How to Make Bolognese Sauce Recipe -
How to Make Bolognese Sauce Recipe
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How to Make Bolognese Sauce
See how to make a truly classic ground beef and tomato sauce. See more
  • READY IN 3+ hrs

How to Make Bolognese Sauce

Recipe by  

"This Bolognese sauce is dedicated to the late, great Marcella Hazan. She was considered the Julia Child of Italian food, and at a time when most Americans thought 'Bolognese' was spaghetti sauce with chunks of hamburger, Marcella taught us just how magnificent this meat sauce could be. I like to toss it with some mezzi rigatoni and serve it with a little grated Parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of parsley."

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Ingredients Edit and Save

Original recipe makes 6 servings Change Servings
  • PREP

    15 mins
  • COOK

    3 hrs 20 mins

    3 hrs 35 mins


  1. Melt butter with olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat; cook onion, celery, and carrot with pinch of salt until onion turns translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir ground beef into vegetables and cook, stirring constantly until meat is crumbly and no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Season meat mixture with 1 1/2 teaspoon salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and nutmeg.
  2. Pour milk into ground beef mixture and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring often, until most of the milk has evaporated and bottom of pan is still slightly saucy, about 5 minutes.
  3. Raise heat to medium high and pour white wine into ground beef mixture; cook and stir until white wine has mostly evaporated, about 5 more minutes.
  4. Pour tomatoes with juice into a large mixing bowl and crush them with your fingers until they resemble a slightly chunky sauce. Pour tomatoes into sauce; fill can with 2 cups water and add to sauce. Bring to a simmer.
  5. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring often, until mixture cooks down into a thick sauce, at least 3 hours but preferably 4 to 6 hours. Skim fat from top of sauce if desired. If sauce is too thick or too hot on the bottom, add a little more water. Taste and adjust seasonings before serving.
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Reviews More Reviews

Most Helpful Positive Review
Sep 15, 2014

Awesome recipe! Would change just a few things - I would add fresh minced garlic to the sauteed veggies, and add my seasonings there. Cooking them in the oil I find generally brings out more of the flavor. I would also add oregano or Italian seasoning blend - although a great sauce, wasn't super flavorful and that's my preference. Otherwise, I think it's a definite keeper and just in time for the weather to turn chilly. Thank you for sharing!

Most Helpful Critical Review
Nov 04, 2013

I liked learning the technique of using the milk but something about the flavor of this was It tasted too much like wine and not like anything else. I will definitely try using my own seasonings next time!

May 26, 2014

I made this recipe as written. It was a masterpiece. I have never made anything like this in my life that tasted this complex. Thank you for the recipe! I have enjoyed watching you on Youtube. (Next time, I might add a little handful of brown sugar at the end to take a little of the acid bite of the tomatoes away, but seriously perfect as is). I ate it without noodles just in a bowl =)

Feb 01, 2015

This recipe should be DELETED. HUGE FREAKING TYPO with the cayenne pepper. The simmer time is completely off. Ruined $30 worth of ingredients. I think the person that made this was drunk at the time. But as with anything, I should have used more of my judgement when following this recipe. The real cook time should be 4+ hours with prep and everything.

Feb 05, 2014

My husband and kids enjoyed this. I had to substitute almond milk for a dairy allergy but otherwise, made exactly as written. Will make again.

Mar 15, 2015

Great recipe! Made it as called for but without the cayenne pepper. As mentioned by many already, the timing on the steps took longer than the approx. 5 minutes given. This was easy, delicious and worth the extra time. Thanks again Chef John!

Mar 10, 2015

Loved this recipe, added 4 cloves of garlic minced, which was sautéed with the other vegetables, used meatloaf mix (veal, pork, beef mix) for the meat and my usual Italian seasonings. I did not use cayenne but some red pepper flakes instead. I followed the rest to a T and it was outrageously delicious. My 1st attempt at Bolognese thank you chef for a wonderful addition to our most loved pasta sauces

Feb 17, 2015

This recipe is INCREDIBLE. The sauce turned out perfect and had amazing flavor. I will definitely be making this again as my new secret weapon recipe! I did make a few small tweaks though. I left out the cayenne pepper (I don't like spicy things), and the times listed in the recipe weren't that accurate for me. Definitely ignore the "5 minutes" suggestions throughout... you need more time to soften the vegetables and let the various liquids thicken and evaporate. I likened it to making risotto... a lot of babysitting and waiting. I hate when the veggies are crunchy, so I cook the heck out of mine before adding in the meat. It made a big difference. I also didn't need to cook for the 3-6 hours as suggested. Mine looked to be the right consistency after about 2.5 hours (including the initial mixing/browning steps) so I pulled it off the heat and served it at that point. I may consider cooking it longer (and just adding water throughout) next time when I have more time to let the flavor develop, but even with the shorter time, this turned out fantastically.


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  • Calories
  • 394 kcal
  • 20%
  • Carbohydrates
  • 14.2 g
  • 5%
  • Cholesterol
  • 84 mg
  • 28%
  • Fat
  • 20.9 g
  • 32%
  • Fiber
  • 2.3 g
  • 9%
  • Protein
  • 22.6 g
  • 45%
  • Sodium
  • 974 mg
  • 39%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

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