If you want to make the most delicious, rich, and hearty Classic Bolognese Sauce for your family, I have the perfect recipe for you! This authentic Italian pasta dish is totally comforting and super easy to put together. Whether you are a novice cook or an experienced chef, you can cook this simple bolognese recipe from scratch to share with family and friends.
You don't need a huge list of expensive ingredients to create the ultimate Bolognese Sauce. What you need is good browning of the meat and some low and slow cooking for the sauce to achieve the ideal thick and velvety texture. It will take between 2 and 3 hours for the sauce to develop the flavour and create the most delicious classic Bolognese sauce.
Why This Recipe Works?
- This is not a quick weekday meal but once everything is in the pan, you can just leave it to simmer and go watch your favourite TV show on the sofa.
- It is a fairly easy recipe to follow with step-by-step pictures and instructions.
- Everybody loves a good spaghetti Bolognese, perfect for entertaining a crowd.
- Perfect comfort foor for cold winter nights.
Ingredients and Substitutes
- Minced beef - I use high-fat content beef mince for flavour. Also, it releases enough fat for cooking the onions and vegetables without needing any olive oil.
- Tinned tomatoes - You can use fresh tomatoes in the summer when juicy and ripen ones are in season.
- Mirepoix - It is a mixture of diced onions, celery and carrots. It is the seasoning and flavouring base to meat-based dishes such as bolognese, ragout or Bourguignon.
- Tomato paste - It adds extra red colour to the sauce as well as an umami taste.
- Red wine - It is the traditional ingredient for bolognese but you can skip it if you are cooking for kids. Use a good quality wine that you would be happy to drink.
- Milk - Adding milk might sound strange but don’t skip it. Milk gives the sauce a smooth and velvety texture and helps the mince cooking.
- Chilli - It is optional and should be adjusted to your taste. You can substitute it with flaked chillies.
- Stock - The best choice is to use Homemade Beef Stock but you can also use a good quality shop-bought beef stock or stock cubes.
- Seasoning - Make sure you add the seasoning at the end of the cooking and check before you add any salt. Always be careful when adding the salt if using store-bought beef stock or stock cubes as they contain salt already.
- Herbs - Thyme and bay leaves are traditional herbs for bolognese. Remove the bay leaves from the sauce before serving it.
How to Make the Best Bolognese Sauce?
Making the best bolognese sauce is very easy. However, to achieve the best results, you need to follow a few tips and simple steps:
- Brown the mince and saute the mirepoix - Browning the mince on high heat produces the rich, deep meaty colours, flavours and aromas we love. Stir occasionally and break the mince down into small pieces with a wooden spoon to achieve a smooth sauce. I always prefer beef mince with a minimum of 15% fat as it releases enough fat for me to cook the onions without needing any extra oil. After browning the mince, lower the heat and add olive oil if necessary. Sauté the onions and garlic until translucent. Add the carrots along with celery and then sauté for another five minutes.
- Gently simmer on low heat for 2.5 to 3 hours - The secret to the best bolognese sauce is cooking it low and slow. When the vegetables are softened enough, deglaze the pan with red wine. Let the alcohol evaporate then add the tomato paste. Add chilli (optional) along with chopped tomatoes, black pepper, sugar, milk, Homemade Beef Stock, bay leaves and thyme. Stir well until combined. Bring the sauce to a boil and gently simmer for 2.5 to 3 hours on low heat with a lid on. Low and slow cooking help to develop flavours. If you rush the sauce and don't cook long enough, you might end with a bland and watery sauce. Cook a further half an hour without the lid to thicken the sauce. Stir occasionally while cooking to make sure there is enough liquid and it doesn’t stick to the bottom. Check the seasoning and add salt if needed.
- Cook the pasta and serve - Start cooking the pasta 20 to 25 minutes before the sauce is ready. Follow the cooking instructions on the packaging. To serve the bolognese sauce, place a portion of cooked pasta on a plate and top it with bolognese sauce. Garnish with some grated parmesan and chopped parsley.
Love Pasta? For other great pasta recipes why not try:
Although bolognese sauce is usually paired with spaghetti, you can use any shaped pasta you have in your pantry! Cook your sauce, choose your pasta and serve it with a slice of buttered white bread or garlic bread for mopping the sauce. Add a bowl of green salad such as Rocket and Parmesan salad, Summer Chickpea Salad or Greek Salad to make it a healthy meal. Alternatively, you can serve this Italian meat sauce with jacket potatoes, steamed vegetables or on top of some fries.
Yes, you can freeze bolognese and keep it for up to 3 months. To freeze the bolognese sauce, let it cool down and place into an airtight container or a freezing bag. When you want to eat it, defrost it in the fridge overnight and gently reheat in a saucepan until piping hot.
Yes, bolognese sauce or ragu alla bolognese is great for lasagna or any flat-shaped pasta as it blends much better. That's the recipe I use to make my delicious Homemade Lasagna.
Top Tip From The Chef
You can make this sauce up to 3 days ahead and gently reheat it before serving. It tastes better a day after as the flavors develop overnight.
I hope you enjoy the process of making this delicious Spaghetti Bolognese as much as you enjoy eating it! 🙂
Bon appétit! / Afiyet Olsun!
Classic Bolognese Sauce
- 500 g beef mince
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 medium onions (finely chopped)
- 3 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
- 1 large carrot (finely diced)
- 2 sticks celery (finely diced)
- ½ cup red wine (120 ml)
- 2 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 red chilli (optional) (finely chopped)
- 600 g chopped tomatoes (use fresh or tinned) (1 ½ tin chopped tomato)
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ½ cup milk (120 ml)
- 1 cup beef stock (240 ml)
- 3 bay leaves
- 5 sprigs thyme (only leaves and finely chopped)
- salt to taste
- 500 g spaghetti
- 50 g grated parmesan cheese (to serve)
- Put a large pan or a dutch oven on medium heat and brown the mince, stirring occasionally to make sure there are no lumps left.
- Add olive oil if necessary, the mince will release some fat so you might not need to add oil.
- Add the onions and garlic, sauté until soft and translucent.
- When the onions are softened, add celery and carrots, sauté for another 5 minutes.
- Add the red wine, deglaze the pan and let it totally evaporate.
- Stir in the tomato paste, chili (optional), chopped tomatoes, black pepper, sugar, milk, beef stock, bay leaves, and thyme.
- Give it a good stir, turn the heat down to very low, cover the lid and gently simmer for 2 hours. Remove the lid and cook for another half an hour or until the sauce has thickened and the meat is tender. Stir occasionally while cooking to make sure there is enough liquid and it doesn’t stick to the pan. Check the seasoning and add salt if needed.
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Don’t leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove
See more guidelines at USDA.gov.
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