Beef Bolognese Sauce

By Rena |

Hearty and meaty, this delicious beef Bolognese sauce recipe is comfort in a bowl. An aromatic dish that’s packed with flavor, you’re going to want to make this weekly. Easy to make and the perfect weeknight dinner recipe the whole family will love.

Bolognese with pasta in a pan.

Let’s get back to basics with this classic spaghetti bolognese sauce recipe. We love how rich and thick this beef bolognese is and how when combined with pasta, it warms you up, inside out! Don’t be intimidated by the cooking time for this recipe, it’s not super difficult to make, it just requires a long simmer time. The longer your meat sauce simmers on the stovetop, the deeper the flavor. Other than stirring occasionally, you’re not doing much for the hour.

Why You will Love this Bolognese sauce recipe

  • It’s straightforward. There’s nothing complicated about this bolognese recipe. You sauté your ingredients and then simmer for an hour. Most of the work is done after you’ve sautéed your vegetables and browned your meat.
  • It’s freezer friendly. Since this recipe takes a while to simmer, we like making a double batch so we can freeze half of it for later. You’re already putting in the time so you might as well double your bounty!
  • It’s super tasty. There’s nothing better than a warm delicious beef bolognese sauce over some pasta. It’s the perfect cozy meal during the colder seasons.
top view of bolognese sauce in a pan

Ingredients You’ll Need to Make Bolognese sauce

  • Carrots — peeled and roughly chopped to around the same size
  • Celery — roughly chopped to around the same size
  • Onion — roughly chopped to around the same size
  • Garlic 
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt & ground black pepper
  • Lean ground beef
  • Tomato paste
  • Crushed tomatoes
  • Low-sodium chicken broth
  • Herbs: rosemary, thyme, bay leaves
  • Parmesan rind
  • Grated parmesan
  • Pasta — use whatever pasta you like. 
Ingredients for bolognese.

How to Make this Homemade Bolognese Sauce

  • Chop your vegetables: place the carrots, celery, onion, and garlic in a food processor and pulse to chop. If you don’t have a food processor with a chopping option then you can finely dice them by hand.
Vegetables chopped in a food processor.
  • Next, heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the chopped veggies and sauté for 3-4 minutes, or until softened.
  • Brown your meat: bring veggies to the sides of the pan and add in the middle add the ground meat. Season with salt and pepper. Allow the meat to cook undisturbed for 3-4 minutes until it develops a golden crust. Using a wooden spatula start to stir into the meat, mincing it at the same time. Stir to combine the meat with the sautéed veggies, and continue to cook for 8-10 minutes.
  • Next, add the tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, and broth. Mix well to combine. Then stir in the herbs and parmesan rind.
Adding herbs and parmesan to bolognese.
  • Simmer: reduce the heat to low and partially cover the pan. Simmer the bolognese sauce, stirring occasionally, for 60 minutes.
  • Make the pasta: just before the sauce is ready, cook the pasta in salted water according to package instructions. Reserve 2/3 cup of the pasta water, then drain.
  • Remove and discard the bay leaves from the sauce.
Bolognese sauce inside of a pan.
  • Combine the bolognese with the pasta: While the sauce is still on the heat, add cooked pasta, starchy water, and grated parmesan. Toss well to combine and coat.
  • Turn the heat off and divide the bolognese pasta into serving bowls. Garnish with extra parmesan if desired and ground black pepper and serve immediately.

Recipe Notes and Tips

  • Use the leanest ground beef available. 
  • Any oil will work
  • Broth: we used chicken broth. but you may sub with beef or vegetable broth.
  • Pasta: any pasta will work, use your favorite. For a low carb option, you may serve your beef bolognese with zoodles.
  • Don’t be tempted to skip any of the vegetables. The three of them play off each other: the carrots add sweetness, the onions add sharpness, and the celery adds a savory component. 
  • Don’t skip the parmesan rind. While it’s too tough and hard to eat, it adds a ton of flavor to the dish when simmered. Be sure to fish out the parmesan rind at the end.
  • A good substitute for parmesan rind would be Pecorino Romano and Gruyère.
  • Don’t have fresh garlic? Use one tablespoon of garlic powder.
  • Allow the amount of time to simmer down for the best flavors. 
  • Store leftovers in a container and store in the fridge for up to 4 days.
  • To freeze a batch of this bolognese sauce, once it’s cooled, add to a ziplock bag, seal, and freeze for up to 3-5 months.
  • To make this bolognese sauce recipe gluten-free, use gluten-free pasta or zoodles.
close up view of bolognese with spaghetti

FAQs

How Do I Store Leftover Bolognese?

You can store your leftover pasta bolognese in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. If you would like to meal prep it, portion it out into meal prep containers once it has cooled.

Can you freeze bolognese sauce?

Once your beef bolognese sauce has cooled, transfer it into an airtight freezer bag into portion sizes of your choice. Squeeze out the air and flatten the bag so you can freeze it flat. This makes storing it easier. When stored correctly, bolognese can be frozen and stored for up to 5 months.

How do I reheat bolognese sauce?

There are two ways to reheat leftover bolognese. If frozen, allow it to thaw in the fridge overnight first. Reheat on the stovetop on medium heat and stir until warmed through or by microwaving it in 1-minute intervals, stirring in between, until it’s heated through.

How do you make bolognese sauce thicker?

To make your bolognese sauce thicker, we like to just allow it to simmer longer uncovered for the liquid to evaporate and thus gets thicker. We prefer this method over adding about a teaspoon of corn starch mixed in cold water which is still an option if you are in a rush.

tongs in a pasta bolognese pan

How to make this bolognese sauce in an instant pot

  • First, turn on the Instant pot into “sauté” mode. Add the oil into the pot.
  • Next, add the chopped veggies and sauté for 3-4 minutes, or until softened.
  • Add the ground meat. Season with salt and pepper. Allow the meat to cook undisturbed for 3-4 minutes until it develops a golden crust.
  • Then, add the tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, broth, and remaining ingredients along with herbs, except for the parmesan rind. Mix well to combine.
  • Switch the Instant pot from sautee mode to manual. Seal, and pressure cook for 20 minutes.
  • Once done, do a quick release and allow it to vent. Remove the lid and mix.
  • Switch the setting back to sautee mode. Add the parmesan rind, sautee for 5-10 minutes. Adjust seasoning if needed.
  • Discard bay leaf and the remaining parmesan rind and serve with pasta.

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tongs in a pasta bolognese pan

Beef Bolognese Sauce Recipe

Hearty and meaty, this delicious Bolognese sauce recipe is a comforting and aromatic dish that’s packed with flavor, made with lean ground beef and veggies, and cooked to perfection.
5 from 4 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 448kcal
Author: Rena

Ingredients

  • 2 large carrots roughly chopped
  • 2 stalks celery roughly chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion roughly chopped
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp olive oil or any other oil
  • Kosher salt & ground black pepper to taste
  • 1.5 lb lean ground beef
  • 6 oz tomato paste one can
  • 28 oz crushed tomatoes one can
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth beef or vegetable broth will work
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh rosemary chopped
  • 10-12 sprigs fresh thyme leaves picked
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 parmesan rind
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • 16 oz pasta of choice whole-grain, gluten-free if needed, or lentil pasta

Instructions

  • Place the carrots, celery, onion and garlic to a food processor and pulse to chop. If you don’t have a food processor with a chopping option then you can finely dice them by hand.
  • Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the chopped veggies and sauté for 3-4 minutes, or until softens.
  • Bring veggies to the sides of the pan and add in the middle add the ground meat. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Allow the meat to cook undisturbed for 3-4 minutes, until it develops a golden crust.
  • Using a wooden spatula start to stir into the meat, mincing it at the same time. Stir to combine the meat with the sautéed veggies, and continue to cook for 8-10 minutes.
  • Add the tomato paste, crushed tomatoes and broth. Mix well to combine.
  • Stir in the herbs and parmesan rind.
  • Reduce the heat to low and partially cover the pan. Simmer the bolognese sauce, stirring occasionally, for 60 minutes.
  • Just before the sauce is ready, cook the pasta in salted water according to package instructions. Reserve 2/3 cup of the pasta water, then drain.
  • Remove and discard the bay leaves from the sauce.
  • While the sauce is still on the heat, add cooked pasta, starchy water and grated parmesan. Toss well to combine and coat.
  • Turn the heat off and divide the bolognese pasta to serving bowls.
  • Garnish with extra parmesan if desired and ground black pepper and serve immediately.

Video

Notes

  • Use the leanest ground beef available. 
  • Any oil will work
  • Broth: we used chicken broth. but you may sub with beef or vegetable broth
  • Pasta: any pasta will work, use your favorite. For a low carb option, you may serve your beef bolognese with zoodles.
  • Don’t be tempted to skip any of the vegetables. The three of them play off each other: the carrots add sweetness, the onions add sharpness, and the celery adds a savory component. 
  • Don’t skip the parmesan rind. While it’s too tough and hard to eat, it adds a ton of flavor to the dish when simmered. Be sure to fish out the parmesan rind at the end.
  • A good substitute for parmesan rind would be Pecorino Romano and Gruyère
  • Don’t have fresh garlic? Use one tablespoon of garlic powder.
  • Allow the amount of time to simmer down for the best flavors. 

Nutrition

Calories: 448kcal | Carbohydrates: 59g | Protein: 33g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 58mg | Sodium: 487mg | Potassium: 1078mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 3658IU | Vitamin C: 19mg | Calcium: 161mg | Iron: 6mg
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Reader Interactions

Comments

    • Rena says

      Hi Gladys. I just added it to the post on how you can make it in an instant pot. Let me know if you have any questions

  1. Amit says

    You forgot the wine and milk!
    Before adding the tomato paste, add a cup of any wine, let it cook off. Also, in step 6, try adding 1 cup of milk, trust me, you won’t regret it.

    • Rena says

      Hi Amit. Thanks for the suggestions. I don’t consume wine or use it in cooking. But I am sure your suggestions will be very helpful.

  2. Susan Dubose says

    5 stars
    Really, really yummy! I tripled the recipe and it took A LONG time to do each step. I think it wouldn’t have been so laborious if I hadn’t tripled it. Overall, it was very good! I would make it again. I also had to simmer for a long time to reduce the liquid.

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