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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
  • 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
  • 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.


  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.


  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. 


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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