This traditional Italian meat sauce is made with crushed tomatoes, veal, ground beef, and tons of fresh flavor! This sauce is perfect with any pasta!Jump to Recipe
My favorite bolognese sauce recipe
This classic Italian bolognese sauce recipe is about to blow you away! No, seriously. It’s super hearty, packed with fresh flavors, and coats pasta perfectly. It’s the all-time best comfort meal for us Italians!
This has been my go-to recipe for years, and I’ve been making bolognese sauce since I was brand new to the kitchen. Over the years, there have been many variations of this sauce until I finally got the perfect amount of everything.
Traditional bolognese sauce takes time, but I have all the tips for you to get this thang done in no time! Without all the dishes and chaos!
I even have tips to make this more budget-friendly so you can make this five-star bolognese sauce for even less!
Anyway, I know you are going to downright love this sauce. It will definitely have you running back for seconds.
Bolognese sauce ingredients
- Crushed tomatoes- Using canned crushed tomatoes ensures there is enough liquid to coat the pasta, but also enough texture so it’s not like tomato soup.
- Meats- Prosciutto, ground veal, and ground beef all add their own flavors to the sauce and make it hearty and filling.
- Vegetables- First, you’re going to start with soffritto which is the Italian holy trinity of food- chopped onion, celery, and carrot. Of course, we can’t forget the fresh garlic- that ties everything together! A handful of mushrooms is added for a delicious undertone of Earthy flavor.
- Red wine- Any dry red wine will work perfectly for this recipe, my personal favorite is merlot of pinot noir.
- Seasoning- Traditional Italian spices like marjoram, nutmeg, and parsley highlight all the best flavors in this sauce.
Make this recipe for less
This bolognese recipe calls for three different types of meat, which can get pricey. Ground veal is the most expensive meat out of the three and costs around $10 per pound. You can find ground veal is well-stocked grocery stores, but what if you can’t? No worries, I have a few substitutions to make this meal cheaper and just as delish!
Ground pork is a cheaper and still very delicious substitution. You can combine the proud pork and beef and it will taste very similar. A few other recommendations are ground Italian sausage, ground turkey, or ground chicken.
Prosciutto can be expensive if you buy it in a package but look at your local deli to see if you can buy just the amount you need to save a few dollars.
Save time in the kitchen
This Italian bolognese sauce is traditionally simmered for hours and it is the most intoxicating smell your house will ever hold! This recipe does not call for hours worth of work, thanks to using two pans!
In one pan, the prosciutto will be pan-fried, then the vegetables will cook in the grease. The other pan will cook the meats. Once everything is cooked through and tender, they will be combined in whatever pan is larger.
Next, the crushed tomatoes will be added and the sauce will simmer for at least 20 minutes, but longer if you have the time (and patience because OMG it’s so good).
Always save the pasta water
Just as the pasta finishes boiling, save a cup of pasta water to add to your sauce. Adding pasta water to the sauce gives it a perfectly starchy balance that rehydrates the sauce and adds a bit more flavor. The key to this sauce is to layer flavor after glorious flavor.
How to make Italian bolognese sauce
- Cook the vegetables and meat. Add a bit of olive oil to a medium-sized pan over medium heat. Once the pan is hot, add the chopped prosciutto and cook until it’s browned. Next, add the finely chopped celery, carrots, onion, garlic, and mushrooms. Allow that to sauté for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, place a large pot over medium heat and add the ground veal and beef. Cook the meats until they are cooked through, then deglaze the pan with the red wine and let it evaporate- about 5 minutes.
- Add the seasoning. Add the marjoram, parsley, nutmeg, sugar, and salt to the meat pan. Add the cooked vegetables to the meat pan. Pour the crushed tomatoes into the pot, then stir.
- Simmer the sauce. Allow the sauce to come to a boil first, then reduce to a simmer. The sauce should simmer for at least 20 minutes (if you are in a rush) but for as long as 3 hours (a more traditional time frame). If you simmer the sauce for longer than an hour, you will need to rehydrate the sauce with pasta water.
Does bolognese sauce have cream or milk
Some traditional bolognese sauce recipes call for milk and others don’t. The purpose of the milk is to not only add liquid to the sauce but a delicate undertone of flavor. Milk also cuts the acidity of the tomato-based sauce, but this recipe uses a pinch of sugar to do that.
You can play around with this sauce and see which method you like best! I love adding pasta water to my sauces because the salted starch water adds a little je ne sais quoi (French for “I don’t know what” meaning that certain something-something.
Can bolognese sauce be frozen
This bolognese sauce makes a lot of sauce, 8 servings give or take. If you make this sauce and have plenty extra, you can freeze it until you are ready to mangia again.
I’ve dealt with a lot of exploded, cracked glass from freezing things before, so here are my best tips.
Allow the bolognese sauce to cool in the fridge first. Next, put the sauce in a freezer-safe container with a lid and freeze it. Use the sauce within 3 months of freezing it.
To defrost the sauce, you can place it in the fridge overnight before eating it, or you can microwave it for 5-10 minutes until it’s loose enough to scoop out of the container and into a pan. Place the pan over medium heat on the stove and allow it to simmer for 10 minutes for that authentic freshly cooked flavor!
What kind of pasta is best with bolognese sauce
Traditionally, larger, flat noodles like tagliatelle or pappardelle are paired with bolognese sauce. The sauce is heavier and sticks well to larger noodles.
Bolognese pairs well with just about any pasta. It is the perfect meat sauce and sticks well to just about everything. I even warmed the sauce up the next day and paired it with orzo.
Spaghetti, rigatoni, penne, and rotini are all great choices as well.
Hint: For a delicious twist and a super hearty meal, serve the bolognese over homemade gnocchi! You might need a nap after that meal!
What to serve with bolognese sauce and pasta
- Olive and herb focaccia is made quicker than the traditional recipe with a few easy adjustments. This Italian bread is full of fresh herbs, cured olives, and tons of flavor!
- This delicious Italian sub tossed salad is jam packed with all the best Italian sub ingredients and drizzled with a homemade vinaigrette- without the bread!
- Oven roasted asparagus is such an easy side dish that is healthy, delicious, and fast cooking.
- This quick side dish results in crispy pan fried broccoli florets that are equally healthy and addicting! Robust olive oil and raw garlic adds a perfect touch of flavor.
- These White Wine and Lemon Roasted Artichoke Halves are packed with flavor and nutrition. With complimenting hints of white wine and lemon, with lemon zest, the artichokes are juicy and delicious!
Other delicious Italian sauces
- Authentic Italian fresh tomato spaghetti sauce uses fresh tomatoes, basil, and garlic for an unforgettably delicious Sunday gravy!
- This Red Wine Pasta Sauce is full of robust flavors, making this sauce a meal in itself! This simple 10 ingredient sauce will have you swearing off the canned sauce for good! Bold red wine, Italian herbs, and a pinch of honey makes this sauce an absolute hit!
- This easy Instant Pot Beef Ragu is rich, hearty, and your new favorite Italian dish! Tender and juicy beef is pressure cooked in crushed tomatoes and fresh herbs, then tossed in al dente pasta. Topped with parsley and freshly grated parmesan cheese, this Italian comfort food is deliziosa!
- This easy penne alla vodka with prosciutto is made with al dente penne pasta that is tossed in a delicious tomato, vodka, and cream sauce. Top this easy and classic Italian pasta dish with some parmesan cheese for a delicious dinner!
More Backyard Bohemian classics
- Fluffy Cannoli Stuffed Pancakes
- Crab Stuffed Manicotti with Alfredo Sauce
- Grilled Italian Sausage and Shrimp Kabobs
- Grilled Pineapple Jalapeño Margaritas
- Roasted Italian Vegetables with Parmesan Polenta
Authentic Bolognese Sauce (Salsa Bolognese)
- 3 tbsp olive oil divided
- 6 oz prosciutto chopped
- 1 yellow onion finely chopped
- 1 celery stalk finely chopped
- 1 carrot finely chopped
- 5 cloves of garlic finely chopped
- 1/4 cup bella mushrooms finely chopped
- 1/2 lb ground beef
- 1/2 lb ground veal (or pork/Italian sausage)
- 1/3 cup dry red wine
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley finely chopped
- 1/4 tsp dried marjoram
- 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 1 lb pasta of your choice
- 1 cup reserved pasta water
Cook the vegetables. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a medium sized pan over medium heat. Add the prosciutto to the pan and cook it until it's browned. Add the onion, celery, carrot, mushrooms, and garlic to the pan and sauté for 5 minutes.
Cook the meats. Simotanesouly while the vegetables are cooking, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a large pot over medium heat. Add the ground beef and veal to the pot and cook until it is done. Add the red wine to deglaze the pan, then cook until it evaporates (about 5 minutes).
Add the seasoning. Once the wine has evaporated from the meat pan, add the parsley, marjoram, nutmeg, sugar, and salt. Stir to combine. Add the sautéd vegetables to the meat pot. Pour the crushed tomatoes in the pot, then stir.
Simmer the sauce. Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Allow the sauce to simmer for atleast a 20 minutes, or up to three hours. Cook the pasta according to package instructions in generously salted water. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water before draining. Add the pasta water to the sauce, stir, then serve over the pasta. Mangia!