Salt & Wind Travel

{Ragù alla Bolognese} Classic Bolognese Sauce

This, friends, is a ragù alla bolognese that sets the standard. This classic meat pasta sauce is named for the town of Bologna from which it hails and, though there are many variations on this recipe, this one follows all the rules of a classic ragù alla bolognese.

As in it uses cured pork (ideally something from the region like prosciutto), calls for a minced mirepoix, doesn’t use too many tomatoes, and has dairy added at the end (a key to make the sauce silky).

Ragu alla bolognese recipe

What Is Ragù?

So, there are a lot of different takes on this out there but it’s pretty simple: a ragù is a meat-based sauce. The Italian working class traditionally made it as a way to get the most flavor out of the cuts of meat they could afford. 

Where Does The Term Ragù Come From?

If you’ve cooked a bit of French food, you’re probably thinking that the term ragout — to reference a vegetable or meat stew — and ragù are really similar. The Italian term ragu is  believed to have made its way from France to Italy and cemented itself in the Italian culinary scene around the Renaissance. Back then the sauce was more of a standalone dish but with time it got paired with pasta.

Homemade ragu pasta sauce on a plate with a fork

How Is Ragù Alla Bolognese Different?

Like many traditional Italian recipes, there are countless variations. However, the prestigious institution, the Accademia Italiana della Cucina, declared in 1982 that there are some foundational flavors to the dish.

To be called a Bolognese, the sauce should have ground meat (veal, beef, or pork), pancetta, carrots, celery, onions, wine, a touch of broth, some tomatoes, and a glass of heavy milk or cream.

This Recipe Makes A Lot!

This recipe makes enough ragù for one whole Lasagne alla Bolognese. If you’re making it simple to toss with pasta, know that it makes enough to coat 2 to 3 pounds. If you don’t need that much, we’d still recommend you make the whole batch because it takes a long time to make. Simply freeze what you don’t use. 

Tips For Making Bolognese Sauce

The biggest things to remember when making this sauce are to get the highest quality ingredients you can find, to cook everything slowly, and to exercise restraint because it’s less is more situation.

Check out this article for tips on making it and using the sauce in the classic Lasagne alla Bolognese.

How To Make It Ahead

If you’ve had leftover sauce then you know that it gets better as it sits. And, if there’s ever a time a sauce is better, it’s with ragù alla bolognese. Make the sauce up to three days ahead of time and rewarm it before you use it.  

And, yes, if you’re making the lasagna, you will have extra — feel free to toss it with tagliatelle for another traditional dish or freeze it to use it later. 

Diced pancetta on a table
Mirepoix vegetables diced for pasta sauce


Want to cook this recipe at a later date? Pin it to your Pinterest account to access it when you need some cooking inspiration!

Go stock up on all your cooking essentials, head into the kitchen, make this, and share it with us by tagging @saltandwind and #swsociety on social!

{Ragù alla Bolognese} Classic Bolognese Sauce Recipe

{Ragù alla Bolognese} Classic Bolognese Sauce Recipe

This {Ragù alla Bolognese} Classic Bolognese Sauce recipe is made with pancetta, ground meat, and a touch of cream. Toss it with fresh tagliatelle or use it in lasagne alle Bolognese!
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 5 hours
Total Time 5 hours 30 minutes
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main
Cuisine Italian
Servings 16 Servings
Calories 358 kcal


  • 1 (4 ounce) piece pancetta
  • 1 (4 ounce) piece prosciutto
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion peeled and minced
  • 3 medium celery stalks ends trimmed and minced
  • 3 medium carrots peeled and minced
  • kosher salt and Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds lean ground pork
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef (ideally 80/20 lean-to-fat ratio)
  • 2 cups dry red wine (like a Chianti or Sangiovese)
  • 3 cups can crushed or pureed tomatoes (not tomato paste)
  • 2 cups low-sodium beef broth or store bought bone broth or homemade beef or chicken stock
  • 1 cup whole milk or heavy cream


  • Brown The Prosciutto And Pancetta: If you can, buy the prosciutto and the pancetta each in 4 ounce pieces as it’ll make it easier to dice. Place both in the freezer for 5 minutes before cutting to make it easier to handle. Using a sharp knife or a serrated knife, dice them into very small pieces. 
    Add the olive oil to a large (at least 7-quart) heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven and heat over medium heat then stir in the diced prosciutto and pancetta to coat it in the oil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the fat has cooked off and the meats are golden brown, about 10 minutes.
  • Sweat The Vegetables: Stir in minced onion, celery, and carrots, reduce the heat to medium low, and let cook until the vegetables are translucent and soft, about 10 to 15 minutes. Taste the vegetables and add salt and pepper (the pancetta and prosciutto bring a lot of salt so don’t be too aggressive). 
  • Add The Ground Meat: Add the ground pork and ground beef and break it up with a spoon until the meat is relatively the same size. Add salt and pepper and stir to combine. Add in the wine and cook until it just starts to steam. Add in the tomatoes and the broth and stir to combine. 
  • Simmer The Ragù: Let it cook, uncovered, over low heat so it just barely bubbles. Stir every 10 to 15 minutes and cook until it reduces and it all breaks down, about 4 to 5 hours.
  • Skim The Ragù: Use a spoon to remove any accumulated fat and discard it. Then, pour in the milk or cream, in four additions, over the last 20 to 30 minutes of cooking. Remove the ragù from the heat and add in more salt and pepper as desired.
  • Serve: Toss the ragù with tagliatelle and freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese or use in the Lasagne alla Bolognese recipe.



Serving: 1 servingCalories: 358kcalCarbohydrates: 7gProtein: 19gFat: 26gSaturated Fat: 9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 75mgSodium: 208mgPotassium: 551mgFiber: 1gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 2042IUVitamin C: 6mgCalcium: 56mgIron: 2mg
Keyword Meat Sauce
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