Bolognese Meat Sauce

SauceItalianBologneseTomato Sauce

Classic Italian Bolognese meat sauce recipe, for use with pasta dishes. Ground beef, pork, and Italian sausage, simmered for hours in a base of onion, celery, carrot, pancetta, and tomatoes. Seasoned with cloves, cinnamon, salt and pepper.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

This Bolognese sauce is a family recipe of one of our readers and is used in our Lasagna Bolognese recipe. Slow cooked for at least a couple of hours, the sauce is deep, rich, flavorful and worth the extra effort.

Bolognese Meat Sauce Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 3 hours
  • Yield: With pasta, makes enough sauce for 6.


  • 2 oz. Diced pancetta, finely chopped
  • 1 Medium Spanish onion or yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 1 Carrot, finely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 11 oz Ground beef
  • 4 oz Ground pork
  • 4 oz Ground Italian sausage
  • 1 freshly ground clove
  • Dash of freshly ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 lb peeled and chopped tomatoes (or 1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes, packed in water)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt


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1 Make the soffritto. Combine pancetta, onion, celery, and carrot in sauté pan with butter and cook over medium heat until onion turns pale gold.

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2 Add the beef, pork, sausage to the soffritto, and increase the heat to high; cook until browned. Sprinkle with the clove, cinnamon, and pepper.

3 Stir in tomatoes, bring to a simmer and reduce the heat to medium. Cook over medium heat for 15 minutes. If you are using whole canned tomatoes, break them up as you add them to the sauce.

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4 Add milk and season with sea salt. Then turn down the heat and simmer for 2 and 1/2 hours. Stir at least every 20 minutes. Whenever the sauce gets too dry and starts sticking to the pan, just add 1/4 cup of water and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

Can easily freeze for future use.

Serve with pasta.

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Showing 4 of 12 Comments / Reviews

  • fred b

    The sauce smells great and has a good composition but the overall taste is rather bland. I would suggest to add a few teaspoons of cayenne pepper.

  • Penny

    Yummy! Loved the seasonings, and served it on fried polenta.

  • Maravillas García

    Just a question, what’s the milk for? sort of like using cream, only not so rich?

    Note from Elise: yes, the sauce is definitely rich enough without using cream.

  • Lauren

    Is it necessary to use the clove and cinnamon? I have used things like these and all spice in the past and was not a huge fan of the flavor. I want an authentic bolognese though so should I add them?

    I think you should do whatever you want. You might want to try it out with smaller quantities of those spices. ~Elise

  • Tina

    Elise, I made this last night to serve with farfalle pasta. I have been searching for the perfect Bolognese recipe for nearly a year and THIS IS IT! It was DELICIOUS! I hope you will consider posting just the sauce recipe by itself under ‘pasta’. I made it as-is EXCEPT I used ground cloves and cinnamon, plus I added garlic with the onions (can’t make anything without garlic) and instead of using 1/4 cup water to thin the sauce, I used 1/4 cup red wine. It was WONDERFUL! Thanks for ANOTHER great recipe! :)

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