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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: 6-8 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!