Zucchini Noodle Bolognese

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Zucchini Noodle Bolognese is a modern, low carb twist on spaghetti Bolognese that the whole family will love! Easy to make, packed with flavor, and Paleo and Whole30 friendly.

417 CAL 27g CARBS 21g FAT 36g PROTEIN
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With this simple and easy Zucchini Noodle Bolognese, you won't even miss the pasta. Works great for a gluten-free, Paleo, low carb, or Whole30 diet or anyone looking for a lower calorie option for pasta.

My husband would eat bolognese every night if I would get on board, complete with a huge pile of pasta and a loaf of garlic bread. He was blessed with an amazingly fast metabolism. Unfortunately for me, that just isn't the case, and pasta will never be something I can eat all the time. So when he is craving bolognese, I almost always reach for zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash for me. I think I am starting to prefer them to traditional pasta. True story.

Now let's talk about the real star of the show, the bolognese. This simple bolognese is made with crushed tomatoes (I prefer San Marzano), ground turkey, carrots, celery, onions, and plenty of garlic. It simmers gently on the stove and then the zucchini noodles are cooked right in the sauce. This ensures they take on lots of flavor.

Depending on your dietary needs, you may want to top everything with some Parmesan cheese, a dollop of fresh ricotta, or as my old roommate used to do, a big heaping spoonful of cottage cheese. It's way better than it sounds.

We also love turning these same flavor into a delicious Low Carb Zucchini Lasagna or this Sausage Zucchini Noodle recipe.

Zucchini noodle bolognese on a white plate with zucchini noodles, tomato and turkey bolognese sauce, and fresh basil.

What goes in Zucchini Noodle Bolognese?

You might be asking yourself what goes in Zucchini Noodle Bolognese; if you are, then you’re in the right place.

The most obvious ingredient is the zucchini noodle, aka zoodles – and includes the holy trinity of Italian cooking; onion, celery, and carrot. To that base you’ll add ground beef or turkey; which one you pick is your choice. After browning, add canned crushed tomatoes and tomato paste to form the sauce. It’s all seasoned with red pepper flakes, garlic, oregano, basil, and salt and pepper to taste.

What is Bolognese?

Having it's birthplace in Bologna, Bolognese (also known as ragù) is a sauce now used in all sorts of dishes around the world. It is customarily used in Italy to make tagliatelle al ragù or lasagne alla Bolognese. However, in much of the rest of the world it is used in Spaghetti Bolognese, or Spag Bol as some call it. It is similar to what Americans call “spaghetti,” though spaghetti refers to the type of noodle being used, not the sauce that tops it.

Is This Paleo? Whole 30 Compliant? Gluten Free?

Not only is this Zucchini Noodle Bolognese Paleo, Whole 30 compliant, and gluten free; it's also low carb! This dish fits well with just about any diet that you might be on.

Even if you aren’t following a strict diet of any kind this dish is a fantastic way to enjoy Italian food without any of the guilt or the discomfort from eating too much that you would normally have. So don’t be afraid to go back for a second bowl!

Can I use Other Veggies Instead of Zucchini?

Absolutely! If you aren’t a fan of zucchini, which I will admit is a bit of an acquired taste, then don’t worry! You can make noodles out of other vegetables too.

Which ones? Well, I’m glad you asked:

  • Broccoli stems
  • Butternut squash
  • Carrots
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Summer squash
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Another low carb pasta option like heart of palm, edamame, or miracle noodles

Meal Prep

If meal prep is something you enjoy, or it is something you have been wanting to try out, then this is a fantastic recipe to try it out with. However, I recommend storing the two components separately.

Store your zucchini noodles in an airtight container with a paper towel. The paper towel will soak up the moisture and keep the noodles from going soft. They’ll be good for 5 days this way.

Store the Bolognese in a jar or other airtight container in the fridge. It will be good for about 3 to 4 days.

How to Use Extra Bolognese

If you find yourself with some extra Bolognese, and don’t feel like having the same thing again, then there are a few different things you can do with the leftovers. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Chili: Depending on how much you have leftover you could chop up some red bell peppers and some heat to turn your Bolognese into a chili.
  • Minestrone Soup: Add some pasta and a bit of water to turn your Bolognese into an informal minestrone soup.
  • Italian Shepard’s Pie: Top your leftover Bolognese with gnocchi and melted cheese for an Italian twist on Shepard’s pie.
  • Stuffed Shells: Use your leftover Bolognese to stuff some large pasta shells. Cover it with your favorite cheese, and enjoy! For a low carb option, use it to stuff eggplant.

Other Easy Substitutions:

  • Ground Turkey: Ground beef, ground pork, ground chicken, or any ground beef vegan alternative.
  • Crushed Tomatoes: Whole Tomatoes that have been peeled, fresh tomatoes (Roma or San Marzano), Tomato Puree.
  • Red Pepper Flakes: Hot Sauce, Ground Cayenne Pepper, Dried Peppers, Chili Powder, Fresh Hot Peppers.
  • Zucchini noodles: Spaghetti squash, yellow squash, sweet potato noodles, low carb noodles, whole grain pasta, or gluten free pasta

Bolognese with zucchini noodles and ground turkey on a plate with basil.

Other Veggie Noodle Recipes

The Recipe
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Zucchini Noodle Bolognese

417 CAL 27g CARBS 21g FAT 36g PROTEIN
1 Comment
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  • 4 zucchini
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 sweet onion, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1.33 lbs. 93% lean ground turkey (or beef)
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 20 oz canned crushed tomatoes (San Marzano or other)
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup chopped basil
  • Salt and pepper

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Add the olive to a large pan over medium heat. Add the celery, carrots, and onion. Cook for 4-5 minutes. Add the turkey, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Continue to cook, breaking up the turkey, until it is no longer pink, Season with salt, pepper, and oregano.

Ground turkey, carrots, celery, and onion being cooked in a skillet.

Add the crushed tomatoes and tomato paste. Bring to a simmer. Cover and let simmer for 15 minutes at least.

Crushed tomatoes being added to a skillet with ground turkey.

Meanwhile using a spiralizer, mandolin, sharp knife, or peeler, cut your zucchini into noodles or ribbons.

Zucchini noodles being made with a spiralizer over a white plate.

Add the zucchini to the sauce and cook for 3-4 minutes until tender. Stir in basil and season with salt and pepper as needed.

Zucchini noodle bolognese in two white bowls with fresh basil and sauce.


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Nutritional Facts
Serving Size: 2.5 cups
Amount Per Serving
Calories 417
Calories from Fat 189
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 21g
Saturated Fat 5g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 112mg
Sodium 372mg
Total Carbohydrate 27g
Dietary Fiber 8g
Sugars 18g
Protein 36g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.

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About the author Meet Kristen McCaffrey
Hi, I’m the cookbook author, recipe developer, and food enthusiast behind Slender Kitchen. I am obsessed with making healthy food that is easy to prepare and absolutely delicious. Meal planning is my secret weapon and I hope I can make meal time easier for you with our tried and tested recipes and foolproof meal plans. Learn More
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