Big, bold flavors and simple ingredients come together to make this Homemade Bolognese Sauce. A hearty and delicious red pasta sauce that's perfect for spaghetti, lasagna, pappardelle and more classic Italian recipes.
The Best Homemade Bolognese Sauce
Mmm, bolognese sauce. I just love this rustic, meaty red sauce that is almost like a stew, it's so packed full of good veggies, ground beef and pork, and big flavors. If you've never made it before, don't let the fancy name stress you out. While it's a classic Italian pasta sauce, it's definitely not tricky if you have about a half-hour on your hands to whip it up. If you can chop some veggies, brown some meat, and open cans of tomatoes, you'll be solid! (And so very happy after nailing this recipe.)
I love bolognese for an easy weeknight pasta dinner, but it's also rich and bold and fun to have for a crowd if you're hosting a meal at your home, or for a date night at home to enjoy with your partner. As simple as it is, the flavors are big and the end result is so cozy and warming, with just enough meat and veggies to balance out a pasta meal and make it as nourishing as it is indulgent! I love this bolognese, big time, and I think you'll become a fan soon as you make it for your loved ones, too.
Why I Love This Bolognese Recipe:
Bolognese sauces always have a few similar ingredients: onion, celery, carrot, plus chopped tomato and ground beef and pork (or another ground meat). But I love this one because it's a one-pot sauce, and the flavors mingle together into this extra-rich combination, thanks so sautéing the veggies in butter and then adding a big splash of half-and-half at the end. It's just this big, bold, subtly creamy sauce that everyone will love.
What is Bolognese?
Bolognese is an Italian cuisine-based red meat sauce, originally from the city of Bologna. It often goes over pasta or is used in lasagna dishes, and is made commonly using ground meat, chopped vegetables, and diced tomatoes.
Bolognese sauce is super easy to make, but maybe not so easy to say. So how do you pronounce bolognese? The "g" is silent, so you say bow-luh-naise. That last part is pronounced like the "naise" in "mayonnaise."
What is the difference between bolognese and marinara sauce?
The biggest difference is that, while they are both red sauces, bolognese usually has meat and an assortment of veggies in it beyond tomatoes. By contrast, marinara sauce is often made of just tomatoes, olive oil, and garlic (and maybe a few extra spices).
What is Bolognese Sauce Made Of?
My bolognese sauce is made of easy to find ingredients, many of which you probably already have in your pantry.
To make this bolognese sauce you will need:
- butter (to saute the veggies)
- ground beef
- salt and pepper
- dried basil
- dried parsley
- dried oregano
- tomato paste
- dry red wine (or apple, pomegranate, or white grape juice)
- diced tomatoes
- crushed tomatoes
- parmesan cheese
How to Make Bolognese Sauce
Melt the butter and cook your veggies: In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, melt the butter and add the onion, carrot, and celery. Cook until the vegetables are very tender, stirring often, about 10 minutes.
Cook the garlic and meat: Add the garlic, ground beef, and ground pork and stir until the meat is cooked through and no longer pink, breaking it up in pieces as you stir.
Add your spices: Add the salt, black pepper, dried basil, dried parsley, and dried oregano, and stir to combine.
Add tomato paste and wine: Add the tomato paste and stir to combine. Add red wine or juice and stir, scraping up any bits that might be stuck to the bottom of the pan.
Add tomatoes and half & half: Add the diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, and half-and-half. Stir to combine.
Simmer: Cover with a lid and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add cheese: Remove the lid and stir in the parmesan, and adjust salt and pepper to taste.
Dig in: Serve over your favorite pasta.
The best pasta to use with homemade bolognese sauce:
My favorite pasta noodles to use with bolognese include spaghetti, lasagne, pappardelle and rigatoni! Tagliatelle is also amazing with this pasta sauce. Let's face it a good homemade pasta sauce plus your favorite noodles is really where it's at.
Can I make bolognese sauce in advance?
Yes, in fact, just like chili, bolognese sauce is often better on day two after the flavors have set. Make the sauce as the instructions call for, let it cool, store in an airtight container in the fridge for a day or two, and reheat in the Dutch oven before serving.
Can I make bolognese sauce in the Crock Pot?
Yep, you can! I'd recommend browning the meat in a separate pan beforehand. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a saucepan over medium-high heat, add the ground beef and pork, and brown until cooked through and no longer pink, about 10 minutes, breaking up the meat into small pieces. Add to the Crock Pot, along with the remaining ingredients (except the half-and-half and parmesan), give everything a gentle stir, and cover to cook on high for 3 to 4 hours or low for 5 to 6 hours. Stir in the half-and-half and parmesan after the cook time has completed.
Can I make bolognese sauce in the Instant Pot?
Yes! Again, brown the meat first (but you can do this in the Instant Pot). Add a tablespoon of olive oil to the pot and set to "saute." Add the ground meat and brown until cooked through, breaking up the meat as you go, until no longer pink. Add the remaining ingredients minus the half-and-half and parmesan, select the manual setting on high pressure, and set the timer for 20 minutes. After the time's up, quick release the pressure according to the manufacturer's instructions. Stir in the half-and-half and cheese and serve immediately.
Can I freeze bolognese sauce?
You definitely can! And this recipe makes a big batch, so freezing leftovers may be smart depending on how many mouths you have to feed. Just store the cooled bolognese in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 4 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight when ready to use, and heat up in a Dutch oven to serve over cooked pasta.
What else can I use bolognese for besides pasta sauce?
Bolognese is good in so many things! You can serve it stuffed into bell peppers and roast them with shredded mozzarella on top. You could also serve it over spaghetti squash or in a lasagna soup.
Big, bold flavors and simple ingredients come together to make this Homemade Bolognese Sauce.
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 medium sweet onion, diced (about 1 cup)
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and diced (about ½ cup)
- 1 medium rib celery, diced (about ½ cup)
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 pound ground pork or pork sausage
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoons dried oregano
- ½ cup tomato paste
- 1 cup dry red wine (or apple, pomegranate, or white grape juice)
- 1 can diced tomatoes (14 ounces)
- 1 can crushed tomatoes (28 ounces)
- ½ cup half-and-half or whole milk
- ⅓ cup finely grated parmesan
- Additional salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 pounds of your favorite pasta, cooked, for serving
- In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, melt the butter and add the onion, carrot, and celery. Cook until the vegetables are very tender, stirring often, about 10 minutes.
- Add the garlic, ground beef, and ground pork and stir until the meat is cooked through and no longer pink, breaking it up in pieces as you stir.
- Add the salt, black pepper, dried basil, dried parsley, and dried oregano, and stir to combine.
- Add the tomato paste and stir to combine.
- Add red wine or juice and stir, scraping up any bits that might be stuck to the bottom of the pan.
- Add the diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, and half-and-half. Stir to combine.
- Cover with a lid and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove the lid and stir in the parmesan, and adjust salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve over your favorite pasta.
- I like to chop the onion, carrot, and celery very small so that they disappear when cooked.
- This recipes makes a bunch! Feel free to freeze half the batch.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Category: Sauces
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: bolognese sauce, spaghetti bolognese, bolognese recipe, pasta bolognese, bolognese pronunciation, what is bolognese
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Homemade bolognese sauce is a hearty, comforting recipe that's super simple to whip up and makes for a delicious meal served over your favorite pasta!