Mom’s Classic Bolognese Sauce is a delicious, hearty meat sauce loaded with lean ground meat, along with chopped onions, carrots, celery, and Italian imported peeled tomatoes. Then it’s slowly cooked down to a rich, thick, and flavorful sauce, creating the BEST tasting bolognese sauce!
This is a tomato sauce we usually enjoy making on a Sunday for dinner. It’s a meat sauce that you serve over spaghetti or your favorite pasta and it tastes like a million bucks!
You will need 15 minutes to prep and 45 minutes to one hour to slowly simmer to a perfectly rich and thick meat sauce.
Once you learn how to make mom’s classic bolognese sauce, there’s no need to buy the jar!
With 4 easy steps, you’ll have the most delicious tasting Bolognese sauce ever!
Serve bolognese sauce over your favorite pasta, or layer it into a lasagna (as we prefer). We love it with spaghetti, fettuccine, and even with pappardelle because the larger noodles are great for catching bits of sauce.
And bolognese sauce is popularly served over polenta too!
What’s the Difference Between Spaghetti Sauce and Bolognese Sauce?
Spaghetti sauce is usually known as a “marinara sauce” that is cooked with crushed tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, and fresh basil and it’s simmered for about 30 minutes or less.
Whereas the Bolognese sauce is a meat sauce that simmers slowly over low heat. It’s simmered with vegetables, wine, lean meat, and canned tomatoes, and it is cooked down for a long time until it’s thick and rich. Plus, it can be made with ground beef, veal, or pork.
Also, there are two other popular Sunday dinner sauces, and these are made with meat simmering in the sauce while it thickens. One is our popular post, Braciole – Sicilian Style, and the other one is Mom’s Best Sunday Meatballs. (check them out!)
A Fun Fact…
Back in the ’50s and ’60s, before canned tomatoes were imported from Italy, the cheaper brands of tomatoes sold in the states had too much acidity in them and needed to balance them with some sugar added to the sauce.
But that is no longer the case when you buy quality imported Italian tomatoes. These tomatoes are sweeter naturally and don’t need sugar added. You pay a little more for them, but they are worth it.
Mom’s Classic Bolognese Sauce, Made in 4-Easy Steps!
For this recipe, you will need:
Step 1. mince all the vegetables first, then saute them.
Step 2. then add the meat and brown it, breaking it up with a wooden spoon.
Step 3. add in the wine and fresh herbs.
Step 4. finally add the tomatoes and water, cover, and simmer.
This Bolognese Sauce is so simple to make, you’ll enjoy making it all year long. And it stores and freezes beautifully too!
Our mom’s recipe for bolognese sauce is a keeper. We have been making it for years since we first shared it with our recipe on Cheese Ravioli with Bolognese Sauce in 2011 and with a few minor changes.
Storage: Best to keep bolognese sauce in air-tight containers. It will stay fresh for up to 4 days in the refrigerator and freezes up to one month. It’s best to allow the sauce to cool completely before freezing.
Can We Make Bolognese Sauce in Slow Cooker?
Yes, but you cannot toss all the ingredients and walk away. You still have to saute the vegetables and brown the meat at the beginning, followed by the wine, herbs, tomatoes, and water. Then cover and cook on a low setting for 6 to 8 hours.
Cook’s Notes and Tips:
It’s best to use Italian Imported Tomatoes. Cento is the brand we like to use. You will need 2 large (28-ounce) cans of peeled tomatoes.
Fresh vegetables are best. I used 2 carrots, 2 celery stalks, 1 large onion (or two medium), and 4 garlic cloves for mom’s classic bolognese sauce. Mincing them is so much easier if you own a mini-chopper.
For a fresh flavor and taste, it’s best to use fresh herbs when making this sauce. Either fresh basil and fresh parsley; both can be used.
When choosing the meat. Always buy ground lean beef: I used about 1.5 pounds and it should be the leanest, between 90% to 95% lean ground beef.
Optional: for more flavor, sometimes we like to add some pork to the sauce. You can add 2 sausage links (with casings removed) and crumble them. Then brown them along with the beef.
You will need wine! You need about 1/2 cup of red or white wine for this recipe, more or less is not a deal-breaker. I prefer red wine.
Don’t forget to add in the cayenne pepper. Sometimes the littlest ingredient makes a huge difference.
Water is needed with this recipe. And if the sauce gets too thick, you can always add in a little more water.
A few more delicious sauces for you to try…
…Thanks for Pinning!!
More Ways To Use Our Mom’s Bolognese Sauce:
Easy Meat Lasagna with No-Boil Noodles -Lightened!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 2 carrots - peeled, minced
- 2 stalks of celery - cleaned, minced
- 1 large onion - minced
- 4 garlic cloves - minced
- 1.5 pounds of leanest chop beef
- Optional: 2 sausage links, (casings removed) crumbled
- 3 tsp. salt - divided
- 1/8 tsp. black pepper
- 2 dashes of cayenne pepper
- a handful of fresh basil
- a handful of fresh parsley- chopped
- 1/2 cup red wine (or white wine)
- 2 (28-ounces) cans of peeled tomatoes
- 1 cup of water
- Use a mini chopper to mince all the vegetables for this recipe.
- Start with a large heavy saucepot to make the sauce. Heat on medium heat, and add the olive oil and butter.
- Place the minced carrots, celery, onion, and garlic into the pot. Cover and stir occasionally the veggies, simmering on medium-low heat for 5 to 8 minutes, until softened.
- Raise the heat to medium, then add in the meat. Use your hands to crumble the meat as you drop in into the saucepan. Then use a wooden spoon to break up the chunks, until the chopped meat is completely crumbled. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of salt, then add fresh cracked pepper and 2 dashes of cayenne pepper over the meat mixture.
- Cover and allow the meat to fully cook with the veggies, stirring occasionally about 6 to 8 minutes.
- Stir in the fresh basil and fresh parsley and simmer for one minute to fragrant.
- Pour in the WINE and uncover, allow the wine to simmer with the meat mixture until it slightly absorbs into the mixture, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Meanwhile, open the cans of peeled tomatoes. Doing one can at a time, slowly pour the tomatoes into a blender, and pulse to puree the tomatoes. Repeat with the second can of tomatoes. Pour them into the pot.
- Then pour 1 cup of water into the pot. Stir in 2 additional teaspoons of salt.
- Cover. Bring to a low boil, then lower the heat to the lowest, and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
- After one hour, taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings to your taste. If the sauce is too thick, you can add a little more water, about 1/4 cup. Turn off the heat. Your bolognese sauce is ready for you to use.