Bolognese is a homemade Italian sauce your family will love. This easy recipe doesn't take long, but it will taste like it's been simmering all day!
Ground beef and Italian sausage come together in this wonderfully rich and flavorful tomato sauce.
Why this recipe works:
If I were to tell you that we had spaghetti and meat sauce once a week, I wouldn't be lying.
To me, a homemade Bolognese sauce is one of the tastiest things I make for dinner. More times than not, I'll cheat and just use jarred marinara sauce that I pick up at the store. But on those days when I either run out or want a really good homemade spaghetti sauce, this is the recipe I use.
- This recipe really just tastes like a super flavorful thick tomato based marinara sauce with meat.
- Some recipes only use ground beef or sausage, not both. I prefer to use both because it gives the best flavor.
- This is a thick sauce that really sticks to the pasta. I will cook my sauce long enough to let enough of the moisture evaporate such that when I scrape the pan, the spoon leaves a trail.
I make my sauce with the following ingredients, but you can tweak based on your preferences. This is a very forgiving recipe, so play around with it!
- Equal portions of ground beef and spicy Italian sausage. I try to cook with grass fed ground beef whenever possible and I like to get the spicy sausage in bulk from the meat counter.
- Red pepper flakes for a little kick and salt. Start low with the salt because you can always add more. The sausage you're using might already be really salty.
- Extra virgin olive oil - invest in a good one.
- Onion, garlic, celery and carrot. I like all of my veggies to be diced or even grated for this sauce.
- Crushed tomatoes. I use canned unless I have ripe paste tomatoes from the garden.
- Fresh parsley and basil. I can never get enough basil.
How to make this recipe:
- Using a super large skillet (cast iron is my favorite), you're going to brown the meat with the red pepper flakes and salt over medium high heat. I use a wooden spoon to chop it up while it's cooking so that it's nice and crumbly. I also try not to stir it too often so that it has a chance to brown. You'll then transfer it to a plate temporarily.
- Using the same pan with all that wonderful flavor, you'll saute the onion first followed by the garlic, celery and carrot in the olive oil.
- You'll add the meat back to the pan along with the remaining ingredients. Give it a good stir to combine and then continue to cook over medium low heat until the sauce thickens. This should only take about a half hour or so. Plenty of time for you to make the pasta, toss the salad, and enjoy your first glass of wine!
What to serve with this recipe:
Whenever I make this recipe I always serve it with some kind of pasta, ravioli, or lasagna.
You can make your meal even healthier by swapping out the pasta for zoodles or spaghetti squash.
I almost always make a nice ceasar salad and garlic bread to serve with Bolognese too.
Storing and reheating:
If you plan on eating your leftovers within the next few days, store this recipe in an air tight container in the refrigerator. If refrigerated, I would try to eat within 3-5 days at the most. Trust your nose and don't eat it if it smells off.
For longer term storage, you can either store in a plastic container or resealable plastic storage bag and freeze. Just be sure to allow the sauce to fully cool before you freeze it and to eliminate as much air as possible to avoid freezer burn.
It will last for months in the freezer, especially if there is no air in your container.
Reheating this sauce is super easy.
- If frozen, it's best to allow it to thaw in the refrigerator before cooking. I usually don't plan out my dinners that far ahead, so I've been known to throw the frozen sauce right in the pan and heat on low until it's heated through.
- I don't often like to reheat leftover Bolognese (or anything with meat) in the microwave. You can, but I much prefer using a pot on the stove top.
- If you're worried about your sauce getting to thick, just cover it with a lid while you reheat it. You can always add store bought marinara sauce to your leftover Bolognese if you need more too.
This is one of my favorite recipes to make for dinner along with some Ratatouille, homemade pasta or cheese ravioli. YUM!
Other great Italian inspired dinner recipes:
- Homemade Pasta
- Creamy Sun Dried Tomato Shrimp Pasta
- Ham and Pea Pasta Carbonara
- Cheesy Baked Rigatoni Pasta
- Dozen Veggie Pasta Primavera
- Cheesy Sausage Pasta Bake
- Homemade Alfredo Sauce
- Fettuccine Alfredo
- Classic Homemade Lasagna
- Butternut Squash Lasagna
- Roasted Vegetable Lasagna
- Baked Italian Meatballs
- Italian Wedding Soup
- Loaded Grilled Italian Sandwich
- Easy Italian Stromboli
- Four Cheese Ravioli
- Meat and Cheese Ravioli
- Homemade Butternut Squash Ravioli with Brown Butter Sage Sauce
Full Recipe Instructions
CLICK TO PLAY RECIPE VIDEO
- ½ pound ground beef
- ½ pound spicy Italian sausage (easiest to buy in bulk (not links) from meat counter)
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion (diced)
- 4 garlic cloves (minced)
- 1 stalk celery (diced)
- 1 carrot (grated)
- 28-ounce (one large can) crushed tomatoes (canned)
- ¼ cup flat-leaf Italian parsley (chopped)
- 8 fresh basil leaves (chopped)
- In a large skillet over medium high heat, cook the ground beef, sausage, red pepper flakes, and salt until brown and crumbly. Transfer to a plate.
- In the same pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and saute until the onions become very soft, about 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic, celery and carrot and saute for 5 minutes.
- Add cooked meat back to the pan and stir well to combine.
- Add the tomatoes, parsley and basil, cover, and cook over medium low heat until the sauce thickens, at least 30 minutes but longer is better. Serve Bolognese with pasta and freshly grated Pecorino Romano.
If you’re looking for a pasta sauce that knocks your socks off, look no further! It is SO DELCIOUS and so easy! Will be making it again soon!
Turned out so great! Definitely a keeper.
Cecilia Leahy Klein
This recipe is very close to our "family" sauce, made and enjoyed in my family for 70 years or more. We normally add, as well as the listed spices, 1-1/2 tsp, of either balsamic vinegar or Worcestershire sauce and a bay leaf. Also, if using regular canned tomatoes, consider adding an 8oz. can of tomato sauce as well.
This was delicious! So many flavors that popped. I did add about about 2 tablespoons of garlic powder, and 3/4 cup dry white wine, as one of the reviewers mentioned above. This will be a staple in our home. Reminds of of New York! Thank you!!
Have to say it was super easy and very delicious. Love that it called for simple ingredients that I had in my kitchen (Just had to buy the sausage meat and beef). I did double the ingredients since I was feeding 9. Glad a had a little left over for another dinner this week. Will definitely be making this again.
Spectacular!!! I just tasted the sauce after it was simmering on the stove for 2 hrs and it truly wonderful!! The only thing I added was 3/4 cup of some chilled Sauvignon Blanc white wine I had in the fridge before I left it to simmer....and viola! The perfect bolognese!!! Thank you for the recipe!!! This one will be a repeat for sure!
This is so delicious! One of my favorite sauces over pasta!
I love simple homemade sauces like this!
I know what I will be having with my pasta dinner tonight! What a savory and flavorful recipe!
Bolognese sauce has got to be one of my all time faves! Can't wait to give your version a try!
This truly looks like the perfect bolognese! Can't wait to give it a go 🙂