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Elevate Your Spaghetti Bolognese

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Spaghetti Bolognese is a beloved Italian classic that has made its way into the hearts (and stomachs) of many around the world. But what if you want to take it up a notch and make your version stand out from the rest? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.

A plate with spaghetti and bolognese.
Ragù alla Bolognese – Bolognese with Spaghetti.

Whether you’re hosting a dinner party or just want to impress your family, this spaghetti bolognese will help you create a meal that’s both delicious and memorable. So go ahead and give it a try, as the saying goes, “Life is a combination of magic and pasta.”


Why make this spaghetti bolognese recipe

  • Well, not only is traditional spaghetti bolognese or ragu alla bolognese a classic dish loved by many, but by using my tried and true techniques, you can elevate it to a whole new level.
  • The perfect combination of meat, tomato, and aromatic vegetables makes this recipe a hearty and satisfying meal that can be enjoyed on any occasion.
  • Plus, with the tips I’ll share in the following section, you can easily substitute certain ingredients for a healthier or vegetarian option, making it a versatile recipe that everyone can enjoy.
  • There are just two components – the pasta and the meat sauce.
  • For the pasta, a classic spaghetti noodle is used. And yet, you can certainly use your family’s favorite variety of pasta. This bolognese sauce is finger-licking good. Don’t forget to serve some nice wholesome crusty bread with it. So, you leave nothing on your plate.
  • It is a very versatile recipe To add some variation, sometimes, I use roasted garlic instead of fresh garlic and add grated zucchini to the sauce. Finely chopped sweet potato is absolutely delicious with ground meat as well.
A pot with bolognese sauce mixed with spaghetti.
Ragù alla Bolognese – Bolognese with Spaghetti.

Ingredients and substitutes

It is vital to use high-quality ingredients. You can create an unforgettable meal by selecting the right vegetables, meat, and seasonings.

  • Beef – For the meat, it is best to use beef mince that is at least 20% fat. This will result in a richer and more flavorful sauce. If you use very lean the meat tends to get too dry.
  • Pork – I like some ground pork for flavor. You can also use pancetta instead of the ground pork.
  • Tomatoes – Today, I’m using canned. I prefer to use two different varieties for additional flavor. Because we are using canned tomatoes, we cook it for only an hour. If we used fresh tomatoes, it would need to be cooked for at least 2 – 1 1/2 hours.
  • Veggies – Fresh carrots, celery, and onions are the preferred vegetables for a Bolognese sauce, but mushrooms work as well.
  • Seasoning – In addition to the main ingredients, it is essential to choose the right spices and herbs to enhance the flavor of your sauce. Fresh or dried thyme, basil, and oregano are some common choices. I’m using a ready blend of Italian seasoning, which I always have on hand.
  • Wine – White wine most commonly used, but I do love the flavor of red wine in my bolognese sauce. It also adds a nice deep color to the sauce.
  • Healthier – If you want to make your recipe healthier or vegetarian, you can easily substitute some of the ingredients. Instead of using beef, you can use ground turkey, or lentils as a vegetarian option. You could also use whole wheat or gluten-free pasta to make it a healthier dish.
  • If you like your ragu spicier – you can add some red pepper flakes.
A collage of the ingredients for a Bolognese sauce.
Homemade Meat Sauce for Pasta – Bolognese

The BEST spaghetti bolognese


  • Sauté – In a Dutch oven or heavy bottom pan, add olive oil. Sauté garlic, carrots, celery, and onions until translucent.
  • Brown – Then, add ground beef and pork. Break apart the beef into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon. Sauté on medium heat until you see no more pink meat. Add the Italian seasoning and bay leaves – continue to cook and break the meat apart.
    Pro tip – Browning the meat will add a nice caramelization and flavor to the sauce.
Progress pictures making the bolognese sauce.
Ragù alla Bolognese – Bolognese with Spaghetti.
  • Sauce – Then, add the canned tomatoes and tomato paste. Season with salt and pepper. Followed by the wine – cook on medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Then, add beef broth or water, fresh thyme, and basil. add the Parmesan cheese.
  • Simmer – Cover and cook for an hour on low heat stirring every 15 minutes. Adding broth or water if necessary to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Taste and adjust seasoning.
    Pro tip – Keep the heat to a low simmer and stir occasionally to prevent it from getting burnt on the bottom.
  • Optional – If using milk, add the milk now add turn the heat off. Give it a good stir until you are ready for the pasta.
    Pro tip – do not boil the sauce once you add the milk as the acid in the tomatoes can cause the milk to split.
Progress pictures making bolognese sauce.
Ragù alla Bolognese – Bolognese with Spaghetti.
  • Pasta – While the sauce is simmering bring a large pot of water to a boil with salt. Add spaghetti noodles and cook for 10 minutes or until al dente. Drain and drop into the prepared sauce. Coat well and garnish with fresh chopped parsley and basil.
    Pro tip – Alternatively, you can serve the sauce in individual pates over hot pasta.
A dutch oven with bolognese sauce.
Ragù alla Bolognese – Bolognese with Spaghetti.

How to take your spaghetti bolognese to the next level?

To take your Spaghetti Bolognese to the next level, there are a few additional steps you can take.

  • First, consider using a mix of ground beef and pork to add a richer flavor to your sauce. You can also try adding some pancetta or bacon to give it a deeper, smokier taste.
  • In addition to the usual spices, you can experiment with adding different vegetables like mushrooms, carrots, or celery to your sauce. These ingredients will not only add more depth of flavor but will also make your sauce more nutritious.
  • Another way to elevate your dish is by making your own pasta. Homemade pasta will take longer to prepare, but once you taste the difference, you won’t want to go back to store-bought pasta.
  • Finally, don’t hesitate to experiment with different types of pasta shapes. Some shapes like penne or rigatoni will hold the sauce better, while others like spaghetti or linguine will allow the sauce to cling to every strand.
A pot with spaghetti mixed with bolognese sauce.
Ragù alla Bolognese – Bolognese with Spaghetti.

Tips for perfect spaghetti bolognese

To make a truly exceptional spaghetti bolognese, there are a few key tips to keep in mind. With these tips in mind, you’ll be well on your way to creating a truly memorable plate of spaghetti bolognese.

  • First and foremost, choose high-quality ingredients. Look for fresh, ripe tomatoes, locally sourced meat, and aromatic herbs and spices.
  • When cooking the sauce, take your time to allow the flavors to develop. Sauté the vegetables until they are soft and caramelized, then add the meat and cook until browned. Add the tomatoes and other liquid ingredients, along with any seasonings, and let everything simmer for at least an hour.
  • When it comes to pasta, don’t skimp on the salt. The cooking water should be well-salted, almost as salty as seawater. And don’t overcook the pasta – it should be al dente, with just a bit of bite to it.
  • Finally, when it’s time to combine the pasta and sauce, don’t be afraid to add a bit of pasta water to the sauce to help it cling to the noodles. And be sure to toss everything together thoroughly for even distribution of the sauce.
A plate with ragu alla bolognese.
Ragù alla Bolognese – Bolognese with Spaghetti.

How to cook pasta perfectly?

Now that you have created the perfect sauce and selected the desired pasta shape for your spaghetti bolognese, it’s important to cook it perfectly to bring out its best qualities.

  • Start by bringing a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil before adding your pasta. Be sure to use plenty of water so the pasta has enough space to move around.
  • Next, add your pasta to the boiling water and stir it immediately to prevent it from sticking together. Cook the pasta according to the package directions, but don’t be afraid to taste it periodically to ensure that it is cooked to your desired level of doneness.
  • Pasta must be cooked “al dente”, which means it must be tender yet have a bite.
  • When the pasta is done, carefully drain it in a colander, reserving some pasta water if you plan on adding it to your sauce to help it adhere to the pasta.
  • If you plan to cook pasta long before serving, it’s a good idea to keep it a minute underdone as it will continue to cook with the residue heat in the sauce.
  • When possible, instead, remove the pasta from the pot (preferably directly into the sauce).
Collage showing how to cook pasta.
How to cook pasta.

How long will this spaghetti bolognese keep?

This pasta will keep in the fridge for 4 to 5 days. When you need to reheat it – add a few tablespoons of hot water to help the sauce blend again. Leftovers can be reheated on the stove or microwave.

Is there a difference between spaghetti bolognese and spaghetti with meat sauce?

Yes, there is. Spaghetti bolognese is a specific Italian meat sauce made with pancetta or bacon, ground beef or pork, onions, carrots, celery, tomato paste, and red wine. Spaghetti with meat sauce is a more general term and can refer to any type of meat sauce served with spaghetti.

Can I add milk to this bolognese sauce?

Yes, in fact, using milk is quite common in bolognese sauce. You can add 1/2 cup of milk at the end of cooking. It helps thicken the sauce too.

Can I make spaghetti bolognese ahead of time?

Yes, spaghetti bolognese can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for up to three days. Just make sure to reheat in a saucepan over low heat and add a splash of water if it appears too dry.

Can I freeze spaghetti bolognese?

Absolutely! Spaghetti bolognese can be frozen for up to three months. Just make sure to let it cool completely before freezing and store it in an airtight container or freezer bag. To reheat, let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator and reheat in a saucepan over low heat.

Can I use fresh tomatoes instead of canned tomatoes?

Yes, you can substitute the same amount of canned tomatoes with fresh tomatoes in the sauce. However, the flavor will be slightly different, so you may need to adjust your seasoning accordingly. Also, you may need to thicken the sauce more to adjust for consistency.

Can I substitute ground turkey or chicken for the beef in my spaghetti bolognese?

Absolutely! Ground turkey or chicken is a great alternative to beef, and it will still create a delicious and hearty dish. Just make sure to adjust your seasoning and cooking times accordingly.


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Pinterest image for spaghetti bolognese or ragu alla bolognese.
Ragù alla Bolognese – Bolognese with Spaghetti.

A plate with spaghetti and bolognese.

Easy Spaghetti Bolognese

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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Calories: 460kcal
Adjust Servings Here: 8 servings

Description

Spaghetti Bolognese is a beloved Italian classic that has made its way into the hearts (and stomachs) of many around the world. But what if you want to take it up a notch and make your version stand out from the rest? Don't worry, I've got you covered.

Video

Ingredients 

Bolognese sauce

  • 1 lb (500 g) Ground beef ((20% fat))
  • 4 oz (100 g) Ground pork (or pancetta)
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 large (1 cup) Onions (finely chopped)
  • 2 med (½ cup) Celery stalks (finely chopped)
  • 2 med (½ cup) Carrots (finely chopped)
  • 3 large (1 tbsp) Garlic cloves (thinly sliced)
  • 2 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 15 oz (800 g) Canned crushed tomatoes (crushed)
  • 2 med Bay leaves
  • 4 tbsp Tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp Fresh thyme (or 12 tsp dried )
  • 2 tbsp Fresh basil (or 1/2 tsp dries)
  • 4 tbsp Parmesan cheese (freshly grated)
  • ½ cup Beef broth (or water)
  • ½ cup Wine (red or white)
  • ½ tsp Kosher salt
  • ½ tsp Black pepper powder
  • ½ cup (120 ml) Whole milk ( Optional)

Pasta

  • 1 lb (500 g) Spaghetti pasta (or similar )
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Instructions

  • Sauté – In a Dutch oven or heavy bottom saute pan, add olive oil. Sauté garlic, carrots, celery, and onions until translucent.
    2 tbsp Olive oil, 1 large Onions, 2 med Celery stalks, 2 med Carrots, 3 large Garlic cloves
  • Brown – Then, add ground beef and pork. Break apart the beef into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon. Sauté until you see no more pink meat. Add the Italian seasoning and bay leaves – continue to cook on medium heat and break the meat apart.
    Pro tip – Browning the meat will add a nice caramelization and flavor to the sauce.
    1 lb Ground beef, 4 oz Ground pork, 2 tbsp Italian seasoning, 2 med Bay leaves
  • Sauce – Then, add the canned tomatoes and tomato paste. Season with salt and pepper. Followed by the wine – cook on medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Then, add beef broth or water, fresh thyme, and basil. Add, the parmesan cheese.
    2 15 oz Canned crushed tomatoes, 4 tbsp Tomato paste, 2 tbsp Fresh thyme, 2 tbsp Fresh basil, 4 tbsp Parmesan cheese, ½ cup Beef broth, ½ cup Wine, ½ tsp Kosher salt, ½ tsp Black pepper powder
  • Simmer – Cover and cook for an hour on low heat stirring every 15 minutes. Adding broth or water if necessary to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Taste and adjust seasoning.
    Pro tip – Keep the heat to a low simmer and stir occasionally to prevent it from getting burnt on the bottom.
  • Optional – If using milk, add the milk now add turn the heat off. Give it a good stir until you are ready for the pasta.
    Pro tip – do not boil the sauce once you add the milk as the acid in the tomatoes can cause the milk to split.
    ½ cup Whole milk
  • Pasta – While the sauce is simmering bring a large pot of water to a boil with salt. Add spaghetti and cook for 10 minutes or until al dente. Drain and drop into the prepared sauce. Coat well and garnish with fresh chopped parsley and basil.
    Pro tip – Alternatively, you can serve the sauce in individual pates over hot pasta.
    1 lb Spaghetti pasta

Recipe Notes & Tips

To make a truly exceptional spaghetti bolognese, there are a few key tips to keep in mind. With these tips in mind, you’ll be well on your way to creating a truly memorable plate of spaghetti bolognese.
  • First and foremost, choose high-quality ingredients. Look for fresh, ripe tomatoes, locally sourced meat, and aromatic herbs and spices.
  • When cooking the sauce, take your time to allow the flavors to develop. Sauté the vegetables until they are soft and caramelized, then add the meat and cook until browned. Add the tomatoes and other liquid ingredients, along with any seasonings, and let everything simmer for at least an hour.
  • When it comes to pasta, don’t skimp on the salt. The cooking water should be well-salted, almost as salty as seawater. And don’t overcook the pasta – it should be al dente, with just a bit of bite to it.
  • Finally, when it’s time to combine the pasta and sauce, don’t be afraid to add a bit of pasta water to the sauce to help it cling to the noodles. And be sure to toss everything together thoroughly for even distribution of the sauce.

Take your spaghetti bolognese to the next level

To take your Spaghetti Bolognese to the next level, there are a few additional steps you can take.
  • First, consider using a mix of ground beef and pork to add a richer flavor to your sauce. You can also try adding some pancetta or bacon to give it a deeper, smokier taste.
  • In addition to the usual spices, you can experiment with adding different vegetables like mushrooms, carrots, or celery to your sauce. These ingredients will not only add more depth of flavor but will also make your sauce more nutritious.
  • Another way to elevate your dish is by making your own pasta. Homemade pasta will take longer to prepare, but once you taste the difference, you won’t want to go back to store-bought pasta.
  • Finally, don’t hesitate to experiment with different types of pasta shapes. Some shapes like penne or rigatoni will hold the sauce better, while others like spaghetti or linguine will allow the sauce to cling to every strand.

How to cook pasta perfectly

Now that you have created the perfect sauce and selected the desired pasta shape for your spaghetti bolognese, it’s important to cook it perfectly to bring out its best qualities.
  • Start by bringing a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil before adding your pasta. Be sure to use plenty of water so the pasta has enough space to move around.
  • Next, add your pasta to the boiling water and stir it immediately to prevent it from sticking together. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions, but don’t be afraid to taste it periodically to ensure that it is cooked to your desired level of doneness.
  • Pasta must be cooked “al dente”, which means it must be tender yet have a bite.
  • When the pasta is done, carefully drain it in a colander, reserving some pasta water if you plan on adding it to your sauce to help it adhere to the pasta.
  • If you plan to cook pasta long before serving, it’s a good idea to keep it a minute underdone as it will continue to cook with the residue heat in the sauce.
  • When possible, instead, remove the pasta from the pot (preferably directly into the sauce)
 
 

Conversions Used

1 lb = 453 grams, 1 cup = 240 ml, 1 stick = 113g, 1 tbsp= 15 ml, 1 tsp= 5 ml,

Nutrition Information

Calories: 460kcalCarbohydrates: 50gProtein: 23gFat: 18gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 54mgSodium: 401mgPotassium: 560mgFiber: 4gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 1044IUVitamin C: 7mgCalcium: 174mgIron: 5mg

The nutrition information and metric conversion are calculated automatically. I cannot guarantee its accuracy. If this data is important to you please verify with your trusted nutrition calculator. Thank you

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12 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This is such a delicious bolognese! My family loves it!

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