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.
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.
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
Create a free account to Save Recipes
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.
- 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.
This recipe is a must try. Can I substitute the hamburger for Italian Sausage?
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!!.
Yay! Thanks for coming back to let me know, Domino.
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!!
Thanks for the 5 stars, Domino.
Garlic still not listed in ingredients also missing in instructions. Otherwise looks like a delicious sauce!
There isn’t garlic in traditional bolognese sauce. Hope you enjoy it!
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!
I would recommend using almond milk as a substitute. Enjoy!
Your Bolognese sauce looks amazing, and I am looking forward to making it soon! Love all the veggies you are adding to it.
Thanks, Biana. I appreciate the 5 star rating.
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!!
Can’t wait to make this. I have a can of crushed tomatoes and meat I’ve been needing to make something with!
This bolognese looks perfectly delicious. I want to slather it on some great crusty bread and eat it!
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!
Thanks, Emily. I hope you enjoy it.
This looks really good band I will try it some time soon.
I used nutmeg but feel free to add any additional herbs to your liking.
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
I love this sauce on noquis at my favorite restaurant in L.A. I don’t have wine. Can I substitute beef broth or???
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.
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/
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.
No garlic? Is that correct?
gah! it got left off by mistake, 3 cloves minced should be in there, my apologies. Fixing it now.