Overhead shot of white bowl filled with slow cooker bolognese and pasta and fresh herbs on a linen

Slow Cooker Bolognese

  • Author: Stephanie Olson
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 6 hours
  • Total Time: 6 hours 45 minutes
  • Yield: 11 cups 1x
  • Category: Main Course
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: Italian


This Slow Cooker 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 without sacrificing any of that amazing cooked all day Bolognese flavor.



2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

2 pounds 93% lean ground turkey or lean ground beef

1 pound carrots, peeled and finely chopped (about 3 cups or 6 medium)

2 medium zucchini (about 8 ounces each), peeled and finely chopped (about 2 cups)

1 large yellow onion, finely chopped (about 2 cups)

2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 1/4 teaspoons ground black pepper

6 cloves of garlic, minced (about 2 tablespoons)

2 tablespoons dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon 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 teaspoon granulated sugar

1/3 cup half-and-half

For Serving:

Cooked whole wheat pasta, zucchini 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 skillet heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the turkey, breaking up the meat with a spatula until it is starting to brown, 5-7 minutes. Place the turkey into the slow cooker.
  2. Cook The Vegetables: In the same skillet heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat and add the carrots, zucchini, 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 hours. 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 hot cooked pasta, zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash strands.


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


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

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