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
4.96 from 519 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. 
4.96 from 519 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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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. I just made this recipe as part of our Christmas Eve dinner. I am floored. This is delicious. Everyone was raving about it. I only wish I made a double batch! I followed the recipe to the letter. This will be part of our family tradition now and forever more. My mother passed last year and had been sick for many years. One my fondest memories was the Christmas Eve table full of amazing italian food especially the bolognese. Now I can carry that tradition on with my own twist since her recipes left this world with her. Nothing was ever written done. Thank you and Merry Christmas!5 stars

  2. I have tried several bolognese recipes, and this is my favorite by far. I used spicy Italian sausage in place of ground pork and closer to 1 pound (just to avoid waste) and didn’t have celery, but still, it was amazing. Very flavorful!5 stars

  3. My first attempt at making bolognese. Delicious! My Italian friend tasted it and declared it is the recipe she will now follow. Except for the meat mixture, I followed the recipe to the letter! The one thing I had to change is the meat mixture. The store I was in had no ground veal but they did have a 1.5 lb. package of ground together meatball/meatloaf mix of beef, veal and pork so that’s what I ended up having to use. Didn’t hurt the flavor in the least! (And it’s true that San Marzano tomatoes are truly the best tasting and make a difference.)5 stars

  4. this recipe was delicious! The only thing I changed was instead of adding milk I added a generous parmesan rind while it simmered, an extra clove of garlic and lots of salt and pepper. I did do the red wine instead of the beef broth. It was so rich and tasty!4 stars

  5. Very tasty. But I’m curious… why drain the fat after cooking the onions and garlic in it. I’ve always cooked the meat first, drained it, cooked the onions and garlic in a little of the fat and then added the meat back. Is there a reason I haven’t figured out for the order you use?

    1. You can make this recipe either way, Kathy. Cooking the onions and garlic first and then draining all the fat afterwards just controls the amount of fat in the recipe. This way all the fat is drained instead of adding some back in to cook with.

  6. Was a hit at a party we attended but towards end of cooking, felt like it was lacking quite a bit of flavour and MMPPH.

    Added quite a loooooot of salt and pepper then also more garlic powder.

  7. enjoyed this recipe! easy to make. I used ground turkey and ground pork . served it over spaghetti squash for a healthy meal. Makes alot.5 stars

  8. Fabulous! This was easy and delicious and is my new favorite sauce. I used the pappardelle pasta and it was perfect. (I used ground round- added 1 extra clove and 1/2 teaspoon Basil. Next time I’ll try beef and pork.)5 stars

  9. Your recipe it’s quite close to that which I have used for decades, (and which I love) that we were given by an Italian farmer’s wife, in the late 50s, whilst on a camping holiday in Northern Italy. In my opinion, do you need the marjorum, to complete the full list of flavours for the Bolognese sauce which we received in the Bologna, Italy.

    Another difference is that of the Italian recipes versus the American recipes… Italians do not use anywhere near as many tomatoes in their Bolognese sauce. For 6 to 8 people, I use approximately 200 g of chopped tomatoes and 200 g tomato paste (puree). I also use about 4 heaped teaspoons of white sugar (no wines or milk or cream [or coffee!]) A true Italian Bolognese sauce is not a tomato sauce… it is a meat sauce with a trace of tomatoes in it, giving a beautiful deep rich flavour of beef and pork together. Barilla # 3 or #5 are also (IMHO) the finest of spaghettis for this meal… not any other type of pasta!

    One final very important point, never drain the fat! The fat is where the flavour resides… Not the ingredients themselves!

    Please try these slight modifications and let me know!4 stars

      1. The comment about NOT draining the fat is dead on correct. Never do it, beside this one small issue this recipe is very good. Close to Marcella’s original

  10. So GOOD!!! It didn’t take very long, as my beef stock and milk evaporated in way less than 18min. I made 2 changes to the original recipe since I had limited ingredients. I substituted the whole canned tomatoes for 3 diced Roma tomatoes and the pork for more beef (we rarely have ground pork in our fridge). It still turned out fantastic and was a total comfort food!! Thanks for a great recipe!5 stars

  11. first time trying this recipe Not sure what I am looking for in flavour I know it is not chili or a spaghetti sauce Sitting on the fence, easy to make and I prefer SanMarzano tomatoes but not in my pantry. Had to use beef broth no wine and no pork as well only had 2% milk. I am still giving this a thumbs up and will make sure I have all the right ingredients next time I make this receipe5 stars

  12. Fantastic recipe. I’m on a low salt diet so I used crushed Italian tomatoes with no salt added then increased the salt to 3/4 teaspoon (kosher salt). The sodium is reduced by nearly 40% to 360 mg and there was no sacrifice in the taste. This my go to recipe for Bolognese sauce.5 stars