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. Evaporating red wine and milk takes a whole lot longer than described. Also I won’t ever use red wine again as it does not taste or smell like the regular bolognese. Had to hide the wine taste with more tomatoes, herbs and added beef broth.2 stars

  2. It tastes delicious but turned out more soupy than sauce like. Do have any recommendations on how to thicken it up?

    1. So you came to a website of cheap, easy to prepare American food recipes expecting an authentic Bolognese recipe? Do you also go on Italian recipe websites and tell them their pumpkin pie recipes aren’t authentic?

  3. I used this recipe as a starting point for sauce based on what I had in my pantry and the sauce was delicious!!! I made a few subs based on my ingredients on hand: white wine instead of red, omitted the celery, and tomato sauce and chopped fresh tomatoes instead of the canned tomatoes. Really great! The wine and milk boiled down and the sauce was incredibly flavorful! Will definitely make again.5 stars

  4. This worked really well. I made some minor changes based on what I had on hand. My wife and kids loved it.4 stars

  5. This looked like it would be a wonderful dish…except for the milk.
    I was very hesitant to put milk in from the start. I’ve never heard of milk in Bolognese recipe before. That was quite odd to me. However, I followed directions and I did it anyway.
    I should have listened to my intuition. The damn stuff curdled.
    I feel like it ruined a good dish that looked so very promising. Next time I’m leaving out the milk.

    1. I’m sorry it didn’t work out for you, I have never had the milk curdle (it is a traditional ingredient in bolognese).

  6. Oh my! No msg no fansy ingredients! I made it tonight making do with what’s on hand… subbing ground pork with a chopped frankfurter, broccoli stalks with celery , ketchup with tomato paste and fresh chopped hothouse tomatoes with canned tomatoes, and skipped carrots (got none at home)! Thickening the pot with some corn starch, I have NEVER EVER made bolognese sauce this tasty my whole life!5 stars

  7. Ma, no. This is not “classic Ragù Bolognese,” which, aside from some tomato paste, contains no tomatoes. Garlic, or red wine (white, or, in a pinch a dry rosé) are also not included. I’m sure this is delicious, but it’s not the classic from Emilia-Romagna.

    1. Hi Darren, this is our take on a homemade bolognese sauce. Your additions sound delicious as well!

  8. I made this yesterday. I used heavy cream instead of milk otherwise I followed the recipe exactly. It was amazing. My hubby loved it! It’s definitely going into our dinner rotation. I’ve been looking for a good Bolognese recipe and this is it. Thank you!5 stars

  9. I messed up and didn’t add the milk until after I put in the tomato ingredients.
    It was still quite tasty. Mine made waaaay more than 6 servings. Two adults and 2 kids barely made a dent. I may be eating this for the next 3 days.

    Thanks for the recipe.5 stars

    1. With that many leftovers, I am so glad you enjoyed it, Tanya! You can also freeze it for a quick and easy meal another day.

  10. Ahhmazing! It was a bit of work but totally worth it! It was my first time making bolognese sauce from scratch. Absolutely delish! My husband also loved it. Thank you so much for sharing :)5 stars

  11. Made this Monday and we loved it!! I gave the kids leftovers for school lunch and they ate it up too! This is a great recipe!5 stars

  12. I made this yesterday and we ate it today! I followed the recipe exactly except, I used 1 lb of pork and 1/2 hamburger and I used crushed tomatoes instead of canned whole tomatoes! It was absolutely amazing! I found it to be tasty and hearty. I will very definitely add this to my ongoing recipe collection!

  13. I purée squash, zucchini, mushrooms, spinach, onions and the tomatoes!
    Sometimes I have added carrots & celery.
    That way the veggies are in there & the kids don’t know & don’t pick stuff out!!!5 stars