Make It Meaty – bolognese sauce recipe


This super-succulent, beef-packed bolognese sauce recipe works great mixed with wholesome spaghetti, however you can also combine it with any short pasta you prefer.

bolognese sauce recipe

I suggest short pasta such as ear-shaped conchiglie because these are better at ‘catching’ chunky sauces than other long pastas such as linguini. (Spaghetti is very much an Italian exception – read more about shape and sauce matching on this page.)

This bolognese sauce recipe ‘keeps it real’ – as it serves up a less dense, more meat-focused sauce than the mushroom-filled versions we’re used to being served in the West. It’s very much an Italian bolognese… tastier and easier to make!

Serves 4

Ingredients: (For a printable PDF shopping list click here, or right-click this link and choose ‘Save target/link as’ to save the list for later.)

1 x 395g/14oz tin of plum tomatoes

1 medium onion (peeled & roughly chopped)

1 stick of celery (washed & roughly chopped)

1 medium carrot (peeled & (roughly chopped)

500g/17.5oz minced beef

2 teaspoons of tomato purée/paste

Medium glass of red wine

8 washed and torn basil leaves

Salt & pepper

Extra virgin olive oil


Large pan/skillet

Vegetable peeler

Food blender/mixer


Approximately 1 hour

Step 1 – Wash and roughly chop the celery.

Peel and chop the onion and carrot (remembering to chop off the carrot’s ends).

Step 2 – Blend these ingredients a few seconds more in a food mixer if you have one. blender for a few quick seconds. If you don’t have a blender, just chop them more finely.

Step 3 – Cover the base of your pan with olive oil and add 2 full tablespoons of this chopped veg mixture (freeze the remainder for next time – it works for this lasagna’s base too).

Put the pan on a medium heat hob, then cook and regularly stir it for 3-4 minutes (in other words, until the veg starts to soften and slightly brown).

Step 4 – Pour in half the wine and leave it heating for 2 or 3 minutes (here we’re evaporating away most of the alcohol, leaving just the flavour of the grapes).

Step 5 – Throw in the mincemeat and mash it up with a spoon (wooden is best). Add half a handful of salt (roughly 1 flat tablespoon) and a pinch or two of pepper.

Cook and stir this mixture on a medium heat for 15 mins. This will start the beef cooking). If the sauce is dry, add a little more wine (apply this rule throughout this bolognese sauce recipe, right until you finish the glass of wine).

Step 6 – After 15 mins, add the basil leaves, tomato purée, plum tomatoes (not the liquid from their tin). Give this a couple of minutes or more – for the toms to soften.

Step 7 – When these tomatoes feel soft under your spoon, break them up, crank down the heat to low (example, setting 2 out of 6) and set your timer for 30 mins.

Stir every 3 or 5 minutes or so.

Note: This is already an Italian style approach to sauce cooking, but many Italian cooks would actually slow this process down, using a lower heat hob and cooking the sauce for a couple of hours. Feel free to do this if you have the time but don’t worry if not… it’ll still be ultra-tasty.

When your sauce has thickened up (like that in the top picture), it’s done!


Combine this sauce with spaghetti or your favourite short pasta, a glass or two of red wine, and if you’re really hungry, some crusty bread… for a deliciously traditional feed.

And next: Now you’ve enjoyed this super-simple bolognese sauce, there’s no reason not to tackle your first mouth-watering meat lasagna (you’ll find this easy because its sauce filling is almost identical).