This recipe for traditional spaghetti bolognese is a tasty and economical way to feed your family! Ground beef slowly braised in aromatic tomato sauce with onions, garlic, carrots and celery is what you want to serve with your pasta!
Do you ever feel overwhelmed at the realisation you’ve got a large party coming over for dinner and you are completely unprepared? That’s where I found myself yesterday with friends coming over for dinner.
What could I make to feed 10 people that will satisfy and please both adults and some little picky eaters?
Spaghetti Bolognese of course! Who doesn’t love pasta drenched in a meaty tomato sauce! Another option and a family favourite is Spaghetti Carbonara, which I also make often!
Spaghetti Bolognese is a classic everywhere in the world except for Italy where it doesn’t exist. Don’t get me wrong the Bolognese sauce is as traditional as they get. It does comes from the city of Bologna.
However, it is served with thicker pasta like tagliatelle, fettuccine or pappardelle. Italians claim that flat and wider pasta is able to carry off this rich and meaty sauce far better than spaghetti.
So if you want to experience this delicious sauce in a true Italian way, don’t forget this little tip and your dish will look like this!
Whatever pasta you choose in the end, the Bolognese sauce is where the flavour is at. The homemade version is truly incredible. It’s made from scratch, with no preservatives, so you can feel good about feeding it to your family.
The main ingredients are inexpensive canned tomatoes, loads of healthy veggies, herbs and a pound of lean ground beef. Or you can use a combination of ground beef and pork.
It doesn’t take a chef to master this delicious recipe. The technique is very simple. All you need is time. The best bolognese sauce is simmered over low heat for 2.5-3 hours. That’s how long it takes for the flavours to blend.
How to make this pasta sauce
The recipe uses 1 tablespoons of olive oil, canned diced tomatoes and tomato passata along with 1 lbs of lean beef. Very wholesome ingredients. The base for this sauce is made from a combination of diced onion, carrot and celery cooked in olive oil. It is called “soffritto” in Italian, and is used as a foundation for many sauces, soups and stews.
I’ve been making Bolognese sauce for many years and my recipe has been changed multiple times in pursuit of that perfect taste. The version I am sharing today is definitely my best one and final.
After years of travel to Italy and a cooking lesson that I took on the most recent trip I’ve picked up the necessary knowledge to recreate this authentic recipe at home. By the way, if you are looking for an authentic Italian white pasta sauce, take a look at my pasta cream sauce recipe.
Making this traditional Italian sauce is very easy and requires no special skills only time and patience. The end result is stunning and miles aways from store bought. But if you want it quick and meatless, check out my tomato and basil pasta sauce, which is done in 20 minutes!
Can I make spaghetti sauce in a slow cooker?
Yes, you can! This sauce is actually absolutely perfect for your crock pot since it needs longer time to be delicious. I have developed a slow cooker beef bolognese sauce recipe specifically for you.
What can you add to bolognese?
Take a break from garlic bread smothered in butter and choose the heart healthy olive oil. My kids absolutely love it.
My time saving tips
Use food processor for chopping up all vegetables to save time! Processing your vegetables this way also makes for a smoother sauce.
When I have some time to spare or I just want to zone out in the kitchen without anyone bugging me I dice all vegetables by hand. Onions, carrots, celery. The lot.
But last night time was short, so I simply threw everything in the food processor and gave it a whirl.
Same flavour, less effort plus if you have picky eaters they will have no idea how many vitamins are hidden in that spaghetti sauce.
The recipe was originally published in 01/2014. Updated with new photos, recipe and text in 03/2020
- 1 tbsp Olive oil
- 1 Onion diced
- 2 Carrots diced
- 2 Celery stalks diced
- 2-3 cloves Garlic
- 5-6 leaves Fresh Basil or 2 tsp dried basil
- 400g/14oz Canned Diced Tomatoes
- 500g/17oz Tomato Passata/Crushed Tomatoes
- 250ml/1 cup water
- 2 tsp Dried Oregano
- 1 lbs Ground Beef extra lean
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 lbs Spaghetti
- In a large and deep frying pan or a Dutch Oven heat 1 tbsp of olive oil, then add diced onions, carrots, celery, minced garlic and cook on low heat for 10 minutes without colouring the vegetables. Then add ground beef and brown it until the beef is no longer pink inside while stirring the whole time and making sure to break up the beef. Pour in both types of canned tomatoes and water with a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Sprinkle in some dried oregano and torn basil leaves (reserve a few small ones), bring everything to a boil. Then turn the heat down and let it simmer with a lid ajar for for 2.5-3 hours stirring it once in a while.
- When your Bolognese is nearly done boil a large pot of water and cook spaghetti according to package directions. (I usually cook 2 min less than the package recommends, your pasta continues cooking when you combine it with sauce and you really don't want it overcooked!)
- Drain your spaghetti and add your pasta to the sauce, stir gently and take off the heat. Top with reserved basil leaves. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.