Hearty Bolognese-Style Meat Sauce for Pasta

Spaghetti with meat sauce
Adam Kulesza / Getty Images
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 110 mins
Total: 2 hrs
Servings: 8 servings
Yield: 4 cups
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
264 Calories
18g Fat
7g Carbs
16g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 264
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 18g 23%
Saturated Fat 5g 25%
Cholesterol 52mg 17%
Sodium 238mg 10%
Total Carbohydrate 7g 3%
Dietary Fiber 2g 9%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 16g
Vitamin C 14mg 70%
Calcium 60mg 5%
Iron 2mg 11%
Potassium 500mg 11%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This hearty meat sauce is inspired by the classic ragù alla bolognese, which is a thick, meaty sauce that is simmered for hours with milk, red wine, and a couple of tablespoons or so of tomato paste—a surprisingly small amount of tomato by North America standards. 

This recipe is even saucier. The wine stays in and a small amount of beef stock is added. The milk is gone, and canned tomatoes are used instead of tomato paste.

It's also much quicker to make than the traditional ragù, which might spend four hours simmering away until the meat breaks down and melts luxuriously into the sauce. This recipe calls for simmering this sauce for about an hour, long enough to cook away much of the liquid, while still leaving just enough so that it will still coat your pasta.

Like ragù alla bolognese, this meat sauce pairs well with bigger pasta such as tagliatelle—which are wide ribbons—or rigatoni—which are short, wide tubes.

Indeed, if there's a recipe this meat sauce resembles even more than the traditional Italian ragù alla bolognese, it's the simplified version of bolognese sauce commonly served in the UK, where it is unabashedly enjoyed with spaghetti—to the palpable dismay of Italian chefs everywhere. (Indeed, spaghetti bolognese, or spag bol as it's called, is as ubiquitous over there as fish and chips or doner kebabs.)

The combination of ground beef chuck and pork brings a meaty, fatty goodness to the sauce. It's hearty and satisfying, whatever your pasta inclinations might be. It would also make a great sauce to use for making lasagna.


  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and diced

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced

  • 1/2 cup red wine

  • 1/2 cup beef stock

  • 1/2 pound ground beef chuck

  • 1/2 pound ground pork

  • 1 (28-ounce can) whole tomatoes, with liquid

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil

  • 1 teaspoon sugar

  • Kosher salt, to taste

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the olive oil for a minute over medium heat.

  2. Add the onions and carrots and sauté for a bit until the onions are translucent but not brown.

  3. Add the tomatoes and the garlic. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 to 45 minutes, uncovered, until the sauce is slightly reduced. If you like, you can use a wooden spoon to break up the whole tomatoes while the sauce simmers.

  4. Meanwhile, brown the meat in a separate skillet in a small amount of oil. Season it with a bit of salt while it cooks. Remove the meat from the pan and set it aside. Drain excess fat, then deglaze the pan with the wine. Add the stock and simmer until the liquid has reduced by half, then add it to the tomato sauce.

  5. Remove tomato sauce from heat and pass through a food mill or puree in a food processor until smooth, working in batches if necessary.

  6. Return the sauce to the pot and add the browned meat along with the herbs. Simmer for 1 hour, uncovered, stirring occasionally.

  7. Adjust thickness with additional stock if desired. Season to taste with kosher salt and sugar and serve right away with the pasta of your choice.