Emily Blunt's Turkey Bolognese Recipe

Emily Blunt's turkey bolognese: A delectable twist on a classic recipe. Learn how to make this savory, family-friendly dish in minutes

Emily Blunt's Turkey Bolognese

    Emily Blunt's Turkey Bolognese

  • Cuisine: Italian-inspired
  • Category: Main Course
  • Prep Time:
  • Cook Time:
  • Servings: 6
  • Calories: 350 calories

About this recipe

Emily Blunt's turkey bolognese is a delightful twist on the classic Italian dish. This savory and hearty recipe is designed to be a family-friendly solution to the age-old challenge of getting kids to eat their vegetables. It features finely chopped carrots, celery, and onions, which are cleverly hidden in the rich and flavorful sauce.

What sets this bolognese apart is the use of ground turkey, a lighter alternative to the traditional ground beef, making it a healthier option.

The preparation involves sautéing the finely chopped veggies, browning the ground turkey, and then simmering in a delicious sauce that includes white wine, tomato paste, milk, and a Parmesan rind.

This mixture is cooked in the oven, which not only adds a caramelized depth of flavor but also makes it a hands-off, convenient choice for busy nights.

The final step involves tossing the cooked twisty pasta (like fusilli or penne) with the bolognese sauce, ensuring that each bite is a perfect combination of flavors.

This dish, as experienced by those who've tried it, is rich, flavorful, and irresistibly delicious, with the caramelizing effect of the oven adding an extra layer of depth to the sauce.

It's an excellent recipe for both adults and kids alike and offers a delightful taste of Italian-inspired comfort food with a twist, as endorsed by Emily Blunt herself.

Origin of Emily Blunt's Turkey Bolognese recipe

Emily Blunt's Turkey Bolognese recipe is not a traditional Italian recipe but rather a modern twist on the classic Italian Bolognese sauce.

The background of this specific recipe is closely associated with Emily Blunt, the British actress known for her roles in movies such as "The Devil Wears Prada" and "A Quiet Place." She shared her variation of the Bolognese sauce during a cooking session with Ina Garten, the renowned American chef and cookbook author.

Emily's recipe focuses on creating a family-friendly version of Bolognese, which cleverly incorporates ground turkey as a lighter and healthier alternative to the traditional ground beef. Her approach to finely chopping vegetables like carrots, celery, and onion to hide them in the sauce is a tactic she uses to make her kids eat more vegetables.

The twist in this recipe is the use of a Parmesan rind, white wine, and oven cooking for added depth of flavor. While not rooted in Italian tradition, it reflects modern tastes and preferences for a lighter and family-friendly version of a beloved Italian classic.

Why make this recipe?

There are several compelling reasons to try Emily Blunt's Turkey Bolognese Recipe:

  • Delicious Twist: This recipe offers a delightful twist on the classic Bolognese, making it unique and exciting for your taste buds.
  • Healthier Option: By using ground turkey instead of beef, it's a lighter and healthier alternative without sacrificing flavor.
  • Hidden Veggies: The finely chopped carrots, celery, and onions "hidden" in the sauce are a clever way to sneak more vegetables into your family's diet.
  • Spicy Kick: The addition of spicy tomato sauce and red pepper flakes (optional) adds a spicy kick, making it perfect for those who enjoy a bit of heat.
  • Rich and Creamy: With ingredients like milk and Parmesan, the sauce is rich and creamy, offering a comforting and satisfying meal.
  • Oven Cooking: Baking the sauce in the oven adds a caramelized depth of flavor and makes it more hands-off and convenient for busy evenings.
  • Versatile Pasta: While the recipe suggests penne, you can use your favorite pasta shape for variety.
  • Family-Friendly: It's a recipe that appeals to both adults and kids, making it an ideal family dinner option.
  • Customizable: You can adjust the spice level, choose your pasta, and make it your own with your preferred ingredients.
  • A Taste of Hollywood: Try a recipe associated with the Hollywood actress Emily Blunt, known for her love of cooking and great taste in food.
Emily Blunt's Turkey Bolognese is a flavorful, versatile, and family-friendly dish with a twist that makes it a delightful choice for your next home-cooked Italian-inspired meal.

What does Emily Blunt's Turkey Bolognese taste like?

Emily Blunt's Turkey Bolognese offers a delicious and well-balanced flavor profile. The taste can be described as:

  • Savory: The sautéed onions, carrots, and celery create a savory base for the sauce, while the garlic adds a pleasant aromatic note.
  • Rich: The combination of ground turkey and dairy components, like milk and Parmesan rind, contributes to a rich and creamy texture.
  • Tomato-Forward: The tomato paste and spicy tomato sauce provide a robust tomato flavor that is characteristic of a classic Bolognese sauce.
  • Cheesy: The Parmesan rind and grated Parmesan cheese add a delightful cheesy undertone, providing depth and umami.
  • Slight Sweetness: Carrots, in particular, bring a hint of natural sweetness to the sauce.
  • Spicy (optional): The use of red pepper flakes, if added, contributes a spicy kick that can range from mild to moderately hot, depending on personal preference.
  • Balanced: The combination of these elements results in a well-balanced and comforting taste that is sure to be a hit at the dinner table.
The taste can be adjusted to suit your preferences, making it milder or spicier, depending on your choice of ingredients and seasonings. It's a flavorful and hearty dish that's perfect for satisfying your Italian food cravings with a twist.

What would you need for this recipe?

These are the ingredients needed to make Emily Blunt's Turkey Bolognese:

  • Unsalted Butter: Used for sautéing the vegetables and adding richness to the sauce.
  • Olive Oil: Combined with butter for sautéing, it also imparts a delightful flavor to the dish.
  • Onion: Provides a savory base and flavor to the sauce.
  • Carrots: These add natural sweetness and nutrition to the sauce.
  • Celery: Along with carrots and onions, celery contributes to the aromatic base of the sauce.
  • Garlic: Enhances the overall flavor with its aromatic qualities.
  • Ground Turkey: The main protein in the dish, lighter and healthier than traditional ground beef.
  • Italian Red Wine: For deglazing the pan and infusing rich flavors into the sauce.
  • Tomato Paste: Adds depth of tomato flavor and thickens the sauce.
  • Spicy Tomato Sauce: For a spicy twist, it brings heat and an extra layer of flavor.
  • Bay Leaves: Infuse the sauce with herbal notes.
  • Red Pepper Flakes: Optional for those who enjoy a spicy kick.
  • Kosher Salt and Ground Black Pepper: Season to achieve the right balance of flavors.
  • Parmesan Rind: Adds a subtle cheesy richness to the sauce.
  • Penne Pasta: A fun twist on the pasta choice, but you can use your preferred variety.
  • Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese: Adds creaminess and flavor to the dish.


  • Large, Oven-Proof Skillet: You'll need a skillet for sautéing and oven cooking. Substitutes could be a Dutch oven or a regular stovetop skillet along with an oven-safe casserole dish.
  • Food Processor: This is used to finely chop the carrots and celery. You can substitute it with a sharp knife and some extra chopping time.
  • Lid for Skillet: You'll need a lid to cover the skillet when it's in the oven. If your skillet doesn't have a lid, use aluminum foil as a makeshift lid.
  • Ladle: To spoon the bolognese sauce onto plates, but a large spoon can also serve the purpose.
  • Pasta Pot: For boiling the pasta. You can use any large pot with a lid to cook pasta.
  • Colander: Used to drain the cooked pasta. A fine-mesh strainer can also work.
  • Grater: For grating Parmesan cheese. A box grater or microplane can be used.
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons: For accurate measurement of ingredients.
  • Stirring Utensils: Wooden or silicone spatulas or spoons for stirring and sautéing.
  • Oven Mitts: To handle the hot skillet when it comes out of the oven.
  • Cutting Board and Knife: For chopping the onion and garlic.
  • Wine Opener: If using wine, you'll need a wine opener to access the Italian red wine.

How to make Emily Blunt's Turkey Bolognese

Discover Emily Blunt's mouthwatering twist on bolognese – a savory, family-friendly recipe that will tantalize your taste buds!


  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 small or 2 large carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-1/2 pounds ground turkey
  • 1 cup Italian red wine for a spicy twist
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 1 cup spicy tomato sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Red pepper flakes to taste (for that extra kick)
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 Parmesan rind
  • 16 ounces penne pasta (for a fun twist)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving

Method Instructions

  1. Start by finely chopping carrots and celery in a food processor. Heat butter and olive oil in an oven-proof skillet, then sauté onions, carrots, celery, and garlic until they soften.
  2. Add the ground turkey and cook until browned. Instead of white wine, pour in the Italian red wine for a spicy twist. Remember to adjust the spice level with red pepper flakes to your preference.
  3. Continue with the tomato paste, milk, bay leaves, and Parmesan rind as in the original recipe.
  4. Place a lid on the skillet and transfer it to the oven. Let it simmer for 45 minutes, stirring once in between.
  5. While the sauce is simmering, cook penne pasta in salted water. Penne adds a fun twist to the dish.
  6. Once the sauce is ready, remove it from the oven, discard bay leaves and the Parmesan rind. Mix the pasta with the spicy Bolognese sauce. If it's too thin, heat it a bit more. Serve with extra grated Parmesan on top.

Recipe Video

Emily Blunt's Turkey Bolognese

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Recipe Tags: Emily Blunt's Turkey Bolognese, Emily Blunt's Turkey Bolognese Recipe, Recipe


You can serve Emily Blunt's turkey bolognese in a classic and inviting Italian style. Here's how to do it:

  • Portion it into bowls: Using a ladle, spoon generous portions of the turkey bolognese onto individual serving plates or bowls.
  • Pasta on the plate: Ideally, you'd want to serve the bolognese on top of the cooked pasta. You can either toss the cooked pasta with the bolognese sauce in the skillet before serving or serve it alongside the sauce.
  • Grated Parmesan: Sprinkle freshly grated Parmesan cheese generously over the top of each serving. This adds a creamy and savory touch to the dish.
  • Extra Parmesan: Place a small bowl of extra grated Parmesan on the table for those who want to add more cheese to their liking.
  • Fresh herbs: For a final touch, you can garnish with some fresh chopped basil or parsley to add a burst of color and freshness to the dish.
  • Serve with bread: A slice of crusty Italian bread or garlic bread on the side is a great way to mop up any remaining sauce on the plate.
  • Enjoy: Place the plates on the table, and invite your guests to dig in. It's a comforting, family-friendly meal that's best enjoyed with good company.


  1. Use dark ground turkey: While Emily's recipe calls for dark ground turkey, you can use 80% lean ground turkey as a suitable alternative, as mentioned in the provided recipe. Dark turkey meat can add more flavor and moisture to the dish.
  2. Adjust the spice: If you want a bit of heat, consider adding red pepper flakes to taste when simmering the sauce. This will give your bolognese a spicy kick.
  3. Cooking method: While the oven cooking method is recommended by Emily Blunt for a "caramelly and yummy" result, you can still prepare the dish on the stovetop if you prefer a quicker option. Just remember to stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
  4. Parmesan rind: Don't skip adding the Parmesan rind. It infuses the sauce with a wonderful, cheesy flavor. You can often find Parmesan rinds at your local cheese shop.
  5. Taste and adjust: Taste the sauce as you go along and adjust the salt and pepper to your liking. The key to a great bolognese is finding the right balance of flavors.
  6. Pasta choice: While the recipe suggests fusilli, you can use other twisted short pasta like rotini or rotelle for variety. Choose a pasta shape you love.
  7. Freshly grated Parmesan: Always use freshly grated Parmesan cheese. It has a much richer flavor compared to pre-grated cheese.
  8. Cook pasta al dente: Follow the package instructions for cooking the pasta and aim for al dente, which means it should still have a slight firmness when bitten.
  9. Garnish: Don't forget to garnish with fresh herbs like basil or parsley for a burst of freshness and color.
  10. Serve with crusty bread: A side of crusty Italian bread or garlic bread is a great accompaniment to mop up the delicious sauce.
  11. Make it your own: Feel free to personalize the recipe by adding extra ingredients you enjoy, such as olives, mushrooms, or a pinch of Italian herb blend for more flavor.
  12. Plan ahead: If you're cooking for a family, consider making a larger batch and freezing leftovers for a convenient future meal.

Ingredient Substitutes

Substituting ingredients in recipes can be a great way to adapt dishes to your preferences or dietary restrictions. Here are some ingredient substitutions you can consider for Emily Blunt's turkey bolognese:

  1. Ground Meat: If you prefer or need an alternative to turkey, you can use ground chicken, lean ground beef, ground pork, or even a plant-based ground meat substitute like Beyond Meat or lentils for a vegetarian version.
  2. Wine: If you don't want to use wine or prefer a non-alcoholic option, you can substitute chicken or vegetable broth. It won't provide the same depth of flavor, but it works well.
  3. Dairy: If you're lactose intolerant or prefer a dairy-free option, you can use a dairy-free butter substitute and almond, soy, or oat milk instead of whole milk. For the Parmesan cheese, look for dairy-free or vegan alternatives.
  4. Pasta: The type of pasta is flexible. You can use any pasta shape you like, whether it's spaghetti, penne, or your favorite variety. If you want a gluten-free option, use gluten-free pasta.
  5. Spice: If you want to increase the spiciness, use chili flakes or hot sauce. Conversely, if you prefer a milder dish, omit the red pepper flakes and adjust the black pepper to taste.
  6. Fresh Herbs: While basil or parsley is recommended for garnish, you can use other herbs like oregano, thyme, or chives based on your taste preferences.
  7. Vegetable Variations: If you'd like to include more vegetables, consider adding diced bell peppers, zucchini, or mushrooms to the recipe.
  8. Tomato Paste: You can substitute tomato paste with tomato sauce, but be aware that it will result in a slightly different texture and flavor.
  9. Onion Substitute: If you're not a fan of onions, you can use shallots or leeks for a milder flavor.
  10. Carrot and Celery: If you have other vegetables on hand, like bell peppers, spinach, or kale, you can experiment with those as well.


Emily Blunt's turkey bolognese offers a taste of comfort and innovation. Create unforgettable family dinners with this delightful twist on tradition.

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