Slow Cooker Turkey Bolognese

I’m all about shortcuts in the kitchen and lightened up versions of my favorite dishes. Slow Cooker Turkey Bolognese checks both boxes and tastes delicious to boot! I hope you’ll love this recipe as much as my family and I do!

My favorite slow cooker recipe using lean ground turkey and makes a wonderful bolognese sauce.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, why is it sooooooooo daunting to get dinner on the table every single night? I’m no June Cleaver- let’s just put that out there- but sitting down for dinner as a family is pretty important to me so I do my best to get something on the table most nights. This recipe is for made especially for those weeks when life is crazy and you need an easy recipe and one that is healthy and everyone is going to eat!

All the ingredients to make slow cooker bolognese sauce. Ground turkey, celery, carrot, onion, marinara and spices.


Bolognese is traditionally made with butter, veal, carrots, onion, pancetta and often finished with cream. It’s delicious. And heavy. But mostly delicious. It’s not something I eat often nor make at home. But I looooooooove it. I wanted to recreate it but make it a little lighter. In this case, it’s a lot lighter. I used bacon grease instead of actual bacon- the only real indulgence here- but you could totally use olive oil if you don’t have bacon grease on hand. I added celery in addition to the onion and carrot for extra crunch and veg. I used ground turkey breast, my favorite jarred marinara and finish the sauce with just a splash of cream- it’s totally worth it!

All of the ingredients for a lighter bolognese in a pan- ground turkey, carrots, celery, and onion.


You could easily make this lightened up bolognese on the stove top but I like the slow cooker for its ease. The sauce can be prepped ahead and then thrown into the slow cooker where you forget about it until dinner time. I’m never really a fan of using the slow cooker on the high setting. I prefer to cook this low and slow. Browning the veggies and the turkey beforehand is key to developing the flavor of sauce. While the cream isn’t necessary, it’s takes this sauce from ordinary to extraordinary!

Slow cooker turkey bolognese sauce


Classically, Bolognese is served over spaghetti or fettuccini. I like to do a mix of zucchini noodles and angel hair pasta. I’m lucky because both of my boys love zucchini noodles so it’s a great and easy way to get some veggies in their diet! I almost always serve this with garlic bread and a glass of wine. Milk or water for the kiddos. I love sopping up the sauce with a piece of buttery, salty garlic bread. This is truly the perfect midweek dinner!

A plate of pasta and zucchini noodles with slow cooked turkey bolognese sauce and a glass of red wine.

Enjoy and thanks for reading! xo, Kelley

photos by Deborah DeKoff/ recipe by Mountain Mama Cooks


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Slow Cooker Sloppy Joes
Slow Cooker Tomato Soup with Tortellini
Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Quinoa Bowls


Slow Cooker Turkey Bolognese

  • Author: Kelley


A lighter version of a classic. This slow cooker bolognese is made with ground turkey and slowly cooks in the crockpot for maximum flavor!


  • 1/4 cup bacon grease, or olive oil
  • 1 sweet yellow onion, chopped (3/4 cup)
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped (3/4 cup)
  • 1 large carrot, chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 1 lb ground turkey breast
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 32 oz your favorite jarred marinara
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream


  1. Heat olive oil in a large pan. Add onion, celery, and carrot. Sauté just until soft. Add the minced garlic and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook 1-2 minutes more. Add the ground turkey and cook just until cooked through.
  2. Transfer the turkey mixture to the base of a slow cooker. Add the marinara, and bay leaf. Cook on low for 3-4 hours. Season with salt and pepper. Serve over your favorite pasta or zucchini noodles.