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!

a plate of bolognese topped with parmesan cheese

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.

  1. Cook Veggies & Meat: Brown the chopped veggies and the meat, then drain off any fat.
  2. Add Wine/Milk: Add the wine and let it simmer away. Next, add the milk and allow that to simmer away too.
  3. 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!

a dutch oven of cooked bolognese sauce

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.

a plate of bolognese pappardelle topped with parmesan cheese

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!

a plate of bolognese topped with parmesan cheese
4.94 from 267 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
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Homemade Bolognese Sauce (Pappardelle)

Rich tomato-based meat sauce with beef and pork is combined with all the traditional ingredients of pasta bolognese for a flavorful weeknight meal that can be whipped up in no time!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 6 servings

Equipment

Ingredients  

  • 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

Instructions 

  • 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.

Video

Notes

Tomatoes: Whole tomatoes provide a bit of a thicker consistency, break them up with a spoon or with your hands before simmering. If possible, San Marzano tomatoesSan Marzano tomatoes have the best flavor.
Wine: When using wine in cooking, use a wine you would drink (not cooking wine). 
Reserve some pasta water when draining the pasta. Not only can it be used to adjust the consistency of the sauce, adding a little to the sauce also helps it adhere to the pasta better. Be sure not to rinse the pasta after cooking.
For a thicker sauce, simmer a bit longer. For a thinner sauce, add pasta water.
  • 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. 
To Reheat –  Defrost in the fridge. Heat it on the stovetop or in the microwave, stirring every 15 to 20 seconds, until heated through. 
4.94 from 267 votes

Nutrition Information

Calories: 359 | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 78mg | Sodium: 571mg | Potassium: 929mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 2112IU | Vitamin C: 18mg | Calcium: 126mg | Iron: 4mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Pasta, Sauce
Cuisine American, Italian

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About the author

Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!
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Comments

    1. Hi Judy, you will need about 2oz dry pasta per serving. This recipe serves 6 so I would suggest 12 oz pasta.

  1. Just a question. For the 28 oz can of tomatoes, with the “Juice”, Is that a thin juice or more like a puree that the tomatoes are in. Is their a brand that you prefer?5 stars

    1. Hi GMJ, the juice is referring to the liquid in the can with the whole tomatoes. Your favorite brand will work just fine in this recipe! Enjoy!

  2. I used this recipe as a base for a Bolognese sauce but changed some of the ingredients. It turned out great! Here’s what I did:
    – doubled the carrot and celery
    – excluded the milk (to make it dairy free) and substituted chicken broth
    – reduced the salt to 1/4 teaspoon
    – reduced the italian seasoning to 1/2 teaspoon
    – added 1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil
    – added 1.5 teaspoons soy sauce (for umami flavor)
    – added 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
    – added about 1/4 teaspoon of instant coffee (for some flavor depth)
    – added about 1 tablespoon of vegan butter at the very end (dairy free and for richness)

    It took longer than the recipe stated to reduce the red wine and then chicken broth (instead of milk). I was using a large enameled cast iron pan which worked great and used paper towels to soak up the grease after cooking the meat (easier than using a spoon). I also used the 1/4 inch dicer on a vegetable chopper to chop up the onions, carrot, and celery. Before using the chopper, I quartered the onion, and cut the carrots/celery into 2 inch pieces before quartering them lengthwise (so they would go through the chopper easier).5 stars

  3. I’ve tried making this recipe a few times hoping it was a fluke but have to agree with other users that it takes 2-3x the time specified for the wine and milk to evaporate. The recipe tastes decent but a lot of time spent for an average bolognese3 stars

    1. The larger the pot the quicker it is to evaporate. I use a fairly large dutch oven with a wide base and it takes approximately 7-9 minutes. If you used a skinnier soup pot it would take longer. I hope this helps Taylor.

  4. so delicious. absolutely restaurant quality bolognese sauce. my guests had seconds if not more! highly recommend saving this recipe.5 stars