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Authentic Bolognese Sauce

Authentic Bolognese Sauce – a rich, flavorful masterpiece that you can make in your own kitchen. This hearty sauce uses ground beef and pork and authentic ingredients you can find locally. Craving something hearty and delicious? This is the pasta sauce recipe for you!

Authentic Bolognese Sauce on pasta on a black plate with bread.

Let’s bring the taste of Italy into our homes. This Italian sauce will leave you craving more and saying, buon appetito! 

It’s an art to make this oh-so-flavorful sauce, and I’m going to teach you step-by-step how to do it. The secret to a great Bolognese Sauce is a pestata which begins the process of building flavor. Cooked low and slow, every bit of flavor is coaxed out of the meat and the veggies and transforms the sauce into a delicious ragu that’s perfect when spooned over pasta.

What is Pestata?

The pestata sets the foundation for the flavor. It is a puree made with raw bacon and garlic. It is pulsed in the food processor until it’s a paste. It is used to flavor hearty soups and ragus like this Bolognese sauce.

Authentic Bolognese Ragu on a white plate.

Building Flavor

After the pestata comes the trio of celery, onions, and carrots, which are gently sautéed to add more flavor.  Next comes the meat, and because this is an authentic Italian Bolognese, I use a mixture of beef and pork, and they work perfectly together. Since this is a traditional ragu, I only add small amounts of tomato paste and crushed tomatoes. 

So grab your ingredients and pot and learn to make the best Bolognese Sauce you’ve ever tasted!

What you’ll love about authentic Bolognese Sauce


  • It’s authentic and will transport you to Italy!
  • It’s a hearty Italian meal that freezes like a dream.
  • It uses ground meat, which makes it budget-friendly!
Authentic Bolognese Sauce on pasta on a black plate with bread.

WHAT IS BOLOGNESE SAUCE? 

Bolognese Sauce, also known as ragu alla Bolognese, is a thick savory meat sauce. It originated in the city of Bologna in Northern Italy. Actually, authentic Bolognese Sauce doesn’t have much tomato in it, so you end up with a rich, savory meat stew made from a combination of ground beef and pork. 

Don’t confuse the American version of ground meat and canned tomato sauce with this rich and fabulous authentic version. They’re nothing similar. The American version is ready in 15 minutes, whereas the traditional Italian version takes at least 2 hours.

It is believed that chef Alberto Alvisi invented the sauce back in 1700, and it was served over a plate of macaroni pasta. Today, families in Italy each have their own method of cooking this beloved sauce, but the one commonality is that it is slowly braised to infuse flavor.

INGREDIENTS

  • Bacon – Uncooked bacon, or use pancetta, chopped.
  • Garlic – Fresh garlic cloves, peeled. 
  • Olive oil – Use good-quality olive oil.
  • Celery stalks – Celery, diced.
  • Onion – Yellow onion, diced.
  • Carrots – Raw carrots, peeled and diced.
  • Ground beef and pork blend – Or use half ground beef 80/20 and half lean ground pork.
  • Dry white wine – Use a dry drinkable white wine like Chardonnay.
  • Tomato paste
  • Beef broth – Low or no-sodium-added broth is preferred.
  • Crushed tomatoes – A 28-ounce can is perfect.
  • Heavy whipping cream 
Labeled ingredients to make Bolognese sauce.

HOW TO MAKE THE BEST AUTHENTIC BOLOGNESE SAUCE

For a full list of ingredients and instructions, please scroll down to the recipe near the bottom of this page.

  1. Pulse the bacon and peeled cloves in a food processor until it turns into a paste. This is the pestata.
  2. Add olive oil to a large heavy-bottomed pot and heat it over medium-high heat. Add the pestata and cook for 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add the diced celery, onions, and carrots and cook for 5-6 minutes until the onion starts to soften.
  4. Push the vegetables to the side of the pot and add the ground beef and pork blend to the pot. 
  5. Brown the meat and scoop out any residual fat; then when the meat is mostly cooked, stir the vegetables into it.
  6. Deglaze the pot with white wine, scraping up bits from the bottom.
  7. Cook until wine is mostly evaporated, about 3-4 minutes.
  8. Add the tomato paste, beef broth, and crushed tomatoes to the pot and mix well and cover. 
  9. Bring to a gentle simmer over low heat for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. The mixture should be barely bubbling.
  10. Stir in the heavy whipping cream and simmer for 20 minutes with the lid on.
  11. Taste and adjust the seasoning. 
  12. Serve with freshly grated parmesan over cooked pasta.
A top-down shot of Ragu Bolognese on a white plate.

CHEF JENN’S TIPS

  • Any drinkable white wine like Chardonnay will work great in this recipe.
  • Use hearty noodles like tagliatelle, tortellini, gnocchi, or rigatoni, which is my favorite to pair with Bolognese Sauce. 
  • For the best flavor, top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, not a pre-grated Parmesan cheese that comes in the green canister.
  • You can find the ground beef and pork blend at your local grocery store or make your own by mixing together half 80/20 ground beef and half lean ground pork.
  • Use a heavy-bottomed pot to avoid burning the sauce. 

MAKE IT A MEAL

Authentic Bolognese needs to be served with a bowl of crusty garlic bread and light sides like Homemade Caesar Salad or Spinach, Asparagus, and Fennel Salad. Make it an Italian-themed dinner and serve an appetizer like my Tomato Bruschetta Board. Finish off this meal with a delicious dessert like Dulce de Leche Mousse.

STORAGE

Any leftover Ragu Bolognese can be kept in an airtight container for about 4 days. This sauce also freezes well. Store it in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Unthaw the sauce at room temperature and then reheat in a saucepan. 

Step By Step Process

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Authentic Bolognese Sauce on pasta on a black plate with bread.
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4.92 from 46 votes

Authentic Bolognese Sauce

Authentic Bolognese Sauce, or Bolognese ragu, is a rich, flavorful masterpiece that you can make in your own kitchen. This hearty sauce uses ground beef and pork and authentic ingredients you can find locally. Serve this slow-cooked classic over noodles and dig in!
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword asparagus, bolognese, bolognese ragu, bolognese sauce
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Servings 8 servings
Calories 595kcal
Author Chef Jenn

Ingredients

  • 4 slices bacon or pancetta, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 celery stalks diced
  • 1 onion diced
  • 2 carrots peeled and diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 pounds ground beef and pork blend or use half ground beef 80/20 and half lean ground pork
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup dry white wine use a drinkable white wine like Chardonnay
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 28 ounce canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Pulse the bacon and peeled garlic cloves in a food processor until it turns into a paste. This is the pestata.
  • Add olive oil to a large heavy-bottomed pot and heat it over medium heat. Add the pestata and cook for 3-4 minutes.
  • Add the diced celery, onions, and carrots and cook for 5-6 minutes until the onion starts to soften.
  • Push the vegetables to the side of the pot and add the ground beef and pork blend to the pot.
  • Brown the meat, and scoop out any residual fat. Mix the meat and the vegetables together.
  • Deglaze the pot with white wine, scraping up bits from the bottom. Cook until wine is mostly evaporated; about 3-4 minutes.
  • Add the tomato paste, chicken broth, crushed tomatoes, and red pepper flakes to the pot and mix well and cover. Bring to a gentle simmer over low heat for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  • Stir in the heavy whipping cream and simmer for 20 minutes with the lid on.
  • Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
  • Serve with freshly grated parmesan over cooked pasta.

Notes

CHEF JENN’S TIPS

  • Any drinkable white wine like Chardonnay will work great in this recipe.
  • For the best flavor, top with freshly grated parmesan cheese, not a pre-grated parmesan cheese that comes in the green canister.
  • You can find the ground beef and pork blend at your local grocery store or make your own by mixing half ground beef 80/20 and half lean ground pork together.
  • Use a heavy-bottomed pot to avoid burning the sauce.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5cup | Calories: 595kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 37g | Fat: 41g | Saturated Fat: 18g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 17g | Trans Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 150mg | Sodium: 334mg | Potassium: 1064mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 3285IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 99mg | Iron: 5mg

A Note on Nutritional Information

Nutritional information for this recipe is provided as a courtesy and is calculated based on available online ingredient information. It is only an approximate value. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site cannot be guaranteed.

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