Bolognese Sauce packs in the best bold Italian flavors in this authentic recipe. Ground beef, mushrooms, tomato paste, white wine, and milk are simmered for an hour to make a hearty and creamy sauce. Serve this healthy bolognese over spaghetti, pappardelle or tagliatelle pasta for an easy family-friendly meal.

A bowl of bolognese sauce is topped with fresh grated Parmesan cheese.

Once again, I was heavily influenced by the TV show I was watching.

I’m not going to give it away, but the show starts with RH and ends in oBH… And on this particular episode they were sitting down to enjoy a delicious dinner of bolognese pasta prepared by one of the hubbies.

So on our next date night, I subtly convinced my own husband to try out an Italian spot on South Congress – and we ordered the beef bolognese, of course!

The sauce was rich and full of hearty flavor. However, it was a little on the meat-heavy side and we left a bit dissatisfied.

The following week I set to work trying to create the perfect bolognese sauce recipe (the one you’ll find below!)

Unlike others, it’s not going to weigh you down and make you want to unbutton your pants after dinner.

Instead, it consists of one part ground meat and one part veggies – finely chopped carrots, celery, onions, and mushrooms.

After a good bit of simmering, what results is a flavor-packed bolognese sauce recipe that actually makes you feel GOOD after eating it!

And because of all the added veggies, it also makes enough to feed a small crowd.

Don’t miss this Gnocchi Bolognese for a flavorful twist!

Ground beef, mushrooms, onion, carrot, celery, milk, white wine, tomato paste, and seasonings are the ingredients for this bolognese sauce.

Ingredients

The ingredients needed to make this bolognese sauce recipe include:

  • Ground Meat. Beef is best, with an 85/15 leanness to fat ratio. If you use a leaner kind, or ground turkey, you may need to add a little extra oil.
  • Mirepoix. Finely chopped onion, celery, and carrots make up the base of flavor in this dish.
  • Mushrooms. These give a wonderful meaty texture without the heavy feeling.
  • Tomato Paste. Use an entire 6 oz. jar. It not only gives the rich tomato taste, but also helps to thicken up the sauce. Do not try subbing with tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes.
  • Milk. Either regular milk or an unsweetened plant-based milk, like oat milk, will work well. This gives the sauce the creaminess.
  • White Wine. A dry white wine is preferred. Chicken stock may also be used if you do not have wine available.
  • Herbs and Spices. A mix of dried oregano, parsley, and thyme. You can also substitute one for the other. A hint of nutmeg compliments the hearty meat to give the sauce a deeper flavor profile.
A fork is used to twist pasta bolognese for an Italian dinner.

How to Make Bolognese Sauce

The basic steps for making bolognese are simple to follow:

  1. Sauté the veggies and garlic.

    Cook the mirepoix first. Then add mushrooms and garlic, they’re softer and will cook up faster.The chopped vegetables are sautéed in a pan on the stove.

  2. Push vegetables to the side of the pot and add ground beef.

    Cook for 6-7 minutes, or until almost cooked through. Crumble with a potato masher to break it apart into fine crumbles, if desired. The ground beef is added to the pot and browned.

  3. Add ¾ cup of milk, white wine, tomato paste, salt, pepper, dried herbs, and nutmeg.

    Stir to combine, bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low.The seasonings and tomato paste are added to the ground beef and vegetables.

  4. Simmer the bolognese, uncovered, for a minimum of 30 minutes or up to an hour.

    The longer you let it simmer, the better the flavor! A spatula stirs all the ingredients together in a pot on the stove.

  5. Stir in the remaining ¼ cup of milk just before serving.

    This adds that extra bit of creaminess to the sauce.The milk or cream is added to the pot.

Serving

Serve bolognese sauce over thick pappardelle noodles (the best!), tagliatelle pasta, or spaghetti. Gnocchi is also delicious!

To keep it low-carb, you can even serve it over zucchini noodles.

But in either case, you’ll definitely want to finish them it off with a sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. 

Meal Prep and Storage

  • To Prep-Ahead: Wash and cut the veggies in advance and store in the fridge up to 2-3 days before cooking.
  • To Store: Seal in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days.
  • To Freeze: Much like a pomodoro sauce, this bolognese sauce freezes exceptionally! Keep in a freezer-safe airtight container for up to 6 months.
  • To Reheat: This sauce can either be warmed on the stove over medium-low heat, or in the microwave.
Authentic, gluten-free beef bolognese sauce is shown In a bowl with a ladle.

Dietary Modifications

The recipe you’ll find below is already gluten-free and low-carb as written. Here are some adjustments and substitutions you can make to help it fit your other dietary requirements:

  • Dairy-free – Swap out the milk for an unsweetened plant-based milk alternative.
  • Keto – Substitute the carrot for more celery or mushrooms, and the white wine for chicken stock.

FAQs

What is bolognese meat sauce made of?

The meat-based sauce traditionally consists of ground beef, onion, celery, carrots, white wine, milk, and tomato paste. Other meats and veggies are sometimes added as well.

What is the difference between Bolognese sauce and spaghetti sauce?

Bolognese is heavy on meat, with a thick sauce of white wine, milk, and tomato paste. American spaghetti sauce also often contains ground meat, but it is more tomato-heavy than its’ Italian counterpart.

What does milk do in bolognese?

Milk creates a rich, creamy taste and helps tenderize the meat for the perfect texture.

Do you simmer bolognese with the lid on or off?

Because this should be a thick sauce, cooking with the lid off is ideal. This way the steam can escape and allow the liquid to reduce.

Two plates of beef bolognese sauce and pasta are shown on the counter.

Expert Tips and Tricks

  • Sneak in some veggies. Make sure to finely chop the vegetables so the littles don’t notice.
  • Mix it up. Experiment with changing the combination of dried herbs.
  • Just a pinch. A little bit of nutmeg goes a long way.
  • Mash it good. Use a potato masher to break down the ground meat into fine crumbles. The smaller the crumbles, the more tender the meat becomes.
  • Low and slow. The longer you let the sauce simmer, the deeper and bolder the flavors will become.

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5 from 1 vote

Bolognese Sauce Recipe

Authentic Bolognese Sauce packs in the best bold Italian flavors in this easy recipe. Serve this healthy bolognese over spaghetti, pappardelle or tagliatelle pasta for a family friendly meal.
A fork is shown twisting noodles with bolognese sauce from a bowl.
Yield 6
Prep 15 minutes
Cook 1 hour
Total 1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 2 Tbsp. oil
  • ½ sweet onion finely diced
  • 1 carrot finely diced
  • 2 stalks celery finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic crushed
  • 6 oz. mushrooms finely chopped
  • 1 lb. ground beef 85/15
  • 1 cup milk divided*
  • ½ cup white wine or broth
  • 6 oz. tomato paste
  • 1 ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
  • ½ tsp. each of oregano thyme, parsley, dried
  • ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg optional

To Serve:

  • Pappardelle pasta -OR- Zucchini Noodles
  • Parmesan Cheese optional
  • Fresh parsley or basil optional

Instructions 

  • Add oil to a large pot or Dutch oven along with the diced onion, carrot, and celery. Saute for 2-3 minutes, over medium heat. Add garlic cloves and mushrooms and continue sauteing for an additional minute.
  • Push vegetables to the side of the pot and add ground beef. Cook for 6-7 minutes, or until almost cooked through. Crumble with a potato masher to break it apart into fine crumbles, if desired.
  • Add ¾ cup of milk, white wine, tomato paste, salt, pepper, dried herbs, and nutmeg. Stir to combine, bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low.
  • Simmer bolognese, uncovered, for a minimum of 1 hour or up to 2 hours for the best flavor. Make sure to stir the sauce every few minutes to prevent it from burning.
  • Stir in the remaining ¼ cup of milk just before serving.
  • Serve bolognese sauce over pappardelle, tagliatelle, spaghetti or zucchini noodles with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

Tap stars to rate!

5 from 1 vote

Notes

Unsweetened cashew, oat, or soy milk may also be used.
  • To Store: Seal in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days.
  • To Freeze: Much like a pomodoro sauce, this bolognese sauce freezes exceptionally! Keep in a freezer-safe airtight container for up to 6 months.

Nutrition

Calories: 302kcal, Carbohydrates: 10g, Protein: 16g, Fat: 21g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 10g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 54mg, Sodium: 748mg, Potassium: 688mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 2192IU, Vitamin C: 9mg, Calcium: 92mg, Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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