Bolognese Sauce Recipe

Food & Home, Rachel Maria's Recipes

Last week, someone mentioned pasta and Bolognese Sauce. I hadn’t made it in such a long time, and I’ve been missing Italy and the delicious authentic meals I had there, with Scott. So, I decided to make this, recently. It came out so good, and I had to share it with you!

Bolognese Sauce

Bolognese is a meat-based sauce that originated from (you guessed it) Bologna, Italy. It’s a type of ragu, which means a meat-heavy sauce. (More meat than tomatoes/sauce.) The traditional Bolognese sauce has been around since the 18th century. So, it should come as no surprise that there are hundreds of variations that have evolved, especially in America.

Bolognese Sauce Recipe

Bolognese Sauce Recipe Bolognese Sauce Recipe

If you’ve never had a real authentic Italian Bolognese, I’d recommend trying it first, at a few authentic Italian restaurants. If you’re not in Italy, find a restaurant that is as close to it as you can get. (i.e. A first generation Italian-American cook.) Keep in mind that there are variations even within the Italian cuisine. So, consider trying it a few places, and asking questions. 

Scott and I had an authentic Ragu with short rib beef in Tuscany that was to die for. You can find my recreated recipe, here. Honestly, I prefer this over Bolognese. BUT, if a bolognese is done right, it can be a very close runner up. 

So, what makes a sauce Bolognese?

First, the meat. It’s typically a ground or cubed medley of rich-flavored meats. My favorite blend is a ground mixture (Beef, pork, and veal. American supermarkets refer to this trio as “meatloaf mix”.) Another meat (such as pancetta, bacon, or sausage) is used to create a flavored base prior to browning the ground meat. 

Bolognese Sauce Recipe
I like to use Italian Sausage or Pancetta to add flavor to the olive oil. Prior to browning the meat.

Next, is the cooking liquid, which is generally comprised of wine (red or white ~ preferably a dry version), tomatoes (fresh or canned; with or without tomato paste), and broth or stock (I prefer using beef flavored). Last but not least, a touch of milk or cream, helps emulsify the texture of the dish while adding a richness of flavor. 

Bolognese Sauce Recipe
A few dry bay leaves being added to the pot.
Bolognese Sauce Recipe
Notice the creamy consistency? That’s from the added cream. : )

What makes Rachel Maria’s version of Bolognese so special? 

I use only the essential ingredients and steps in making my Bolognese sauce. I like to save time, energy, and money without sacrificing an unforgettable taste. So, if an ingredient doesn’t make much of a difference, I’ll skip it. Take the carrots and celery. Scott and I agree that neither are necessary as they lose their taste and take away from the meat. (Although, I certainly won’t be offended if you tweak my recipe and add whatever you want!) The other thing is that I’ve tried so many variations (yes, even in Italy) that I knew the flavor I was going for. The only variations I would make are using Italian sausage or Pancetta. Other than that, this is the recipe ‘ll always use. 

Bolognese Sauce Recipe

Give it a try. And, let me know what you think. : )

Bolognese Sauce

Food & Home, Rachel Maria's Recipes

Servings: 4-6

Bolognese Sauce Recipe


  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 lb. Italian Sausage (mild or hot) OR Pancetta, divided
  • 1.5 lbs. Meatloaf Mix (Beef, Pork, Veal)
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 6oz. can tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry wine (merlot, chianti, cabernet, pinot)
  • 2 cups beef stock (or broth)
  • 1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 T. dried oregano
  • 1 T. dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp. (or a pinch) of nutmeg
  • 2 bay leaves (dried)
  • 1 T. salt
  • 1 cup cream or half & half
  • Pecorino Reggiano to serve


  1. Coat bottom of a Dutch oven with olive oil set over a medium flame.
  2. Add 1/4 of sausage or pancetta to add flavor to the oil. Cook til browned.
  3. Remove sausage or pancetta from the pot, and set aside. (This will not be added back. Refrigerate and use another time.)
  4. Add onions and garlic to the pot. Stir and saute until softened.
  5. Add ground meat and the inside of the remaining half (1/4 lb.) sausage (or small chopped pancetta) to the pot.
  6. Stir regularly until meat is browned.
  7. Add tomato paste. Stir well until it is incorporated into the meatmixture
  8. Add wine, beef stock, and diced tomatoes. Stir together.
  9. Add seasonings: oregano, basil, nutmeg, bay leaves, salt.
  10. Raise stovetop temperature. Bring to a gentle boil.
  11. After about 5 minutes, lower to simmer and continue to cook for 30 minutes. Then turn off stove.
  12. Add milk or cream and stir until the sauce is even with color. (Like a blush color.)
  13. Serve over pasta (Preferably a flat pasta such as Pappardelle, tagliatelle, or fettuccini.)
  14. Don't forget the cheese! (Pecorino Reggiano is the best!)
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Rachel Scheyer

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