An image showing half a white bowl of traditional bolognese sauce with tagliatelle, topped with parmesan cheese, on a wooden board with a tomato and some parmesan next to the bowl.

Bolognese Sauce [Ragu]

 

Bolognese Sauce – The Classic Italian Recipe

Spaghetti Bolognese is probably one of the most popular pasta dishes in the world (not in Italy, I will explain it later). As such, it has lots of variations as everybody cooks it their way.

For a long time that was the case also for me. I used minced beef or pork, onions, garlic and tinned tomatoes. I cooked everything with an addition of stock for 30-60 minutes depending on how much time left I had to our meal. And I served the sauce with nothing else than spaghetti.

However, everything changed when an Italian lady taught me how to make Bolognese Sauce the Italian way. There are three the most important tips I learnt from her:

  1.  you should use 3 times as many tomatoes as the amount of meat you are cooking your sauce with;
  2. 3 quarters of a litre of dry red wine is not too much when you have half a kg of meat; and
  3. cooking the ragu for at least 3 hours will ensure a rich, intense and beautiful flavour of the sauce.

There is also one more important thing about traditional Bolognese sauce. And it is a rule rather than a tip. You shouldn't serve it with spaghetti. Yes, the rest of the world treats the combination of words “spaghetti” and “Bolognese” as inseparable. But Italians consider serving spaghetti with this sauce as almost heresy and advise using tagliatelle instead. The sauce sticks to the thin ribbon-like form of pasta much better than to the spaghetti.

The Best Bolognese Sauce Recipe

I have used the below traditional Bolognese Sauce recipe for years now and don’t look for any improvements as it is already perfect. I even based my vegetarian version of the sauce on this very recipe.

P.S. Since it takes 3 hours to cook this best Bolognese Sauce, make loads of it and freeze some portions for later enjoyment.

 

Print Recipe
Bolognese Sauce [Ragu]
A classic Italian pasta sauce, cooked with plenty of tomatoes and red wine.
An image showing half a white bowl of traditional bolognese sauce with tagliatelle, topped with parmesan cheese, on a wooden board with a tomato and some parmesan next to the bowl.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 3.5 hours
Servings
people
Ingredients
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 3.5 hours
Servings
people
Ingredients
An image showing half a white bowl of traditional bolognese sauce with tagliatelle, topped with parmesan cheese, on a wooden board with a tomato and some parmesan next to the bowl.
Instructions
  1. Either very finely chop or process in a food processor the onion, carrot, celery stalk and garlic.
  2. In a big heavy pot warm up the olive oil, add the chopped vegetables and fry on a medium heat stirring often for 3-5 minutes.
  3. Increase the heat to high and add the two types of minced meat; fry constantly stirring till the meat is no longer pink.
  4. Add all of the tomatoes, bay leaves, sugar, some salt and pepper (you will adjust the taste at the end so don’t add too much at this stage), and half a cup of wine; once everything starts to boil, decrease the temperature to low and cook for 3 hours.
  5. During the cooking time stir the sauce at least every half an hour to break any bigger pieces of meat or tomatoes and to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Each time you stir, add half a cup of the red wine till you have used all of it.
  6. After the 3 hours of cooking check the seasoning. The sauce should be thick and without lumps of meat. If there are any, you can break them with a potato masher.
  7. Serve the sauce with your choice of pasta cooked al dente (the best is not spaghetti but wider type like tagliatelle or pappardelle) and grated Parmesan cheese.
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An image showing a white bowl of bolognese sauce with tagliatelle, topped with parmesan cheese, on a wooden board with a tomato, garlic and some parmesan next to the bowl, on top of a patio with some greenery in the background. Traditional Bolognese sauce recipe. Learn how to make Bolognese sauce (known also as ragu) the Italian way. Cook it with plenty of tomatoes and wine for 3 hours to get the best Bolognese sauce.


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