Bolognese Sauce is an easy-to-make meat sauce perfect with any type of pasta!
A rich, zesty sauce of beef, pork, onion, garlic, and seasonings is simmered on the stove until thick and rich. Toss this with pappardelle or your favorite pasta for a delicious weeknight meal.
This recipe freezes and reheats well, making it the perfect weeknight meal!
Who doesn’t love pasta with homemade meat sauce? It’s got a special taste of home that you just can’t get from a jar. From a typical marinara to this Bolognese sauce, homemade is always best!
What is Bolognese?
So, what makes Bolognese different than a typical spaghetti sauce? While both are tomato-based meat sauces made with garlic and onion, bolognese also includes the addition of celery and carrot plus a little bit of milk. It may sound unusual, but these ingredients add a distinct flavor, a bit of richness, and some sweetness.
This sauce is great over pasta, and it’s also a delicious addition to homemade lasagna or even a favorite when added to baked casseroles like ziti!
Ingredients & Variations
Vegetables: A mirepoix is a mixture of onions, carrots, and celery and is traditional in a bolognese. If you’d like other veggies, chop them finely and add them in.
Meat: A combination of ground pork and beef adds great flavor, but this recipe works with just beef or the addition of ground veal.
Tomatoes: Canned whole tomatoes have a bit of a thicker consistency than diced tomatoes so I prefer them in this recipe. San Marzano tomatoes are the best choice for flavor. If you only have canned diced tomatoes, those will work too (as will crushed tomatoes) but they may change the consistency slightly.
Wine: A dry red is great (but any red will do). I usually use a cabernet or merlot. Wine adds a lot of depth to this sauce (and the alcohol evaporates). If you cannot use wine, you can use a bit of beef broth but it will alter the flavor slightly.
Milk: An unusual but traditional ingredient in an authentic bolognese sauce.
How To Make Bolognese Sauce
This bolognese sauce takes time to make but it really is easy! Once the prep work is done this recipe just simmers away until thickened.
- Cook Veggies & Meat: Brown the chopped veggies and the meat, then drain off any fat.
- Add Wine/Milk: Add the wine and let it simmer away. Next, add the milk and allow that to simmer away too.
- Simmer: Add remaining ingredients (per recipe below) and allow it to simmer until thick.
While the sauce simmers, cook pasta according to the directions. Add salt and pepper and parmesan, serve and enjoy!
What To Serve With It
I like to serve this bolognese over pappardelle or tagliatelle, but any type of long pasta is great. If you want to offer gluten-free pasta, this sauce would work well with it. (Just be sure to check your spices and other ingredients.)
Serve this dish with the same sides you’d add to spaghetti and meatballs.
- BREAD homemade garlic bread is a must! (try this recipe for the BEST homemade garlic butter!)
- SALAD Round out the meal with an easy tossed salad or Italian Salad for a perfect Italian feast any night of the week!
- And for dessert? Why not make this yummy tiramisu? So delicious!
Storing Leftover Bolognese Sauce
This is a great pasta sauce to make ahead, dishes with tomatoes and spices “meld and marry.” as they sit and have even better flavor (like a chili recipe).
- Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
- Freeze for up to 3 months in a sealed container, leaving about an inch for expansion. A tightly sealed zippered freezer bag works as well. Thaw in the fridge overnight.
- Reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave, stirring occasionally until hot.
More Italian Inspiration
Did you enjoy this Homemade Bolognese Sauce? Be sure to leave a rating and a comment below!
Homemade Bolognese Sauce (Pappardelle)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves crushed
- 1 onion finely diced
- 1 carrot finely diced
- 1 rib celery finely diced
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- ½ pound ground pork
- 1 ¼ cups red wine or beef broth
- 1 cup whole milk
- 28 ounces whole tomatoes with juice
- 4 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ teaspoon salt more to taste
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- pappardelle or tagliatelle or another long pasta for serving
- In a large dutch oven, cook onion in oil over medium heat until softened, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add garlic, carrot, and celery, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add beef and pork, and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until no pink remains. Drain fat.
- Add the wine and simmer uncovered until evaporated, about 10 minutes. Add milk and simmer uncovered until evaporated, about 8 minutes.
- Stir in tomato paste, Italian seasoning, tomatoes with juice, and bay leaf. Break tomatoes up with a spoon. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until thickened. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
- Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1 ½ cups of pasta water.
- Toss pasta with sauce, adding pasta water to thin it out if needed.
- Serve hot with parmesan cheese.
- Fridge – store in an airtight container or cover with plastic wrap for up to 4 days.
- Freezer – store in an airtight container, leaving about an inch for expansion, or in a zippered freezer bag for 2 – 3 months.
Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.
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This was easy and is delicious! Definitely making this again. Add milk who knew?!
Fantastic recipe. I’m on a low salt diet so I used crushed Italian tomatoes with no salt added then increased the salt to 3/4 teaspoon (kosher salt). The sodium is reduced by nearly 40% to 360 mg and there was no sacrifice in the taste. This my go to recipe for Bolognese sauce.
Can’t wait to try this