Mom’s Classic Bolognese Sauce


Mom’s Classic Bolognese Sauce is a rich, savory tomato sauce loaded with lean ground beef, vegetables and Italian imported peeled tomatoes. Then it is slowly cooked down to a thick, tomato sauce, creating the BEST-tasting Bolognese sauce ever! 


A wooden spoonful of bolognese sauce.

Classic Bolognese Sauce

Mom’s Classic Bolognese Sauce is our all-time favorite ragu sauce – hands down!  When it comes to the richest and most savory Italian tomato sauce of them all? Bolognese is at the top of that list. 

Serve it some with your favorite pasta, or gnocchi, or add it to your lasagna and make the meal memorable! For more tomato sauce recipes, try Mom’s Quick Marinara Sauce, Best Pork Ragu Recipe, and Rigatoni alla’Matriciana. And, don’t miss additional Italian recipes for The Sunday Sauce, and an authentic Neapolitan dish Pasta with Genovese Sauce.

A wooden spoon filled with a thick tomato sauce inside a pot on stove top.



Ingredients needed for this rich tomato sauce…

There is a method to cooking Italian sauces to build the flavors!

  • Vegetables – you will need 2 carrots, 2 stalks of celery, 1 large onions and 4 garlic cloves. And they will need to be diced or mince. This is called “soffritto” and it is a crucial step in building the flavors with Bolognese.
  • Ground Beef – choose the leanest ground beef you can find. Less fatty is better.
  • Seasonings – you will need some salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper for this recipe.
  • Fresh Herbs – choose fresh basil and fresh Italian parsley
  • Wine – some wine is needed to flavor the browning the meat and soffritto, and it can be either some red or white wine.
  • Canned Tomatoes – choose Italian imported peeled tomatoes for the best quality and best flavor.

How to make our Mom’s Classic Bolognese Sauce?

(*full recipe card below!)

There are 4-Easy-To-Follow Steps to make our Mom’s Classic Bolognese Sauce. Let’s walk through the steps.

A mini chopper filled with sliced raw onions, and some raw ground beef on a wax paper.

Directions to Make the Sauce:

Step 1: PREP ALL THE VEGETABLES: Use a food processor or a mini chopper to mince or dice all the vegetables first. This will cut down the prep time.

Step 2: COOK THE SOFFRITTO: Next, heat olive oil in a large sauce pot, add the chopped vegetables and sauté them, until they are softened, about 15 minutes.

Step 3: COOK THE MEAT: Next, add the ground meat and brown it. Use a wooden spoon to help break up the pieces, and large lumps. Toss in the seasonings, and cook until all the meat is fully browned, no pink is visible.

Step 4:  ADD THE FINAL INGREDIENTS: Finally, pour in the wine and toss in the fresh herbs, stir and simmer for about 2 minutes. Then add the tomatoes and water, cover, and let it simmer for at least one hour.


Chopped veggies sauteing on the bottom of a sauce pot. And ground chop meat cooking in the pot.


Cook’s Notes and Tips:

  • USE BEST CANNED TOMATOES: It’s best to use good quality tomatoes for this recipe. Cento Imported Tomatoes is the brand we recommend. You will need 2 large cans (28-ounces each) of peeled tomatoes.
  • THE SOFFRITTO: Cooking the veggies until they softened and caramelize is crucial when building flavors in this thick, rich sauce.
  • FRESH HERBS: Always use fresh herbs when making Bolognese sauce, they will give the most aromatic flavors to the sauce.
  • GROUND BEEF: Always choose the leanest ground beef, between 90 to 95% lean! It will not only make the tomato sauce healthier, but less fat, is better for heart health.
  • WATER: You will need some water with this recipe. Plus, when the sauce gets too thick, you can always add additional water.

Questions & Answers…

1. Can we make Bolognese sauce in a Slow Cooker?

Yes, but you cannot toss all the ingredients and walk away.  You still have to sauté the vegetables and brown the meat at the beginning, followed by wine, herbs, tomatoes, and water.  Then cover and cook on a low setting for 6 to 8 hours.

2. What’s the difference between Spaghetti Sauce and Bolognese Sauce?

  • Spaghetti sauce is usually a classic tomato sauce known as “marinara sauce.”  It is cooked with only 4 ingredients, crushed tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, and fresh basil and it’s simmered for about 30 minutes or less.
  • Whereas the Bolognese sauce is loaded with meat, vegetables, wine, fresh herbs, and canned tomatoes.  And it simmers slowly until it cooks down into this rich, thick savory sauce.  Plus, it can be made with a mixture of ground beef, veal, and pork.

3. What can we serve with Bolognese sauce?

  • Serve Bolognese sauce over your favorite pasta, or layer it into a lasagna with no-boil noodles (as we prefer).
  • We love it with spaghetti, fettuccine, and even with pappardelle because the larger noodles are great for the sauce to stick to them.
  • Bolognese sauce (known as “ragu” in Bologna, Italy) is popularly served over polenta, rather than pasta.  And, it’s amazing – to say the least!

To Store, Freeze and Reheat: 

To Store: Best to keep Bolognese sauce in air-tight containers.  It will stay fresh for up to 4 days in the refrigerator.

To Freeze: Bolognese sauce will freeze well for up to one month.  It’s best to allow the sauce to cool completely before freezing.

To Reheat:  Allow the sauce to fully defrost on your counter for a few hours or thaw in the refrigerator overnight.  Then pour it into a saucepot and reheat it on the stovetop on moderate heat. Bring it to a low boil and simmer for only a few minutes, until it’s heated through.


Yield: 2 quarts

Mom's Classic Bolognese Sauce

Mom's Classic Bolognese Sauce by
Mom's Classic Bolognese Sauce is a rich, savory Italian tomato sauce loaded with lean ground beef, along with vegetables and imported peeled tomatoes.  Then it's slowly cooked down creating the BEST tasting Bolognese sauce!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 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 ground 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


  1. Use a mini chopper to mince all the vegetables for this recipe.
  2. Start with a large heavy saucepot to make the sauce. Heat on medium heat, and add the olive oil and butter.
  3. 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.
  4. Raise the heat to medium, then add in the meat. Use your hands to crumble the meat as you drop it 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.
  5. Cover and allow the meat to fully cook with the veggies, stirring occasionally for about 6 to 8 minutes.
  6. Stir in the fresh basil and fresh parsley and simmer for one minute to be fragrant.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Then pour 1 cup of water into the pot. Stir in 2 additional teaspoons of salt.
  10. Cover. Bring to a low boil, then lower the heat to the lowest, and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  11. 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.


  • Take the Time to Build Flavors! THE SOFFRITTO: Browning the meat and cooking the veggies until they softened and caramelize is crucial when building flavors in this thick, rich sauce.
  • Use the BEST Canned Tomatoes! It's best to use good quality canned tomatoes for this recipe. Cento Imported Tomatoes is the brand we recommend.

Nutrition Information:


2 quarts

Serving Size:

1/2 cup

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 107Total Fat: 5.8gCarbohydrates: 1.7gProtein: 10.5g

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xo Anna and Liz

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  1. That looks delicious! There is nothing like a comforting dish of pasta with red sauce. The sausage sounds like a wonderful addition 🙂

  2. I love Cento as well! I get it by the case from Amazon. I love your recipe, and so nice that it was your Mom’s.

    1. Thank you Mimi! Enjoy our mom’s recipe and let us know how it turns out for you!