This Simple Bolognese Sauce Recipe is a flavorful pasta sauce made with ground beef and Italian sausage. It’s a filling and comforting meaty sauce with layers of flavors, that everyone will love.
This recipe was originally posted in 2018, it's been updated for content and photos.
Even though it takes time to make, most of the time is spent waiting for the sauce to simmer on low heat.
Once you have a taste of this amazing sauce you will agree it was well worth the time waiting for it to cook. If you are short on time, try making our homemade marinara sauce, or blush sauce.
- Homemade Bolognese sauce is the perfect comfort food.
- It's an easy recipe that's made with simple and fresh ingredients.
- Bolognese sauce is a versatile sauce and tastes great over your favorite pasta.
Here is what you will need to make this easy bolognese recipe
- Lean ground beef (preferably grass-fed ground beef)
- Italian sausage
- Red wine
- Fresh or Strained Tomatoes
- Bay Leaf
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
- Heavy skillet or saucepan
- Vegetable knife
- Cutting Board
How to make simple bolognese sauce
Prepare the ingredients: chop the vegetables, measure the wine, tomatoes, bay leaf, and nutmeg. Heat olive oil in a heavy pan over medium heat.
Step 1. Cook the vegetables
Once the oil in the pan is hot, add the vegetables and cook them stirring occasionally until they begin to soften.
Step 2. Add the meat
Add the ground beef and ground pork or sausage to the pan and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes until it's almost cooked through.
Step 3. Add the wine
Gradually add the wine to the pan in intervals allowing it to reduce before adding more.
Step 4. Stir in the remaining ingredients
Stir in the tomatoes, nutmeg and bay leaf. Reduce the heat to low and let the bolognese sauce simmer for an hour over low heat.
Step 5. Add the Milk
Remove the bay leaf from the sauce, and stir in the milk. Cover the pan loosely and simmer for another 15 to 20 minutes.
Note: For a more flavorful sauce, make this sauce the day before serving. On the day of serving, add the milk and reheat the sauce.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
The full list of ingredients to make this homemade bolognese sauce recipe is above. Below are notes about some of the ingredients along with ideas for substitutes.
What is the best wine to use in homemade pasta sauce?
It's a good idea to cook with wine that you are going to drink with the meal in your recipes. Bolognese sauce tastes great when it's made with a good Cabernet, Merlot, Chianti or Pinot Noir.
Red wine substitution- you can also make this recipe with white wine such as pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc. White wine will not add as much flavor as red wine will to this sauce.
You can also substitute the wine with an equal amount of beef, chicken or vegetable broth for an alcohol-free bolognese sauce.
What is the best meat to use in a simple bolognese?
There are many different types of meats that you can use to make Bolognese sauce. Some recipes are made with ground beef only, or a mixture of ground beef and ground pork or sausage.
I like to use half ground beef and half Italian Sausage which adds a ton of flavor to the sauce.
Other options are a combination of ground, beef, pork, and veal. You can even use ground chicken or turkey for a lower-fat version. This is the kind of recipe that you really can't mess up, so use whatever you like for meat.
Check out ButcherBox for humanely raised high-quality meat!
The best tomatoes to use in homemade pasta sauce
My preference is to use pure fresh diced plum tomatoes when they are in season. When they aren't in season, organic strained, San Marzano tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes or tomato sauce without added salt are a good option.
Look for low sodium tomatoes and adjust the salt yourself once the sauce has been cooked.
What's better in bolognese, cream or milk?
That depends on what you like. Traditional bolognese sauces are made with heavy cream which I think can overpower the sauce.
I prefer whole milk, and even non-dairy milk such as oat milk works in this recipe. If you prefer extra creamy bolognese, use an equal amount of heavy cream.
What to serve with bolognese sauce
This classic Italian meat sauce tastes great with a heartier pasta such as linguine, fettuccini, tagliatelle, pappardelle, rigatoni, ravioli, baked ziti, lasagna or polenta.
Serve pasta with Bolognese topped with shredded parmesan, pecorino romano with a side salad like this Arugula Salad with Pistachios or this Arugula and Fig Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette and a side of crusty sourdough bread.
Spicy bolognese. Add a teaspoon or more or less red pepper flakes for spicy sauce.
Fresh herbs bolognese. Add a handful of chopped herbs such as a combination of fresh basil leaves, fresh oregano, and fresh parsley into the sauce just before serving.
Salty bolognese. Just before serving stir in some cooked bacon, pancetta, or prosciutto.
How to Store Leftovers
In the Refrigerator - Store leftover room Bolognese sauce in the refrigerator for up to 3 days in an airtight container.
In the Freezer - Bolognese sauce freezes well, and might even taste a little better after it has been frozen. Place the leftover room temperature sauce in a freezer-safe container in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Thaw it in the refrigerator overnight. It can be heated on top of the stove over low heat or in the microwave.
Tips for making the best bolognese sauce
- Save time chopping vegetables by purchasing pre-cut veggies in your supermarket or use a mini-food processor to chop them quickly.
- Dairy milk can curdle if it's cooked for a long time, add it 15 to 20 minutes before serving your sauce.
Below are questions frequently asked about making this recipe. If you have a question and don't see it below. Leave a comment at the end of this post and I will get back to you as soon as I can.
Yes you can. Carrot, onion, and celery are often called the holy trinity of flavors in Italian cooking. When these ingredients are slowly cooked, they add a lot of flavor as they do to bolognese sauce. If you like cooked celery, you can leave it out or replace it with peppers.
Meat sauce is tomato-based without any cream or milk added to it. Bolognese sauce is an Italian classic dish that is a creamy slow-cooked meat sauce made with tomatoes, meat, and milk or cream.
If you are looking for more easy and delicious ground beef recipes, check out these Grass Fed Ground Beef Recipes!
Check out These Italian Recipes
- Homemade Marinara Sauce
- Eggplant Parmesan Casserole
- Homemade Manicotti
- Red Wine Chicken Breasts with Vegetables
- Beef Stew with Vegetables
Click on serving size to scale this recipe
- ½ pound lean ground beef
- ½ pound Italian pork sausage
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¼ cup diced carrots about 2 carrots
- ¼ cup diced celery about 2 stalks
- ¼ cup minced onion 1bout ½ onion
- 3 to 4 cloves minced garlic
- ¾ cup red wine
- 1 ½ cups diced or strained tomatoes
- a pinch of nutmeg
- 1 bay leaf
- freshly grated Parmesan cheese for sprinkling
- ¼ cup whole milk or light cream
- Heat a cast-iron pan or dutch oven over medium heat.
- Add the onions, garlic, carrots, and celery - cook stirring occasionally until they begin to soften which will take about 6 to 8 minutes.
- Add the ground beef and sausage to the pan and for 8 to 10 minutes until it's almost cooked through.
- Gradually add the wine in intervals, allowing it to evaporate before adding more.
- Stir in the tomatoes, nutmeg, and bay leaf. Reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for an hour on very low heat.
- Remove the bay leaf and stir in the milk. Cover the pan loosely and simmer for 20 minutes longer and serve over your favorite pasta.
Nutrition information provided is an estimate and can vary based on cooking methods and ingredients used
Check out more of our sauce recipes here!
Nicoletta De Angelis Nardelli says
For me the vegetarian version with mushroom and walnuts, please! Sounds amazing! Although my husband would go for the traditional meaty version. Thank you for both!
Amy (Savory Moments) says
Such a hearty and delicious way to top pasta. I love a homemade sauce like this!
Is there anything better than homemade sauce??? I always make a big batch to put in the freezer so I'm going to try this one next time!
Colleen - Faith, Hope, Love, & Luck says
Now, this is some serious comfort food! I totally wouldn't mind having a ladle full of this on my pasta!
Karen @Karen's Kitchen Stories says
I just got introduced to bolognese sauce and made some last weekend. Yours looks so much easier! Love all of the tips for freezing and saving.
Amy Nash says
I love a good, chunky, classic bolognese! It's total comfort food and a work of love! I will often double the recipe and freeze half for another day.
Julie Menghini says
We love our pasta and this sauce was amazing. So flavorful and easy to make. We made a big batch and froze half of it for another delicious meal when we can't cook.
Lisa Kerhin says
This sauce looks so good! I love all the veggies in it. My family laughs at me every time I add carrots to Bolognese sauce, they swear it's wrong. Yet they gobble down the sauce.
Dorothy Reinhold says
Not much beats a big hearty bowl of pasta! This sauce sounds delicious! Can't wait to dig into a big bowl.
Homemade is the best! I don't make bolognese often enough.
Liz @ Books n' Cooks says
This is total winter comfort food! I could eat this all winter long and never tire of it.
Ashley Marie Lecker says
There is nothing better than pasta with bolognese sauce! I love the addition of the red wine and pinch of nutmeg!