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This Best Bolognese Sauce recipe is meaty mushroom version of the savory, classic meat-based sauce that originated in Bologna, Italy. Serve it over your favorite pasta for a fabulous Italian dinner!

We love Italian food classics at our house! Some of our other favorites are The Best Spaghetti and Meatballs, Classic Lasagna, and Italian Wedding Soup!

An image of tagliatelle bolognese one a large white plate.

Best Bolognese Sauce Recipe

Traditional bolognese sauce (also known as ragù alla bolognese, or sometimes just ragù) is a slow-cooked labor of love made with a trio of meats (beef, pork, and pancetta), a soffrito (the holy trinity of Italian cooking consisting of finely chopped onions, carrots, and celery), white wine (some people use red although white is traditional in bolognese sauce), milk, and tomatoes.

It tastes absolutely amazing and is totally worth the effort to make it from scratch, especially since this recipe makes a huge batch that can be divided and frozen for future use.

A large dutch oven of the best bolognese sauce recipe ever made with beef, pork, pancetta, and mushrooms.

I have partnered with the Mushroom Council to bring you this recipe. Their Blenditarian Challenge is a great opportunity to stretch your dollar by adding mushrooms to meat to add bulk and volume to everyday dishes, stretching recipes into more servings for less money, while simultaneously adding flavor and health to your meals!

Blending finely chopped crimini and porcini mushrooms is my not-so-secret weapon for adding even more delicious flavor and nutrition to this best bolognese sauce recipe!

An image of a serving of bolognese sauce served over fresh tagliatelle pasta.

What is Bolognese Sauce?

Not to be confused with a classic marinara sauce which is a simple, quick-cooking sauce highlighting the bright, acidic flavor of tomatoes, bolognese sauce is a slow-cooked, mouthwateringly savory meat sauce.

Yes, there are still tomatoes in bolognese (and my version even uses more tomatoes than other recipes which famously only call for 3 ounces of tomato paste compared to 2 pounds of meat!), but much of the liquid in the sauce also comes from milk and wine (or broth if you don't cook with wine), with a good amount of vegetables added in as well.

Then it gets slowly simmered over a period of 4 hours until a thick, rich sauce is created and your kitchen smells amazing.

The list of ingredients might seem long, but traditional bolognese sauce is made with pork, beef, and pancetta, a soffritto made from onions, carrots, and celery, along with wine, milk, tomatoes, and other a few herbs, then simmered slowly.

Bolognese sauce gets better the longer it's cooked, so it's not something you want to rush. The flavors really develop during the slow simmer at a low temperature, so this once you get all of the veggies softened and the meat and mushrooms browned, you could easily transfer everything to a slow cooker to finish the sauce in there by cooking on low for 4 hours, rather than letting it simmer on the stove.

This really is the best bolognese sauce recipe ever, and even though it's more labor-intensive than some other recipes, what with chopping veggies, browning meat, and a long, slow cooking process, I promise it's 100% worth the effort.

An image of a plate of tagliatella bolognese with a large dutch oven full of bolognese sauce behind.

How to Make Bolognese Sauce

  1. First, brown the meat and mushrooms together.  A large dutch oven or heavy saucepan works best for this. Just make sure you have plenty of room to work because we are making a huge batch of sauce (12 cups!) with this recipe. Drain any grease the cooks off and transfer the meat and mushroom mixture to a bowl so you can make the soffrito in the same pan.
  2. Develop a flavor base with a classic soffritto.  Also known as battuto or odori in Italy, or mirepoix in France, a soffritto is just a combination of finely chopped onion, celery and carrot that is slowly sautéed, creating a depth of flavor that makes for an amazing sauce. Because of the fine chop and the slow cooking process, the vegetables practically melt into the sauce and they won't be very noticeable in the end bolognese. But they are absolutely essential in any classic bolognese sauce. Garlic gets thrown in at the end for just a minute or so.
  3. White wine really does make a big difference in bolognese sauce.  If you don't like to cook with wine, just sub in chicken or beef broth instead, but I personally love what wine does for Italian cooking and it really is traditional. The alcohol cooks off, and if you don't drink alcohol (like me), you can buy little 4-packs of wine at your local grocery store that are just the right size for cooking.
  4. Add the meat & mushrooms back into the pan, along with the rest of the ingredients.  Crushed tomatoes, milk (yes! a little dairy does wonderful things for this sauce without making it taste creamy), and some simple herbs (thyme & bay leaves - nothing too bold since the flavor profile of this sauce is really about the robust meatiness, not an overwhelming amount of herbs and spices).
  5. Partially cover and let the sauce simmer the afternoon away!  It takes a while for the liquid to cook down into a rich, complex sauce, but it is so worth it. Just be sure to stir every 20 minutes or so if you are doing this part on the stove so that the sauce doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. But this could also be done in the slow cooker if you need a more hands-off approach.
An image of a dutch oven on a stove filled with ground beef, ground pork, pancetta, and mushrooms for a bolognese sauce recipe.
An image of chopped carrots, celery and onion in a dutch oven to make an Italian soffritto or battuto.

Which Pasta to use for Bolognese

The best pasta for bolognese sauce is tagliatelle, not spaghetti, even though you have probably had spaghetti bolognese before.

In Bologna, where bolognese sauce originated, it is customarily served with fresh tagliatelle pasta, which are broad, flat, egg-based noodles shaped like ribbons, similar to fettuccine.

Tagliatelle bolognese is one of, if not THE signature dish, of Bologna, in northern Italy, and you would never see bolognese sauce served with spaghetti noodles when traveling there.

And for good reason! Using the right type of pasta for the sauce is important because spaghetti's circular shape doesn't hold on to the hearty bolognese sauce, which slides right off.

A broad, flat noodle is much better suited to this thick, meaty sauce.

An image of a plate of tagliatelle bolognese with an authentic bolognese sauce recipe.

One of these days I'm going to get a pasta attachment for my KitchenAid and learn how to make fresh pasta, but until then I can usually find it in the refrigerated section at some well-stocked grocery stores or use dried tagliatelle.

If you have a hard time finding tagliatelle, good alternatives include other flat pasta shapes like papperdelle or fettucine, or tube shapes like rigatoni and penne that will hold up to the thick, meaty sauce.

An image of tagliatelle pasta with meaty mushroom bolognese sauce, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.

Are mushrooms a vegetable?

Technically, no, mushrooms are neither a vegetable or a fruit. Or even a plant! Mushrooms are fungi, which are don't have leaves, roots, or seeds and don't need light to grow.

But mushrooms ARE super good for your health since they are fat-free, cholesterol free, low in calories, and provide important nutrients like vitamin D, B vitamins, antioxidants and potassium.

In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture classifies mushrooms as vegetables because they provide so many of the same vitamins, minerals, and other nutritional attributes of vegetables.

An image of all of the ingredients for the best bolognese sauce recipe, including ground beef, bround pork, pancetta, carrots, celery, onion, white wine, crushed tomatoes, mushrooms, and parsley.

Blending mushrooms with meat adds an easy serving of vegetables to the plate. Plus, they just taste amazing and add depth of flavor and umami to any dish.

An image of a large blue dutch oven filled with meaty bologonese sauce.

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Best Bolognese Sauce

4.93 from 38 votes
Amy Nash
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 4 hrs
Total Time 4 hrs 10 mins
Course Dinner
Cuisine Italian
Servings 12 cups
This Best Bolognese Sauce recipe is a meaty mushroom version of the savory, classic meat-based sauce that originated in Bologna, Italy. Also known as ragù alla bolognese, or sometimes just ragù, this slow-cooked labor of love is made with a trio of meats and a classic soffritto.

Ingredients
  

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil divided
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 6 ounces pancetta finely chopped
  • 12 ounces crimini mushrooms chopped
  • 1 ounces dried porcini mushrooms rehydrated in warm water for 30 minutes, then dried and chopped
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 medium yellow onion chopped
  • 2 carrots chopped
  • 2 celery stalks chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 28 ounce cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 28 ounce can tomato puree
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • Flat-leaf Italian parsley chopped
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh tagliatelle pasta if available

Instructions
 

  • Heat a large dutch oven or heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, and add 1 tablespoon of the oil.  When hot, add the ground beef, ground pork, pancetta and chopped mushrooms.  Season with salt and pepper.  Brown, breaking up the meat and cooking until the mushrooms are cooked and the meat is no longer pink.  Transfer the meat to a separate bowl and drain the grease from the pan.
  • To make the soffritto, reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the dutch oven.  Add the onion, carrots, and celery and mix together, cooking until the vegetables are soft begin to caramelize, about 10-15 minutes.  
  • Add the garlic to the vegetables and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
  • Add the wine to the soffritto and cook for 3 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan, until slightly reduced.
  • Return the browned mushrooms and meat to the pan, then add in the crushed tomatoes, tomatoe puree, milk, bay leaves and thyme.  Stir to combine, then bring to a simmer.  Reduce meat to low and partially cover the dutch oven with a lid.  Simmer for 4 hours, stirring frequently.  
  • When the sauce has thickened, remove the bay leaves and thyme sprigs, then taste and adjust seasoning, adding more salt if needed.  
  • When the sauce is ready, bring a large pot of water to a boil and season generously with salt.  Add the fresh pasta and cook for just 2–3 minutes. Drain the pasta, then return to the pan and toss with however much bolognese sauce you would like.  Remaining sauce freezes and reheats well and can be used in lasagna bolognese.  Garnished with chopped Italian parsley and Parmesan cheese.

Notes

Red wine can be used, but white is traditional.  If you don't want to cook with wine at all, you can replace the wine with chicken or beef stock.  

Nutrition

Calories: 407kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 67mg | Sodium: 459mg | Potassium: 1202mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 2403IU | Vitamin C: 21mg | Calcium: 132mg | Iron: 4mg
Tried this recipe? Show me on Instagram!Mention @HouseOfNashEats or tag #houseofnasheats!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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About the author

Hi, I'm Amy

I enjoy exploring the world through food, culture, and travel and sharing the adventure with mostly from-scratch, family friendly recipes that I think of as modern comfort cooking.

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Reader questions and reviews

  1. Such a great idea to blend mushrooms with meat for a succulent ragù. It looks great, and your tips and info about cooking the ragù, the types of pasta to use, are spot on!

  2. Tagliatelle is one of my favorite types of pasta! And I love how you've stretched this traditional sauce with mushrooms. What a great way to bump up the amount of sauce, reduce the amount of meat you're using, and make it even more flavorful. Yum!

  3. 5 stars
    Homemade sauces are the best. You can make a huge batch and put some in the freezer for down the road. Canned/jarred sauces cannot compete with the taste of a delicious sauce like this. Perfect for so many great recipes.

  4. 5 stars
    A labour of love, indeed! I find that making bolognese can be almost therapeutic! The look and sound of your bolognese take me straight back to Italy and I cannot wait to try your version. Unfortunately without porcini mushrooms as my hubby is allergic to them!

  5. 5 stars
    Bolognese is one of my favorite sauces, and this one is exceptionally good. I love that there are two different types of mushrooms in it. I couldn't find fresh tagliatelle in my area, so I used fettuccine instead.

  6. 5 stars
    We love mushrooms! And this sauce sounds beyond amazing! Oh I cannot wait to try it. Your pics are so beautiful and love that you explained the difference between a normal marinara sauce and bolognese sauce.

  7. 5 stars
    This bolognese sauce looks outstanding! I honestly don't 'like' spaghetti and like pasta. I love penne, wide noodles and pasta with a 'bite' so I'll be trying Tagliatelle as that is a delightful full 'bodied pasta' to me. I'm so looking forward to making your delicious Bolognese sauce!! Outstanding!

  8. 5 stars
    I love that you added mushrooms. My daughter loves mushrooms so I often add mushrooms in sauces and stews just to get her to try the dish. Love this sauce. Such pretty pictures.

  9. 5 stars
    Such a great idea to add mushrooms into the sauce! I love the flavor and texture of them, but usually add them whole. Will give this a go!

  10. 5 stars
    Wow I love mushrooms and you made the bolognese sauce so amazing!I must say your pictures do all the justice to this wonderful recipe.

  11. 5 stars
    Pasta is my weakness and this sauce is calling my name. Simmering beef, pork, and pancetta for hours give it so much flavor. I can't wait to make a big bowl of it for dinner this weekend.

  12. 5 stars
    I've never tried bolognese sauce but my boyfriend always bugs me to make it cause his mom used to. So glad I have the recipe now.

  13. Oh goodness, GET IN MY BELLY. I have such a soft spot for bolognese, but I'm so picky about it I may have to start making it myself. This recipe looks spot on for what I want (and NEED!)!

  14. 5 stars
    I made this tonight and it was amazing! I didn’t have milk, so I used about a cup of heavy cream. I panicked after adding it because it took a long time to stir in, but the dairy really makes it. I also used red wine since I didn’t have white and used leftover ham from thanksgiving instead of pancetta. It was still great! So the real recipe must be a show stopper! I highly recommend this recipe.

  15. I have had this simmering all day on the stove. My house smells so good and every time I walk in the kitchen, I eat a spoonful of it. This is the beat sauce I have ever had. Keeper for sure!

  16. I just eat the sauce straight up because it's so good. No sense wasting time cooking pasta for it. hahaha!

  17. So my daughter loves Bolognese but you can hardly find it in most Italian restaurants here in Houston where we live. I have been looking for a good recipe to see if I could please my picky eater...she loved it! Had to make it without the mushrooms (she does not eat anything with mushrooms) but the sauce was outstanding and worth the slow cook to get the depth of flavors that all great sauces have. Thank you!!

  18. Loved this recipe.  Added oregano and used red wine.   We eat a mostly KETO diet, so we don’t use pasta, but spaghetti squash or just eat the Bologna’s with Parmesan and a spoon.
    Either way, it is fantastic!

  19. My first time making a bologna’s sauce and this was absolutely amazing. I’ve always mage Italian gravy and spaghetti with meat sauce but never k ew the difference. I think this just might be my favorite... thank you so much for sharing.