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a bowl of turkey ragu with spaghetti

Quick Turkey Ragu

  • Author: Lisa
  • Total Time: 40 mins
  • Yield: 5 1x


A quick, healthy, delicious turkey meat sauce to serve over pasta, spaghetti squash or zoodles.


  • For the Ragu:
  • 2 tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 shallots, peeled and finely chopped (1/4 cup)
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped (1 tablespoon)
  • pounds ground turkey. I have a slight preference for dark meat. (ground beef or lamb are great too!)
  • 1 cup of good dry red wine. Good choices are: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Shiraz, or Zinfandel.
  • 4 cups of your favorite marinara sauce such as Rao's, or easy homemade tomato sauce (see recipe below)
  • For The Homemade Tomato Sauce (if using)
  • 1/4 cup of good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely minced (1 tablespoon)
  • 1 28-ounce can of good quality tomato puree (I use Muir Glen Organic or San Marzano)
  • 4 tablespoons good quality tomato paste (half of a 6-ounce can)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • Optional Garnishes:
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese (I recommend Parmigiana Reggiano)
  • Fresh basil leaves, slivered or chopped


  1. Make The Tomato Sauce (or skip this step if using store-bought marinara sauce): Heat 1/4 cup oil over medium heat, in a heavy pot or Dutch oven, with a lid. Add onions and red pepper. Cook for 2 minutes, to soften the onions. Add 1 tablespoon garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute, until fragrant (don't let it brown). Add tomato puree, tomato paste, water and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and immediately lower to a gentle simmer. Partially cover the pot to prevent sputtering. Simmer sauce for 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
  2. Make The Turkey Ragu: Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large cast iron or non-stick skillet or heavy sauce pan, over medium heat. Add chopped shallots. Sauté, stirring often, for 3 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of chopped garlic and sauté, stirring, for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the turkey and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring and breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until the turkey has lost all of it's pink color. If there's lots of liquid in the pot, cook for an additional minute to evaporate some of the liquid. Pour in the wine and simmer on medium-low for 5 minutes, until the wine is reduced by about half. Pour in 4 cups of marinara sauce or homemade tomato sauce. Bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer. Cook the meat sauce, partially covered, for 10 minutes to combine flavors.
  3. To Serve: Serve sauce over pasta, spaghetti squash, or zoodles. For a richer, creamier consistency, stir 1/2 cup of ricotta cheese into the sauce before serving. Garnish with freshly grated parmesan cheese and slivered basil.


This recipe was first published on July 27, 2016. Updated on August 6th, 2018. It's the same delicious recipe with added nutritional information and a few tweaks to make the recipe easier to follow.

  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Category: Pasta Sauce
  • Method: stove top
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: turkey bolognese, ground turkey pasta sauce, Italian spaghetti sauce with ground turkey