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Overhead shot of a plate of spaghetti bolognese topped with parsley and parmesan cheese on a light, rustic surface next to a gold fork, cream napkin and glass of white wine.

Spaghetti Bolognese

  • Author: Sabrina Russo
  • Total Time: 3 hours 50 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 servings 1x


A combination of pork, beef and pancetta are simmered for hours in a rich tomato sauce to create this authentic Spaghetti Bolognese.


  • 1lb dry spaghetti pasta
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more if needed
  • 8oz ground pork
  • 8oz ground beef
  • 2oz pancetta
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1 large stalk celery
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed in press or finely minced
  • 5 tbsp (3oz) tomato paste
  • ½ cup dry white wine (such as Pino Grigio)
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • ½ cup chicken stock, light beef stock*, veal stock or water
  • 1 dried bay leaf or two fresh leaves
  • 2 whole cloves
  • ¼ cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
  • Parsley, finely chopped, for serving (optional)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Grind pancetta: Cube pancetta and place into a food processor. Pulse until finely ground. Do not bother to clean before grinding vegetables in step 3.
  2. Brown meat: Heat a Dutch oven or large sauce pot over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil followed by pork, beef and pancetta. Spread in an even layer. Cook undisturbed for 7-10 minutes or until well-browned on bottom side. Flip in large chunks using a spatula. Season. Cook undisturbed for at least 6-8 minutes or until browned on opposite side and cooked through. Break up into smaller pieces using a wooden spoon. Transfer meat to a bowl, reserving oil in pan.
  3. Grind vegetables: While meat browns, cut onion, carrots and celery into 1-2 inch chunks. Transfer to food processor, in batches, as needed. Pulse until finely ground, but do not puree.
  4. Cook soffritto: Reduce heat to medium. Add remaining tablespoon of oil to pan. Add ground onion, carrots and celery. Season generously with salt. Cook for at least 25-30 minutes to upwards of 1 hour until vegetables release all of their moisture and become sweet and flavorful. Add an additional tablespoon of oil, as needed, so the vegetables do not get dry or burned. Lower heat to medium-low when needed to prevent browning.
  5. Add garlic and tomato paste: Add minced garlic and cook 30-60 seconds, making sure not to brown. Add tomato paste and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 7-10 minutes or until it becomes a rust color.
  6. Add remaining ingredients and simmer: Add wine and reduce by half, about 5 minutes. Add milk, stock, bay leaf and cloves. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for about 2 ½ to 3 ½ hours or until richly flavored. Break up meat more, as needed, while sauce cooks. Add water as needed throughout cooking process to prevent sauce from becoming too thick and burning on bottom. When fully cooked, remove bay leaf and cloves from sauce and discard.
  7. Cook and sauce pasta: When sauce is almost done cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil for spaghetti. Season water heavily with salt, so it’s the salinity of sea water. Add in pasta and cook 1-2 two minutes shy of package directions for al dente. Reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water. Drain pasta and add to sauce. Toss in grated cheese and a few tablespoons of pasta cooking water, as needed, to loosen sauce to desired consistency. Cook noodles in sauce over medium heat for several minutes until sauce comes together and pasta is al dente.
  8. Serve: Plate pasta and top with parsley and additional grated cheese, if desired. Enjoy.


By light beef broth, I mean a lighter colored, more subtle flavored stock. I usually find beef bone broth at the grocery store, which would work well.

Consider doubling up on the Bolognese recipe and freezing leftover sauce for a quick weeknight meal. I freeze my sauce in quart containers labeled with the name and date. This keeps well for at least 3-6 months in the freezer. Do not add cheese before freezing.  

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Category: Pasta
  • Method: Braise, simmer
  • Cuisine: Italian


  • Serving Size: 1/6 of pasta dish
  • Calories: 620
  • Sugar: 7g
  • Sodium: 240mg
  • Fat: 25g
  • Saturated Fat: 8g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 17g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 66g
  • Fiber: 4g
  • Protein: 28g
  • Cholesterol: 64mg

Keywords: spaghetti bolognese, pasta bolognese, spaghetti with meat sauce, bolognese sauce