Classic Bolognese Pasta Sauce

Classic Bolognese Pasta Sauce is rich, with a depth of flavors to savor, whether it is served over pasta, as in Fettuccine alla Bolognese, or as the critical component in our Lasagna alla Bolognese with Ricotta. The long, slow cooking really allows the various elements of this Classic Bolognese Pasta Sauce to come together for beautiful results, your efforts will be well-rewarded. While many recipes use milk, we opted for heavy cream to add a silkier finish to our Classic Bolognese Pasta Sauce; “gilding the lily”, you might say.  Start out with Sicilian Orange Salad, then pair whichever pasta you choose with Classic Bolognese Pasta Sauce, and enjoy your meal with a Sangiovese for an authentic Italian dinner.

Classic Bolognese Pasta Sauce

Prep Time: 15 minutes, Cooking Time: 2 hours, 45 minutes, Total Time: 3 hours.  Yields 6 cups.

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  • 4 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 ½ lbs Ground Beef, preferably ground chuck steak or 85/15 blend
  • 4 oz Pancetta, cubed
  • 1 Tb fresh Rosemary leaves, minced
  • 1 medium Carrot
  • 2 Celery stalks
  • 1 medium Onion
  • 2 Garlic cloves
  • 1 ½ Tbs fresh Parsley Stems, minced
  • 2 Tbs fresh Parsley Leaves, minced
  • 1 cup dry White Wine
  • 28 oz Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1 ½ cups low-sodium Beef Stock
  • 3 Tbs Tomato Paste
  • 1 Bay Leaf, preferably fresh
  • 1 Tb fresh Oregano leaves
  • 1 Tb fresh Marjoram leaves
  • 2 Tbs fresh Basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • ¼ tsp Crushed Red Pepper flakes
  • 1/8 tsp ground Nutmeg
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream
  • Pinch coarse Sea Salt

Classic Bolognese Pasta Sauce


  1. Pour the extra virgin olive oil into a 5-quart Dutch oven over a medium-high heat. Add the ground beef to the pan and brown the beef, uncovered, about 15 minutes.
  2. While the beef is browning, mince the rosemary leaves and set aside, finely mince the carrot, celery, onion, garlic and parsley stems and combine in a separate bowl. Mince the parsley leaves and set aside in a third bowl.
  3. Once the beef has browned, add the pancetta and minced rosemary leaves to the pan, stir to mix with the beef and sauté, uncovered, over a medium heat for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the minced carrot, celery, onion, garlic and parsley stems to the pan, stir to mix, cover and continue to cook over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened, about 25 minutes.
  5. Once the vegetables have softened, pour the white wine into the pan, stir to mix and raise the heat to bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and continue to cook at a simmer, uncovered, until the wine has reduced by half.
  6. Add the crushed tomatoes, beef stock, tomato paste, parsley leaves, bay leaf, oregano, marjoram, basil, crushed red pepper flakes and nutmeg to the pan, stir and cook covered over a medium heat for 1 hour.
  7. Add the heavy cream and pinch of sea salt to the pan, stir and continue to cook for another hour; if the sauce is too thin, cook with the pan lid partially open to allow the sauce to cook to a thick and rich consistency, it should not be runny.
  8. Remove Classic Bolognese Pasta Sauce from the heat; keep covered and warm for use.

Lasagna Bolognese with Classic Bolognese Pasta Sauce


  • If fresh herbs are not available, substitute dried herbs but reduce the amounts from tablespoons to teaspoons.