Bolognese Sauce is an easy to make tomato-based meat sauce perfect on any pasta!

I this recipe, beef and pork are combined with onion, garlic and seasonings and cooked until thick and rich. This recipe freezes and reheats well making it the perfect weeknight meal!

Bolognese sauce on noodles on a white plate

Who doesn’t love pasta with a 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?

Ever wonder what makes Bolognese different than a typical spaghetti sauce? While it is a tomato-based meat sauce made with garlic and onion, it 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 but it’s also a delicious addition to homemade lasagna or even a favorite when added to baked casseroles like ziti!

Left image is raw ingredients for bolognese sauce and right image is cooked ingredients for bolognese sauce in a pot

Ingredients & Variations

Vegetables: The traditional onions, carrots, and celery really should be in this dish.

I prefer to keep it simple with just those. If you’d like other veggies, chop them finely and add them in.

Meat: A combination of ground pork and beef adds amazing flavor, but you can make it with just ground beef if you prefer.

Ground veal is another flavorful addition.

Tomatoes: Canned whole tomatoes always tend to have a thicker consistency than diced so we always use them in this recipe.

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.

Cream being poured into a pot for 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 directions. Add salt and pepper and parmesan, serve and enjoy!

Bolognese sauce in a pot with parsley as garnish

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.

Bolognese sauce on noodles with Parmesan cheese and parsley as garnish

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).

According to FDA guidelines leftover meat dishes will keep 4 days in the fridge. After that, freeze them for 2 to 3 months.

  • To store in the fridge, just use an airtight container or cover a dish tightly with plastic wrap.
  • For freezing, leave about an inch for expansion and cover tightly. Or you could use a tightly sealed zippered freezer bag.
  • Reheating is a breeze, just defrost and prepare it on the stovetop or in the microwave, stirring every 15 to 20 seconds until steaming hot and ready to eat!

You’re sure to find that this Bolognese recipe is an easy and delicious staple sauce you’ll use for lasagna, pasta, or even on homemade pizza. It’s perfecto!

More Italian Inspiration

Did you enjoy this Homemade Bolognese Sauce? Be sure to leave a rating and a comment below!

Bolognese sauce on noodles on a white plate
4.93 from 212 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
Or to leave a comment, click here!

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 you can whip up in no time!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 6 servings

Ingredients  

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves crushed
  • 1 onion finely diced
  • 1 carrot finely diced
  • 1 rib celery finely diced
  • 1 pound 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
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • pappardelle or tagliatelle or another long pasta for serving

Instructions 

  • Cook onion in oil over medium heat until it starts to soften, about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic, carrot and celery. Cook until softened, an additional 5 minutes.
  • Add beef and pork. Brown until no pink remains. Drain fat. Add wine and simmer until evaporated, about 7-9 minutes. Add milk and simmer until evaporated, about 6-7 minutes.
  • Stir in tomato paste, Italian seasoning, tomatoes with juice and bay leaf. Break tomatoes up with a spoon. Cover and simmer 30 minutes or until thickened. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
  • Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1 ½ cups of pasta water.
  • Toss pasta with sauce adding pasta water to thin out if needed.
  • Serve hot with parmesan cheese.

Video

Notes

Storage Instructions:
  • 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. 
4.93 from 212 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
Or to leave a comment, click here!

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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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