Ragu’ alla Bolognese {Bolognese Sauce}


Some things in life are worth waiting for, and a good sauce is one of them (at least for me anyway). And no surprise then, this is one of those sauces! Ragu alla Bolognese. Pronounced bowl-own-ez-ay, it’s an amazing, rich, beautiful, robust sauce.

It’s a meat based sauce originating in Bologna Italy (hence the name). It’s NOT a tomato based sauce as some might think, it actually has very little tomato sauce. It gets it’s amazing deep burgundy color from the wine & the little tomato paste that goes in. As with most Italian recipes the ingredients can and will vary, and this is no exception. Some people use different combinations of meat, others put in livers to add a new level of flavor and even on special occasions a dab of cream is added. Some might substitute stock for the water. However, as with all of my recipes, this is the way I was taught to make my Bolognese sauce.Β  It hits the spot every time.

I’m not going to lie, this sauce takes time. Not one of those sauces you can just decide to make at 7pm (well that is unless you’d like to eat a midnight). So for me, it’s the perfect weekend sauce. When I have time to let it simmer away on the stove and fill the house with aromas, aromas so intoxicating that they will make your head spin (it’s true, you know I wouldn’t lie to ya). The longer this sauce cooks the better it will be. You can’t short change it here, so don’t even think about it, okay?

BUT with that said, don’t be afraid of this sauce. After the initial flavor building is done you just let it sit and simmer. Check on it every so often to stir and add water. That’s not so hard is it? Especially not with results you’re going to get. You simply can’t get this from a jar. Just sayin…

A couple of things to remember, chop/mince your veggies as fine as possible (you don’t want big hunks of celery and carrots now do ya) If you’re not as handy with the knife just or just don’t like to spend 10 minutes mincing tee hee give them a quick spin around your food processor (just DON’T blitz them into a paste, a couple of pulses will do the job nicely). Please please PLEASE, ti prego, use a GOOD wine! It’s one of the major components here. Plus you can enjoy the rest of the bottle while you’re cooking the sauce *wink wink*

So now what to do with this mind blowing sauce? It’s perfect with long pastas and it’s what I use to make my Lasagne alla Bolognese too ; )



Ragu’ alla Bolognese {Bolognese Sauce}

Total Time 0:00


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 carrots - peeled, minced
  • 2 stalks celery - minced
  • 1 clove garlic - minced
  • 1 onion - minced
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 1/2 bottle red wine
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground veal
  • water
  • salt/pepper


  1. In a LARGE deep sided pan add olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add: carrots, celery, onion and garlic. Saute over low heat for 20-25 minutes or until completely soft, tender. Stir as necessary.
  2. Add meats, season with salt and pepper and cook until completely brown. Once browned, add tomato paste and allow to brown, approximately 5 minutes. Once brown add wine. Allow to reduce by half. Season with salt.
  3. Add enough water to cover the sauce by 1". Simmer on LOW. Stirring as necessary. When liquid levels are low add more water. Continue cooking and reducing for a MINIMUM of one hour. Sauce is best after 2-3 or even more hours.


5.0 rating
1 reviews



  1. 1

    Paula, I don’t eat veal. What would you suggest I use as a substitution for it? Ground pork or turkey?

    • 1.1

      Ciao bella! You can use all beef or whatever combination of meats that you like πŸ™‚

      • Dubl07 /

        Veal is calf meat. Most of it comes from male calves born to dairy herds. You can’t milk a male calf however old it gets so they go into dog-food or the human food-chain.

  2. 2

    Thanks, Darlin’! I’m going to give your “gravy” recipe a try this weekend. Sounds luscious!

  3. 3

    I used to mix with ground beef but it has changed since my husband decided to be a pesco-vegetarian. No meat anymore, only plant products and fish/seafood.

  4. 4

    Sounds delicious! Grazie! Ciao bella!

  5. 5

    Beautiful sauce Paula! I can just imagine the deep flavours in this after simmering for so many hours. Beautiful!!

  6. 7

    Paula, bolognese is probably one of favorite sauces. I remember trying to whip it up for a “quick” dinner and then wonder why it never tasted as good as the sauces made in Italy. THEN, I took a cooking class in Tuscany and learned the secret to many Italian dishes is slow cooking–hard for me to do cuz when it starts smelling good, my mouth starts watering!!

    So, you are sooooo right. You can’t shortchange it. Let it simmer! BTW–I use 1/3 beef, 1/3 veal, 1/3 pork. Have you tried it that way?

  7. 8

    I made this with M Hazan’s recipe and thought it was so great…it does take time, but it is so worth it. I am going to try your version this winter when I love being inside and having something to mess with on the stove all afternoon…yours looks delicious.

  8. 9

    That recipe is a winner and pretty similar to my grandma’s recipe, except that we add ground clove (yes, weird, but gives a fab flavor).

    Thanks for sharing!

  9. 10

    You rock! I have ground beef and veal and was on a mission to find a good bolognese sauce because well it rocks and more importantly it is that time of year.

  10. 11

    Wow ask and ye shall receive…………muchas gracias chica!!!

    On the menu for this weekend maybe. My only question is no mushrooms?

  11. 12

    this is so comfort food πŸ™‚ can’t wait to try it. Thanks for the recipe Paula πŸ™‚

  12. 13

    This sounds and looks fantastic. I simmer my sauce for 2-3 hours, too. In the meantime, you can make homemade pasta….or get work done haha.

  13. 14

    Paula, you took me back to Bella Italia! I think its time for me to stock my freezer with some bolognese, which we obviously got taugh by the same person in Italia (la nonna!)… and maybe next week I will make a Lasagna. Like you said a perfect excuse to fill the house with all those aromas.

  14. 15

    This looks amazing Funny Bolognese is my fav but I seldom make it. I can’t wait to try your recipe. Thanks for sharing it.

  15. 16

    Bolognese is one of my favorite things to make. In fact my boyfriend usually requests it for his birthday. I usually do add a bit of milk.

  16. 17

    Oh, I LOVE bolognese sauce and can’t wait to give your version a try. To date, my non-Italian mother still holds the title for best I’ve ever had.

  17. 18

    totally agree – a good sauce is well worth waiting for! love making bolognese this time of year.

  18. 19

    Congrats on Top 9! Delicious!

  19. 20

    Looks like just the thing for this week’s rain – a great sauce and some pasta. Yum!

  20. 21

    Ohhhh yes! You better believe I’ll be making this sauce THIS weekend!!! Mille Grazie, Paula!

  21. 22

    Beautiful site! Impressive pictures and recipes. I am adding you to my reader!

  22. 23

    Yum… Your bolognese sauce looks amazing. My recipe (from the North End Boston cookbook) actually calls for some whole tomatoes and heavy cream. Otherwise, it is basically the same as yours, though. I love all of the wonderful flavor from the wine!

  23. 24

    I just came across your blog and enjoyed it very much. I’m a banquet manager and write a blog about the daily aggravations that go with my job…from cranky chefs to nasty customers and everything in between. I hope you enjoy it. Please visit and leave a comment. Have a great day!
    So You Want To Be a Banquet Manager

  24. 25
    Rhonda /

    You are so right about letting the sauce simmer for hours…the smell, the taste. I’m always wondering about the wine though as I don’t drink it, hubby does so he tastes tests first. Love cooking with wine and spirits anyway as the flavors enhance so much. And I made a slow cooking sauce almost like this for a baked ziti dish while our computer was on ‘vacation’ this week. Must be the fall air. Do you have a pasta dish with ricotta?

  25. 26
    Kell /

    Sounds wonderful! My only question is, what wine do you use? I am not a wine person at all so I wouldn’t know a good bottle of wine if it smacked me upside the head. I would love to make this sometime this week and would love to get the right kind.

    • 26.1

      Ciao Kell! Thanks so much! I typically use a Merlot or Cabernet Sav. depending on what I have in the house ; ) Hope that helps!

  26. 27

    This sauce looks like it is worth the wait. It is making my mouth water.
    That is two good sauces, I have seen here. I have to look for more.

  27. 28
    John /

    This is sitting in a pot in my kitchen, albeit with pork instead of veal, remainder of wine in hand and looking forward to the results.

    Thank you for this. This marks a definite change in my approach to bolognese.

  28. 29

    Great sauce! I found you on Tasty Kitchen. look forward to trying more

  29. 30

    This sauce is fantastic, soo yummy and in the lasagna as well. mmmmm. Thank you for posting this!

  30. 31

    I live in Naples, Italy right now and I am LOVING your sight. Makes it so I can make the dishes I love getting out in town, so much easier. πŸ™‚ PLus, were moving in 5 months back to the states, so I can take Bella Italia home with me.
    I don’t like wine, don’t drink and have am very sensitive to the taste. Can you leave it out and still get the same great taste? Or does it cook off over time?? I want to make this this weekend and don’t want to have the wine overpower the sauce. Thanks a bunch!! ) Can’t wait to make the Cannoli. πŸ™‚

  31. 32
    Katy /

    I love your website.. so many amazing recipes. I made your bolognese sauce last week and loved it! I love to cook, but come from a family that didn’t really cook.. so your site really helps me! I’m going to try the lasagne tonight!

  32. 33
    Kevin /

    Great tutorial.I used bordeaux,two cloves,and a dash nutmeg.Yes nutmeg,it deepens everything.A slow cooker(however pedestrian that sounds)is perfect for the final simmering.You can slow cook till armageddon without fear of scorching,as tomatoes are wont to do.

  33. 34

    A slow cooker is perfect for the final simmering.You can slow cook till armageddon without fear of scorching,as tomatoes are wont to do.I used bordeaux,two cloves,and a dash nutmeg.Yes nutmeg,it deepens everything.


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