Classic Bolognese Sauce

This classic Italian sauce simmers for hours to develop maximum flavor. Made with a blend of ground beef, pork, and Italian sausage, it's great with fresh tagliatelle or fettuccine, pappardelle, or other pasta.

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 3 hours, 30 minutes
  • Yield: Sauce for 6 servings of pasta


  • 2 ounces pancetta, finely chopped
  • 1 medium Spanish onion or yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 celery rib, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 11 ounces ground beef
  • 4 ounces ground pork
  • 4 ounces ground Italian sausage
  • 1 freshly ground clove
  • Dash of freshly ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds peeled and chopped tomatoes (or one 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, packed in water)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt


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, about 10 minutes.

saute the soffritto for the classic bolognese sauce

2 Add the meats: Add the beef, pork, and sausage to the soffritto, and cook until browned, about 5 minutes.

brown the ground meat for the bolognese pasta sauce cook the ground meat with the vegetables for the bolognese sauce

3 Add the spices: Sprinkle with the clove, cinnamon, and pepper.

4 Add the tomatoes and simmer: Stir in tomatoes, increase the heat to bring to a simmer and then reduce the heat back 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.

add tomatoes to make bolognese sauce

5 Simmer for 2 hours: Add milk and season with sea salt. Then turn down the heat to low, partially cover, 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.

add milk to make bolognese sauce simmer for hours to make a classic bolognese sauce

6 Serve: Bolognese is traditionally served with fresh tagliatelle pasta, but you can also serve it with fettucine, pappardelle, penne, or other pasta. Sauce freezes well for future use.