Homemade Bolognese Sauce (Pappardelle)

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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
4.91 from 137 votes
Review Recipe

Homemade Bolognese Sauce

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Author Holly Nilsson
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!

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

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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.

Recipe 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. 

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.)

Keyword bolognese, bolognese sauce, how to make bolognese
Course Pasta, Sauce
Cuisine American, Italian
Bolognese sauce on noodles with parsley and a title
Bolognese sauce with noodles and bolognese sauce in a pot with a title
Bolognese sauce with noodles and bolognese sauce in a pot with writing
About the author

Holly

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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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Recipe Rating




Comments

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

  1. I love this recipe!!! the smell of the wine evaporating is my favorite part! Thank you for teaching me how to cook ❤️

  2. I Love this recipe . I am allergic to beef and pork so I used more veg with yes milk and cheese . It was So Good ! Thank you4 stars

  3. Delicious. I substituted the ground beef with ground veal. Two thirds veal and one third pork. Instead of whole milk like others have commented I used 2 % milk, but realized why it called for whole milk. After adding the first cup of 2% instead of adding a second cup I only did half a cup and then added a big stick of unsalted organic butter. So 1 1/2 cup 2 % milk and one big stick of butter. I added a lot of flaked chilli pepper to give it more zing.

    With all my pasta i never just add parmesan. I go to my cheese shop and buy roughly 3 same sizes of cheese. Parmesan, Romano, and Gran Padano. They grate it and mix it for me. This is the real italian way. And will elevate the dish.

    Pappardelle pasta all the way.

    Truly yummy.5 stars

  4. I noticed that evaporation takes much longer than the initial times that were given, unless I did something wrong
    Other than that a very good recipe

    1. Glad you enjoyed it Amy! It could certainly take longer if my heat was a bit higher or even if my pan is wider (this gives more surface area for evaporation).

  5. OMG, I made a vegan version for my nephew, using beyond meat and mushrooms, I left out the milk and it was totally delicious. Today I made a double potion , some for today and later through the winter. My new go to recipe. Thank you.5 stars

  6. This recipe worked perfect with a plant-based meat substitute! It is super tasty and wholesome yet light enough to feel healthy while eating it. Da5 stars

  7. I made this vegetarian by subbing veggie ground round for the meat and almond milk for the whole milk. Turned out great. My meat eating boyfriend loved it!5 stars

  8. Homemade Bolognese Sauce was delicious. My family said it was Better then the Italian restaurant that we frequent. From the cook’s stand of view it was an easy prep and the cooking time was only an hour. It was enjoyed by all.5 stars