Traditional Bolognaise Sauce for Pasta

Of all the recipes I have tried for pasta bolognaise, this is one from my Italian mother in law and therefore the one that my husband refers to as the most authentic recipe for bolognaise (or the only real one)!

The following recipe does in fact closely resemble an authentic bolognaise sauce from Bologna Italy, in that there is very little tomato to the sauce, and it combines a mixture of meat. This sauce is finished with milk or heavy cream which strays from the original bolognaise, but it is a delicious addition, smoothing out and coloring the sauce beautifully.

This authentic bolognaise sauce is most delicious if allowed to simmer for a long amount of time to properly marry all the flavors. 2-6 hours would be optimal, using beef stock to occasionally thin out and add to the sauce as it reduces. This sauce can be made and served quickly, the above simmering time is only a suggestion for a bolognaise sauce with greater depth of flavor.

Serve this bolognaise sauce over fresh tagliatelle noodles for a real authentic Italian dish, or any of your favorite cooked dried pasta al dente.


  • 4 T olive oil
  • 4 oz pancetta, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 small stalk of celery, finely chopped
  • 1 t dried oregano
  • 1 t dried thyme
  • 8 oz (1/2 lb) lean ground beef, crumbled into 1/2 teaspoon size
  • 1/3 C dry red or white wine
  • 1 1/2 T tomato paste or concentrate
  • 1/2 C beef or dark veal stock
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 C milk or heavy cream


Heat oil in a large sauce pan over medium high heat.

Add pancetta and cook for about 4 minutes to render out some of the fat, then add the vegetables and dried herbs.

Reduce heat to medium and cook vegetables for about 6 minutes, stirring frequently until softened.

Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan, heat up beef or dark veal stock. Add the tomato paste and stir to incorporate it completely into the stock.

Add the ground meat and cook stirring just until the redness disappears.

Increase heat to high and add the red wine. Allow the wine to boil for about 2 minutes until it has almost entirely evaporated.

Add stock with tomato paste and stir

Taste the sauce and add salt and pepper as your taste requires.

Warm up milk or heavy cream in a small sauce pan and add to the bolognaise sauce.

The meat and vegetable mixture should be just covered with liquid. If it isn’t covered, add a little more milk or stock.

Reduce heat to low and cook uncovered for as long as you can up to 6 hours. Do not allow the authentic bolognaise sauce to boil. It should simmer very lightly.

Check sauce occasionally to see if it needs any addition of liquid (stock), if it is reducing too quickly, and to ensure it is not boiling.

Stir occasionally

Before serving, taste to adjust seasoning as required

Serve over fresh tagliatelle noodles and grate fresh parmesan cheese on top.

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