Easy Bolognese Sauce is a classic, hearty meat based tomato sauce that is served over pasta. This easy shortcut sauce comes together in 30 minutes and is sure to be a family favorite.
Easy Bolognese Sauce Recipe
When I was just learning how to cook, I paid close attention to how people cooked their signature meals. This recipe is based on my sister’s meat sauce, and there are a few secrets that I’m about to spill!
I make my bolognese one of two ways, and it depends on how much time I have and what ingredients I have on hand. If I’ve got a few hours to spare, I will use crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce, but more often than not I’ll take a shortcut and use a favorite jarred spaghetti sauce as the base.
For the meat we use a mixture of ground beef and spicy ground italian sausage. Together they have a mild flavor that’s got just a little bit of heat.
What is the difference between bolognese and spaghetti sauce?
A bolognese is a hearty meat based tomato sauce that’s served over pasta. Spaghetti sauce is a tomato sauce that’s rich and flavorful and can be served over pasta or as a dipping sauce.
How to make Bolognese Sauce
- Cook onion, garlic, ground beef and ground italian sausage together in a large pot. Using this method I find that I don’t need to add too much seasoning to the ground beef because it gets some flavor from the sausage. Drain as much liquid (grease) as you can from the pot or else you may be left with a greasy sauce.
- Add spices and seasonings to the meat and cook for about a minute to toast them before adding the sauce to the pot.
- Bring sauce to a boil, then cover and simmer for 20 minutes. The longer you can let it simmer, the more the intense flavors will be, but 20 minutes is enough to get a great tasting sauce.
- I like to stir in a few tablespoons of fresh herbs at the end, like parsley or basil.
What to do with leftovers
Leftover bolognese sauce can be mixed with cooked pasta and stored in the fridge in an airtight container for 3-5 days. Reheat in the microwave on in a pot on the stove.
To freeze, store sauce in a freezer bag or airtight container for up to 6 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge and heat in a pot on the stove. I recommend to freeze the sauce on it’s own and make fresh pasta when you are ready to enjoy.
How is Bolognese served?
You can serve your homemade bolognese sauce with your favorite pasta. We use whatever we have on hand, whether it’s penne pasta or spaghetti or fettuccine. This delicious meat sauce also makes a great base for pizzas and flatbreads. Just top with cheese and bake!
I don’t want to use a jarred sauce, what can I use?
If you are averse to using a prepared sauce in this recipe, replace it with two 20-ounce cans of crushed tomatoes, a 15-ounce can of tomato sauce and a tablespoon of tomato paste. Double the seasonings and add a pinch or two of sugar to balance the acidity of the tomatoes.
How to rescue a tomato sauce that is too acidic
If your tomato based bolognese sauce is too acidic from the tomato, you can add a little bit of sugar to balance the acid. I will sometime even pour in a little bit of apple juice. It’s not as sweet as pure sugar but adds just enough sweetness for the tomato flavor to come through.
Want more easy weeknight dinner ideas? Try these:
- Italian Sausage & Tortellini Skillet
- Chicken Spaghetti
- One Pot Chicken Spaghetti
- Homemade Spaghetti Sauce
- Tortellini Soup with Italian Sausage & Spinach
Easy Bolognese Sauce
- 1 medium sized onion diced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 pound ground Italian Sausage
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 48 ounces jars of your favorite spaghetti sauce (2 24-ounce jars)
- 2 tablespoons fresh minced flat-leaf parsley
- Heat a large, 4-5 quart pot over medium-high heat. Add sausage, ground beef, onion and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until meat is no longer pink. Drain any excess grease from the pan.
- Add basil, oregano, bay leaves and crushed red pepper flakes. Stir and cook for about 1 minute.
- Add pasta sauce to the pot and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then cover and turn the heat down to low. Simmer for 20-30 minutes. You can simmer for longer if you like.
- Stir in a couple tablespoons of freshly minced parsley. Serve immediately over pasta with fresh grated Parmesan cheese.