We should have posted The Secret to Authentic Italian Bolognese Sauce Recipe last year after we returned from Italy, but better late than never!
We took a cooking class in Italy and I have to be honest with you, it was not our favorite. The food ended up really yummy, but the instruction was horrible. It was basically the chef flying through things himself, giving basic instruction, never letting the class join in until the very end for some quick pasta making, and at that point I was super over it.
Until he taught us the secret to authentic Italian Bolognese Sauce and we got to try it. I wanted to bathe in it. Cade already was. Ok, he wasn’t but I’m telling you, it was wonderful.
I can already read your mind, you’re wondering why we are so excited about spaghetti sauce, aren’t you? We actually aren’t, and I’m going to start at the very beginning, take you through the process and ingredients and then tell you the secret.
And no, it’s not cheese. Or fresh herbs. Ohhhhhh, thought you guessed it, didn’t you!
What’s the Difference Between Spaghetti Sauce and Bolognese?
Is there a difference between spaghetti sauce and Bolognese sauce? They look and smell the same, but think about it, do they taste the same? In order to really break it down, we need to call spaghetti sauce by what it is more commonly known as, marinara sauce.
What is Marinara Sauce?
Marinara sauce is, at its simplest form, a tomato sauce, often with herbs and veggies like carrots and onion.
What is Bolognese?
Bolognese is primarily a meat based sauce, originating in Bologna, Italy. Bolognese has just a bit of tomato for flavor, while the rest is meat and the other liquids are generally wine and milk.
What Dishes Use Bolognese Sauce?
Bolognese is used on pasta or in lasagna. Ahhh now, you’re thinking about that meaty sauce, aren’t you?
Are Ragu and Bolognese the Same Thing?
The real answer is that they are different, but to be honest, other than the fact that one usually has a little less tomatoes and uses white versus red wine, I really don’t think they are all that different. We don’t drink alcohol, so it usually gets skipped in our recipes or a cooking wine is used, as in alcohol-free cooking wine. Sounds like we’d better go back to Italy and do some more investigating.
What’s in Bolognese Sauce?
For this authentic bolognese sauce recipe, you’ll need butter, olive oil, veggies (including both fresh and canned tomatoes), tomato sauce, ground beef and Italian sausage, heavy cream, milk, cooking white wine, herbs and spices, and our secret ingredient. More on that last ingredient in a bit!
For the best bolognese recipe, I highly recommend buying the exact ingredients called for in the recipe card below. We’ve tested this recipe over and over again, and these precise ingredients make for the world’s best spaghetti bolognese.
What Kind of Meat do You Use in Bolognese Sauce?
Traditionally, Italian Bolognese sauce is made with minced beef or pork. We really like the combination of beef and sausage as it’s a little more tricky to find all of the ground meats and make your own mixture like they did in Italy.
How to Make Bolognese Sauce
You may be surprised to learn that the toughest part about making authentic bolognese sauce is having the patience to let the sauce simmer for a few hours. No really, that’s the hardest part!
- To make this Italian bolognese sauce, you first need to roast the fresh tomatoes. Once they’ve come out of the oven and have had time to cool a bit, blitz them up in a food processor to make tomato sauce.
- Then, sauté diced carrots, onion, and celery in a little butter and olive oil. Add the garlic to the pan and continue cooking until tender.
- Add the ground beef and Italian sausage in with the veggies and cook until browned.
- Once the meat has had time to brown, stir in the remaining ingredients and let the homemade bolognese sauce simmer for at least two hours, but up to an entire afternoon.
If serving over pasta, keep reading to see our suggestions for which noodle shape you should buy.
The Best Pasta for Bolognese Sauce
This really shouldn’t be such a big deal, but it kind of is. The type of pasta you buy should match the sauce and recipe you’re making. For example, can you imagine eating macaroni and cheese with spaghetti noodles? Or Alfredo with macaroni noodles? It just feels wrong doesn’t it?
When you get into the red sauces, it seems like you can really mix up the pasta shapes, and that’s true, but really pasta recipes are best when you use a certain shape. It helps to catch the sauce in the right way and the flavor and texture should work together and not against each other.
Have you ever had penne with a really delicate sauce and felt like all you could taste was that hardy noodle? Point proven
Our Least Favorite Pasta for Bolognese
Penne is our least favorite pasta to use for bolognese sauce. I find the texture too thick and heavy, and the noodle isn’t wide enough to really capture the sauce. However, I must mention that it’s a typical shape that people enjoy for Ragu sauces so don’t skip it just because of us.
Our Favorite Pasta Shapes for Ragu
These are our favorite pasta shapes for Ragu sauces (try to read each one without saying it in your best Italian accent, I triple dog dare you). We’ve listed the pasta shapes in order that we like to eat them with a ragu or bolognese sauce.
Papperdelle pasta is a wider, flat egg noodle that is perfect for bolognese. This is actually what we ate it with, but in picture I had to switch to fettuccini as we were all out. It’s a light noodle, but has plenty of surface area for the heart meat sauce to sit on.
Fettuccini is a more common pasta shape than pappardelle, but they are practically the same thing. The fettuccini noodle is just slightly smaller, but still has better surface area for the sauce than a spaghetti noodle. Fettuccini is a Roman or Tuscan style of pasta that is also easy to make on your own pasta machine as that’s usually the size of pasta maker you receive.
Rigatoni is often mistaken as Penne, but they are not created equal. Rigatoni are a tube-shaped pasta. They are larger than penne and ziti, and sometimes are a little curved. Rigatoni usually have ridges down their length, sometimes spiraling around the tube.
Spaghetti isn’t usually a go-to for Bolognese as the meat just falls off of the noodles, but in a pinch, that’s the one we would choose. It’s a thin, long noodle, though not as thin as angel hair pasta.
Can Bolognese Sauce be Made in Advance?
Oh heck yes!! Not only can Bolognese be made in advance, it should be!
Why? Because bolognese gets even better with time, so start that baby in the morning and simmer it all day long. Or make it the night before and store in the fridge, then reheat the next night for maximum flavor!
Bolognese sauce can be made ahead and kept refrigerated in an air-tight container for up to 3 days.
Can You Freeze Spaghetti Sauce?
Alright, we try to always answer the “can you freeze it” questions in these posts as we know a lot of you work hard on freezer meals. So what’s the answer? Of course!!!
I adore freezing red sauces, while I never freeze a cream sauce. Red sauces only get better with time while a white sauce will separate and gain too much water. The trick is always the same, please, please invest in a Food Saver. You will thank me all the days of your life. It’s worth it. The end.
Tips for the Best Bolognese Sauce
You’ve made it. This is the moment you’ve all been waiting for, what’s the secret to authentic Italian Bolognese Sauce?
We use the zest and just a squeeze of the juice in this traditional bolognese recipe. I know, you’re shocked, but it’s true. Try it and never look back. And no, you’re not going to taste the lemon at all.
Actually, there’s one more tip, use a red, not a white onion. It makes a difference, I promise.
You’ll also notice that other than the chopped parsley as garnish, and the bay leaves there aren’t herbs at all. Trust us, this is a meat sauce, not a marinara and you don’t need them.
Helpful Products for This Bolognese Recipe
- A simple meat chopper — Only a few dollars and soooo worth it!
- Le Creuset Dutch Oven — More than a few dollars, but worth the investment for durability and how your food cooks and tastes. Trust us. Put it on your Christmas list.
Other Italian Sauce Recipes
Looking for more Italian Sauce recipes? Who doesn’t love Italian sauces!? Make sure you try these out the next time you are making that Italian dish:
- Homemade Spaghetti Sauce
- Classic Pizza Sauce
- The BEST Pesto Recipe
- Veggie-Packed Marinara Sauce
- Easiest Beef Ragu
- Simple Cilantro Pesto
- Quick Spaghetti Sauce
- Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto
- Creamy Avocado Pesto
- ALL OF OUR EASY PASTA RECIPES!
REMEMBER TO SUBSCRIBE TO our FREE Oh Sweet Basil NEWSLETTER AND RECEIVE EASY RECIPES DELIVERED INTO YOUR INBOX EVERY DAY!
When you try a recipe, please use the hashtag #ohsweetbasil on INSTAGRAM for a chance to be featured in our stories! FOLLOW OH, SWEET BASIL ON FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | PINTEREST | TWITTER FOR ALL OF OUR LATEST CONTENT, RECIPES AND STORIES.
The Secret to Authentic Italian Bolognese Sauce Recipe
- 1 tablespoons Butter
- 1 tablespoon Olive oil
- 2 Carrots, minced
- 2 Celery, minced
- 1 Onion, red, minced
- 6 cloves Garlic, minced
- 1 lb Ground Beef, higher fat
- 1 lb Italian Sausage
- 2 cups Tomatoes, halved
- 2 cans Tomato Sauce, 15 oz cans
- 15 oz Tomatoes, fire roasted
- 1/4 cup Cream , heavy *SEE NOTE
- 1/4 cup Milk
- 1 dash Cooking Wine , white *SEE NOTE
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1 squeeze Lemon Juice
- 1 dash Nutmeg
- 2 Bay Leaves
- Salt and Sepper , to taste
- Parmesan Cheese, for serving
- Heat an oven to 425 degrees.
- Place 2 Cups of fresh tomatoes on a baking sheet and drizzle with oil and salt.
- Roast for 20 minutes or until soft and charred bits are appearing.
- Remove the tomatoes and set aside.
- Once cooled a little, blend the tomatoes in a blender to make a tomato sauce.
- In a Dutch Oven , over medium high heat, add the butter and oil. Once melted, add the carrots, celery, and onion.
- Saute, stirring occasionally until tender, about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
- Add the ground beef and sausage and use a meat chopper (it's only $6 and worth every penny) to ground up the meat as it's cooking.
- Once the meat is cooked, drain any excess grease, then start adding all other ingredients (i.e. tomatoes, lemon zest and juice, and cream).
- Stir to combine and simmer for 2-3 hours or up to an entire afternoon.
- Remove the bay leaves and serve with fresh pasta and fresh parmesan cheese.
- Le Creuset - 7.25 Quart
Hello. This looks like what my Italian grandmother used to make and I’m anxious to try it this week! I have a question though.
The ingredients call for:
2 cups tomatoes halved
2 cans tomato sauce 15 oz cans
15 oz tomatoes fire-roasted
Meaning I need to buy 3 tomato items.
But the directions seem to indicate that you use the tomatoes halved, to make the tomatoes fire-roasted, and use those to make the tomato sauce. Meaning I only need to buy the fresh tomatoes and follow the instructions.
Question: Do I need to buy the 3 tomato items listed above, or just the 2 cups worth of fresh tomatoes to roast and make sauce?
Hi Trish! Yes, 3 tomato items. Whole tomatoes from your produce section that you will roast yourself. Then cans of tomato sauce and fire roasted tomatoes. We would love to hear what you think and if it is similar to your grandma’s!
I love this recipe… make it over and over. It is in fact the way I remember tasting our Nonnas. I’ve substituted lamb for the beef and it’s a whole different level of delicious.
Yum! I’m so glad you love it!
This sounds delicious! I would think Orecchiette Pasta would be perfect with this one! What about a good Italian meatball with this sauce instead of ground meats?
Hi Paula! You could definitely use orecchiette pasta with this! I prefer longer noodles with this, but I’m definitely a fan of using pasta that you like! Meatballs would also be delicious with this sauce. I find that have the ground meat in it really amps up the flavor. I’m not sure the same thing would happen with meatballs, but it is definitely worth a try! Enjoy!!
Is this bolognese sauce enough for two pounds of rigatoni? Thank you.
Hi Sandy! Yes, it should be plenty unless you want your pasta extra extra saucy. Enjoy!
I am so anxious to make this this weekend and take to my niece who just had a baby. And of course I will have enough for us left here but my question to you is do I go ahead and put the sauce on the noodles it’s about a 30 minute drive to where she’s at and I’m not sure I know they’ll have it for dinner but I just was wondering if I should go ahead and put the sauce over the noodles????
Hi Stephanie! You could do it either way. My own preference would probably be to keep them separate and then combine before eating. Great question!
So you left out when to put in the heavy cream, the lemon the broth ??🤯
Hey Mary! It is part of step 10 where it says to add all the rest of the ingredients. I added a little clarification into the instructions. Sorry for the confusion!
God Bless you!!! Thank you for taking the time to answer everyone’s comments, even if some were undeserving of your time. Thank you for the addition of the lemon!!! Really perked my bolognese right up!!! Hope you have a wonderful day!!!
Thank you so much Paula and bless your heart! Thank you for the support and I’m so glad you enjoyed this recipe! That lemon just knocks it out of the park!
Stephanie R Swaim
The first time I made this recipe, I wore blisters mincing the veggies. No more! I use the food processor to really get the pieces small. It is faster, easier clean up, and you can’t tell the difference in the recipe.
Thank you for such a tasty version. It’s a big hit at my house!
Thank you Stephanie! A food processor is a great idea! Thanks for sharing that tip!
This is the recipe I have been searching for! I love bolognese and this one is so thick and flavorful! Thanks so much!!
Yessssss!! Thank you Mary Jo! So glad you enjoyed it!
What is the best way to thin the sauce out just a bit if it gets too thick after simmering for several hours?
Hi Roxanne! It is meant to be quite thick, but if you want it more saucy, try adding more tomato sauce.
Made this morning for a dinner gathering tonight. Omg….taste test was AMAZING! The fresh roasted tomatoes are the best addition in my eyes….takes the taste up to the next level! Love this recipe and it will become a favorite at my house ❤️
Woop woop! Love to hear this so much! I’ve been working on a vegetarian version this week so I’ve been all over this recipe. It is a favorite in our house too!
This recipe turned out amazing! Definitely worth the time and will be part of our weekly menu. Thank you!
Yay! Love to hear this! Thank you Erin!
Made this tonight and it was delicious! I let it simmer for about 6 hours and it was perfect. I added about a cup of white wine and a little extra heavy cream. I truly think that cooking time really enhances the flavors so I would definitely recommend 3 or more hours there is a totally different taste and texture when you let it cook! 🙂
Yesssss Emily! You’ve nailed it! So glad you enjoyed this!
Emily what white wine did you use ? ☺️
I have a question, if I don’t drink alcohol and can’t have any type of alcohol related product. What could I use instead of the wine? Would beef broth work?
Hey Fatima! Yes, additional beef broth is great!
“I don’t drink alcohol so we don’t usually use it”
You just admitted that you don’t understand one of the most basic concepts of cooking which is cooking off the alcohol. You should probably shut down your blog and stop giving advice until you’ve mastered the basics.
Unnecessarily rude comment Jax. Learn some manners. It’s a great recipe by the way.
Thanks for the support Kevan!
Mary Beth Tuttle
Can this be made in a slow cooker?
Yes absolutely! You’ll follow all the directions as written up through step 10 and then put the sauce in a slow cooker on low for 2-3 hours.
Hello…. I’ve made your Bolognese sauce a number of times and it’s THE best. A couple questions… how do you prevent having too much water forming when serving the sauce on pasta? Like, the water from the sauce separates and then it gathers under the sauce. Does adding tomato paste help? Also, if you don’t have white cooking wine, what kind of regular white wine would be good for this recipe? Chardonnay, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon Blanc??? Thank you and Thanks so much for providing a wonderful cooking experience.
No clue on alcohol as I don’t drink it. 😞 I’m sorry. I haven’t ever had the sauces separate, are you stirring and allowing to simmer?
I would recommend a Chardonnay, Pino Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc for white wine when cooking.
Thank you for the help with this Jordyn!
Very good! I did add a little to it. I used more white wine, thyme, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic salt. Added more nutmeg than suggested. Didn’t do the whole roasting the tomato thing. Just bought a can of fire roasted tomatoes and it worked out just fine. I see recipes as a guideline since everyone has different tastes. Thanks for posting! I will use this recipe again. My husband loved my sauce!
Recipes should absolutely be a guideline! That’s the joy of cooking…making a recipe fit your liking! Thanks for taking time to leave us a comment!
Very bland flavorless sauce
I’m sorry if you were not happy with this recipe, but it’s impossible for it to be flavorless with the ingredients included in the recipe.
How would you change up these steps if making in an instant pot if you don’t have the two hours to let it simmer?
Oh good questions! I haven’t tried it, but I would go with 10 minutes on high pressure in the Instant Pot.
Thank you so very much for this awesome recipe! I looked at a LOT of Bolognese recipes online and this one appealed to me the most. Tried it today and let it simmer for 6 hours. Truly delicious! Takes some time doing the prep work, but 110% worth it! Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought of lemon zest but it really works! Thanks again! Love it! It is the best thing I have ever tasted in my whole mouth!!!
Thank you so much Eleanor! We sure love this recipe and love to hear other people enjoying it too! Thank you for taking time to leave us a comment!
Are the oven roasted tomatoes completely necessary, or can I blend a can (or more) of tomatoes to make the additional sauce?
It just adds a certain flavor that is hard to replace, but you could replace it with more canned tomatoes.
I made this for dinner tonight. It was delish but very Filling. We are a family of 5, I also come from a huge family, so I made triple the amount. Now I have so much leftovers! I’m Going to freeze it for about a week. All the kids loved it especially my 4 year old. My Husband said it taste like a polish dish he had from his grandma when he was young. Thank you for sharing.
Yay! We love to hear that! It freezes great so you’re totally set!
Hi there! I am hoping to try your recipe out soon, but I was wondering: Did you really mean 215 oz of tomato sauce, or did you mean 21.5 or 2.15? 215 oz is a LOT of pasta sauce, haha!
Hi Chloe! It is 2 cans of tomato sauce that are 15oz each. So 30oz total! Sorry for the confusion!
I am a little confused on the tomato sauce. So there is the sauce from the blended ones that come from the oven do you additionally add 2 more 15oz cans? Or is there only one source of tomato sauce being the one you make from scratch? -Thank you!
Yes, you have tomatoes coming from 3 different sources…the fresh tomatoes you have roasted in the oven, 2 cans of tomato sauce, and the 1 can of fired roasted tomatoes. The combo of the 3 is perfection!
Hi! For the tomatoes that you are roasting in the oven, what type of tomato did you use?
We like to use romas or any garden fresh tomatoes (except beefsteak).
I am sorry, if you don’t fire roast your own tomatoes, how can you say this authentic?
This was weak af.
Absolutely my most favourite bolognese recipe! The lemon zest is a must 👌
Me second time making this.. absolutely delicious. Followed the recipe exactly as it says.
I doubled it this time so I can freeze half of it for when my parents come to visit..
This is my husbands favorite!
Love love love to hear this Beth! And it freezes great! Thanks for the feedback!
Absolutely my most favourite bolognese recipe! The lemon zest is a must 👌
Thank you!! Yes, that burst of lemon is the best little secret!
Beth do you drain off the fat from the meat, or cook meat separate and add to sauce, or not drain at all? Thanks
Can’t wait to try this! I’d like to try simmering it in the oven rather than on the stove. Have you tried that? If so, what would you suggest for the oven temperature?
Hey Andy! No, we haven’t tried that, but I would go with 275 degrees. Enjoy!
This recipe looks great. What type of Italian sausage do you use – sweet or hot?
Definitely sweet…I’m weak sauce when it comes to heat…LOL!
The first time I made it, it was perfect!!! So delicious and so easy to follow the instructions. i made it again today, but accidentally added 1 cup of milk instead of the 1/4 c milk + 1/4 c heavy cream. ARGH!! I really hope it didn’t destroy the recipe. Waiting to see what happens as it simmers…
Oh no!!! It might end up a little thinner, but should still taste great!
Hi. The dish looks delicious and I plan to make this. One question, the Fire roasted tomatoes, are those diced or crushed?
the directions were incomplete, so I just used my experience and winged it. It would be more helpful if you completed the directions for making the sauce.
They appear complete to me. I’m sorry if something was confusing! If you let me know what you feel is missing, I’d be happy to clarify!
I agree. There are ingredients listed, but never told when to add them in the directions.
I have never made a Bolognese sauce before, but have decided to make it as one of my Christmas dinner dishes this season. After previewing several recipes for Bolognese, I like this one the best. That is aside from the tedious procedure with the tomatoes. Some others require using a good quality tomato puree instead. Finding puree in local grocery stores is near impossible where I live, so I am going with tomato sauce instead. I will come back afterwards with an update with my successful or not so successful results. Thank you for delivering this recipe.
Update: I ended up making this for New Years Day. It took a very long time to make. So much so that I ended up draining off a lot of liquid to bring it to completion. The flavor profile was okay, but not exciting. The wife and grand children snubbed their noses at it. Probably because they are familiar with my home made tomato based spaghetti sauce. All was not lost though. The meat concoction was salvaged and used to make beef enchiladas and they all loved them.
I’m so sorry you didn’t enjoy this dish. We usually don’t get anything but rave reviews for it!
Did you drain the fat from the meat after you cooked it?
Your directions didn’t say to drain the meat, which I thought was odd, but I followed your directions. It is a bit heavy on the grease, so next time I will drain it. Still simmering on the stove, but so far so good!
Yes, the grease should be drained from the meat! Sorry about the confusion!
I may have missed this, but how much tagliatelle?
Hi Loree! Cook 1-2 lbs of pasta just depending on how much you let the sauce cook down.
I was having several friends over for lunch. I thought I would make Bravo’s Mama’s Lasagna. It called for Bolognese sauce, but no recipe for it. So the search brought me to Oh Sweet Basil. I ran short of time and ended serving the Bolognese sauce with spaghetti. Although there are a lot of ingredients, it really is simple to make. I had never heard of canned fire roasted tomatoes and was skeptical of my grocery store carrying them. Well, to my surprise they had them. I followed the recipe except the garlic cloves I had were extremely large, so I used only 4 instead of 6 per the recipe.
I like Delverde pasta. It seems to be a bit heartier. I can only find it at Spouts Market. It is from Italy. Anyway, we all thought the sauce was the best we have ever had. The recipe makes a bunch. We have had it over ravioli and I plan to make lasagna with it this weekend.
Thank you so much for taking time to gives us feedback Dorothy! I’m so glad you and your friends enjoyed it!
I’ve made this recipe several times and me and my family love it. It’s great on pasta, gnocchi, and spaghetti squash! Thanks for the recipe.
Yay! Thank you so much Jay!
This recipe is delicious! Perfect for this cozy, rainy day.
I added pancetta and peas to it because we like them (hope the Bolognese police a few comments prior don’t see this) ; )
Thank you for a great recipe!
Thanks Jessica! So glad you enjoyed it! Bahaha…the Bolognese police!
I am a bolognese lover and am always looking for the best sauce at local restaurants. There are some good ones. I came across this recipe and made it last fall and fell in love. I pretty much follow it to a T and I have made it several times as a thank you – took it with me when I stayed with some friends and I’m planning on making again today to thank some friends for a favor. (Of course I’ll double so I can eat it too!). I usually double it and I always cook it more than 4 hours. I agree with you on the pasta as well. What’s so special about penne? I wasn’t surprised when I went hunting my Pinterest for the recipe and rediscovered it was a sweet basil – I don’t think you’ve ever let me down. Thanks again. This is the only thing I want to be doing on this rainy cold New England day.
You have made my day, Michelle! Seriously! Thank you for taking time to leave us feedback and for your support! I think I need to make this ASAP myself!
WOW Someone is really angry about the type of pasta you used. I will address my comments to the actual recipe. I made this version and found that on a scale of 1 to 10, it is a 10!! For my taste, it was perfect. I do strongly feel that a very long simmer is what really brings out the flavor. I could eat this out of a shoe and it would be delicious, but this time I stuck to bucatini. I can’t stop eating it. By the way, anger management classes may address any issues you have with pasta shapes.
Hahahaha…thank you so much Patricia! And thank you for the great feedback! So glad you enjoyed it!
Penne the best pasta for a bolognese yet all your pictures are with fettuccine? You’re a joke and learnt nothing in Italy maybe you should have listened more and paid careful attention. And you don’t drink alcohol or include wine in the bolognese then you shouldn’t be blogging about how to make a bolognese… go make a curry instead…
Hi Guisseppe. The post says that penne is our least favorite pasta for bolognese not the best. We don’t drink alcohol or use it in cooking because of our religious beliefs, but feel free to use it! Give this recipe a try and see if you like it! And we have made many curries that are also delicious. Thank you for your feedback and best wishes to you!
Get a grip, Giuseppe, and learn reading comprehension 101. She clearly states penne is her least favorite. Perhaps a manners and anger management class would benefit you as well. You must be super fun at parties with your slew of erroneous judgements. This recipe is delicious!
I am making this tomorrow and am excited to try this version of my all time favorite pasta sauce. I lost my original recipe in a fire and this sounds very similar and am intrigued to use red onion instead of the usual. I have found that the sweet spot for flavor for me is that I simmer it on low for about 8hrs. I taste throughout and can tell exactly what I’m looking for and the long simmering gets it there. Thank you for this recipe. I will rate it after I make it.
Yay!! PLEASE let us know what you think!
Love it. Recipe was terrific
Thank you Marie!
Does it have to be simmered for hours? mine burned at the bottom.. 😫
Nooooooo! It sounds like maybe you had the heat to high. Simmering for hours locks in the flavor and lets it reduce to it’s perfect thickness. I’m so sorry it burned!
still edible though, LOL.. maybe my stove.. will try again next time.. 😁
Annabelle L Ware
I have the same problem! I always use a flame tamer for long-simmering. Works like a charm!
Ohhhh…great tip! Thank you for sharing!
I followed recipe exactly with exception of adding 1/2 cup chardonnay to cooked meat mixture. I let wine absorb and then added other ingredients. I made it night before I planned on serving it, as tomato based sauces always taste better next day. And yes, I do believe lemon was the secret ingredient as it gave dish such a fresh flavor. Thanks for sharing!
Yessss!! Love to hear it! Thanks for taking time to leave feedback Jessica!
OMG this recipe is to die for! But I did add a few ingredients (mostly because I had them around and needed to use them). I added some bacon (cuz it’s, well, bacon), a few spicy peppers from my garden for some kick and a parm rind. I was absolutely delicious! Thank you so much for the recipe!
“cuz, it’s, well, bacon”…LOL! That made my day! Bacon makes everything better! Thank you for the great feedback and SO glad you enjoyed it!!
What can I use in place of milk and cream, as my wife is lactose intolerant?
You can use unsweetened almond milk. Enjoy!
This was amazing. I didn’t have white wine or roasted tomatoes, but followed the rest of the recipe. Cooked it for 2 hours using lamb mince and lamb sausage meat. Fantastic. Thanks for posting this recipe.
Yum! That sounds delicious! So glad you enjoyed it!
This is really good! My wife can’t do citrus so I substituted champagne vinegar for the lemon juice, and about half-teaspoon of Sumac for the lemon zest. Great flavor!
Ohhhhh…that sounds yummy!! Thank you for the feedback!
Question: What kind of tomatoes are you halving and roasting? Romas? Cherry? If Romas – about how many for “2 cups”? Thanks!
Hello! Yes, we like to use romas and it ends up being about 6-8 tomatoes depending on how big they are. Enjoy!
On your video for Bolognese you add some ground herb that’s not listed under the ingredients. What is it? Does it make a difference in the recipe?
At the end we sprinkle on a little chopped fresh parsley. It is completely optional! We just like the pop of freshness it gives the sauce.
Can you simmer after preparing in a crockpot??
If you make it in the crock pot, you won’t need to simmer it. Cooking it in the crock put will be all the simmering you need. Enjoy!
This was amazing. I don’t usually comment on recipes, but this was great. Changes:
1. Bison instead of beef. More savory/umami that way.
2. Heck with the milk— .5 cup of cream FTW!
3. In lieu of tomato sauce, smushed a 28oz can of San Marzanos.
4. Added a bit of oregano.
5. Served over shiritaki fettuccini for fewer carbs.
Thanks for the great recipe!
This sounds absolutely delicious!! Love those San Marzanos!
My kids keep asking me to make bolognaise like the restaurants do! So I am going to try and make this today. My mouth was watering just reading it (should have had lunch first!).
Ok, so I am in the UK and need to ask a few questions on the tomatoes. The roasted ones I can do, However, what is fire roasted tomatoes? May seem like a silly question, sorry! Is it just normal tinned tomatoes? Or is it sun dried tomatoes? Also, it says tomato sauce, do you mean ketup or puree?
I have to get this right! Please help…… lol
Hi Stacey! These are great questions! The fire roasted tomatoes are in a can or tinned. You can find them by the other tinned tomatoes. It should say fire roasted on the label. The tomato sauce is pureed tomatoes. We would love to hear what you and your family think!
My husband loves the Bolognese at one of our favorite restaurants. I’ve tried several recipes, but never been able to replicate it. This recipe comes very close and my husband loves it. Thank you.
Woop woop! Thank you Mary!!
Got this simmering on the stove as I type this and just WOW!! The lemon zest adds SO much flavor!! Last time I made this I used wine and I am not a big fan. The lemon adds a freshness the wine lacks! Thank-you so much for sharing this little secret! It’s definitely a game changer!!
Thank you Rhonda! It is really the best little secret! Thank you for the feedback!
I have been making Bolognese for many years as our family is a big fan of the dish – even before it started showing up on every menu. I just tried your recipe and I really love it. I definitely can taste the lemon ( of course I’m looking for it) and it is a huge addition. It’s that little bit of sour that that the sauce needs. I usually don’t use as much tomato product as this recipe calls for, and used a bit less in my rendition, but my hat is off, you have improved our Bolognese! Thank you
Also, if time is not of the essence, slowly cooking the onion,celery,carrot combo low and slow for at least 30 mins. adds a nice bit of flavor
Wow, thanks Julie! You made my day! And thank you for the great tip on the low and slow!
Making it right now!
How was it???
I have cooked this a few times.. absolutely love it! I use chorizo in it for the sausage meat. Amazing!
Ooooohhh…chorizo…that sounds good!! So glad you enjoy it!
I substituted ground turkey and spicy Italian chicken sausage. It was awesome. Don’t get me wrong, it tastes great with beef but I have a friend that does not eat beef (their family is from India). I also added finely chopped red, yellow and green bell peppers to the sauce. Total yum. Try it sometime. You will be amazed.
I will try that on my must try list! I love the sound of it!
This was amazing and the frozen leftover sauce was just as tasty when we heated it up a couple months later!! I followed your recipe exactly. So good!!
Yessssss! Thanks for the feedback Sara!
I made this yesterday for family Sunday dinner. My husband, who doesn’t care for pasta ate a huge plate! My home smelled delicious, like Sunday dinner should. So happy we have leftovers. Thank you for a bright & tasty sauce recipe.
You just made my day!! I’m so glad this was a success for you and your family! And it makes the best leftovers!!
This looks amazing. Plan on making this for my daughter who just had my first grandson, It looks like Parsley is on it but I don’t see it in the receipt.
Yes, the chopped fresh parsley is optional on top.
Delicious! I added crushed red pepper because I always add it to everything for spiciness. I also threw in a rind of Parmesan. Thank you for a great recipe!
Thanks, Lori! So glad you enjoyed it!!
Do you simmer with the lid on or off?
This. Is. Amazing. Thank you for posting. When we were in Italy last year (right when you made this post!!), the Bolognese and rigatoni was one of our favorite dishes. This is superb. I could have eaten the whole pot all afternoon while it simmered away.
Yay!!! Love to hear that Stephanie! Hope you enjoyed Italy! Thank you for the feedback!
CAROL F HACKER
What are the calories in one cup of the bolognese sauce?
What?! It looks like our nutrition calculator is malfunctioning again. I’m so sorry! Thank you for letting us know. I will look into it!
Maybe you can skip the boring anecdotes and other stuff and just get to the recipe. I would have like to try this but lost it in the scrolling.
That’s rude. She’s a blogger for a reason. Let people express themselves. Plus, if it’s that much work for you to scroll down through a post, you should find some bigger fish to fry.
Maybe you should buy a recipe book instead of looking up recipes on food blogs. Stop being rude. Guess you’ll be missing out on an amazing recipe!
Wow. Then buy a cookbook and don’t read a blog. Very rude. Move on
William, I just have to say…it’s amazing that you could scroll down and find the comments, which, by the way, are even lower than the recipe! 🤦♀️
Bahahaha! This just made my day!
I made this with 2 variations: I used half slow roasted shredded pork and half sausage along with the beef. I also did not have fresh tomatoes so used crushed tomatoes. Used chardonnay, not cooking wine. I just tasted it after 2 and a half hours and it is amazing. Such an easy recipe and SO good. Saving it for tomorrow so it gets even better! Thanks for the recipe!
Yummmm!! Can I come over? 😉 Hope it was awesome!
Hi it’s looks declines! I’m hoping you can help clarify with the tomato sauce.
Do you use the raw tomatoes blended into a tomato sauce AND the 2 15 oz cans plus the fire roasted Tom can?
Yes! All three!
I don’t believe you add the raw tomatoes. Aren’t these the tomatoes that you baked in the oven at 425? Also, clarify, lid on or off? I saw posted on this page “sweet basil” and I added to mines, hope its ok.
Yes, those are the tomatoes that you have roasted yourself in the oven. You can simmer with the lid on or off. It shouldn’t make much of a difference. I like to simmer with a lid on just so it doesn’t bubble out on my stove by accident.
I disagree with your secret. I believe the secret is milk! Adding it just after the meat, and allowing it to bubble and simmer, absorb, breaking down the fats and proteins. Though I do add the lemon zest (I’ve even added orange zest, as well! Or a dash of lemon oil with my zest)
That’s my only depart from Hazan’s recipe. And the bay leaf. I don’t understand why it isn’t in her recipe, but in Bugialli’s – another essential
I disagree with your secret. I believe the secret is milk! Adding it just after the meat, and allowing it to bubble and simmer, absorb, breaking down the days and proteins. Though I do add the lemon zest (I’ve even added orange zest, as well! Or a dashof lemon oil with my zest)
That’s my only depart from Hazan’,s recipe. And the bay leaf. I don’t understand why it isn’t in her recipe, but in Bugialli’s.
Thank you for your feedback Krista!
I thought the secret was Grappa. You can’t make a good Bolognese without it.
One of our favorites. This easy recipe turns out great every single time!
Thanks Milisa! Those are my favorite kinds of recipes…reliable!
I was so exhausted scrolling through all the ads, I gave up and went to a real cooking website
I know they can be a lot, but they one of our main sources of income. I apologize for that! You scrolled far enough to leave a comment though, so you actually scrolled right past the recipe!
Yeah those 10 seconds out of your life are rough 🙄
I made this tonight and the whole family liked it! It’s definitely something I will make again. I used the lemon zest and just a quick squeeze for the lemon juice – couldn’t taste it at all.
Hurray! So glad you and your family enjoyed it!
I never buy cooking wine. It has salt in it and really just ruins it. The alcohol cooks out of the wine.
Oh my goodness, did you just use the title “authentic” and then add cooking wine instead of real wine? And then did you say the secret is lemon and then promise everyone that you really can’t taste it? The absolute Joy of tasting both those ingredients in cooking you managed to wipe out. I can feel chefs around the world cringing
I’ve been searching for a great Bolognese recipe for about 10 years and finally found it. My family just finish this one and we loved it. I think it was a little garlic heavy with six clothes of garlic so I’ll try it with four cloves next time. I’ll also sweat the garlic before adding it to the mixture. I used marsala red cooking wine and it came out great. Even my two picky kids loved it. I roasted 5 roma tomatoes for that part of the recipe. Outstanding!!!!
Yay! Love to hear it Steven! It has always been a crowd pleaser for us!!
Hi I just made this a few hours ago. I keep tasting it and all I can taste is lemon. I didn’t think I am supposed to taste the lemon. I used the the exact amount of lemon juice but used a little less of the lemon zest from watching your video. It has been simmering for 6 hours. I just turned it off. Is there anything I could add to counter the lemon taste? I used pork and 85% beef.
Salt counters the flavor of lemon so you shouldn’t be tasting the lemon at all if everything was measured properly.
It is probably less salty because he used pork instead of sausage, which has more salt in it.
This is the best I now can be the Italian I was born to be …my mama born and raised in Italy lovin this
Yessssss! You’re going to love it!!
If the tomatoes are halved, is 2 cups approx 2 whole tomatoes? I did see that you buy romas… thank you!
Romas are usually pretty small so I buy 4-5 to be safe!
Thank you so much! I made this for a holiday party and it was a hit!!! Zero leftovers!!! So I’m making it again tonight!!!! Thanks again! Happy cooking!!!
Thank you Korrie! Isn’t it so good?! And thank you for taking time to leave us a comment!
Can you tell me at what point do you add the lemon? Step 10?
Can you add the cream at the end ? I forgot to add with the other ingredients ….
Of course! It won’t be exactly the same, but it will turn out great and be delicious!
My family is from Bologna and I live very close to the city. If you ask any Italian in Bologna for spaghetti (pasta) Bolognese, they laugh at you. There is no such thing as (pasta) Bolognese. It is (pasta) in Ragù. REAL Ragù in Bologna is not made with beef, usually not made with sausage and is not red. The restaurants serve it the way you describe it because that is what the tourits are used to seeing (even those in cooking classes) and beef is much cheaper than pork and veal which is what the true recipe should contain.
If you read the Bolognese dialect, I have a very good traditional recipe for (your choice of pasta) in Ragù. Try a little real Italian food. Your taste buds will thank you.
Will you come make it for us? It sounds amazing!
If youve got such a wonderful, authentic recipe why are you looking at this one? Just to point out the flaws? Lay off…
Ohsweet basil- I’d never seen such a Bolognese recipe before. Will give it a go today. Thanks!
We would love to hear how it went, Tom!
Well said Mandrioli, very well said! Ragu is gorgeously delicious BECAUSE of its amazing ingredients without making it too heavy. My grandmother used to say that when a dish is packed with spices when using meat, means you’re trying to hide something! Good quality ingredients don’t really need that many herbs and spices!
MANDRIOLI – PLEASE…. can you send me/.us the recipe???!!!!
I would LOVE the real authentic recipe! Oh My ! I love to cook for my family of 14 and they love true Italian food. Could you please send me the recipe, thank you so very much, Lynn
Could we make this in a slow cooker? Sauteing the veggies in a pan first.
Yes! And just as delicious!
This recipe looks Delicious!! Can’t wait to try it!! I really enjoy your Instagram posts and stories!!💗💗
Thank you so much Amy! Thanks for your support!
What do you mean by the following ingredients:
2 15 oz tomato sauce
1 15 oz fire roasted tomatoes
Tomato sauce = canned tomatoes? Ketchup?
Fire roasted tomatoes – This is in addition to the earlier 2 cups of roasted tomatoes?
Hi Char! The tomato sauce is actual tomato sauce that is right by the tomato paste at the grocery store. The can of fire roasted tomatoes is in addition to the tomatoes you roast yourself and they can be found by the diced tomatoes. The can will actually say “fire roasted” on it. I hope that makes sense! Let me know if you need anything else clarified!
I just scrolled through a standard bolognese recipe where someone took one of the ingredients and called it a secret. Clickbait much?
Annabelle L Ware
Sounds like you are super smart and should have know better. (insert HARD eye-roll here)
I really liked your recipe, but also questioned the use of cooking wine, but it’s so generic and full of salt. Then when I read your response to a comment about this, saying you really didn’t know much about wine, it made me a skeptic. The right wine is essential in a lot of recipes. Cooking wine just falls short in so many ways. Before posting another recipe, you should be able to know red or white, sweet or dry. I hope you can brush up on wine for cooking before you post another recipe. I’m not trying to be snotty, but wine is a basic ingredient in Italian and French cooking.
My husbands’s birthday is this weekend and he wants an Italian dinner for 12 people, two people are dairy free so will this sauce turn out without using the cream or milk? I can sub the butter but question the balance without using milk product. Also just curious why you listed butter twice? Thanks
Yes, you can substitute for both of them. You could try unsweetened almond milk in place of the cream if you want. Thanks for the heads up on the butter. I need to remove the second one!
Do you take peel and seeds off before or after roasting tomatoes? Surprised authentic recipe in Italy uses cooking wine…..to me that would be a huge difference compared to a good white wine. Even though you mentioned you don’t drink…..it would be better to print as a semi dry white wine unless they used a fruitier. Can you clarify the wine please. It makes a huge difference in taste. Thank you.
Hi Gisela! You can take the seeds out before roasting, but the skin is much easier to peel off after the roasting. We don’t know nearly enough about alcohol or wine to be able to offer any advice on that.
This has been simmering all afternoon and the smell is amazing! I’ve taken a couple of samples to see if anymore salt or pepper is needed and OMG!!!! I cannot wait for dinner time!!!!!!
Yessssss! How was it? It does make the house smell amazing all day!!
I made the classic mistake of not reading the entire recipe before I went to the grocery store so I have no fresh tomatoes but I do have canned fire roasted tomatoes. Think that would work?
Absolutely…it will just have a little different taste, but it will still be delicious!
This looks great! What tomatoes did you use? Roma/plum, cherry, etc? Did you chop them or roast whole?
Romas work great and we sliced them in half and roasted them.
love Bolognese, but haven’t made it in a while, so thank you for this recipe and reminder, so much better than a simple marinara, especially this time of year
You’re totally right! Perfect for a cozy fall meal! Enjoy and we would love to hear what you think!
Brittany Audra @ Audra’s Appetite
Love all these helpful hints and tricks!! I would never never thought to add some of these ingredients, but I can’t wait to try this! 🙂
You’re going to love it!! Seriously so dang good! We would love to hear what you think!
Great post. Loved learning about the lemon. My secret is using my own home made pork stock (no wine) for the 3-4 hours of simmering. Just a half to one cup at a time at a super low (just bubbling) simmer. At about hour 3.5 it magically turns velvety and creamy – though I never use cream in as in your recipe.
Oooooohhh…that sounds so delicious! I love when magic happens in the kitchen!
I can’t wait to make this, sounds amazing. Do I use hot or sweet sausage?? I would hate to ruin this with the wrong one. Thank you.
We just get the mild Italian sausage, but any sausage would be delicious depending what kind of flavor you want!
Thank you! Also, what is the “2 cups of roasted tomatoes”? Is that in a can or am I really roasting whole tomatoes and cutting up to make 2 cups?
Hi Rachael! Sorry for the confusion! It is 2 cups of tomatoes you roast yourself. I clarified the recipe in the directions. Thank you for helping us make that more clear!