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This Bolognese Sauce recipe is the ultimate comfort food! A delicious, hearty meat sauce that can be made ahead, is freezer friendly and a total crowd pleaser.

Bolognese sauce in a dutch oven with blue handles and a wooden spoon sticking out

This Bolognese Sauce is my ultimate comfort food once the weather gets cooler. I love to take my time with this one since I also find it to be a calming, therapeutic process that is perfect for those evenings when you have nowhere to be. Turn on some good tunes, take in the amazing smells as it cooks, pour yourself a glass of wine and occasionally stir that pot while chit chatting with family, friends or having a peaceful moment to yourself. Once it is ready, I love to light some candles and serve it up over some pasta alongside a great salad. Super cozy!

Reasons To Love This Recipe

Some of the reasons that I love this Bolognese Sauce so much are:

  • It is incredibly comforting
  • Perfect for entertaining since it is a crowd pleaser
  • Can be made ahead of time
  • Perfect for batch cooking since it is freezer friendly (I like to double or triple the recipe in order to have some comfort food ready to go in the freezer)

Bolognese is a thick, hearty meat sauce that originates from Bologna, Italy. Let me walk you through my beloved version that I have been happily making for years!

Ingredients Needed

To make my version of Bolognese Sauce, you will need:

  • Ground Beef: I like to use quality lean ground beef. Check out the options in your area for sourcing quality meat or have it delivered to your door by a company like ButcherBox.
  • Pancetta: Adds delicious depth of flavor to the sauce.
  • Veggies + Herbs: Carrot, celery, garlic, onion, mushrooms, bay leaf, oregano and basil are all added in to this delicious sauce.
  • Red Wine: Use a bit of dry red wine to deglaze your pot. Pick one that you will also enjoy drinking…since you opened it already!
  • Tomato Products: This recipe calls for canned diced tomatoes, tomato passata (strained tomatoes) and tomato paste.
  • Parmesan Rind: Special ingredient that kicks up the flavor and provides some delicious umami depth.
  • Seasoning: Bring it all together with some salt and freshly ground pepper. It is also optional to add a little Worcestershire Sauce or Tamari for an extra little something. Depending on the sweetness of your tomatoes, you may also want to add a touch of sugar to balance out the flavous.

You Want Me To Add Parmesan Rind?

Yup – you read that correctly! This is the special ingredient. Don’t toss that hard bit of rind at the end of your Parmesan chunk. Pop it into a freezer bag so that it is ready to add into sauces like this one for an amazing boost of rich umami flavour. Just remember to remove it along with the bay leaf before serving!

Overhead shot of all the ingredients needed to make bolognese sauce

How To Make Bolognese Sauce

To make this comforting, delicious meat sauce, simply grab your favorite pot (I like to use a dutch oven for this) and let’s get started…

  1. Brown Meat: Brown the ground beef and remove from the pot.
  2. Chop Chop Chop: Finely chop the pancetta, carrot, celery, onion, garlic and mushrooms. You can also use a food processor for this step.
  3. Cook The Aromatics: Sauté everything you just chopped in some olive oil until softened and then deglaze the pot with some red wine.
  4. Everything In The Pot: Add the remaining ingredients and the cooked beef back to the pot.
  5. Let It Simmer: Pop on a lid and simmer for 1-2 hours while stirring occasionally. (Or longer if you have the time!)
  6. Serve: Pull out the Parmesan rind and bay leaf and season to taste. Now it is time to serve it up and enjoy! I love this sauce over pasta or you can check out some other ideas listed further down.
Step by step photo collage on how to make bolognese sauce

Detailed ingredient list and directions located in the recipe card below.

Slow Cooker + Instant Pot Instructions

Although I highly enjoy and recommend the process of making this Bolognese Sauce on the stovetop, sometimes you just need to walk away and do other things. So for those moments, here are the Slow Cooker and Instant Pot instructions.

  • Slow Cooker: Cook the recipe to the point of adding everything into the pot. At that point, just add everything into the slow cooker and set to Low for 6-8 hours.
  • Instant Pot: Use the “Sauté” function to brown the meat and cook the aromatics. When deglazing the pot with the wine, make sure to scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom. Cancel to turn off the heat, add in the remaining ingredients and give it a quick stir. Secure the lid and set the Steam Release Valve to the “Sealing” position. Press the Manual or Pressure Cook button and set to cook for 20 minutes followed by a natural release. Season to taste!

Ways To Use Bolognese Sauce

This hearty meat sauce can be used in a number of ways. Here are a few ideas…

  • Served Over Pasta: This is my favorite way – total comfort food! Serve it over spaghetti for Spaghetti Bolognese (or Spag Bol as the Aussies like to say – just one of the cute terms I learned while living there!). Also super delicious over a wider pasta like tagliatelle or pappardelle. Tip: Make sure to toss a little sauce with the pasta first to flavour it up and prevent it from clumping together. Plate it up and pour a good amount of sauce on top!
  • Use It In Lasagna: This sauce is absolutely delicious in lasagna and is used in my Ultimate Homemade Lasagna recipe (a family favorite!).
  • Serve Over Veggie Noodles: A low carb option is to serve it over zoodles (zucchini noodles) or spaghetti squash.
  • Top a Baked Potato: Makes a great topping for baked potatoes.
  • Stuffed Zucchini: Pile some of the sauce into zucchini boats, top with cheese and bake.
  • Pasta Bake: Mix together with cooked short cut pasta like rotini, top with cheese and bake in the oven.

No matter how you decide to use the Bolognese Sauce, I suggest pairing it with a great salad (like this Burrata Caprese), some crusty bread, garlic bread or this burrata bruschetta and a glass of the remaining red wine!

White bowl of spaghetti bolognese with basil scattered on top and a glass of red wine and chunk of parmesan and a grater in the background

Helpful Tips

Can Bolognese Sauce Be Made Ahead Of Time?

Yes! This is one of those dishes that just seems to get better with time.

Can You Freeze Bolognese Sauce?

Yes – freeze for 4-6 months. This sauce freezes extremely well which makes it perfect for big batch cooking. I like to double or triple the recipe in order to pop some in the freezer for whenever I crave a comforting meal. Tip: If the sauce is too thick when reheating, simply add a little beef broth or some extra tomato passata. If you plan on freezing your sauce in mason jars, make sure to follow these tips to prevent breakage!

Store Parmesan Rinds In Freezer

Parmesan rind is the secret ingredient to this sauce! It provides a kick of flavor and adds delicious depth. So next time you buy a chunk of Parmesan cheese, don’t toss the rind! Once you get down to the rind, simply pop it into a freezer bag and store in the freezer.

What is your ultimate comfort food? Let me know in the comments!

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Bolognese sauce in a dutch oven with a wooden spoon.

Bolognese Sauce: Ultimate Comfort Food

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 3 reviews
  • Author: Vanessa | Maple + Mango
  • Prep Time: 20 min
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Yield: 68 servings 1x
  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian,, American


This Bolognese Sauce recipe is the ultimate comfort food! A delicious, hearty meat sauce that can be made ahead, is freezer friendly and a total crowd pleaser.


  • 500 grams or 1 pound ground beef
  • 25 grams or 1 ounce pancetta
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • 46 cloves of garlic
  • 1 small onion
  • 34 mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 1 796ml / 28 oz can of diced tomatoes (the larger can)
  • 1 cup tomato passata (strained tomatoes)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • parmesan rind (size can vary – aim for at least a 2×2 inch piece)
  • Himalayan or sea salt + freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Optional: 2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce or tamari
  • Optional: 1-2 teaspoons organic cane sugar (only needed to balance out flavours if the tomatoes were not very sweet)
  • Garnish: freshly grated parmesan and fresh basil


  1. Brown ground beef: Brown the ground beef in a large pot or deep pan.  Drain the fat and set aside.
  2. Chop: Finely chop the pancetta, carrot, celery, garlic, onion and mushrooms (or use a food processor).
  3. Sauté: Heat olive oil over medium heat in the same pot/pan you used for the beef.  Sauté the chopped ingredients until softened (approx. 10-15 min).
  4. Deglaze: Add the red wine to deglaze the pot, scraping up the bits from the bottom and allowing the alcohol to cook off for a minute.
  5. Simmer: Add the beef back in, diced tomatoes, tomato passata, tomato paste, oregano, basil and parmesan rind.  Give it a stir, pop on a lid and simmer for 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally.  (Or longer if you have the time!)
  6. Season: Pull out the parmesan rind and bay leaf and season to taste with salt and pepper.  The worcestershire sauce or tamari is optional but does add a little extra something.  If your tomatoes were not very sweet, you may also add in a bit of sugar to balance out the flavours.
  7. Serve: Garnish with or stir through some fresh basil and grated parmesan.  Serve it up and enjoy! (I love serving this sauce with pasta – see the post for a list of ideas on other ways to use this sauce)


  • I like to make this sauce in an enameled cast-iron dutch oven.
  • Freezes well for 4-6 months – perfect for big batch cooking!
  • If using a food processor to chop your ingredients, you can decide on how finely it is chopped based on how long you pulse for.  You could also create a smoother paste if you have little ones in the house that don’t like seeing veggie chunks.
  • Parmesan Rind:  This is the hard bit at the end of your fresh parmesan chunk.  It adds an amazing boost of rich umami flavour.  So don’t ever toss the rind – store them in the freezer so they are ready to use in dishes like this sauce.

Slow Cooker + Instant Pot Instructions

Although I highly recommend making this sauce on the stovetop in a pot, sometimes life gets in the way…

  • Slow Cooker:  Follow the recipe up to the end of Step 4.  Then add everything into a slow cooker and cook on Low for 6-8 hours.  Continue on with Step 6 to season the sauce to taste.
  • Instant Pot:  Use the “Saute” function to brown the meat and cook the aromatics.  When deglazing the pot with the wine, make sure to scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom.  Cancel to turn off the heat, add in the remaining ingredients and give it a quick stir.  Secure the lid and set the Steam Release Valve to the “Sealing” position.  Press the Manual or Pressure Cook button and set to cook for 20 minutes followed by a natural release.  Season to taste!

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About Vanessa Gilic

I want to help you make delicious food using real ingredients! Explore a variety of easy to follow, real-food recipes ranging from healthy eats to comfort food. Welcome to Maple + Mango – I'm so happy you're here!

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  1. Jaclyn says:

    Great recipe! Made it a few times now since it’s a winner in our household! I use a can of san Mariano tomatoes instead of the tomato passata and added chili flakes! Soooo yummy!

    1. Vanessa | Maple + Mango says:

      Thanks for stopping by to leave a comment! Makes me so happy to hear that this recipe is a hit in your home!

  2. Fatima Torres says:

    I had to search what pancetta was. Never had it before! This does sound like a delicious and flavorful sauce to try for the family.

    1. Vanessa | Maple + Mango says:

      My whole family loves this sauce! I always make extra to have some in the freezer. Pancetta adds a delicious flavour and is usually available at most deli counters (therefore, you can just ask for the amount you need).

  3. Matt - Total Feasts says:

    My family loves a good bolognese, but I have to admit I usually don’t have the time to make it from scratch during the week with work and school etc. Great recipe, and a great idea to make and store in the freezer!

    1. Vanessa | Maple + Mango says:

      Family favourite here too! I usually make it when I have time to enjoy the process! Making extra for the freezer then also lets us enjoy it during the craziness of the week:)

  4. Philip says:

    Bolognese truly is the perfect comfort food. I feel like I could eat it everyday!

    1. Vanessa | Maple + Mango says:

      Me too! It is like the warm cozy sweater of foods:)