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Learn three ways to make Classic Bolognese Sauce with instructions for the stovetop, Instant Pot, and slow cooker. This traditional Italian red sauce is savory, rich, and full of flavor.

Bolognese sauce in a stock pot

We love going back to the classic recipes, because they do not disappoint. This traditional red meat sauce requires a long simmer, but it is worth the time to really bring out those flavors. We know that sometimes there just isn’t the time, so we’ve got you covered with slow cooker and instant pot instructions as well.

History Lesson: Bolognese sauce comes from the city of Bologna, Italy in the late 1800s. Outside of Italy, ‘Bolognese sauce’ often refers to any tomato based sauce with minced beef or pork. However, in Bologna it is taken quite seriously and a very specific recipe is used. The local government even gave their stamp of approval! Our recipe follows along closely with the official government-approved recipe. We love the additional flavor that herbs bring, so we do offer additional variations.

  • What kind of pasta should I use?

    Traditionally, bolognese is serverd over Tagliatelle pasta. However you can use any type of pasta. This would even be delicious in a lasagna. 

  • Is milk optional?

    No, milk is a traditional ingredient that you do not want to leave out. Milk adds a richness and depth of flavor needed for a true Bolognese. 

  • Why are there carrots in Bolognese sauce?

    Carrot is a traditional ingredient in Bolognese sauce because it contains natural sugars that balance out the acidity in the tomatoes. You definitely don’t want to skimp on the carrots!

  • Freezer and Storage Instructions:

    To Freeze: This sauce can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 to 5 months. For easy storage, measure the sauce and divide into appropriate sized serving portion for your family. Place in a resealable plastic freezer bag and lay flat in the freezer until frozen.

    Leftover Refrigeration and Reheating: Leftovers should be stored in an airtight container in the refriergerate for 3 to 5 days. Reheat in a saucepan on the stovetop until desired temperature is reached, or microwave in 1 minute increments until heated through, stirring between.

Bolognese sauce on white plate on bed of noodles

If you like this recipe, you may be interested in these other delicious Italian inspired recipes:

Watch the video below where Rachel will walk you through every step of this recipe. Sometimes it helps to have a visual, and we’ve always got you covered with our cooking show. You can find the complete collection of recipes on YouTube, Facebook Watch, or our Facebook Page, or right here on our website with their corresponding recipes.

Bolognese sauce on white plate on bed of noodles
Learn three ways to make Classic Bolognese Sauce with instructions for the stovetop, Instant Pot, and slow cooker. This traditional Italian red sauce is savory, rich, and full of flavor.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 20 minutes
Ingredients
  • 1 pound ground sweet Italian sausage
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 large white onion diced
  • 1/4 cup finely diced carrot
  • 1/4 cup finely diced celery
  • 5 cloves garlic minced
  • 6 ounce can tomato paste
  • 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano (optional)
  • 1 cup whole milk
Instructions
  • In a large pot over medium heat, add in ground sausage and ground beef. Use a spoon to break up the meat into small pieces. Brown 5 minutes. Drain off any excess grease.
  • Add in onion, carrot, and celery and cook another 5 to 7 minutes until onions are soft and meat is cooked through.
  • Add in garlic and tomato paste and garlic and cook 2 minutes, until tomato paste starts to toast.
  • Pour in crushed tomatoes, white wine, beef broth, and milk. Stir in fresh basil, parsley, and oregano (if using) and season with salt and pepper. Herbs are optional for additional flavor, but not a part of traditional bolognese sauce.
  • Stir well and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, 1 to 4 hours, stirring occasionally. Flavors will continue to develop the longer you allow the sauce to simmer, so simmer for up to 4 hours if time permits.
  • Taste and add more salt and pepper to suit personal taste preference.
Notes

SLOW COOKER INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Follow steps 1 through 3 to sear ground meats and saute vegetables, garlic, and tomato paste in a skillet or large pot on the stovetop.
  2. Transfer meat and veggie mixture to a 5 to 6 quart slow cooker. Add in remaining ingredients.
  3. Cook on low for 8 hours, or high for 4 to 5 hours. Taste, and adjust seasonings as desired.

INSTANT POT INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat electric pressure cooker to sear setting and follow steps 1 through 3 in the recipe to sear ground meats and saute vegetables, garlic, and tomato paste before adding liquids.
  2. Add in the remaining ingredients and place lid on electric pressure cooker. Ensure valve is in the closed position.
  3. Cook on high pressure for 30 minutes. Release steam. Taste, and adjust seasonings as desired. 

Nutrition

Calories: 676kcal | Carbohydrates: 133g | Protein: 43g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 38mg | Sodium: 3145mg | Potassium: 5812mg | Fiber: 33g | Sugar: 81g | Vitamin A: 5834IU | Vitamin C: 163mg | Calcium: 592mg | Iron: 24mg
Course: Sauce, Sauces
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Bolognese
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Lisa
May 25, 2020 8:27 pm

5 stars
Big hit with my hungry crew… everyone had seconds!

Megan Scollin
June 18, 2020 4:49 pm

5 stars
Soooo good and easy to make. I used the fresh Basil and dried Oregano. A “Keeper” recipe.

Judy
April 20, 2020 4:24 pm

I had this sauce tonight for dinner. It was absolutely fabulous! Will make it again.

October 19, 2020 7:13 am

My first time of preparing and it receives 5 stars from my family and friends! I added sliced mushrooms and one cut up zucchini when adding tomatoes and liquids! I did not have white wine but substituted red wine! As for herbs I added a half cup of chopped fresh parsley and increased Oregano to 2 Tablespoons! Made the night before and served over linguini with plenty of fresh Parmesan available! Exceptional dish!

Lisa
October 18, 2020 2:19 pm

5 stars
Delicious!

Amy
September 25, 2020 7:18 pm

5 stars
Excellent recipe! My family had many compliments! Perfect Italian sauce!

Heather Dilly
August 30, 2020 3:28 pm

This sauce is amazing!

Melanie Martinez
August 28, 2020 1:30 am

5 stars
I made this a month ago and it was a big hit! Now I am going to make it again but can I use ground pork instead of the Italian sausage(not available now)? Or is it better to use all ground beef or any kind of sausage? Any suggestions? Thanks!

Carla Long
July 8, 2020 10:26 pm

5 stars
Best bolenese sauce I have found. Big hit with the family.

Carla Long
July 8, 2020 10:24 pm

5 stars
Best bolenese sauce I have found. Big hit with the family.
Will be my go to pasta sauce from now on. Recipe easy to follow.

June 6, 2020 10:58 am

Making this today, the sauce taste delicious.

Denah
April 24, 2020 2:05 pm

The sauce was delicious! I have a whole Tupperware left. Do you have any recipes for the leftover sauce?
Thanks

Speattle
April 27, 2020 4:16 pm
Reply to  Denah

Personally, I think this would be delicious as a sauce for lasagna or even spread on a crust for pizza.

Wanda
April 13, 2020 12:47 pm

I didn’t have any white wine, so I substituted red wine. It still smells delicious, so I hope it’s ok.

April 10, 2020 5:36 pm

Looks delicious. What type of wine do you recommend?

April 13, 2020 12:01 pm
Reply to  Melanie S

You can use any white wine that is good enough to drink.

Larry J. Webb
July 13, 2020 7:44 am

What type noodles did you use?

Donald Casali
April 9, 2020 6:23 am

5 stars
I made this sauce last night and thought the results were excellent, just a lovely, rich flavor. Quite an achievement as I am not much of a cook. But with help here my talents are improving quickly.

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