How to Make Bolognese Sauce


This homemade Bolognese sauce is dedicated to the late great Marcella Hazan. She was considered the Julia Child of Italian food. At a time when most Americans thought Bolognese was spaghetti sauce with chunks of hamburger, Marcella taught us just how magnificent this meat sauce could be. I like to toss it with some mezzi rigatoni and serve it with a little grated Parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of parsley.

Prep Time:
15 mins
Cook Time:
3 hrs 20 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs 35 mins


  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 cup finely diced onion

  • ½ cup finely diced celery

  • ½ cup finely diced carrot

  • 1 pinch salt

  • 1 ½ pounds ground beef

  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt

  • teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste

  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

  • 1 ½ cups 2% milk

  • 2 cups white wine

  • 1 (28 ounce) can whole Italian plum tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)

  • 2 cups water, or as needed


  1. Melt butter with olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, celery, carrot, and 1 pinch salt; cook and stir until onion turns translucent, about 5 minutes.

  2. Stir ground beef into vegetables; cook and stir until meat is crumbly and no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Season with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, and black pepper.

  3. Pour milk into ground beef mixture and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring frequently, until most of the milk has evaporated and the bottom of the pan is still slightly saucy, about 5 minutes.

  4. Increase heat to medium-high and pour in white wine; cook and stir until wine has mostly evaporated, about 5 minutes.

  5. Pour tomatoes with juice into a large mixing bowl; crush them with your hands until they resemble a chunky sauce. Pour tomato mixture into ground beef mixture; fill the tomato can with 2 cups water and stir into sauce. Bring to a boil.

  6. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring often, until mixture cooks down into a thick sauce, at least 3 hours but preferably 4 to 6 hours. Skim fat from the top of sauce if desired. Add more water if sauce is too thick. Taste and adjust seasonings before serving.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

394 Calories
21g Fat
14g Carbs
23g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 6
Calories 394
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 21g 27%
Saturated Fat 9g 44%
Cholesterol 84mg 28%
Sodium 935mg 41%
Total Carbohydrate 14g 5%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Total Sugars 9g
Protein 23g
Vitamin C 15mg 77%
Calcium 147mg 11%
Iron 4mg 20%
Potassium 735mg 16%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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