Recipe: Classic Bolognese Sauce

This is an update of a post that has been happily hiding here in the background since 2013. It is one of my mothers recipes, and something that both our households have made at least once a month for as long as I can remember. I think classic recipes can be very personal, and for me there will be no other way of making bolognese because this is how my Mum makes it. Nothing can beat it, and I never want it to change, but I did think it was about time I whipped up a batch to serve with some fancy pasta to give it a bit of a face lift with a new load of photos!

Nothing will surprise you about this bolognese recipe, but that is sort of the point. It is solid, dependable, and something you can learn to make with your eyes shut, and develop over the years. The only way I’ve ever messed with the ingredients is that I sometimes use veal mince instead of beef (and I think my mother barely messed with the recipe from the original Prue Leith’s Cookery Course recipe card from the binder she saved up for each month to fill when she first had her own home) but I do have a slightly different method to my mother; I think I add the garlic and the bacon at different times to her, and I let the sauce simmer for way longer than she does. This is one of those recipes that you can adapt to suit the way you cook.

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Classic Bolognese Sauce

  • Author: Rachel Phipps
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 55 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4-6 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Cuisine: Italian


Our family Classic Bolognese Sauce recipe is great for weeknight dinners and freezes beautifully in individual portions. 


  • splash light oil
  • 1 brown onion
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 celery stick
  • 100g (4oz) unsmoked streaky bacon or lardons
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 x 400g (14 oz) pack beef mince
  • freshly ground sea salt and black pepper
  • 1 heaped tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 x 400g (14 oz) tin chopped tomatoes
  • 150ml (1/4 pint) beef, chicken or vegetable stock (about 1 stock cube)
  • 200ml (7 fl oz) red wine
  • generous pinch golden caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano


  1. Peel and finely chop the onion, carrots and the celery. Transfer to a large saucepan or shallow casserole dish with a generous glug of light oil and a good pinch of sea salt. Set the pan over a medium-high heat and gently soften the mixture for 10 minutes or so until everything is soft and just starting to turn golden, but not brown.
  2. Peel and crush the garlic clove into the pan and cook for a further minute until aromatic. Chop the bacon into little pieces and add to the pan, cooking until cooked through.
  3. Add the beef and turn the heat up to high. Fry the beef, breaking it up with the back of the wooden spoon until browned. Season generously with salt and pepper and add the tomato puree, cooking for a further minute until the beef is all coated in the tomato and it has turned a lovely brick red colour.
  4. Add the tinned tomatoes, the stock and the wine, washing out the tomato tin with one of the latter so you don’t leave any tomatoey goodness behind. Add a generous pinch of sugar and the dried oregano. 
  5. Bring the sauce to the boil and allow to bubble away for 15 minutes. Then, turn the sauce right down to low, and simmer for a further 15 minutes. Season with more salt and pepper to taste before serving.