Homemade Bolognese Sauce

8 servings
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 40 minutes
Total Time 3 hours

Homemade Bolognese Sauce is the ultimate pasta sauce simmered with ground beef, carrots, onions, tomatoes, white wine, parmesan, and herbs.

Like a Classic Marinara, this hearty sauce is a staple in Italian Food Recipes, so this tasty Bolognese is sure to be a go-to favorite.

Homemade Bolognese Pasta in Orange Dutch Oven

Transport your kitchen to the Italian region of Bologna with this flavorful Bolognese that will fill your home with the most delicious aromas. This recipe was inspired by an icon of bringing Italian cuisine into American homes, the renowned Marcella Hazan, and while this version is an adapted one with alterations, the original one entered our recipe files over 15 years ago.

While a jar of spaghetti sauce is a lifesaver on busy weeknights, it can’t compare to all the amazing layers of flavor in this meat-based sauce. It takes a little time and love in the beginning of this Bolognese Sauce recipe but after you get it simmering, it’s mostly hands off until you are ready to serve over your favorite pasta.

This Homemade Bolognese recipe starts with the basics of sautéed onion, celery, and carrots and then adding seasoned ground beef. This rustic tomato sauce is all about quality ingredients. Use extra-virgin olive oil, Italian tomatoes, and ground beef with a good fat content. You don’t need an expensive white wine, but don’t use a cheap brand or cooking wine.

Homemade Bolognese Ingredients in pot

Using quality ingredients like Italian canned tomatoes doesn’t have to break the bank. The best brand of Italian tomatoes to use is San Marzano. It doesn’t cost much more than other brands but they taste so much better. Fresh grated parmesan cheese also makes a huge difference versus the crumbles you get in the green bottle.

This Homemade Bolognese Sauce is a great recipe to use in your favorite dishes like Ultimate Meat Lasagna and Baked Spaghetti. It’s such a hearty meat sauce, you could serve it over Roasted Broccoli or zucchini noodles for an easy low carb, gluten free Italian dinner. Use our guide below to make Perfect Spaghetti Bolognese.

More Easy, Delicious Homemade Sauces

Spaghetti Bolognese Sauce in pot

Variations on Bolognese Sauce

  • Meat: Other ground meat you can use in this Bolognese recipe are Italian sausage, ground veal, and ground pork. If you use ground turkey add an extra tablespoon of olive oil. Sauté pancetta with your onion mixture for more flavor!
  • Soffritto: Sauté 2 cloves minced garlic with onions, celery, and carrots to make your sauce base with a true Italian soffritto.
  • Pasta: Serve this delicious meat sauce with any of your favorite pasta like tagliatelle, penne, rigatoni, or pappardelle.
  • Wine: Use a moderately priced dry white wine like Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio. For a richer ragù style sauce, use a red wine like Pinot Noir or Malbec.
  • Spicy: Make a spicy Bolognese Sauce by adding red pepper flakes when you sauté the ground beef. Start with a ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes and add more to taste.
  • Heavy Cream: Instead of whole milk, you can use heavy cream or half and half for a richer, heavier tomato sauce.

Perfect Spaghetti Bolognese

Prepare the Bolognese Sauce as usual. During the last 30 minutes of cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook 1 pound spaghetti to al dente. Drain and reserve ½ cup pasta water. Toss pasta with cooked sauce, adding pasta water as necessary, to fully coat pasta. Garnish with more parmesan cheese and thinly sliced fresh basil.

Slow Cooker Bolognese Sauce

Follow the first 5 steps of the recipe below, sautéing onions, celery, carrots, beef, and reducing the wine and milk as usual. Add ground beef wine mixture to the slow cooker. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. If the sauce is too thin, remove the lid and cook additional 30 minutes. Serve over pasta with more grated parmesan.

More Easy Italian Pasta Dishes

How to Store Bolognese Sauce

  • Serve: This Bolognese Sauce can be at room temperature for up to 2 hours before it should be cooled and stored.
  • Store: Transfer cooled sauce to an airtight container or glass jar with a lid and refrigerate for 3-4 days.
  • Freeze: Make sure there isn’t a big gap between the sauce and the lid of your sealed container so moisture doesn’t collect. Freeze Bolognese for 4-6 months and thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Italian Spaghetti Bolognese with Ground Beef

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Homemade Bolognese Sauce

Homemade Bolognese Sauce is the ultimate pasta sauce simmered with ground beef, carrots, onions, tomatoes, white wine, parmesan, and herbs.
Yield 8 servings
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 40 minutes
Total Time 3 hours
Course Sauce
Cuisine American, Italian
Author Sabrina Snyder


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion , minced
  • 2 stalks celery , minced
  • 1 carrot , minced
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef , (85/15)
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 29 ounces canned diced tomatoes , do not drain
  • 15 ounces crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese


  • Add olive oil to a large dutch oven on medium heat with the onions, celery and carrots.
  • Cook for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent and celery is softened.
  • Add the ground beef, salt and pepper and break it apart as it cooks until it is well browned.
  • Add in the nutmeg and white wine, stir well, and cook for 15-20 minutes until wine has mostly cooked off.
  • Add in the whole milk, stir well, and cook for 15-20 minutes until the milk has mostly cooked off.
  • Add in the diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and parmesan cheese, stirring well until well combined.
  • Lower heat to a low simmer and cook for 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until sauce has reduced and thickened.



Calories: 324kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 65mg | Sodium: 721mg | Potassium: 810mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 1764IU | Vitamin C: 18mg | Calcium: 157mg | Iron: 4mg
Bolognese Sauce collage

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.


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  1. I made it vegetarian by using ground round instead of beef. Everything else the same. The family couldn’t tell the difference. Great recipe.

  2. Just need clarification. In comments, you responded that garlic is not in traditional bolognese sauce and it isn’t listed in instructions or ingredient list . Further down in other comments, you responded that you had omitted garlic in error and had corrected it to adding three cloves of garlic. I always have such success with your recipes …..and I follow the instructions exactly. I want to make this for guests so I wanted to be certain of adding garlic or omitting garlic. Thank you for always responding with helpful instructions and for such wonderful recipes.


    I used heavy cream, red wine – a pinot – added 6 cloves of garlic & added 1 bay leaf. I used my slow cooker. The ingredients melded together beautifully. Also added a little oregano.

    Thank you Sabrina!!.


      1. Just an fyi – I won’t use bay leaf next time. That was just my idea. Didn’t take away from it but I think I’d rather not have the taste of it in it.

        Again, my picky friends LOVED your recipe!!

  4. Garlic still not listed in ingredients also missing in instructions. Otherwise looks like a delicious sauce!

  5. This looks so yummy, but I’m dairy free ? is it possible to swap the cream for a different milk or coconut milk? Thank you!

  6. Your Bolognese sauce looks amazing, and I am looking forward to making it soon! Love all the veggies you are adding to it.

  7. I’m loving the additions of wine and nutmeg! I think both go so well with a savory meat sauce and am excited to try this recipe!!

  8. Can’t wait to make this. I have a can of crushed tomatoes and meat I’ve been needing to make something with!

  9. This bolognese looks perfectly delicious. I want to slather it on some great crusty bread and eat it!

  10. This homemade bolognese sauce is so amazing! Perfect for a filling weeknight meal! I love your suggestion to use cream instead of whole milk, so good!

  11. Recipe looks awesome simple and easy. I have never add milk to Bolognese Sauce before but it would cut down on the acidity of the tomatoes. I will give it a try! Thanks Carolyn

  12. I love this sauce on noquis at my favorite restaurant in L.A. I don’t have wine. Can I substitute beef broth or???

    1. Wine is a pretty important flavor component of the recipe. If you do need to substitute, broth would be the best option, but the difference will be noticeable.

  13. Iam sure going to try this recipe I sure don’t like all the adds on your site, though from Google. Tell them NO MORE adds/

    1. Hi Gail, I am so sorry the ads are overwhelming! I actually minimized the amount on my site because I’m sensitive to them too just to cover costs. I just can’t remove them all or I can’t afford to keep the site running. I’ll reach out to the ad company and see if something is going on out of the ordinary today though. Usually I don’t get any feedback about them.

    1. gah! it got left off by mistake, 3 cloves minced should be in there, my apologies. Fixing it now.