooms for extra umami. 

Bolognese Sauce Storage

Store leftover Bolognese Sauce in the fridge for up to 4 days, or freeze leftovers in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

A simple, healthy recipe for Turkey Mushroom Bolognese, that can be made in an Instant Pot, Slow Cooker or stove top. Flavorful and delicious! | www.feastingathome.com

More recipes you may enjoy!

Hope you enjoy this healthier version of Bolognese! Let me know what you think in the comments below.

xoxo

Sylvia

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This Bolognese Sauce (aka Sunday Sauce) is hearty, robust and full of depth and flavor! Make it in a slow cooker, on the stovetop or in an Instant pot. We lighten it up with ground turkey (optional) and add mushrooms for extra umami. 

Bolognese Sauce Recipe

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4.8 from 21 reviews
  • Author: Sylvia Fountaine | Feasting at Home Blog
  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • Cook Time: 3 hours
  • Total Time: 2 hours 20 mins
  • Yield: 8 1x
  • Category: Dinner idea
  • Method: slow cooker, stove top, instant pot
  • Cuisine: Italian

Description

This Bolognese Sauce (aka Sunday Sauce) is hearty, robust and full of depth and flavor! Make it in a slow cooker, on the stovetop or in an Instant pot. We lighten it up with ground turkey (optional) and add mushrooms for extra umami.


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 1/4 pounds ground meat- turkey, beef, lamb, pork or a mix
  • 1 large onion -diced
  • 68 cloves garlic- rough chopped
  • 8 ounces mushrooms- sliced
  • 2 carrots- diced
  • 2 Celery stalks – diced
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt, more to taste!
  • 1 teaspoon cracked pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 3 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 1/4 cup red wine ( or chicken or beef broth)
  • 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, preferably San Marsano (or use crushed or diced)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1Bay leaf
  • Parmesan Rind (optional)

Garnish: Fresh basil ribbons or chopped parsley and grated parmesan or pecorino cheese


Instructions

  1. In a very large dutch oven ( medium-high heat) or saute function of a slow cooker, saute the ground turkey and onion in the olive oil, for 7-9 minutes until lightly browned.  If there is a lot of liquid, drain.
  2. Add the garlic, carrots, celery and mushrooms. Continue sauteing and stirring cooking the veggies until tender, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add all the spices and salt.
  4.  Make a well in the pan and add tomato paste, saute it for 1-2 minutes, which will give the sauce depth. Mix it all together then add the wine, scraping up all the brown bits.
  5. Let simmer on medium heat until wine is reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the can of tomatoes and their juice, breaking them up with the metal spatula. Stir in the soy sauce. Toss in the parmesan rind (optional) to add even more depth and a bay leaf.
  6. Place this in a slow cooker on its lowest setting for 6 hours (or medium heat for 3 hours). Adjust seasonings, add more salt to taste, discard parmesan rind and bay leaf.
  7. Alternately you can continue to simmer in the dutch oven on the stove, covered, for 1-2 hours, on lowest heat, adding chicken stock if necessary (if it gets too dry) or uncovering, and cooking off liquid, if it seems too liquidy. Taste, adjust salt to your liking.
  8. Serve over cooked pasta, quinoa or roasted spaghetti squash with grated parmesan, sprinkled with fresh basil or Italian parsley.

Notes

 

  • TO MAKE IN AN INSTANT POT  Follow steps 1-5 using the saute function. Then use the meat/stew setting for 35 minutes (or manual LOW pressure for 35 minutes) followed by a natural release for 15 minutes. Cook off the extra liquid, uncovered, on the saute function, stirring often.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 cup
  • Calories: 174
  • Sugar: 5.9 g
  • Sodium: 259.6 mg
  • Fat: 7.1 g
  • Saturated Fat: 1.6 g
  • Carbohydrates: 11.9 g
  • Fiber: 4.1 g
  • Protein: 16.7 g
  • Cholesterol: 48.9 mg

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Comments

  1. I’ve really enjoyed all your recipes since I discovered your blog a few weeks ago. Was I supposed to drain the liquid from the ground turkey? By the time I was ready to “fry” the tomato paste, it was really more like poaching them. Thanks!

  2. Epic fail with the instant pot choice. With the small amount of liquid vs other ingredients, you will generate a BURN message on your Instant Pot. You do NOT use the high setting.

    If you want to use your instant pot, you must use the meat/stew setting for 35 minutes or manual LOW pressure for 35 minutes followed by natural release for 5 minutes.






  3. A really gutsy and rich bog sauce.
    I added a few finely chopped chicken livers as well: trying to win over some entrenched red meat eaters.
    I learnt the frying of the tomato paste some years ago. It works well and I suggest that bay leaves are also improved by frying at the beginning of a recipe. I actually pick fresh leaves for this technique. 😎






  4. This was delicious.
    I used fresh tomatoes because I had lots, and I used fresh oregano as it’s going crazy in my garden at the moment.






  5. Your recipe ingredients were long, but you never bothered to indicate when you add the salt , pepper, oregano, chili flakes, nutmeg, and fennel seeds.
    Looks like a step indicating when these seasonings are added — you add the tomatoes or when you add the wine or when? And if using a Dutch Oven you would add maybe at a different time than if you were using a slower cooker or Instant Pot. Please correct!

      1. I originally tried this recipe almost 2 years ago so thought I’d share an update/review. 🙂 I’ve made this with ground beef each time and it turns out great. It’s become a go-to recipe and we like it even better in a “lasagna “…I put it in quotes bc I know it’s not a traditional lasagna recipe but we love it 🙂






  6. Sylvia, I make something from your website about three times a week and am never disappointed. This recipe is another great addition to my Feasting at Home file. I didn’t have any celery, so I subbed a small fennel bulb. Sometimes when I cook with turkey, it’s a little bland…Not this recipe! It has so much flavor!! We ate it with spaghetti squash for a super healthy dinner. Even the broth that separated out from the bulk of the sauce was delicious!






  7. The recipe looks beautiful but I have a problem with yeast so no wine. Is there a way to adapt it?






  8. Wow, this is such a wonderful & yummy recipe! Thank you so much for posting it 🙂
    I used this recipe as a base & used what I had available… which was pretty much everything except a few items.
    I substituted zucchini for celery & also added canned beans and a handful of gluten free quinoa penne so it was all in the same pot & not separate. Sooo good!!






  9. Hello. I have commented before on how priceless this recipe is to me. I have made it MANY times. I am noticing this time that the cream or half and half is no longer on the ingredient list. I know you had it the same time as the soy sauce,..but I can’t remember how much? Thank you!?






    1. Hi Joleen, I ended up taking it out of the recipe. Im so sorry. It seemed unnecessary, but what do you think…is it needed?

      1. Your probably right. If you don’t think its necessary, that’s good enough for me! Thanks for getting back to me?

          1. I doubled it….I had family over. The “omg’s” were Profound! I used the same amount half and half as I did soy sauce (doubled) just because that’s what my gramma did…I couldn’t help myself, but it’s necessity is still not clear! I just know that your recipe was SO on point with my grammas…and I personally kept it the same. ALL the raves I get are All thanks to you! Thank you! ???

  10. Made this for family and received raves! It was fantastic! I know the soy sauce sounds strange but it gave the sauce such a great flavor. Thank you for a great recipe! I will be coming back to your site for more!






  11. I made this today and oh…my…gosh. It’s only been simmering a couple hours and I had to sneak a taste because it smells so good. And it tastes even better!!!

    I omitted the mushrooms and the half and half and it still looks and tastes great. The depth of flavor in this sauce is amazing. I love that it is made with turkey. It tastes like the healthier version of my dad’s homemade bolognese made with sugar and beef and sausage. No guilt, and all the flavor!

    This is a new favorite recipe for sure. Can’t wait to make this again and again for my loved ones. Thank you for sharing!!

  12. You’re a genius, through and through. I just made this dish for my wife and my two sons (ages 5 and 2), and, for the first time ever, there were no complaints at dinner and no distractions.
    It was literally a mad rush to see who could get seconds first. My three buckaroos and I took down all 8 servings in one sitting. And I, having tasted the dish throughout the cooking process, only had a 1/2 serving!
    The only change I made to your recipe was to use a homemade tomato sauce (made from fresh vine ripened tomatoes) instead of the canned tomatoes and tomato paste. I was a little dubious about the fish sauce, but it worked beautifully.
    Cheers.

    1. Yay Vik!! I’m sooooooo glad you and your family liked it!!! Thanks for notes on how you adapted too. AND thanks for trusting. Happy new year! Sylvia

  13. This recipe is a complete winner. I’ve made it several times and it always turns out amazing. It freezes beautifully too and comes out tasting as good as when it went in. It takes some prep on the front end, but all that flavor development pays off when you taste it.






  14. I just stumbled upon this recipe and decided to make it for dinner tonight. It turned out SO GOOD! I have been trying to find healthier alternatives for cooking and this was the perfect recipe. I served this sauce on top of zucchini noodles and it was delicious. I highly recommend this recipe 🙂

  15. Been looking for this for ever!! My grandma made this…only with sausage and hamburger. She had a stroke and cant find it or remember it. For ever I just thought is was Reeeaaally good spaghetti… but it wasnt! It was this! I remember the nutmeg and cream and carrots etc.I’m making it now and it is a constant craving for my family and me! Love your explanations in the directions and how you cook with love!! Thank you soooooh much!!! It is beyond delicious!!






    1. Ahhh.. thanks, glad you enjoyed it Joleen….. and appreciate your comment. I love how food and cooking brings us back to the people we love.

    1. Yay, I love to hear that…makes my day, every single time. Thanks for sharing Laurie! Have a lovely weekend.

          1. It is fantastic Sylvia! Very rich and comforting… It tastes as good as your great images look. Always a bonus! Karenx

  16. OH my. Everything about this sounds wonderful, but your pictures completely seal the deal. Love your tips as well.

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