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
4.95 from 400 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



  • 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.



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. 
4.95 from 400 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
bowl of Homemade Bolognese Sauce with a title
Homemade Bolognese Sauce on pasta in a bowl with a title
close up of Homemade Bolognese Sauce with writing
Homemade Bolognese Sauce cooked in the pot and on pasta with writing


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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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Recipe Rating


  1. Made this tonight and it was incredible! Reminds me of my grandma’s spaghetti Sunday dinner! One question I have, is the sauce better with a specific red wine (used a Tempranillo)
    or with beef broth? Thanks again for sharing! Looking forward to using other recipes soon!5 stars

    1. Hi Jeff, definitely personal preference but I prefer the full-bodied flavor the wine provides. For this recipe I enjoy using a Cabernet Sauvignon or whatever open bottle of red I have in the fridge :)

  2. Made exactly as written and couldn’t believe how utterly delicious it was. This will be my Go To meat sauce from now on. Easy and delicious! What could be better!!!5 stars

  3. Love the sauce! Reminded me of my Nonna’s.

    One of the grandkids is allergic to dairy. Any suggestions on what I can substitute for whole milk?5 stars

    1. Hi Debbie, we haven’t tried to make this recipe dairy-free but you could try a dairy-free substitute. Let us know how it turns out!

  4. This was delicious. Followed the recipe except I used ground veal and mushrooms. I will make this again.5 stars

  5. I made this recipe and it turned out good. The reviews saying the recipe is “bland” do not know how to cook. Food is supposed to be seasoned to taste. I added Worcestershire sauce, sugar, vinegar and a salt to season my food. You seasoned it to taste.

  6. This was so bland. Needs a ton more italian seasoning and salt! Even then it wasn’t the best. I will not make it again. Sorry, but true.1 star

  7. I have been making this for awhile now… sometimes I use green pepper and carrot, sometimes just carrot… sometimes no carrot and just the onion. I and my whole family love it, any variation. It always comes out good. I add a splash of balsamic as well as a pat of butter and a tablespoon of sugar. It is SO GOOD. Really, no matter what I do in variations; once I even added a big splash of Worcestershire. I can’t decide if i like that or the balsamic better. THANK YOU.5 stars

  8. Someone can explain to me what is Italian seasoning? I seen it in the supermarket in Ireland, but it doesn’t exist in Italy. I’m Italian and I also don’t understand why do you put garlic in the bolognese sauce?

    1. Italian seasoning is a blend of dry herbs that are identified as traditionally Italian. Heavy on oregano, but also with basil, thyme, and others. Using it usually means the cook doesn’t know what they’re doing. As for the garlic, you should not put it in a traditional bolognese, ever. Also this recipe uses red wine instead of white; another big no no in traditional bolognese. I actually laughed when I read the recipe list for this bolognese. Some of the comments about being too bland are also pretty funny, since this one has more “flavor” ingredients than traditional.

      1. Hi E, that is correct, Italian seasoning is an American creation that is a blend of spices traditionally viewed as Italian. Traditional bolognese does not usually have garlic but we do love the addition, however, you can definitely leave it out and use white wine if you prefer! That sounds like a delicious substitution.

  9. Best Bolognese sauce I have ever made – and the first time using milk!! Served over gluten free noodles (rice and quinoa) – already looking forward to leftovers!

    Delicious!!5 stars

  10. This was the easiest s*** I’ve ever made. F***ing easier than french toast. You’re stupid beyond belief if you cant make this right. I even subbed whole milk for almond milk. Super fab. Excellent recipe. *************

  11. I’m Italian, this is the best Bolognese sauce I have made. Only had grass fed beef, and didn’t have whole tomatoes, added a good jar sauce (Raos) Really good! I seasoned with salt and pepper for each item, was not flat at all! Great recipe! Thanks5 stars

    1. 2% milk should work in this recipe, the sauce may not turn out as thick but should still be delicious.