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.
- 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
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This is an overview of the ingredients and steps to make this recipe, scroll down for a printable recipe card with exact measurements and instructions.
- Lean ground beef
- Italian sausage
- Red wine
- Fresh or Strained Tomatoes
- Bay Leaf
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
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 high-quality lean ground humanely raised 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.
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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.
Check out These Italian Recipes
- Homemade Marinara Sauce
- Eggplant Parmesan Casserole
- Homemade Manicotti
- Red Wine Chicken Breasts with Vegetables
- Beef Stew with Vegetables
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