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looking down at a bowl with noodles with a large serving of authentic bolognese sauce on top.
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5 from 6 votes

Bolognese Sauce Recipe

I thought I hated red "meat sauce." But this rich, luxurious Bolognese sauce recipe is the stuff of DREAMS, I tell you. My homemade sauce has freshly chopped carrots, onions, and celery, plus a long slow simmer with tomatoes and cream. The result is an explosion of creamy authentic Italian flavor, and has changed everything I thought I knew about red sauce.
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time1 hour
Total Time1 hour 30 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 10
Calories: 313kcal
Author: Karen


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 1 cup celery chopped
  • 3 medium carrots peeled and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teapoon fennel seeds crushed with a mallet, release your anger
  • 5 sprigs fresh rosemary chopped (or 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary)
  • 6 cloves garlic smashed and minced
  • 1/2 pound mild Italian sausage
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup cream
  • 6- ounce can tomato paste
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 28- ounce can crushed tomatoes I like Cento brand
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley optional
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil optional
  • 1 & 1/2 pounds tagliatelle or pappardelle pasta boiled in salted water (optional)
  • freshly grated parmesan to garnish


  • Start by chopping up your holy trinity: 1 onion, about 1 cup celery, and 3 medium carrots. You can use a food processor for this job, or regular ol' elbow grease. Make sure the carrots are chopped pretty small.
  • Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and swirl to coat. Add the chopped onion, celery and carrots.
  • Season the vegetables with 2 teaspoons kosher salt (use less for table salt), 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper. Add 1/2 teaspoon fennel to a ziplock bag and use a meat mallet or rolling pin to pound it. Once crushed, add the fennel to the onions. (if you are not using fresh rosemary, add 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary now.)
  • Saute the vegetables with the spices for about 5 minutes until they are getting soft.
  • Use a chef's knife to chop about 5 sprigs of fresh rosemary. Use the side of the knife to press and crush 6 cloves of garlic. Peel, then chop finely.
  • Add the rosemary and garlic to the onion mixture, making sure there is enough oil so they don't scorch (add more if needed.) Cook 1 minute until the garlic is fragrant.
  • Next add in 1/2 pound Italian sausage and 1/2 pound ground beef. (Save the leftover meat to make Italian Wedding Soup!)
  • Break up the meat with a wooden spoon and cook over medium heat until cooked all the way through, about 5 minutes.
  • When the meat is cooked, add 1 cup white wine, 1 cup heavy cream, and the 6-ounce can of tomato paste. Stir it all together and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Let cook down for about 5-10 minutes, stirring, until the liquid is mostly gone and it has formed a thick sauce with the veggies and meat. See photos.
  • Add 2 cups beef broth (I used 2 cups water and 2 teaspoons Better Than Bouillon Beef Base.) Add the 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes.
  • Bring this mixture to a low simmer over medium or medium low heat. You want it to be bubbling occasionally, very gently.
  • Let the sauce simmer for about an hour, or two, or three. If you go past an hour, add some extra beef broth (1/2 cup at a time) so that it doesn't get too thick; use your best judgment for how thick you want your sauce. The longer this sauce cooks, the more flavorful it will become.*
  • Before serving, add 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley and 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil to the sauce. Serve hot.
  • To serve this with pasta: In another large pot, boil several quarts of water with 2 tablespoons salt. It should taste as salty as the ocean, try it.
  • Add about 1 and 1/2 pounds pasta (tagliatelle is traditional but tough to find; I always sub pappardelle. That's what you see in the photos.) Add pasta to the boiling water and cook for 3-6 minutes, check your package. Drain immediately once it is al dente. Drizzle with olive oil, plate, and top with Bolognese sauce, grated parmesan, and extra fresh basil and parsley.

Slow Cooker Instructions

  • Make the recipe as stated up through adding the cream, wine, and tomato paste. Once it is done cooking down and you are ready for the next step, scrape it all into a crock pot with the remaining ingredients: 2 cups beef broth, 28-ounces crushed tomatoes, and 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar. Stir and let simmer on low for 3 hours, or up to 8 hours (or cook on high for 2 to 4 hours), checking to add more beef broth if it gets thick.


*You can make this sauce a day or two in advance, then store in the fridge to marinate. It will only become more flavorful with time! Making ahead is a great idea when using this sauce for Lasagna, to break up the work. 
Nutrition facts info does not include pasta, I did that to make it easier for people using this recipe for Lasagna. If you are making this with pasta, it should be easy for you to calculate separately and add it in!


Calories: 313kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 60mg | Sodium: 962mg | Potassium: 557mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 3859IU | Vitamin C: 14mg | Calcium: 87mg | Iron: 2mg