This Bolognese Sauce combines ground beef and pork for a hearty sauce that's perfect on a cold winter day!
I really do love a good pasta dish; especially one with a nice warm, rich sauce. This one definitely fits the bill and is super yummy!! I know, I know, there are lots of carbs in pasta, but before you stop reading, like a lot of people I also try to cut down on (not cut out) carbs, so I typically use whole wheat or high fiber pasta when making pasta dishes.
For me, pasta is great comfort food. On a cool fall night or cold winter day, there is nothing like a bowl of pasta with a lovely warm sauce and a nice glass of wine!!
What is bolognese?
Bolognese is a traditional tomato-based meat sauce made with onions and garlic. It also includes the addition of carrots and celery in the base, as well as white wine and ground beef. Many versions also include a bit of milk or cream, however, I leave that out in this version.
Pancetta: You can either buy pre-diced pancetta or get the thinly sliced version and chop it yourself.
Vegetables: The traditional onions, carrots, celery and garlic are the base for this sauce.
Ground meat: A combination of ground pork and beef adds amazing flavor, but you can make it with just ground beef if you prefer.
Tomatoes: I use crushed tomatoes when making this sauce as I feel you get a better consistency.
White wine: The recipe calls for Chardonnay as it works well and is my personal preference, however you would substitute any dry white wine.
Italian parsley: Also known as flat-leaf parsley. This really acts as a garnish, however I think the flavor is nice with the sauce so recommend including it.
Pasta: Penne works well with this sauce though any larger pasta will work. It needs to be able to stand up to the heavy sauce.
Spices: bay leaf, dried basil, dried oregano, dried thyme
Pantry staples: olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, chicken broth, parmesan cheese
How to make bolognese sauce
During colder months, I often spend Saturday or Sunday afternoon making a sauce, and maybe a soup or chili too. Prepping ahead of time gives you options for quick lunches and dinners during the week.
This bolognese sauce takes time to make but it really is easy! Once the prep work is done this recipe just simmers away until thickened.
Cook the pancetta: The fat from the pancetta gives adds flavor to the sauce and gives you a base for cooking the rest of the veggies, so you want to start with this step.
Add the veggies: Once you've cooked the pancetta you'll add the rest of the veggies to your dutch oven and sauté them.
Brown the meat: Then the ground pork and ground beef get added to the mix. Once they are cooked you'll add additional seasonings.
Simmer the sauce: Next comes the wine, broth and remaining ingredients. This sauce needs to simmer for at least an hour before it's ready to serve.
Serve: I prefer to heat individual servings of pasta and sauce, which is how you'll usually see it done in restaurants. It helps to get the pasta coated with sauce and ensures everything is nice and warm when you serve it. You can skip this step and just add the sauce to the warm pasta, however, once you try it I think you'll agree it's worth the few extra minutes before serving. It's also a good trick if you are using a sauce that was previously made.
Meal Prep Tips
This recipe makes about 6 servings, depending on who's eating and how hungry they are, and it freezes really well. So if you are just feeding two people you can split the leftover sauce into two containers, freeze one and save the other for meals later in the week!
Tips for Storing Leftover Sauce
You can keep this sauce for 3-4 days in the refrigerator. I recommend storing separately from the pasta for the best consistency when reheating. It will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.
To reheat, defrost the sauce and either reheat in the microwave, stirring about every 30 seconds, or heat in a pan over medium-low heat on the stovetop.
This sauce works with just about any type of pasta though is best with larger pasta like penne, rigatoni, or even pappardelle. It can also be used for the sauce in homemade lasagne or other baked pasta dishes.
For a complete meal, I'd add this Chopped Kale Salad or these carrots with ricotta, honey and cumin along with this homemade garlic bread. I like to serve this with either the Chardonnay from the sauce or if you prefer red wine, a nice light Pinot Noir. Enjoy!!
More pasta recipes
If you like pasta, give one of these recipes a try:
tools you may want for this recipe
Large Microplane grater - I love this larger format grater for hard cheeses like parmesan that are going to be a garnish for pasta, salads, etc.
My Favorite Bolognese Sauce
For the sauce:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 oz thinly sliced pancetta, chopped
- ½ cup finely diced carrot, about 1 large carrot
- ½ cup finely diced celery
- 1 cup finely diced yellow onion
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 pound ground sirloin
- ½ pound ground pork
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 2 teaspoons dried basil
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- ½ cup Chardonnay
- ½ cup chicken broth
- 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
For serving: - all measurements in this section are per the number of people you are serving
- ½ cup Barilla Protein Plus Penne
- 1 tablespoon Italian Parsley leaves, chopped
- 1 tablespoon grated parmesan or other hard cheese
For the sauce:
- Heat oil in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add pancetta and cook for 4 minutes.
- Add carrots and celery; cook for one minute.
- Add onion and sauté for an additional minute. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute more.
- Add pork and ground beef, cook until crumbly. Add spices; cook 1 minute until fragrant.
- Add Worcestershire, wine, chicken broth and stir. Add tomatoes and stir until all ingredients are mixed.
- Bring sauce to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour.
- Remove the bay leaf from the sauce.
- While the sauce is cooking, prepare the penne according to the package directions. When you drain the pasta, reserve about ½ cup of the pasta water.
- When you are ready to serve, heat a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add ½ cup of sauce, about ¾ cup of pasta and 2 tablespoon of pasta water. Let heat for a few minutes, mixing occasionally.
- Transfer to a warm bowl or plate; top with cheese and Italian parsley and serve immediately.
- Repeat process for each person being served.
This post was originally published in October 2015. It was updated in February 2021 with some new information. No changes were made to the original recipe.