Quick Bolognese Sauce

Quick and EASY Bolognese Meat Sauce for pasta dishes! Cooks up in a third the time of traditional Bolognese pasta sauce

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

A traditional Bolognese sauce requires hours of simmering and careful attention.

But sometimes we don’t have hours and we just want a sauce that’s maybe not as spectacular as it could be, but still quite good enough.

This simplified Bolognese sauce takes about an hour to make, instead of several, but still delivers on wonderful flavor!

Quick Bolognese

Instead of starting the sauce with pancetta, which would be traditional, we use butter, which melts quickly and provides plenty of flavor.

A key ingredient in the sauce is milk, whole milk. It’s standard for a Bolognese sauce and important for the flavor and creaminess of the sauce.

Quick Bolognese Sauce Recipe

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  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/4 (570g) lbs ground chuck
  • 1/2 cup (60g) finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup (60g) finely chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup (60g) finely chopped carrot
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup (118ml) full bodied red wine (optional)
  • 1 cup (236ml) whole milk (or low fat milk with a tablespoon of cream)
  • 1 cup (236ml) crushed tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

1 Make the soffritto base with onions, celery, and carrots, add tomato paste: Heat butter in a large sauté pan on medium high. Add the finely chopped onion, celery, and carrots. Sprinkle a little salt over everything. Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes.

Add the tomato paste and stir to combine, cook for another minute or so.

2 Add the ground beef: Add the ground beef to the onions, celery, and carrots, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon as you add it to the pan. Again, sprinkle a little salt over everything.

Cook, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, about 15 minutes.

3 Deglaze the pan with wine: Stir in the wine (if using), scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Let this boil down by half.

4 Stir in tomatoes, milk, then simmer: Stir in the tomatoes. Slowly stir in the milk. Increase the heat to bring the mixture to a simmer, then lower the heat to maintain a low simmer.

Simmer uncovered about 20 minutes. Add a little water if the sauce ever begins to dry out. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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Links:

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Showing 4 of 9 Comments

  • Kathleen

    I usually use Marcella Hazan’s recipe and have for years. But I do t always hay the 3+ hours that requires, and when my stressed-out 13-yr-old wanted Bolognese, I turned to this. Is it as good as Marcella’s ? No. But it hits the same flavor notes ( I did add a little nutmeg, to be fair) and it is REALLY good…nice to have this in my back pocket for When it’s a “meat sauce ” night but it’s already 5PM and we’d like to eat before midnight lol…thank you!

  • Kelly

    Elise — I’m allergic to dairy and can’t use whole milk. What would you recommend as a substitute? I usually use soy milk for things like coffee and cereal, but I don’t know how it could cook up in a recipe like this. Thanks!

  • Matt

    Man, this is a family staple at our place. I times the ingredients by 6 and fill the freezer. 6x means fairly round numbers for all the canned and bottled ingredients – caution you need to split the recipe into 2 stock pots before you add the liquids.

  • Michele

    This sounds delicious, I’m wondering if it would work in a slow cooker. That is my prefered method of cooking these days.

  • Amanda

    I would say it should work fine in a slow cooker after browning the beef.

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