Classic bolognese sauce flavored with fresh herbs and garlic. This family favorite is simple and always delicious served with pasta.
How to make bolognese sauce
- Build the flavor base: I like using a combination of ground beef (beef mince) and ground pork (pork mince). Using two kinds of meat means more flavor. You can also use ground lamb, veal and even bacon to boost the flavor. Brown the meat well in a large pot set over high heat. I do this in batches to allow the meat to brown well. Remove the browned meat from the pot and set aside. Add chopped carrots, celery and onion along with the fresh herbs. I like using bay leaves and thyme but rosemary is also a great addition. Allow the vegetables to saute until golden brown. The longer you let the vegetables saute, the deeper the flavor will be of the finished bolognese sauce.
- Make the sauce: Add the meat back into the pot then add the tomatoes, beef stock, sugar, salt and pepper. If you want even more flavor, you can use marinara sauce instead of tomatoes. I like using crushed or strained tomatoes. You can use chopped tomatoes too but I prefer the sauciness of the strained/crushed tomatoes.
- Low and slow: For the most delicious Bolognese, I always recommend cooking it low and slow. Allowing the sauce to simmer gently for an hour ensures a super rich and meaty sauce. All the flavors blend together and the sauce is just always better. You can cook it a little faster for 30 minutes and the sauce will still be good, though! Using sugar balances out the acidity of the tomatoes but can be left out if you prefer. Another option that I always do is to stir in half a cup of heavy/whipping cream into the sauce 10 minutes before its done. This adds such lusciousness to the sauce. If you want to keep it dairy-free, it’s completely fine to omit the cream.
- Serve: There is no better spaghetti sauce than bolognese. It’s a family favorite for a reason. Serve over cooked pasta of your choice and serve with basil leaves and grated Parmesan.
Making ahead and freezing
Allow the cooked sauce to cool to room temperature. Transfer the sauce to freezer safe containers or bags. I like to portion out a few cups into each container to make for easier thawing. I also know that we usually use around 3 cups of bolognese with pasta so it makes sense to portion it out that way. Thaw the bolognese in the fridge overnight then transfer to a small saucepan and heat until bubbling.
Bolognese sauce will last for 2-3 days in the fridge and up to 3 months in the freezer.
What can I do with bolognese sauce
- 500 g (1lb) beef mince / ground beef
- 500 g (1lb) pork mince / ground pork
- 1 large onion finely chopped (approx 1 cup)
- 2 carrots peeled and finely chopped/grated (1 cup)
- 2 celery ribs finely chopped (½ cup)
- 2 bay leaves
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme
- 4 garlic cloves crushed
- 1 cup beef stock
- 500 g (2 cups) strained / crushed tomatoes (alternatively use 2 cups Marinara sauce)
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1-2 tsp salt to taste
- 1 tsp black pepper
- ½ cup heavy / whipping cream
- In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil. Add the meat in batches and brown well. Remove from the pot and set aside.
- In the same pot, add the onion, carrot, celery and fresh herbs. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occassionally, until they are golden brown and starting to soften. Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds.
- Add the meat back into the pot with the stock, tomatoes, sugar, salt and pepper.
- Partially cover with a lid and reduce the heat. Allow to simmer for 45-60 minutes, stirring occassionally, until the sauce is rich and slightly reduced. Stir in the cream and cook for another 10-15 minutes.
- Adjust seasoning and serve.