bolognese sauce featured image
Bolognese Sauce is easy to make by slow cooking meat, veggies, and seasonings for a few hours with minimal work. This thick and creamy sauce makes any meal more hearty.
Jump to Recipe
Table of Contents
  1. Best Bolognese Sauce
  2. Why We Love This Bolognese Sauce Recipe
  3. Bolognese Sauce Ingredients
  4. Substitutions and Additions
  5. Recommended Tools
  6. How to Make Bolognese Sauce
  7. Tips for The Best Bolognese Sauce
  8. How to Store Bolognese Sauce
  9. Frequently Asked Questions
  10. More Delicious Recipes
  11. Bolognese Sauce Recipe

This homemade Bolognese Sauce recipe is a classic Italian dish that is complex in flavor yet surprisingly easy to make. Using a few simple ingredients, this sauce can be served with pasta, on pizza, or in lasagna.

Plus, it’s a great way to use up any leftover ingredients you have on hand! It’s hearty enough for an everyday dinner but also impressive enough to serve at dinner parties or special occasions.

bolognese sauce hero image

Best Bolognese Sauce

This easy-to-make homemade Bolognese Sauce is much creamier and thicker than a traditional marinara sauce and is the ultimate way to smother your noodles – this Bolognese sticks to rather than coats each strand of pasta.

Although milk may sound strange as one of the main ingredients, it tenderizes the meat, creates the creamy texture, and blends beautifully with the sofrito of onions, carrots, and celery.

While this recipe is not complicated and does require a number of ingredients (you probably have most in your kitchen already), time and patience are the most important components for creating a deep, rich, delicious flavor.

Authentic Bolognese Sauce needs to simmer for a few hours, and while it’s not a lot of work, the time commitment is completely worth it!

There are so many ways to serve this classic Bolognese Sauce, but some of my favorites include layering it in Crockpot Lasagna, stuffing it in Zucchini Boats, topping Zucchini Noodles, and filling Stuffed Shells.

Why We Love This Bolognese Sauce Recipe

  • Easy to make because I chop the meat and veggies my food processor (all you have to do is stir a bit while the sauce simmers).
  • Uses pantry friendly ingredients plus some carrots, onions, and celery.
  • Make once, eat twice meal: double the recipe and eat some tonight and freeze leftovers for later.
  • Rich, deeply flavored, hearty sauce that tastes like your favorite Italian restaurant but feeds your entire family for the same price as one entree.
  • Perfect for large crowds, dinner parties, or potlucks.
pasta served with bolognese sauce

Bolognese Sauce Ingredients

  • Olive oil: You can use vegetable oil if you prefer.
  • Onion: You can use white or yellow onion.
  • Carrots 
  • Celery stalks 
  • Garlic: You can use fresh or pre-minced garlic.
  • Pancetta or bacon: Pancetta is traditionally used in this recipe, but bacon works great.
  • Ground beef 
  • Italian sausage 
  • Whole milk: Since the milk helps the sauce become creamier, using low fat isn’t a good option because it contains more water than whole milk.
  • Salt 
  • Black pepper 
  • Nutmeg: Using fresh grated nutmeg gives this so much flavor.
  • Dry white wine: I like Sauvignon Blanc, but you can omit it altogether and use all beef broth.
  • Beef broth 
  • San Mariano crushed tomatoes: You can use other brands, but this is the best. 
  • Tomato paste 
  • Fresh thyme 
  • Bay leaf 
  • Pasta: Any pasta is fine for this recipe.

Substitutions and Additions

  • More Meat Options: Pancetta is sometimes difficult to find at your local market. If you can’t find it at your grocery store, you can use prosciutto, ground beef, bacon, pork, or Italian sausage as a substitute.
  • Pick Your Pasta: Any pasta shape will work with this recipe, so feel free to pick whatever you have in your pantry or you can even make your own fresh pasta. This sauce is traditionally served over long pastas such as fettuccine, spaghetti, tagliatelle, pappardelle but you can also use it to top penne or rigatoni.
  • Add Extra Herbs: Some fresh basil, sage, or oregano would taste delicious simmered in this sauce or sprinkled on top.
  • Make A Gluten-Free Meal: This Bolognese Sauce is already naturally gluten-free. Feel free to serve it with your favorite variety of gluten-free pasta to make GF pasta bolognese.
  • Sauce pan
  • Food processor (optional)
bolognese sauce in a pan
See Full Recipe Card Below
Jump to Recipe

How to Make Bolognese Sauce

Bolognese Sauce is easy to prepare in one sauce pan simply by simmering your ingredients on the stove. This Italian meat sauce is full of flavor and makes a delicious dinner or hearty meal when tossed with pasta, stuffed in shells, or layered in lasagna.

  1. Cook The Veggies: Cook the carrots, celery and onion in hot olive oil for 5 minutes and remove the from the pan.
  2. Cook The Meat: Cook the beef, sausage and pancetta until the beef is no longer pink. 
    Pro Tip: Take the extra time to finely chop the meat as it cooks.
  3. Season: Add salt, pepper, and nutmeg to season the meat and then stir in the vegetables.
  4. Simmer: Add the wine and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the beef broth, crushed tomatoes, and tomato paste, stir, add the sprig of thyme and bay leaf, and simmer for 1 to 2 hours. 
  5. Serve: 15 minutes before serving, stir in the milk and simmer the remainder of the time. Toss the cooked pasta in the bolognese sauce and serve. Enjoy!
bolognese sauce process collage

Tips for The Best Bolognese Sauce

  • I prefer to place the bacon or pancetta in a food processor and process for 2 or 3 seconds at a time until the meat is in very small pieces.  
  • After removing the meat from the processor, you can add the onion, carrots, celery and garlic and process for a few seconds till the vegetables are in very small pieces.
  • This sauce can be simmered for an hour and used over noodles.  But, allowing it to simmer for 2 hours will meld the flavors even more. Make sure the sauce doesn’t get too dry. You can add a little extra broth if needed.
  • The alcohol is cooked out the longer it simmers.

How to Store Bolognese Sauce

  • To Store: Store your sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  • To Freeze: This sauce can be frozen in a freezer-safe container or ziploc bag for up to 3 months. This sauce will expand when frozen so keep that in mind when you are storing.
  • To Reheat: To reheat frozen sauce, let it thaw in your fridge. Then, you can cook it on the stovetop or microwave, stirring every 20 seconds, until heated through.
delicious bolognese sauce

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Bolognese Sauce?

Bolognese is known in Italy as ragù alla bolognese, and originated in Bologna, Italy.  Bolognese is a meat-based sauce which includes a sofrito of onion, celery and carrots along with tomato purée, white wine, broth, and either milk or heavy cream. The sauce is simmered low and slow to create a hearty, thick sauce that’s more meaty than saucy.

Do I have to use wine in this recipe?

The alcohol in this dish will burn off but if you don’t have wine or are uncomfortable using it, you can substitute it with a bit of beef broth. Just keep in mind that this will slightly alter the taste.

Do I have to add vegetables in this sauce?

The vegetables are an important part of this sauce; they simply add flavor but not texture. Once this sauce is cooked you’ll never even know a vegetable was added to it. The key is that they melt into the meat when cooked. The minced veggies create the mirepoix of flavors for the base of this sauce. If you don’t have a food processor, use a grater or finely chop the veggies by hand instead.

What is the difference between Bolognese and spaghetti sauce?

The typical red spaghetti sauce prepared without meat is a slang for Marinara Sauce that is usually served over spaghetti. Marinara is a type of tomato sauce made with olive oil, tomatoes, garlic and herbs, and often contains sofrito, just like Bolognese. The main difference between the two is that Bolognese also includes meat as well as milk or heavy cream and is mostly meaty verses saucy.

What is the difference between Bolognese and Ragu?

Ragu is a meat-based Italian sauce made with any type of protein (veal, beef, lamb, pork, fish or poultry), onions, carrots, celery and often pancetta with a minimal amount of tomato sauce. Heavy cream is often added. Bolognese is a type of ragu sauce because it contains beef. While all Bolognese recipes are a form of ragu, not all ragu recipes are Bolognese.

More Pasta Recipes

2 plates of pasta with bolognese sauce

More Delicious Recipes

5 from 2 votes
bolognese sauce featured image

Bolognese Sauce

Serves — 8
Bolognese Sauce is easy to make by slow cooking meat, veggies, and seasonings for a few hours with minimal work. This thick and creamy sauce makes any meal more hearty.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 10 mins

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ onion onion very finely diced (see notes)
  • 2 carrots very finely diced (see notes)
  • 2 celery stalks very finely diced (see notes)
  • tablespoon minced garlic very finely diced (see notes)
  • 4 ounces pancetta or bacon finely diced (see notes)
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound mild Italian sausage
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 28 ounce can San Mariano crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 pound pasta cookes

Instructions
 

  • Heat the olive oil in a large sauce pan and add the onion, carrots, celery and onion. Cook for 5 minutes over medium low heat. Remove the vegetables from the pan.
  • Add the beef, sausage and pancetta to the pan and cook till the beef is no longer pink. Take the extra time to finely chop the meat as it cooks.
  • Season the meat with salt, pepper, and nutmeg and stir in the vegetables.
  • Add the white wine and simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes.
  • Add the beef broth, crushed tomatoes, and tomato paste. Stir to combine.
  • Add the sprig of thyme and the bay leaf. Simmer over low heat for 1 to 2 hours.
  • 15 minutes before serving, stir in the milk and gently simmer the remainder of the time.
  • Cook the pasta according to the package directions, then toss in the bolognese sauce and serve.

Jenn’s Notes

Storage:
  • To Store: Store your sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  • To Freeze: This sauce can be frozen in a freezer-safe container or ziploc bag for up to 3 months. This sauce will expand when frozen so keep that in mind when you are storing.
  • To Reheat: To reheat frozen sauce, let it thaw in your fridge. Then, you can cook it on the stovetop or microwave, stirring every 20 seconds, until heated through.
Tips:
  • I prefer to place the bacon or pancetta in a food processor and process for 2 or 3 seconds at a time until the meat is in very small pieces. 
  • After removing the meat from the processor, you can add the onion, carrots, celery and garlic and process for a few seconds till the vegetables are in very small pieces.
  • This sauce can be simmered for an hour and used over noodles.  But, allowing it to simmer for 2 hours will meld the flavors even more. Make sure the sauce doesn’t get too dry. You can add a little extra broth if needed.
  • The alcohol is cooked out the longer it simmers.

Nutrition Info

Calories: 519kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 38g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 17g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 95mg | Sodium: 1332mg | Potassium: 983mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 3129IU | Vitamin C: 17mg | Calcium: 110mg | Iron: 4mg
Jennifer Fishkind

About Jenn

Jenn is a mom to three beautiful boys, wife to an amazing husband, social influencer and blogger. I love all things easy recipes, easy crafts, all things hacks, traveling EVERYWHERE and feeding my Pinterest addiction!

Related Recipes

Secrets to Quick & Easy Desserts
FREE EMAIL BONUS
How to make delicious desserts in no time at all!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

How many stars would you give this recipe?