Spaghetti Bolognese is an American Italian classic loved the world over. This Authentic Bolognese is cooked long and low to leave you with a rich, deep ragu that is loaded with flavor.
Simply the best recipe for Spaghetti Bolognese - A true classic family favorite.
Whilst the sauce is authentic, actually the true way to eat bolognese, or as they call it in Bologna - ragu, is over egg tagliatelle. But Spaghetti Bolgnese or Spag- Bol is loved the world over.
How long to cook bolognese sauce for?
This authentic spaghetti bolognese is a slow cooking dish but it is worth the wait.
The key to developing the flavour is to let the sauce cook over a very low heat for 90 minutes. This elongated cooking time, means the dried herbs soften and mellow into the sauce and the onion and garlic melt into the sauce.
When you add the ground beef to the onion mixture, make sure you use a spatula or wooden spoon to really break the meat down. This helps it to absorb the flavours and gives the final sauce a melt in the mouth feel.
Although the recipe requires you to brown the beef, don't let it get too crispy as this can affect the texture of the final bolognese sauce.
Don't be alarmed by the addition of sugar. Most canned tomatoes are a little acidic and the sugar helps to enhance the tomato taste and remove any sour notes.
If you have read any other recipe here on Sprinkles and Sprouts, you will know that I am a big advocates of using the pasta cooking water to create a thick saucy emulsion. That is vital here.
How to use the pasta cooking water in spaghetti bolognese
Once the pasta is cooked, add the pasta back to the pan along with some reserved cooking water and half of the bolognese. This is all cooked together to get the sauce into the pasta.
It really does make a difference. You can still spoon a big spoonful over the top, but the simple step of cooking the pasta in some of the sauce will make all the difference.
How many people will this Authentic Spaghetti Bolognese Serve?
The recipe below makes enough sauce for 8 people, if you want a smaller amount, in the recipe card, you can use the servings box and change the servings number, this will scale the recipe automatically for you. (Just be aware that some numbers may look a little strange when scaled down)
Or freeze half for a quick weekday meal. It tastes fabulous after freezing.
How to freeze Spaghetti Bolognese.
I recommend freezing just the sauce and cooking the amount of pasta you need for your meal.
Allow the sauce to cool and then place into labeled pots or ziplock bags. It will keep in the freezer for 3-6 months.
Just remove the bolognese from the freezer in the morning and it will be ready to heat up when you get home in the evening.
You can heat it up in a microwaveable bowl, or over a low heat on the stovetop.
Side: We think this classic spaghetti bolognese is best paired with some sort of bread. Either some warm ciabatta or plenty of garlic bread.
Wine: Because of the slow cooking the tomatoes in this dish can take a big bright red wine. Try a Shiraz or a Chianti. Or go more traditional and pair this dish with a wine made with the Nebbiolo grape: a Barolo or Barbaresco.
If red isn't your thing then stay with the regionality of this dish and serve this up with a sparkling Lambrusco, unusual but a great wine pairing.
For other delicious Pasta ideas:
- Classic Lasagna with Béchamel
- Easy Garlic Bacon Pasta
- Garlic Butter Pasta with Garlic Chicken
- Creamy Tomato Chicken and Chorizo Pasta
- Creamy Lemon Salmon Pasta
- Mediterranean Roasted Vegetable Pasta
- Creamy Pepper Pasta with Steak Strips
- See ALL 90+ Pasta Recipes
Authentic Spaghetti Bolognese Recipe
For the Sauce
- 2 large onions
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 lb ground beef
- 3 beef bouillon cubes - like oxo
- 4 cloves garlic
- ¾ cup wine - see note 1
- 2 cans crushed tomato (28oz/800g cans)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon dried Italian mixed herbs
- ½ cup water
- salt and pepper
- 1.5 lb spaghetti
- parmesan cheese
To make the sauce
- Peel and finely chop the onions.
- Heat the olive oil in a large pan.
2 tablespoons olive oil
- Add onion and cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes and cook until they are softened and lightly golden.
- Turn the heat up to high, add beef and use a spatula or wooden spoon to really break the mince down as it browns. (see notes)
2lb/1kg ground beef/beef mince
- Crumble over the beef bouillon cubes and stir well to coat the meat.
3 beef bouillon cubes
- Peel the garlic and grate or crush it into the mixture. Stir well.
4 cloves garlic
- Add in the red wine and let it sizzle for a couple of minutes.
¾ cup/180ml red wine
- Add in the crushed tomatoes, sugar, Worcestershire Sauce, oregano, Italian mixed herbs and water.
2 cans crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon Italian mixed herbs
½ cup/125ml water
- Stir well and bring the mixture to a simmer.
- Put the lid on and cook over a very low heat for 1 ½ hours; stirring occasionally.
- Once the time is up, increase the heat to medium and cooke without the lid for a further 20 minutes.
- Taste the sauce and then add extra salt and pepper to taste.
salt and pepper to taste
- At this point you can cook the pasta or cool the sauce and refrigerate it until later.
To cook the Spaghetti
- Bring a very large pan of water to the boil, once boiling salt it generously and cook the pasta until al-dente. (1 minute less than the packet suggests)
- Reserve a cup of the pasta cooking water and then drain the pasta.
- Place the pasta back into the pan and add the reserved water. Place over a high heat and add half of the bolognese sauce. Stir well until the sauce has thickened around the pasta.
- Serve the pasta with extra sauce spooned on top.
- Garnish with parmesan.
- You can use red wine or white wine in this dish. White wine is actually more authentic, but red wine tastes delicious too.
Oxo cubes. Authentic?
Claire McEwen says
You're right, Nonna used Star stock cubes but they are very hard to find outside of Italy 🤷🏻♀️
Sounds great! I will try it this weekend.
This recipe sounds so good! I'm going to try it this weekend! Thinking of cooking in a slow cooker... Have you tried it in a slow cooker? If you have any tips, it will be appreciated! 🙂
Claire McEwen says
I haven't tried it in the slow cooker. I think it would work, but the mixture might be wetter, so I wouldn't add the water.
Hope that helps
Your recipe is the best ragu I've ever Cooked the response from my partner, who is a foodie and very hard to please was magnificent.
I am going to save it in my personal favorites and wow our next guests. This is a winning dish, hands down. X
Love the receipe
I made this a couple of days ago. It's hands down the best bolognese recipe I have ever tried. Everyone loved it!
Claire McEwen says
This makes me smile so much!
Great recipe! I cook this all the time! But sometimes I don’t have red wine in stock - what’s a good alternative to red wine? 🙂
Claire McEwen says
I am so pleased you like the recipe 🙂
As alternatives to the red wine, I would use 1/2 cup of beef broth/stock and 1 tbsp of balsamic/red wine vinegar. If you have any vodka add an extra tbsp of that as well, because the alcohol allows extra flavor components in tomatoes to dissolve.
But if you have no alcohol then the broth and vinegar mixture is a good sub.
If you have it on hand white wine would work as well. If you ever have red wine left over, I like to freeze it in zip lock bags, that way I can defrost it for recipes and not have to buy a new bottle. (I tend to freeze it in 1/2 cup portions as that is easiest for me (so then I just add 1/2 cup instead of the 3/4 cup of the recipe)
I hope that helps
I believe that calling this an ‘American Dish’ is pushing it a bit! Most western countries will claim such. Australia in particular will dispute your claim. Spag bol, a colloquial term for it in Australia, once claimed it as a national dish.
Claire McEwen says
Oh I think it is a dish that is loved the world over and every country has developed its own way of cooking it. Like you say the term "Spag Bol" as well as being used in Australia is also extremely common in the UK.
Food historians say that it wasn't until after the second world war, when soldiers returned home taking with them the idea of a ragu, that Bolognese became popular. The cheapness of meat (certainly in America) and the increase in Italian immigrants meant that Spaghetti Bolognese became popular in Britain and the US.
I think every country has its adaptions, but it is interesting that Australia once claimed it as a national dish. It isn't what I think of when I think of Australian food! We have such a diverse food heritage that it is hard to pinpoint our food. (Although a sausage sizzle from Bunnings on a Saturday is pretty high on my list)
I guess where ever the dish is claimed it is loved.