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Classic beef Bolognese Sauce is so full of flavor and will make your home smell incredible as it simmers on the stovetop! This meaty sauce is made the traditional way with ground beef, canned tomatoes, aromatic vegetables, and yes, even a little milk for richness. It’s a hearty homemade sauce for your favorite pasta.
Why You’ll Love This Bolognese Sauce
Pasta is a classic weeknight go-to. From quick Gluten-Free Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon and Chicken to creamy Vodka Sauce, there are so many tasty ways to serve up satisfying pasta dishes all year long. But there’s nothing like the delicious, rich aroma of a long-simmered pot of bolognese sauce.
- Full of flavor. This recipe has incredible flavor from the combination of dry wine, umami-rich canned tomatoes, broth, and sauteed vegetables.
- Cook it fast or slow. Whether you let it cook all day long on a chilly weekend or you throw it together after work, this is a family-favorite pasta dinner recipe you’ll want to keep on hand.
- Versatile. Enjoy it with your favorite pasta, but since it is naturally gluten free and low carb, you can also enjoy it with GF noodles, zoodles, or spaghetti squash.
Cuisine Inspiration: Italian-American
Primary Cooking Method: Stovetop
Dietary Info: Gluten-free, Low carb
Skill Level: Easy
Beef Bolognese Ingredients
The ingredients for this flavor-packed bolognese sauce add umami, spice, and herbal flavors. Here’s what you need to make the sauce, but check out the recipe card at the bottom of the post for the detailed instructions:
- Olive oil
- Ground beef. I use lean ground beef (at least 90% lean).
- Garlic. Fresh is best, but if you don’t have it, use 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder.
- White wine. Use a dry wine that you like the flavor of for cooking. If you prefer not to cook with wine, substitute more broth.
- Milk. I use whole milk.
- Crushed tomatoes. You can also use whole tomatoes and mash them a bit if you don’t have crushed.
- Tomato paste
- Broth. You can use low-sodium chicken or beef broth for this sauce. Homemade also works!
- Parsley. I use fresh, but in a pinch you can use 2 teaspoons of dried parsley.
- Italian seasoning. This is a blend of dried oregano, parsley, basil and marjoram.
- Bay leaf
How to Make Bolognese Sauce
You’ll need a large, heavy-bottomed stockpot to make this sauce. Follow these instructions to bring everything together:
Saute the vegetables: Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion, carrot, and celery, and cook until the vegetables are soft, about 6-7 minutes. Avoid browning the vegetables.
Add the beef: Stir in the ground beef and garlic. Cook, stirring, until the beef is no longer pink, breaking it up as it cooks.
Add the liquid: Add the white wine and stir to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Cook for 5-6 minutes, until the liquid has evaporated. Add the milk and bring to a simmer until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. It may appear slightly curdled at first, but will smooth out again.
Add the remaining ingredients: Stir in the crushed tomatoes, broth, tomato paste, Italian seasoning, and bay leaf. Reduce the heat to a simmer and simmer for 30 minutes to an hour. You can simmer for several hours to develop the flavors further.
Serve: Discard the bay leaf and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, prepare pappardelle or tagliatelle according to package instructions, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water. If necessary, use the pasta water to thin out the sauce when you serve the pasta with sauce.
Tips for the Best Bolognese
- Use a heavy-bottomed pot that maintains heat well, such as a stock pot or a cast-iron dutch oven.
- Wait until the olive oil is heated in the pot before you add the vegetables for sauteing.
- You can make your own Italian seasoning by combining equal parts dried basil, oregano, parsley and marjoram.
- Thinning the sauce with pasta cooking water adds a bit of starch to the sauce that helps it cling to the noodles better.
- The longer you simmer this sauce, the better it will taste!
Storing and Reheating the Sauce
You can store leftover bolognese sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days. Reheat the sauce on the stove or in the microwave in 1-minute intervals, stirring between each interval.
Can I Freeze Bolognese Sauce?
Yes! To freeze the sauce, make sure it’s fully cooled. Then place the sauce in an airtight container and keep it in the freezer for up to three months. When you’re ready to serve, thaw the sauce in the fridge overnight. Then reheat in a pot on the stove until warmed through. Stir regularly to prevent the sauce from burning.
Bolognese sauce is traditionally served with a wider pasta such as pappardelle or tagliatelle. However, feel free to use any type of pasta. Spaghetti Bolognese is also quite popular. You can definitely use gluten free pasta, but spooning it over Parmesan Polenta or Gluten Free Gnocchi are more fabulous options. I like to serve bolognese with a generous dusting of parmesan cheese on top. You can also add a sprinkle of minced basil too.
On the side, I recommend making these gluten-free garlic rolls! These easy homemade rolls are perfect for sopping up the extra sauce and trust me, you will want to get every last bite of this bolognese off your plate. And it’s also nice with some Air Fryer Zucchini or a side salad with a simple homemade dressing like one of these:
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion , chopped (about ½ cup)
- 1 medium carrot , peeled and finely chopped (about ⅔ cup)
- 1 stalk celery , finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper , or to taste
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 2 cloves garlic , minced
- 1 cup dry white wine , such as pinot grigio or chardonnay
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes (recommended: Tuttorosso)
- 1 cup chicken or beef broth
- 1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
- 2 Tablespoons minced fresh parsley
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 bay leaf
- Pappardelle or tagliatelle pasta, gluten free if needed, cooked al dente according to the package directions
- Parmesan cheese for serving, if desired
- Heat the oil in a large heavy bottomed pot such as an enameled cast iron dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat oil. Add onion, carrot, and celery, and cook until soft, about 6-7 minutes or until soft and translucent, but not browned..
- Stir in the ground beef and garlic, and cook until the beef is no longer pink, breaking it up as it cooks.
- Pour in wine and cook, stirring to scrape up browned bits from the bottom of the pot, until liquid has evaporated, 5 or 6 minutes. Add 1 cup milk and simmer until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. It may appear slightly curdled at first, but will smooth out again.
- Stir in the crushed tomatoes, chicken broth, tomato paste, Italian seasoning, and bay leaf, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes to 1 hour, or longer, if possible.
- Discard bay leaf and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Cook paparadelle or tagliatelle to al dente according to the package directions, saving 1 cup of the cooking water to thin out the sauce, if needed.