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This leftover turkey bolognese is everything a good bolognese should be: hearty, rich, and full of flavor. The only difference is that it's made with leftover turkey from your holiday meal. This is an excellent way to give those turkey sandwiches a break!
Unless every one of your guests takes some turkey home with them, the host usually ends up with leftover meat. This is such a simple, delicious, and economical way to use your leftover turkey. After all, you went to the trouble to cook the turkey in the first place, you may as well use every bit of it!
This leftover turkey bolognese recipe includes both the stovetop and the crockpot cooking methods. Use the stovetop version if you want a one-pot meal ready in half an hour, or use the slow cooker method if you want to pop the ingredients in and let the sauce do its thing while you enjoy the afternoon.
One of the best things about this recipe is that the labor-intensive part is already done – your turkey's already made! Now all you have to do is combine it with some other household staples and you've got yourself a meal. Here's what you'll need:
- Olive oil, onion, and garlic: One of the most iconic trios out there! Start your sauce with these 3 ingredients and the aroma will already have you in its grip!.
- Veggies: You'll need one carrot and one red bell pepper for this recipe. Chopped veggies give a chunky, heartiness to the sauce, not to mention provide some sweetness for the overall taste.
- Tomatoes: The base of this sauce is tomato, so you'll need crushed tomatoes as well as tomato paste.
- Red wine: This adds a rich, depth of flavor to your bolognese. All of the alcohol content will be cooked off, so you don't need to worry about it having any alcohol content. You can, if preferred, use water instead.
- Shredded turkey: Haul out those leftovers and shred the turkey into small strips.
- Honey: The sweetness from the honey will help cut through and balance some of the acid from the tomato-base.
- Spices: You'll need dried oregano, salt, and pepper for this sauce.
- Cooked pasta: Use the pasta of your liking, it can be store-bought to save time or you can make it yourself if you really want to go all out!
- Garnishes: These ingredients are optional, however, some fresh basil and parmesan cheese are gorgeous finishing touches for this sauce.
How to make turkey bolognese
You can make this leftover turkey bolognese on the stovetop or in the slow cooker (if you want to be able to prep in the afternoon and walk away). Here's the gist of what you'll do for each cooking method:
Stovetop turkey bolognese:
- Saute the veg: Heat some oil in the pot and add the onion. Then mix in the chopped carrot, bell pepper, and garlic until soft and fragrant.
- Start to add liquids: Pour in your tomato paste and wine (or water).
- Add remaining ingredients and simmer: In go the crushed tomatoes, shredded turkey, honey, and other spices to simmer for 15 minutes.
- Serve it up: Serve your sauce over the spaghetti (or whichever pasta you choose) and garnish with fresh basil and parmesan cheese.
Slow cooker turkey bolognese:
- Add your ingredients to the slow cooker: Follow steps 1 & 2 above and then add all other ingredients to your crockpot. This can be ready in 4 hours if set to high or 8 hours if set to low.
What to serve with turkey bolognese
You can absolutely have leftover turkey bolognese as a full meal, however, if you're looking to pair it with some other sides, here are some ideas:
- Salad: No one would be mad if half the plate was turkey bolognese and the other half was this loaded kale salad or this roasted winter green salad.
- Veggies: Add some sautéed green beans, roasted broccoli, or sautéed asparagus with garlic.
- Bread: Sop up the sauce with some no yeast bread made with herbs and cheese or these sharp cheese bread bites.
Can I use other leftover meat to make this bolognese?
Absolutely! You can adapt this recipe for many kinds of leftover meat you may have in your fridge. Beef, chicken, or pork are great options.
What red wine should I use for a bolognese?
You can use whichever red wine you prefer. Since you'll only need ½ cup for this recipe, you may want to select a bottle that you want to continue sipping on with dinner.
How long does turkey bolognese last?
This depends on how long ago you cooked the turkey. If it's freshly cooked turkey, the bolognese will last up to 4 days in a container in the fridge. You can also freeze leftover turkey bolognese in an airtight container for 2-3 months.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion (finely minced)
- 1 medium red bell pepper (minced)
- 1 medium carrot (minced)
- 3 cloves garlic
- 5.5 ounce can tomato paste
- ½ cup red wine (or water)
- 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 2 cups shredded turkey
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 teaspoon EACH: sea salt and pepper
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- Cooked pasta, chopped basil, and parmesan cheese (to serve)
- Heat the oil in a medium-sized pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and brown, about 8 minutes. Add the bell pepper and carrot and continue to cook until both are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 medium onion, 1 medium red bell pepper, 1 medium carrot, 3 cloves garlic
- Add the tomato paste to the pot and let it cook until it starts to caramelize, about 3 minutes. Pour the red wine or water into the pan and scrape to remove any bits that are stuck on the bottom.5.5 ounce can tomato paste, ½ cup red wine
- Add the crushed tomatoes, shredded turkey, honey, salt, pepper, and oregano and bring the pot to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently, partly covered to reduce splatters, for 15 minutes.28 ounce can crushed tomatoes, 2 cups shredded turkey, 1 teaspoon honey, ½ teaspoon dried oregano, 1 teaspoon EACH: sea salt and pepper
- Serve on a bed of pasta with basil and a little parmesan.Cooked pasta, chopped basil, and parmesan cheese
Slow Cooker Method
- Follow steps 1 and 2. Then, pour everything from the pan into your crockpot, add the crushed tomatoes, shredded turkey, honey, and oregano and stir everything together. Set your crockpot to cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours. When the turkey Bolognese is ready, season it to taste with sea salt and pepper.
We have thoroughly tested this recipe for accuracy. However, individual results may vary. See our full recipe disclosure here.