Homemade Bolognese Sauce (Pappardelle)

Indulge in the comforting flavors of Italy with this Homemade Bolognese Sauce served over wide pappardelle noodles. This rich and hearty sauce combines the savory goodness of beef and pork with a medley of vegetables, simmered to perfection with red wine, tomatoes, and aromatic herbs. Perfect for a cozy dinner, this classic dish is sure to impress!


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 1 rib celery, finely diced
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • ½ pound ground pork
  • 1 ¼ cups red wine (or beef broth)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 28 ounces whole tomatoes (with juice)
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ teaspoon salt, more to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • Pappardelle or tagliatelle (or another long pasta for serving)


  1. Sauté Vegetables: In a large Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the finely diced onion and cook until softened, about 3-4 minutes.
  2. Add Garlic and Vegetables: Stir in the crushed garlic, finely diced carrot, and celery. Cook until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.
  3. Cook Meat: Add the ground beef and pork to the pot, breaking it up with a spoon. Cook until the meat is browned and no pink remains. Drain any excess fat.
  4. Deglaze with Wine: Pour in the red wine and simmer uncovered until it evaporates, about 10 minutes. Then add the milk and continue to simmer until evaporated, about 8 minutes.
  5. Add Tomatoes and Seasonings: Stir in the tomato paste, Italian seasoning, whole tomatoes with their juice, and bay leaf. Break the tomatoes up with a spoon. Cover and let the sauce simmer for 30 minutes, or until thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Cook the Pasta: Boil the pappardelle or tagliatelle according to the package directions. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 ½ cups of pasta water.
  7. Combine Pasta and Sauce: Toss the cooked pasta with the Bolognese sauce, adding reserved pasta water as needed to reach your desired consistency.
  8. Serve and Enjoy: Serve the hot pasta topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Recipe Details

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Servings: 6

Serving and Storage Tips:

Serving Tips:

  1. Garnish Ideas: Sprinkle freshly chopped parsley or basil over the Bolognese sauce just before serving to add a burst of freshness and color.
  2. Accompaniments: Serve the Bolognese sauce and pappardelle with a side of garlic bread or a crisp green salad dressed with a light vinaigrette for a balanced meal.
  3. Cheese Option: Offer grated Parmesan cheese at the table for guests to sprinkle over their pasta according to their preference.

Storage Tips:

  1. Refrigeration: Allow any leftover Bolognese sauce to cool completely before transferring it to an airtight container. Refrigerate within 2 hours of cooking. Properly stored, it will keep well in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  2. Reheating Instructions: To maintain its flavors, reheat leftover Bolognese sauce gently in a saucepan over low to medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add a splash of water or broth to loosen the sauce if needed.
  3. Freezing: Bolognese sauce freezes exceptionally well! Portion cooled sauce into freezer-safe containers or resealable bags, leaving some room for expansion. Label with the date and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

By following these serving and storage tips, you can ensure that your Homemade Bolognese Sauce with Pappardelle remains deliciously fresh and flavorful whether enjoyed immediately or as a convenient leftover meal.


1. Mushroom Bolognese:

  • Vegetarian Twist: Replace the ground beef and pork with finely chopped mushrooms (such as cremini or portobello). Sauté the mushrooms until golden brown before adding the onions, carrots, and celery. Proceed with the recipe as usual, adjusting the cooking time slightly.

2. Turkey Bolognese:

  • Leaner Option: Substitute ground turkey for the beef and pork for a lighter version of Bolognese sauce. Turkey provides a mild flavor that complements the sauce’s richness.

3. Lamb Bolognese:

  • Rich and Robust: Use ground lamb instead of beef and pork for a savory twist. Lamb adds a distinct flavor that pairs well with the tomato and herb base of the sauce.

4. Spicy Bolognese:

  • Heat It Up: Add crushed red pepper flakes or a dash of hot sauce to the sauce while simmering for a spicy kick. Adjust the amount according to your preference for heat.

5. Creamy Bolognese:

  • Velvety Texture: Stir in a splash of heavy cream or half-and-half at the end of cooking to create a creamy Bolognese sauce. This addition adds richness and smoothness to the dish.

6. Mediterranean Bolognese:

  • Herbaceous Flavors: Incorporate Mediterranean herbs such as basil, oregano, and rosemary into the sauce for a Mediterranean-inspired twist. Serve over couscous or orzo pasta for a different experience.

7. Lentil Bolognese:

  • Plant-Based Option: Replace the meat entirely with cooked lentils for a hearty vegetarian Bolognese sauce. Cook the lentils separately and stir them into the sauce before serving.

8. Red Wine Reduction Bolognese:

  • Intense Flavor: Increase the amount of red wine and allow it to reduce further before adding the tomatoes and other ingredients. This enhances the depth of flavor in the sauce.

9. Green Bolognese:

  • Fresh Herb Infusion: Blend fresh spinach, basil, and parsley into the sauce for a vibrant green Bolognese. This variation adds a burst of freshness and nutrients.

10. Smoky Bolognese:

  • Smoked Ingredients: Add a touch of smoked paprika or smoked salt to the sauce for a smoky undertone. This pairs well with the richness of the meat and tomato flavors.

These variations offer exciting ways to personalize your Homemade Bolognese Sauce, catering to different tastes and dietary preferences while maintaining the essence of this classic Italian dish. Enjoy experimenting with these ideas to create new favorite recipes!


1. What is Bolognese sauce?

  • Bolognese sauce, or ragù alla bolognese, is a rich and hearty Italian meat sauce that typically includes ground meat (often a mix of beef and pork), tomatoes, vegetables, and a variety of seasonings. It’s traditionally served with pasta.

2. How do you pronounce “Bolognese”?

  • It’s pronounced “boh-luh-NEEZ” with the stress on the second syllable.

3. Can I make Bolognese sauce ahead of time?

  • Yes, Bolognese sauce actually improves in flavor when made ahead. Allow it to cool completely, then store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for longer storage.

4. What kind of pasta goes well with Bolognese sauce?

  • Wide, flat pasta shapes such as pappardelle, tagliatelle, or fettuccine are traditional choices for Bolognese sauce. Their broad surfaces help to capture and hold the sauce.

5. Can I use ground turkey or chicken instead of beef and pork?

  • Yes, you can substitute ground turkey or chicken for a lighter version of the sauce. Adjust cooking times accordingly, as poultry cooks faster than beef and pork.

6. What’s the purpose of adding milk to Bolognese sauce?

  • Milk or cream is added to Bolognese sauce to help tenderize the meat and balance the acidity of the tomatoes, resulting in a richer and smoother texture.

7. Can I omit the wine in Bolognese sauce?

  • While red wine adds depth to the flavor, you can substitute it with beef broth or omit it altogether. The sauce will have a slightly different flavor profile without the wine.

8. How long should I simmer Bolognese sauce?

  • Ideally, simmer the sauce for at least 1 hour to allow the flavors to meld and the sauce to thicken. Some recipes may benefit from longer cooking times for deeper flavor development.

9. How do I thicken Bolognese sauce?

  • If your sauce is too thin, continue simmering it uncovered until it reaches your desired consistency. You can also stir in a small amount of tomato paste, which helps thicken the sauce.

10. Can I freeze Bolognese sauce? – Yes, Bolognese sauce freezes very well. Allow it to cool completely, then transfer it to airtight containers or freezer bags. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

These FAQs provide essential information about preparing, storing, and customizing Homemade Bolognese Sauce, ensuring a delicious and satisfying dining experience every time.

Homemade Bolognese Sauce is the epitome of Italian comfort food, offering layers of flavor and texture that are perfect for any occasion. This dish, when served over wide pappardelle noodles, creates a satisfying and memorable meal that is sure to become a favorite in your home.