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Easy Bolognese Sauce

A classic Bolognese sauce that simmers on the stovetop for a quick weeknight dinner!
Course Dinner
Cuisine Italian
Keyword beef bolognese, bolognese sauce recipe, easy bolognese sauce, spaghetti bolognese
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 10 cups
Calories 103kcal
Author Blair Lonergan


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup finely diced onion
  • cup finely diced carrots
  • cup finely diced celery
  • 1 lb. lean or extra-lean ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional for a bit of spicy kick)
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 2 (28 oz) cans crushed tomatoes (I like San Marzano tomatoes)
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 - 2 teaspoons sugar
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • cup heavy cream, at room temperature
  • ½ cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
  • Optional, for serving: cooked pasta
  • Optional garnish: chopped fresh parsley or basil; additional grated Parmesan


  • Melt butter in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, and beef. Break up the meat with a wooden spoon. Cook for 5-7 minutes, or until the meat is no longer pink and the vegetables are soft.
  • Stir in the tomato paste, garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes; cook for 1 more minute.
  • Add red wine to the pot and stir, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
  • Add crushed tomatoes, 2 teaspoons of kosher salt, ½ teaspoon of ground black pepper, and 1 teaspoon of sugar. Stir to combine.
  • Bring to a boil; reduce the heat to low, and allow the sauce to simmer (uncovered) for about 15-20 minutes, or until it reduces and thickens slightly.
  • While the sauce simmers, cook the pasta according to package instructions.
  • As the pasta is cooking, stir the basil leaves and cream into the sauce. Simmer for about 5-10 more minutes, stirring regularly. Keep it on very low heat and do not boil.
  • Remove from heat. Add Parmesan cheese; stir to combine. Season with additional salt, pepper, and sugar, to taste.
  • Serve sauce with pasta, and garnish with additional Parmesan and fresh herbs, as desired.


  • Use lean or extra-lean ground beef in this recipe, since you're not straining off the fat. The leaner meat prevents the sauce from becoming too greasy.
  • Use a dry red wine, such as Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Merlot.
  • Add sugar. In order to achieve great tomato flavor, it's important to balance acidity and sweetness. Too much acid or too much sugar yields a sauce that tastes one-dimensional. The right amount of sugar perfectly balances the acidity of the tomatoes. Start with about 1 teaspoon of sugar here, and add more to taste, if necessary.
  • Since you're simmering for a shorter amount of time, leave the lid off of the pot to allow the sauce to thicken and the flavors to concentrate.
  • Do not let the sauce come to a boil once you add the cream. The cream is more likely to curdle when boiled.
  • Simmer the sauce over very low heat. Stir occasionally, as well. This will prevent any scorching or burning on the bottom of your pot.
  • Garnish with fresh herbs for a bright touch that balances the rich, hearty sauce. A sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese is also delicious!
  • Recipe slightly adapted from Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa.


Serving: 1/2 cup of sauce | Calories: 103kcal | Carbohydrates: 7.4g | Protein: 7.4g | Fat: 4.4g | Saturated Fat: 2.1g | Cholesterol: 10.5mg | Sodium: 402mg | Fiber: 1.8g | Sugar: 4.2g