Bolognese Sauce Recipe

This classic Bolognese Sauce Recipe, made with beef and a bit of pork in pancetta form, is fabulous sauce for pasta night. Get it going and let it mingle for a few hours and just watch all the hungry people begin to appear.

plate of beef bolognese pasta sauce

I think Beef Bolognese can be best described by emojis: 😋❤️🍝. Bottom line? It’s a classic bowl of savory yum. I love how the veggies and prosciutto give such rich and varied flavors to the sauce. This pasta sauce is perfect for picky-eaters and foodies alike, as well as being a great option for serving a group. For those of us that don’t know the basics of Bolognese or need a bit of a refresher, Bolognese is an Italian meat-based sauce made with white wine and tomato. The sauce is also characterized by its use of onions, celery and carrots. Yes, please!

Bolognese is typically served over tagliatelle (they’re the long, flat, wide ones). If not tagliatelle, it is usually served with another variety of wide, flat pasta. Fettuccini anyone? Linguine? Of course, you can use any pasta you like. You know why? Because it’s a free country, y’all, that’s why. Pick your own preferable pasta. (I swanny, if anyone gets up in here and starts the “that isn’t authentic” junk … none of us have time for that. I will not respond, but simply delete, because, again, it’s a free country.)

pasta with bolognese sauce recipe photo

This recipe is easy. Let me tell you all about it.

First, heat a large, heavy bottom pot over medium-low heat. Then add your fats, (butter and oil) and when the butter has melted, add the chopped onion, celery, carrot, salt and pepper. Cook over the medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until the vegetables have softened and the onions are translucent, this usually takes about 10 minutes.

Next, add the grated garlic, prosciutto, and ground beef. Crumble the beef into the pot. Combine these well with the vegetables, continue cooking and occasionally stirring these ingredients together.

Once the beef has browned, stir in the milk and bring the sauce to a gentle simmer. Continue stirring for 15 minutes. You want the milk to be mostly cooked away. Nest, stir in a cup of dry, white wine and simmer for five minutes.

Before adding the tomatoes, roughly chop them. You can do this directly in the can with a pair of kitchen shears. Stir in the tomatoes and juice along with oregano, nutmeg, and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat until there’s barely a simmer. You only want a few bubbles breaking the surface every once and a while. Let the sauce simmer, uncovered for three hours or more, stir occasionally. About halfway through simmering I use a potato masher to break up the larger tomato, carrot and celery pieces. This step isn’t necessary, but I prefer the consistency it gives the sauce. As the sauce cooks the fat will separate, DO NOT remove the fat from the sauce. The fat makes the sauce good. Fat is good. Fat is your friend. Season to taste and voila!

Finish by cooking your preferred pasta according to package instructions. Toss the cooked pasta with a cup or two of sauce (just enough to coat the pasta) and serve topped with a big scoop of that delicious sauce. Garnish with some fresh grated parmesan and that’s all she wrote. Enjoy!

beef pasta sauce recipe

More scrumptious pasta recipes you will enjoy:

Bolognese Sauce Recipe

Yield: 6-8
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours 35 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 50 minutes

A classic beef bolognese sauce full of flavor and easy to make.

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped/diced onion
  • ⅔ cup finely chopped/diced celery
  • ⅔ cup finely chopped/diced carrot
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves, grated or finely minced
  • 4 ounces pancetta, prosciutto or bacon, diced/chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef chuck
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 28 ounces (about 3 1/2 cups) quality canned whole plum tomatoes, with their juice
  • additional salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2-2 pounds pasta
  • grated parmigiano-reggiano for garnish
  • optional: fresh parsley and/or basil for garnish

Instructions

  1. Heat a large heavy bottom pot over medium-low heat. Add butter and the oil. When butter has melted, add chopped onion, celery, carrot, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until vegetables have softened and onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. 
  2. Add grated garlic, pancetta, and beef, crumbling the beef into the pot; combine well with vegetables; continue cooking and stirring until beef has browned. 
  3. Stir in milk and bring to a gentle simmer, stirring frequently for 15 minutes. Milk should be mostly cooked away.
  4. Stir in wine, simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Before adding the tomatoes rough chop them directly in the can (kitchen shears work great for this). Stir in tomatoes and juice, along with dried oregano, grated nutmeg and bay leaf; combine well. Bring to a simmer, then lower heat to barely a simmer, with only a few bubbles breaking the surface every once in a while. Cook, uncovered for 3 hours or more, stirring occasionally. (About halfway through cooking I use a potato masher in the sauce. It breaks up larger tomato, carrot and celery pieces. Not necessary, but I like the consistency it helps give the sauce. You could also use a heavy flat bottomed glass.) As sauce cooks the fat will separate from sauce. Do NOT remove the fat. The fat is good. Season to taste. 
  6. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Toss cooked pasta with remaining a bit of sauce (1-2 cups, enough to coat pasta); toss to coat. Serve pasta topped with more sauce. Garnish with grated parmesan.

Notes

Inspired and adapted from Marcella Hazan’s Bolognese Meat Sauce recipe in The Essentials of Classic Italian Cuisine, and the Bolognese Sauce Recipe in The New Basics Cookbook by Julie Rosso & Sheila Lukins.