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Classic Bolognese Sauce

5 Mins read
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Ready to master the ultimate pasta sauce? You’re in for a treat. In this guide, we’re exploring classic Bolognese, steeped in rich history and packed with mouthwatering flavors.

We’ll tackle the essential ingredients, walk you through the preparation steps, and share expert tips for perfect Bolognese. By the end, you’ll be serving up a dish that’s sure to impress.

Let’s dive into the delicious world of Bolognese!

The Rich History of Bolognese

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You’ll find that the rich history of Bolognese sauce is as hearty and satisfying as the dish itself. It’s been a staple in Italian cuisine since the 19th century.

Originating in Bologna, Italy, it was originally a hearty stew made with a variety of meats. Over time, it evolved into a thick, satisfying sauce, loved globally. It’s traditionally made with beef, pork, and sometimes veal, simmered with a healthy portion of tomatoes, and served over pasta.

The secret to its distinctive flavor? A long, slow cooking process that allows the flavors to meld beautifully.

As you indulge in a bowl of pasta Bolognese, remember the centuries of culinary tradition you’re partaking in. Enjoy each bite!

Essential Ingredients for Authentic Bolognese

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Start gathering your ingredients to make an authentic Bolognese sauce. You’ll need:

  • Fresh ground beef, pork, and perhaps veal
  • A generous helping of ripe tomatoes
  • A finely chopped mix of onions, celery, and carrots, known as the ‘soffritto’
  • A good dry white or red wine
  • Milk (which might seem unusual, but it’s crucial for a creamy texture)
  • A dash of tomato paste
  • A handful of spices like bay leaves, nutmeg, and pepper

Step-by-Step Bolognese Preparation

Once you’ve gathered all your quality ingredients, it’s time to dive into the process of preparing your classic Bolognese sauce.

Start by browning the minced meat in a large pan, then remove it and set it aside.

In the same pan, sauté the finely chopped onions, carrots, and celery until they’re soft and translucent.

Next, add the minced garlic and cook for a minute or so until it’s fragrant.

Now it’s time to return the browned meat to the pan and mix in the red wine.

Let it simmer until the wine has reduced, and then stir in the tomato paste and canned tomatoes.

Expert Tips for Perfect Bolognese

With your Bolognese simmering, it’s now time to take note of some expert tips that can elevate your sauce to the next level.

First, remember to cook your meat in batches. It’s essential for developing deep, rich flavors. Overcrowding the pan will cause the meat to steam rather than brown.

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Second, don’t rush the cooking process. Bolognese needs time to let the flavors meld together, so let it simmer on low for at least two hours.

Third, add a splash of milk towards the end. It might sound strange, but it helps to balance out the acidity of the tomatoes.

Lastly, always taste and adjust the seasoning. A little more salt or a dash of pepper can make a world of difference.

Serving Suggestions and Pairings

After you’ve perfected your classic Bolognese sauce, it’s time to consider what dishes it’ll enhance and what wines will complement its rich flavors best. Traditionally, Bolognese is served with tagliatelle, a type of pasta that perfectly holds the hearty sauce. However, you can also experiment with other pasta shapes or even use it as a filling for lasagna.

For a well-rounded meal, pair your Bolognese dish with a simple green salad and crusty bread to mop up any leftover sauce. As for wine, a medium-bodied red like a Chianti or a Sangiovese pairs wonderfully, enhancing the sauce’s savory depth. But don’t be afraid to try a full-bodied white for a surprising twist.

Ultimately, the choice is yours to enjoy your Bolognese feast!

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Classic Bolognese Sauce

Ready to master the ultimate pasta sauce? You're in for a treat. In this guide, we're exploring classic Bolognese, steeped in rich history and packed with mouthwatering flavors.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 20 minutes
Cuisine Italian


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small/medium carrot
  • 1 small celery stalk
  • 1 small onion
  • 10 1/2 ounces ground beef 70-80%
  • 10 1/2 ounces ground pork
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 1/4 cups tomato puree passata
  • 2-3 pinches salt
  • 2 dashes pepper
  • 1-2 whole bay leaves
  • 1/3 cup milk 2 % or whole milk


  • Cut the carrot, celery and onion very fine (must not too much that it becomes pulpy when cooked).
  • In a medium to large heavy pot add the olive oil and chopped vegetables, cook covered on low heat (stirring occasionally) until onion is transparent.
  • Increase the heat to medium and add the ground beef and pork. Stirring as the meat is cooking to break up the pieces. Once the meat has browned turned the heat up to high and add the wine.
  • Cook until the alcohol has evaporated (about 20-30 seconds) and the liquid has evaporated. Decrease the heat to medium/low and add the tomato paste, puree, salt, pepper and bay leaf. Gradually decrease the heat to the lowest setting cover and let simmer for three hours (the mixture should not boil). Stir occasionally.
  • After the time has passed remove the bay leaf and add the milk, heat thoroughly for a couple of minutes. Serve over cooked pasta. Enjoy!


Any leftover sauce should be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated it will keep for up to 5 days in the fridge. The completely cooled sauce can also be frozen. Place in a freezer safe container, it will keep for up to 3 months. Thaw the sauce overnight in the fridge.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Some Common Substitutions for Ingredients in a Classic Bolognese Sauce?

You’re asking about ingredient swaps, right? You can replace ground beef with turkey, lentils, or mushrooms. Try using coconut milk instead of cream. Gluten-free pasta works too, if you’re avoiding wheat.

Can Bolognese Sauce Be Made Vegetarian or Vegan?

Absolutely, you can make a vegetarian or vegan version! Swap the meat with lentils or mushrooms. Use dairy-free milk and cheese for vegan. It’s all about adjusting to your dietary needs while keeping the flavors intact.

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How Can I Store Leftover Bolognese Sauce and How Long Will It Last?

You can store your leftover sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days. For longer storage, freeze it and it’ll keep for about three months. Always reheat thoroughly before serving.

Are There Any Health Benefits Associated With the Ingredients Used in Bolognese Sauce?

Sure, there are health benefits in your meal’s components. Tomatoes, for instance, are rich in antioxidants. Meat provides protein and iron. However, it’s the overall diet balance you should focus on, not just one dish.

Can Bolognese Sauce Be Used in Other Dishes Besides Pasta?

Absolutely, you’re not just limited to pasta. You can use it in lasagna, spread it on pizza, or add it to risotto. It’s versatile, so don’t be afraid to experiment with different dishes.


You’ve journeyed through the rich history of Bolognese, gathered the essential ingredients, and followed step-by-step instructions to craft this classic sauce.

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With expert tips under your belt, you’re guaranteed to have created a perfect Bolognese.

Now, all that’s left is to serve it up with your chosen pairings.

So, grab a fork and savor every bite of your homemade, authentic Bolognese sauce – you’ve earned it!

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About author
Meet Sue Perera, the culinary aficionado behind our captivating recipe hub. An imaginative and talented young woman, Sue has an unwavering passion for all things food – especially those aromatic wonders, cinnamon and thyme. Her deep-seated love for these two unique spices inspired the birth of this website, but don't be fooled – her culinary repertoire extends far beyond these two ingredients.
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