Authentic Bolognese Sauce Recipe (2024)

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This recipe for authentic bolognese sauce the way grandma used to make it,a family recipe that was passed from my grandma to my mom and that my mom passed onto me.

Bolognese sauce, or ragù bolognese,is a sauce considered one of the “basics” of Italian cuisine.

Authentic Bolognese Sauce Recipe (1)


  • Ingredients
  • Step Instructions
  • FAQ’s
  • Bolognese – Classic italian meat sauce (printable)

Like with any traditional recipe, you can find it prepared with different nuances and variations.

However, the cornerstones of the recipe remain unchanged, which involve the use of an initial chop of celery, carrot and onion, ground beef to which is added a more fatty and flavorful part that can be pancetta/bacon orItalian sausage.

The meat is blended with red wine, and cooked in tomato puree.

Fundamental to the success of an excellent Bolognese sauce is to follow all the cooking steps well, patiently and carefully, and not to be in a hurry.

In fact, long cooking is essential for the right flavor and texture.

What Is Bolognese?

Bolognese sauce is an classic italian meat-based sauce for pasta that originated in Bologna, a city in northern Italy.

In Italian, Bolognese sauce is called ragù alla bolognese.

Ragù is an Italian word for any meat sauce, derived from the French ragù, “to enliven the taste.”

Ingredients Needed – Homemade Bolognese Sauce

These are the main ingredients you need for this homemade bolognese sauce.

For the step-by-step directions and measurements, scroll down to our printable recipe card.

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  • Carrots, Celery, Onions: These are the ingredients that are used to make the soffritto.

Onion serves for acidity, carrot for sweetness, and celery for flavor. And they are the base for the bolognese. Chop the vegetables very finely.

The sautéed ingredients of onion, celery, and carrot will break down completely, incorporate with the tomato, and it will be the ultimate Bolognese sauce.

  • Pancetta ,Minced beef: Always choose fresh ground beef, even better if it is chopped with a knife.

The cut of beef should not be too lean, but have a fatty component to enable it to withstand the long cooking time.

Choose a thick grain of meat. Bolognese soffritto includes sweet pancetta among its ingredients.

Choose a thick, well-fattened one and chop it with a knife.

  • Tomato puree (passata): I use tomato passata (tomato purée) for the preparation of the ragout.

Use a rustic one, more full-bodied orsan marzano tomatoes.

I do not usetomato paste, but it can be added if a more redragù is desired.

  • Bay leaves: Bay leaf is a flavor enhancer.
  • Basil leaves: In thetraditional bolognese sauce, basil is not present.

My family always used it and I like the flavor it gives.

  • Red wine: Enriches the aroma of the sauce, You can also use a dry white wine.
  • Broth (see below how to prepare it): This is also not in theofficial recipefor bolognese.

It gives a delicious flavor to the ragu. You can prepare it at home or use the ready-made one.

I used a veggie one but beef broth will work well.

  • Salt & black pepper: They serve to provide flavor.
  • Extra virgin olive oil: It cannot be missing in an Italian recipe.

How To Make Bolognese Sauce

Prepare the broth: It is always helpful to have broth on hand when making Bolognese sauce.

I make it with the scraps of onion, celery and carrot.

This will help if the meat sauce gets too dry during cooking.

Prepare the soffritto: In a large pot, sauté the pancetta over high-medium heatit releases some of its fat. Now add a drizzle ofolive oiland well-chopped celery, carrot and onion.

Gently sauté everything until the vegetables are cooked through.

Add the minced beef: When the soffritto is cooked, add the minced beef and brown it on a high flame for for 5 to 10 minutes.

When the mince is browned, deglaze with red wine, and allow time for the alcohol to evaporate.

Add the passata: Now add the tomato puree, season with salt and pepper to your taste and cook on a very low flame for at least 3-4 hours.

I recommend that you salt the sauce very little because the bacon gives flavor to the preparation; you will adjust the salt at the end of cooking if there is a need.

Let it cook on a low flame: The secret to preparing a ragù bolognese to perfection is in the cooking; the sauce must have a very long cooking time at a low temperature.

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How do we know that the bolognese is ready?

Ragu should never be left to its own devices; it is advisable to check from time to time that it is not too dry.

If necessary, hot water or broth can be added to adjust its density.

A good Bolognese sauce should never be too liquid.

How to serve Authentic Bolognese Sauce

You can easily add your favoritefresh pastato this recipe.

This sauce is also the main ingredient in the classiclasagna Bologneseand many other super tasty recipes: once you prepare a good sauce, it will seem like a piece of cake to make them.

Another way to serve bolognese is over polenta.

Creamy polenta pairs perfectly with the hearty and flavorful sauce.

If you’re looking for a low-carb option, try serving bolognese over roasted spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles.

The sauce will add plenty of flavor to the veggies and make for a satisfying meal.

What is the best type of pasta to serve with Bolognese Sauce?

Pasta with meat sauce is always a safety.

Macaroni with meat sauce, lasagna Bolognese, cannelloni with bolognese sauce, alongside the legendary pappardelle.

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Of course, there is no shortage of choice.

Whether it is egg pasta, fresh or dry pasta, pasta with meat sauce is the must-have dish of Italian cuisine.

Ditali,or even better, conchiglie, are perfect for making a pasta al ragù .

Moreover, the meat sauce gets inside the pasta and the result is outstanding.

Freshly grated parmesan cheese, the perfect complement to this hearty Bolognese.

How to store leftovers?

Leftover bolognese sauce can be easily stored, making it a great option for meal prep or busy weeknights.

To store your sauce, let it cool completely before transferring it to anairtight containeror freezer-safe bag.

Fridge: Keep bolognese sauce in the refrigerator in anairtight containerfor up to 3 days

Freeze: Freeze in portions for up to 3 months .

Make abig batchso you always have bolognese on hand; let it thaw atroom temperature.

Authentic Bolognese Sauce: Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between ragu and Bolognese?

They are both 2 ragùs. The first and main difference is related to the different cut of meat used in the preparation.

Another delicious ragu recipe, besides the Bolognese one, is the Neapolitan recipe, where whole pieces of meat are used in the preparation

How to thicken Bolognese sauce

Bolognese sauce must shrink naturally, no flour added. Continue to cook the bolognese over very low heat.

What Meat for Bolognese Sauce?

I recommend using a fatty cut for preparation, and of course pancetta.

How long should you simmer bolognese?

3 hours.

Bolognese sauce should remain on the stove for about 3 hours, should be turned occasionally, and should absolutely be cooked over very low heat.

What gives bolognese its flavor?

Slow cooking brings together the flavor of all the ingredients. I additionally use basil, which is not in the registered recipe.

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Do you cover bolognese when simmering?

Yes, leaving a small opening so that it barely vents,

Why is this bolognese sauce recipe so good?

The first thing is because it is cooked with love!

This recipe is the family recipe and I still remember my mom when she used to prepare it, and I loved watching her cook. Love and patience in cooking is one of the important things for the success of the dish

Do you put wine in Bolognese sauce?

Wine is much more important than you might think, because it enriches the aroma of the sauce, fats present in the seasonings are partly dissolved by the wine, which creates a creaminess capable of giving smoothness to the dish.

In addition, the acidity of the wine balances the full-bodied flavor of the fats.

I use red, but a dry white wine can also work well.

Can I make bolognese without wine?

Yes you can also leave out the wine, but I always recommend adding it. The alcohol in the wine evaporates.

Tips on How To Make A Good Bolognese

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Meat: Always choose fresh ground meat, even better if it is chopped with a knife. Choose a thick grain of meat that is not too lean.

Cutting vegetables: Very finely chop the vegetables.

The sautéed ingredients of onion, celery, and carrot will fall apart completely, incorporate with the tomato, and it will be the perfect Bolognese sauce.

Onion serves for acidity, carrot for sweetness, and celery for flavor.

The basil: Basil is not included in the traditional recipe, but I always recommend adding it to make the sauce slightly more aromatic.

Don’t rush it: It should cook at least 3 hours after adding the tomato sauce. Just worry about turning it occasionally or adding a little broth if it dries out.

Use the right pot: Use a pot that allows you to cook evenly.

For example, terracotta, cast iron or a good steel pot. The pot should be nice and wide so that the juices evaporate well.

Traditional Bolognese Sauce: Mamma’s Recipe

Authentic Bolognese Sauce Recipe (9)


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Yield: 8 Portions

Authentic Bolognese Sauce Recipe

Authentic Bolognese Sauce Recipe (10)

The authentic bolognese recipe is here step by step!

Prep Time20 minutes

Cook Time3 hours

Total Time3 hours 20 minutes


  • 2 Carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 White onion, finely chopped
  • 3 Celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 Cup of pancetta/bacon (150 grams)
  • 2.20 Pounds of ground beef (1 KG)
  • 4 Cups of tomato puree (1 litre)
  • 2 Bay leaf
  • 5 Basil leaves
  • 1 Cup of red wine
  • 2 Cups of vegetable broth
  • 3 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt & black pepper


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  1. Wash the celery and carrot stalks, peel them, and peel the onion.
  2. Prepare the broth,with the scraps of onion, carrot and celery.
  3. Put them in a pot with about half a litre of water and boil over medium heat, when it starts to boil turn the heat down to low.
  4. Finely chop the carrot, celery and onion and set aside. Authentic Bolognese Sauce Recipe (12)
  5. In a large pot, cook over high heat the pork bacon previously diced and then shredded with the use of a knife, until it releases some of its fat.
  6. Next add 3 tablespoons of olive oil, the finely chopped carrot, celery and onion and wilt them over low heat, for about 10 minutes
  7. Add the ground beef, mix well, and flavoring with one or two Bay leaf, sauté until it begins to sizzle.
  8. Deglaze with red wine and stir gently until the alcoholic part of the wine evaporates. This stage is very important because the flavor compounds that make the sauce good are formed and because no trace of alcohol should remain, which would give the sauce an unpleasant taste.
  9. Pour the passata into the pot as well, mix, cover with the lid leaving a crack, and cook on low heat for about 3 hours, At this point it is necessary to transfer the pot to a small fire relative to its size and get to lower the flame little by little until it cooks slowly, barely simmering.
  10. Stirring every 20 minutes or so, adding a few tablespoons of broth if necessary and a little at a time. Authentic Bolognese Sauce Recipe (13)
  11. When almost cooked, adjust salt if necessary.
  12. And add a pinch of pepper.
  13. The end result must be a dry, but at the same time creamy mixture! Authentic Bolognese Sauce Recipe (14)


Do you need to brown mince for Bolognese?

Yes, the meat needs to caramelize and should be done over a high flame. It is used to give flavor, then after caramelizing with the mince with the wine we will go to deglaze the whole thing.

What to do if the Ragu is a little acidic?

You can add a tablespoon of milk to the meat sauce but never, never cream!

Follow this tips on How to make a good Bolognese

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving:Calories: 588Total Fat: 38gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 21gCholesterol: 129mgSodium: 487mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 3gSugar: 8gProtein: 39g

Nutrition is automatically calculated by Nutritionix - please verify all nutrition information independently and consult with a doctor or nutritionist for any and all medical and diet advice.

Did you make this recipe?

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BologneseSlow Cooker/Instant PotMethod

If you’re looking for a way to simplify thecooking processof Bolognese sauce while still getting authentic Italian flavors, theslow cookermethod may be the solution for you.

While the traditional stovetop method requires frequent stirring and attention, theslow cookerallows you to set it and forget it, letting the flavors mingle and deepen over time.

To use theslow cookermethod, simply brown your meats and onions in a skillet before transferring them to theslow cooker.

Add the other ingredient and set the cooker to low for 6-8 hours

More Authentic Italian Recipes

  • Pasta With Broccoli, this is such an easy pasta dish that is so hearty and comforting.
  • Spaghetti Alla Puttanesca, super easy to make with a unique taste.
  • Spaghetti Alla Nerano, you only need a handful of ingredients to make an incredibly flavorful dish.
Authentic Bolognese Sauce Recipe (15)
Authentic Bolognese Sauce Recipe (2024)


What are the ingredients in traditional Bolognese sauce? ›

  • 2 pounds ground beef.
  • 2 pounds ground pork.
  • 2 cups dry white wine.
  • 6 ounces bacon or pancetta.
  • 1/3 cup garlic cloves (about 6 fat cloves)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil.
  • 2 medium onions, minced in a food processor or finely chopped.
  • 2 large celery stalks, minced in a food processor or finely chopped.

What is the difference between Italian bolognese and American bolognese? ›

Common sources of differences include which meats to use (beef, pork or veal) and their relative quantities, the possible inclusion of either cured meats or offal, which fats are used in the sauté phases (rendered pork fat, butter, olive or vegetable oil), what form of tomato is employed (fresh, canned or paste), the ...

What is Bolognese sauce in Italy? ›

Bolognese sauce is a classic Italian sauce for pasta made with ground meat such as beef or pork. It's slow cooked with a soffritto of onions, carrots, and celery, tomatoes, and milk to give it a creamy texture. Pronounced "bow-luh-nez," the sauce comes from the Bologna region of Italy, hence the name.

Do Italians put carrots in spaghetti bolognese? ›

I think you're quite mistaken. Every Italian soffritto contains finely chopped carrots. If they're chopped properly, they will disappear into the sauce along with the chopped onions, chopped celery, and chopped garlic. If you see carrots in the sauce, like a boeuf-carrottes in France, there's something wrong.

Do Italians put sugar in Bolognese sauce? ›

Usually no. But putting (a very small bit) of sugar or even a tiny pinch of baking soda in the tomato sauce can help if it is too acidic, but this is only done if the person cooking it is really in a rush.

How does Gordon Ramsay make the best spaghetti bolognese? ›

Recipe For Gordon Ramsay's Spaghetti Bolognese
  1. Meat. • 1/2 lb Ground beef.
  2. Produce. • 1 Carrot. • 2 cloves Garlic. • 1 Onion. ...
  3. Canned Goods. • 2 tbsp Tomato puree.
  4. Baking & Spices. • 1 tsp Black pepper. • 1 tsp Salt.
  5. Oils & Vinegars. • 2 tbsp Oil.
  6. Dairy. • 1/2 cup Whole milk.
  7. Beer, Wine & Liquor. • 2 tbsp Red wine.

Do Italians put milk in bolognese? ›

It sounds unconventional to use milk in a meaty red sauce, but upon further investigation, it makes total sense why Italians swear by it. According to our Food Director Amira, not only does milk add a rich flavour to the bolognese, but it also “helps cut through the acidity of the tomatoes and red wine”.

Why do you add celery to bolognese? ›

In traditional Italian bolognese recipes, celery is often included as one of the "soffrito" ingredients, along with onions and carrots, which are sautéed in olive oil as a base for the sauce. Celery adds a slightly sweet and earthy flavor to the sauce and can also help balance out the acidity of the tomatoes.

How to make bolognese sauce Gordon Ramsay? ›

Bolognese Sauce
  1. 1 Onion.
  2. 1 Carrot.
  3. 2 Garlic Cloves.
  4. 1 Tablespoon Dried Oregano.
  5. 2 Canned Tomatoes or 2 Freshly Chopped Tomato.
  6. 400g / 14 OZ Minced Beef.
  7. 1 Tablespoon Tomato Puree.
  8. Red Wine ( no need to break out the expensive stuff! A simple Merlot will do )
Sep 25, 2018

Why do you put milk in bolognese? ›

Milk is a magical ingredient when it comes to bolognese. First, the lactic acid and calcium in milk help to tenderize the meat. More than that, though, milk balances the wine and tomato, creates a creamier texture and adds richness (similar to how butter or yogurt add more richness and flavor to dishes).

What do Italians eat with bolognese? ›

Take bolognese; you might be used to eating it with spaghetti, but no self-respecting Italian would ever serve a meaty ragú like this with such a thin pasta shape. Substantial sauces call for substantial pasta shapes, so a wider, flatter shape like tagliatelle or pappardelle is more appropriate.

Should Bolognese have garlic in it? ›

A note on garlic: Classic Bolognese sauce does not contain garlic. In many Italian pasta recipe, the garlic debate rages on—some like to use it, some don't and say it's blasphemy to do so. Me? I do add garlic to my Bolognese because I think it adds an extra flavor dimension I really enjoy.

Do you simmer Bolognese with lid on or off? ›

Lid off will allow extra moisture in the sauce to evaporate and thicken it. So, if you want a thicker sauce, lid off. Thinner, perhaps less strong flavored, lid on. Super low simmer and slow, even heating is best for a long cooking tomato sauce.

How long should you simmer Bolognese? ›

Let this sauce gently simmer and lightly bubble for at least two (2) hours, uncovered, stirring occasionally, tasting as you go because it already smells so good, you can't believe you have to wait that long, so may as well taste as you go.

What makes bolognese different than spaghetti sauce? ›

The key difference here is that bolognese sauce contains meat of some sort – beef, veal or pork are the most popular options. It just so happens that beef is the most popular choice in Italy (and your favourite Italian restaurant Sydney).

What makes bolognese taste like bolognese? ›

As far as its taste, it will have a meaty heartiness from the browned meats, a sweet tang from the rich tomatoes, as well as an herbal kick from the various Italian spices used. If you've ever enjoyed a pasta dish with meat and tomato-based sauce, it was likely a variation of a bolognese recipe.

What's the difference between Ragu and bolognese sauce? ›

Even though both are considered meat sauces and are thusly chunky, ragù is more like a thick tomato sauce with recognizable bits of ground beef within it. Bolognese, though, is creamier and thicker because it is made with milk. It is not considered to be a tomato sauce.

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