Table of Contents
  1. Why this recipe works.
  2. Everything you’ll need to make this recipe.
  3. Here’s how to make this recipe.
  4. These pro tips will make this recipe a success.
  5. Frequently asked questions about this recipe.
  6. You'll love these other pasta recipes.
  7. Watch how to make this recipe.
  8. Have I convinced you to make this recipe?
  9. Super Delicious Bolognese Recipe

While homemade bolognese may sound like a long process that can be overwhelming, it’s not actually a hard recipe to make. Bolognese is a delicious, flavorful meat sauce that works so well when paired with pasta. And while this recipe is not truly traditional, it’s packed with so much flavor that you’ll want to make it time and again!

Why this recipe works.

Bolognese is a traditional Italian meat sauce. The concept is simple, but the key to making a good bolognese is the steps needed to ensure tender meat and maximum flavor. The steps are easy, with each one adding a layer of complexity to the sauce. It starts by chopping celery, onion, and carrots finely. A food processor makes quick work. The vegetables give the underlying flavor needed and are finely chopped, so they melt away during cooking. Next, a mixture of beef and pork. Beef has a strong flavor, and pork offers a lighter counterpart than can mimic veal. Milk is added and cooked until condensed completely, leaving a rich flavor and tender meat. Whole tomatoes with their juice are slowly simmered with the mixture to create a rich, full-flavored bolognese that is a meat sauce unparalleled by other sauces.

White marble surface with large stockpot filled with cooked bolognese with wooden spoon resting in stockpot with basil in wooden bowl.

Everything you’ll need to make this recipe.

  • Ground beef, with its robust flavor, will help supply a meaty undertone to the sauce. Choose beef with some fat since fat carries flavor, 85% lean.
  • Ground pork has a lighter flavor than beef and gives the idea of a traditional veal.
  • Whole milk is added and cooked until it is dry. The milk leaves behind a rich flavor and helps tenderize the meat.
  • Red wine is cooked off but helps add a rich flavor. Choose a red wine that you enjoy drinking, a Pinot Noir is a great choice. Beef stock can be added as a substitute.
  • Tomato paste adds a deep tomato flavor without the effort of cooking tomatoes for a long time, the work is already done in the paste. To bring out the most flavor, the paste is cooked until it caramelizes.
  • Whole tomatoes are used since the sauce is simmered for a long time. The tomatoes will slowly break down and thicken to create the correct texture.
  • Parmesan rind adds flavor without the cheese melting into the sauce. The rind holds an immense amount of flavor and can be easily removed once the sauce is finished.
White marble surface filled with all ingredients needed to make bolognese including pasta, beef, pork, red wine, tomato sauce, celery, carrots, and more.

Here’s how to make this recipe.

  1. Chop and cook the vegetables. Roughly chop the carrots, celery, and onion and add them to a food processor. Pulse the food processor, scraping if needed, until all of the vegetables are in small pieces. Pour the chopped vegetables into a large stockpot over medium-low heat with the melted butter. Add the salt and mix everything together to begin cooking.
  1. Brown the meat. When the vegetables have cooked for a few minutes and begun to coat the bottom of the pan, add in the minced garlic. Stir the garlic in and let it cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Then add the ground beef and ground pork. Use a spoon or spatula to break up the meat while it is browning.
  1. Add the milk. To the browned meat mixture, add the whole milk. Mix it into the meat and let the mixture cook until the milk has dissipated and been absorbed into the meat. Once absorbed, add in the ground nutmeg and mix it in.
  1. Add the wine. To the meat mixture, add the red wine. Just like the milk, let the red wine soak into the meat mixture and reduce.
  1. Add the tomatoes. When the wine has soaked in, add the tomato paste, salt, and black pepper. Mix these ingredients into the meat mixture to ensure everything is combined. Once the tomato paste has cooked, add in the crushed whole tomatoes, Parmesan rind, and bay leaves. Mix everything together. Turn the stove down to a very low simmer and let the mixture cook for at least 1 hour uncovered.
  1. Cook the pasta. When the bolognese has 10 minutes left to simmer, begin cooking the pasta. Follow the package directions to cook the pasta to al dente. Once cooked, do not drain the pasta.
  1. Assemble the final dish. When the bolognese is done simmering, remove the bay leaves and Parmesan rind. Use a spider to ladle the pasta into the sauce, letting some of the pasta water drain off before adding each ladleful. Mix the pasta into the sauce and let it cook for a few minutes. Then remove the pan from the stove and serve immediately with fresh Parmesan grated on top.

These pro tips will make this recipe a success.

  • One of the best things to make anyone a better cook is to season as you cook. For this recipe, adding the salt right away when cooking the vegetables will cause you to have a better-tasting dish and use less salt in the end.
  • For this recipe, the whole tomatoes in their juice need to be crushed. This can be accomplished by either using your hands to break up the tomatoes or using scissors to slice the tomatoes. Use whichever method is preferable. I personally love to use scissors to achieve the result I want. While crushing the tomatoes, remove any pieces of peel that are visible, as these will affect the resulting texture of the bolognese sauce.
  • To source the Parmesan rinds in this recipe, check at your local grocery store. The cheese counter is a great location to begin before moving on to other areas of the store. If you can’t find Parmesan rinds by themselves, purchase some fresh Parmesan cheese and cut off the rind.
  • For the most intense flavor in this bolognese, simmer the mixture for up to 3 hours. The longer the mixture cooks, the more flavor will be imparted into the sauce. Cooking for a longer amount of time may require a bit of water or stock to be added every so often.
  • Once the pasta is added to the sauce, if the mixture seems too thick, simply use some of the pasta water to thin it out.
White plate with fork picking up tubes of pasta covered in bolognese sauce with small wooden bowl filled with basil and glass of red wine.

Frequently asked questions about this recipe.

Rather than using a food processor, can the vegetables be chopped by hand?

Yes, bolognese has been made long before food processors were in kitchens. The vegetables can be minced by hand, which will take a bit more time.

Can the wine be substituted for another liquid?

Yes, simply sub out the red wine for beef stock in the same amount.

Does this sauce have to be used with pasta, or are there other ways to use it?

This sauce is also used in lasagna bolognese and is very traditional. You can use this sauce instead of your favorite pasta sauce in any recipe.

Is there a certain type of pasta that works best in this bolognese recipe?

Tagliatelle is the traditional pasta for bolognese, but any pasta will work. I often use rigatoni as I like how the noodles grab the sauce.

White plate filled with pasta topped with bolognese sauce and fresh shredded Parmesan cheese on top.

Watch how to make this recipe.

YouTube video

Have I convinced you to make this recipe?

I hope you make this recipe and put some food on your table. Leave a comment and share a star rating so you can let others know how much you love this recipe. This helps show others that this is a recipe they, too, can make, enjoy, and love!

White marble surface with metal stockpot filled with cooked bolognese sauce tossed with pasta with wooden spoon resting on bottom of pan.

Super Delicious Bolognese

4.80 from 5 votes
While homemade bolognese may sound like a long process that can be overwhelming, it’s not actually a hard recipe to make. Bolognese is a delicious, flavorful meat sauce that works so well when paired with pasta. And while this recipe is not truly traditional, it’s packed with so much flavor that you’ll want to make it time and again!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Total Time 2 hours
Servings 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion roughly chopped
  • 2 ribs celery roughly chopped
  • 2 large carrots roughly chopped
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ tsp kosher salt separated
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • ½ lb ground beef
  • ½ lb ground pork
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 28-oz can whole tomatoes in their juice
  • 1 4-inch Parmesan rind
  • 3 whole bay leaves
  • 1 lb pasta

Instructions
 

  • Add the chopped onion, celery, and carrot to a food processor. If using a smaller processor, work in batches. Pulse the vegetables until they are finely minced. The pieces should ⅛-inch or smaller. Separately, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Once the butter is melted, add the prepared vegetables and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook the vegetables until they are softened and slightly darker in color, 8-12 minutes.
    1 medium onion, 2 ribs celery, 2 large carrots, 3 tbsp unsalted butter, 1 ½ tsp kosher salt
  • Add the garlic and stir into the vegetables, cooking for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the ground beef and ground pork. Cook and break the meat into small pieces until it is browned through, 6-8 minutes.
    4 cloves garlic, ½ lb ground beef, ½ lb ground pork
  • Pour in the milk. Simmer the milk with the meat until the milk is nearly all cooked off and dry, 6-8 minutes. Add the nutmeg and stir.
    1 cup whole milk, ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • Pour in the wine and simmer until the wine is nearly all cooked off, 6-8 minutes.
    1 cup red wine
  • Add the tomato paste and stir into the vegetables. Cook the tomato paste until it darkens and begins to coat the bottom of the pan, 6-8 minutes. Add the black pepper and remaining ½ teaspoon salt. Break apart the tomatoes with a spoon or scissors. Pour in the tomatoes and juice, Parmesan rind, and bay leaves. Bring the sauce to a simmer.
    1 ½ tsp kosher salt, 3 tbsp tomato paste, 1 tsp black pepper, 1 28-oz can whole tomatoes in their juice, 1 4-inch Parmesan rind, 3 whole bay leaves
  • Simmer the sauce, uncovered, for 1-3 hours. The flavor will deepen the longer it is simmered but will be delicious after 1 hour. If simmering for longer than 1 hour, watch carefully and add water as needed when the sauce becomes dry, ½ cup at a time.
  • Before serving, cook the pasta al dente. Once cooked, remove the Parmesan rind and bay leaves from the sauce, and add the pasta to the sauce along with pasta water as needed to create the correct consistency. Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese.
    1 lb pasta

Notes

  • One of the best things to make anyone a better cook is to season as you cook. For this recipe, adding the salt right away when cooking the vegetables will cause you to have a better-tasting dish and use less salt in the end.
  • For this recipe, the whole tomatoes in their juice need to be crushed. This can be accomplished by either using your hands to break up the tomatoes or using scissors to slice the tomatoes. Use whichever method is preferable. I personally love to use scissors to achieve the result I want. While crushing the tomatoes, remove any pieces of peel that are visible, as these will affect the resulting texture of the bolognese sauce.
  • To source the Parmesan rinds in this recipe, check at your local grocery store. The cheese counter is a great location to begin before moving on to other areas of the store. If you can’t find Parmesan rinds by themselves, purchase some fresh Parmesan cheese and cut off the rind.
  • For the most intense flavor in this bolognese, simmer the mixture for up to 3 hours. The longer the mixture cooks, the more flavor will be imparted into the sauce. Cooking for a longer amount of time may require a bit of water or stock to be added every so often.
  • Once the pasta is added to the sauce, if the mixture seems too thick, simply use some of the pasta water to thin it out.

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 582kcal
Course Dinner
Cuisine Italian
Difficulty Intermediate
Method Cooking

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Kaleb

I’m Kaleb! I'm not a chef, professional baker, landscaper, or designer, but I like to play each on Knollgate Farm. Come join me on my journey and let's learn together!

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3 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I made this on a Saturday afternoon so I could let it simmer for longer. Delicious and a hit with my husband and very picky 7 year old! Will definitely be making it again!

  2. 4 stars
    Made this recipe as it sounded delicious. After making as written and simmering for 3-4 hours dinner was served. While we enjoyed it, my family felt there was something lacking in the sauce that it was a bit on the bland side. Not that they wouldn’t eat it again but it wasn’t their favourite bolognese sauce. The search continues! On a side note, thank you for your great tutorials and sharing recipes that use fresh, everyday ingredients.