This easy Homemade Bolognese Sauce is quicker than the authentic Italian version but doesn’t skip on flavor. Loaded with beef and pork, it’s the best way to upgrade a bowl of pappardelle pasta.Jump to Recipe
Bolognese sauce in under an hour (video)
The very best bolognese sauce
Bring Italy to your own home with a bowl of Pappardelle with Homemade Bolognese Sauce. The wide noodles are coated in a meaty and rich sauce packed with comforting, to-die-for flavors. You’ll never go back to ‘blah’ spaghetti and meat sauce after this.
Making homemade bolognese sauce at home is typically a time-consuming and hands-on process, but for good reason. A mix of ground meat, vegetables, and aromatics cook low and slow for hours to develop the signature deep and complex flavors. My version is much quicker.
It’s all said and done in less than 1 hour and there aren’t any complicated ingredients included. You still get that irresistibly meaty and rich flavor profile, but without as much time or effort. Enjoy this pasta and bolognese for family dinners or keep a batch in the freezer instead. It’s handy for those pasta emergencies!
What is bolognese?
Bolognese is a thick and meaty Italian pasta sauce. It’s made with classic tomato sauce ingredients but is up-leveled with certain ingredients and cooking methods.
There are three requirements for authentic Italian bolognese sauce:
- It’s made with minced meat (usually beef and pork).
- Soffrito is a must (finely diced onion, celery, and carrot).
- 3 hours is the minimum cook time. Low and slow is where it’s at for a flavor-packed bolognese.
My homemade bolognese is quicker than the authentic version but still packed with comforting flavors.
Spaghetti sauce vs. bolognese sauce
Both sauces are rich, tomatoey, and served over pasta. However, it’s the flavorful additions that make all of the difference.
You’ll find ground meat, vegetables, fresh herbs, and cream in bolognese. All of this is cooked low and slow, resulting in a rich, chunky, and thick sauce with a smooth mouthfeel.
Spaghetti sauce is similar to marinara sauce, as it can be made with ground meat, vegetables, herbs, and more. The texture is usually smoother than bolognese, making it a great fit to serve over thinner spaghetti noodles, and doesn’t require as many rules.
You don’t need any complicated or hard-to-find ingredients here. Just a simple list of pantry staples:
- Onion and garlic – Sauteed aromatics like these are a must in most savory dishes and this sauce is no different.
- Celery and carrots – Finely diced vegetables add substance and texture to a classic bolognese.
- Ground beef and pork – Most authentic bolognese recipes use a combination of beef and pork. Make sure the beef you use isn’t too lean – the fat brings a flavor that isn’t easily replaced. In addition to beef and pork, you can also add sauteed pancetta, ground lamb, and Italian sausage to the sauce.
- Oregano – Fresh would be best.
- Tomato paste – To uplevel the tomato flavor.
- Crushed tomatoes – Either blend fresh, peeled tomatoes yourself or keep it easy with canned crushed tomatoes or jarred marinara sauce. The crushed tomatoes can also be replaced with chicken stock.
- Heavy cream – The fatty, rich cream finishes the sauce to give it a silky smooth mouthfeel and help cut through the acidic tomatoes. Feel free to use whole milk instead.
- Pappardelle pasta – This is some of the best pasta you can serve with a chunky sauce like bolognese because the large, flat noodles scoop up sauce like a pro. If you don’t have this kind of pasta at home, replace it with another type of large pasta, like tagliatelle, rigatoni, or fettuccine.
For additional flavor, simmer the sauce with freshly grated nutmeg, a splash of white wine, and a parmesan rind.
How to make bolognese sauce
Heat the oil in a large saucepan, then add the onions, carrots, and celery. Saute until tender, then add the garlic.
Add the ground beef and ground pork to the pot. Cook until it’s thoroughly browned and no pink remains. Use a wooden spoon to break it up into small pieces before stirring in the salt and oregano.
Stir the tomato paste into the seasoned meat. After about 1 minute, pour the tomato puree over top. Stir, then cook on low heat until the sauce is thick.
Tip: Use a potato masher to further break up the ground meat and vegetables. If you’re a fan of chunky pasta sauces, then leave it as-is.
Cook the pasta according to the package instructions while you wait for the sauce.
Once the sauce is at your desired consistency, finish it with the heavy cream.
Tip: Is the sauce too thick? You can thin it out with some of the reserved pasta water.
Scoop the bolognese over bowls of pappardelle pasta. Top with parmesan cheese and fresh basil, then enjoy!
Pappardelle bolognese is hearty and filling on its own, however, you won’t regret pairing it with more Italian-inspired dishes. My Kale Caesar Salad is a great fit, as well as Tomato Bisque and Mozzarella Arancini. And of course, have a loaf of artisan bread handy to soak up any leftover sauce.
And while you can never go wrong with bolognese and pasta, this classic Italian tomato sauce can be used for much more. Here are a few more creative ways to use it:
- Layer it in a meaty lasagna or in my Rolled Lasagna.
- Use it to add a meaty twist to Spaghetti with Garlic Herb Breadcrumbs.
- Stuff it into large pasta shells with ricotta cheese and spinach.
- Use the leftovers in my Easy Creamy Lasagna Soup.
- Serve it over Creamy Cauliflower Gnocchi.
Storing and freezing
Store: Bolognese sauce will stay fresh for about 4 days when kept in an airtight container in the fridge.
Freeze: Transfer the cooled sauce to a ziplock bag or airtight container and freeze for up to 4 months.
Reheat: Defrost the frozen sauce in the fridge overnight and reheat in a pot on the stove or in the microwave until warmed through.
Looking for more pasta dinners?
- Sausage Orecchiette Pasta with Kale
- Penne Alla Vodka
- Lemon Orzo Pasta with Corn
- Vodka Sauce with Ground Beef
If you try this Homemade Bolognese Sauce recipe let me know what you think! Rate and review this recipe in the comments below. Don’t forget to take a picture and tag me on Instagram @lenaskitchenblog!
Homemade Bolognese Sauce
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medim carrot peeled and finely diced
- 1 rib celery finely diced
- 1 medium sweet onion finely minced
- 4 cloves garlic finely minced
- 1 pound ground beef (80/20)
- 1 pound ground pork or use Italian sausage
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- 2 teaspoons salt more to taste
- 4 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 28 oz crushed tomatoes or use marinara sauce
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 lb pappardelle pasta cooked
- ½ cup parmesan cheese plus more for serving
- 1 cup fresh basil finely chopped (plus more for serving)
- In a large heavy bottomed saucepan heat olive oil over medium heat. Add in the onions, carrots and celery, sauté until they’re just tender, about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cok for an addithal 1 minute while stirring.
- Add the ground beef and ground pork, and cook until browned, breaking up the meat as you stir. Season with salt and oregano.
- Add the tomato paste and cook for an additional minute while stirring. Pour in the tomato puree, stir to combine and cook on low for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens.
- Using a potato masher, mash the sauce, this helps to break down the meat and veggies more. (Optional if you like chunkier sauce)
- When the sauce has reached your desired consistency, stir in the heavy cream.
- Cook pasta according to packaging. TIP: Reserve some pasta water if you want to add it to thin out the sauce, it thickens as it cooks more.
- Remove from heat, top with parmesan cheese and fresh basil. Serve on top of cooked papardelle pasta and top with more freshly grated parmesan cheese and basil. Bon Apetito!