Everyone needs a good bolognese sauce recipe and this one is a family favorite I have been making for years. It's a simple sauce that is beefy and robust, super easy to make, and totally hits the spot.
Who doesn't appreciate a bowl of pasta topped with a thick and chunky bolognese sauce?
It's a simple dish that totally hits the spot when you need some comfort food.
And despite being the obvious topping to a bowl of pasta, it partners so well with other foods...
...like roasted vegetables, polenta, cauliflower rice, regular rice...
...and I'm also a big fan of dipping and scooping with some flatbread because...why not? 🙂
Very Simple Ingredients
This recipe is incredibly easy to make and uses really simple ingredients. The prep work needed on your part is minimal, and the rest is done by the sauce simmering on the stove for a while, letting the flavors really meld.
My bolognese sauce starts, as most do, with aromatic ingredients, and in my case, that's onion, garlic, and carrot. Some people like to use celery as part of their aromatic bundle, but I, personally, do not like celery, so I omit it. If you are a celery person, by all means, feel free to include it.
From there, it's simply ground beef, salt and pepper for taste, and jarred pasta sauce.
Yes...I said jarred pasta sauce.
If you want to be a purist and go with regular tomato sauce and figure out the seasonings to get the flavor you want, go for it! I have done many times before, and it's great to be able to pull together a tasty bolognese totally from scratch.
But if you want this to be as easy as possible, don't be shy and grab those jarred sauces!
I find that jarred pasta sauces give a better flavor starting point and part of the work is already done for me. I prefer using organic pasta sauce that contain basic ingredients I know and can pronounce, and without excess sugars or preservatives, but use which ever pasta sauce is your favorite!
So really, how much simpler can that be?
Also, if you want a richer flavor for your bolognese sauce, but you don't have the time to let it simmer on the stove for an hour or two, a jarred sauce helps you get there.
It's Not Just For Pasta
Obviously, bolognese goes perfectly with traditional spaghetti. This sauce is also totally gluten-free, and if you use it to top a heap of rice noodles, you don't have to miss out on the comfort a bowl of pasta can give.
But as I mentioned above, the sauce doesn't have to be limited to eating with pasta.
It also goes really well with polenta and roasted veggies. The creamy polenta with the chunky bolognese is a great combination. Eating it with roasted veggies or on top of cauliflower rice or zucchini noodles makes for a very low-carb meal.
If carbs aren't an issue, the bolognese also tastes good on steamed rice!
Planning Ahead For Meals
This recipe makes quite a big batch of bolognese, which can easily be halved or reduced to whatever portion you would like to make.
I like making a big pot of it, though, because I divide the sauce into meal-sized portions, seal it up in zippered freezer bags, and keep them handy in the freezer. For us, each zippered bag contains enough sauce to feed 4 of us, and I can often get 5-6 bags from the batch (after we've eaten some of the sauce fresh!).
On those nights when I need to pull together a meal quickly or when I'm too lazy to do much else beyond boiling water or reheating something, it's a huge relief knowing I have packs of bolognese in the freezer, ready to go!
Seriously. Does that not scream comfort?
What's your favorite shaped pasta to eat with a tasty bolognese? Penne? Linguine? Orzo? Or how about in nestled in layers in a Cheesy Bolognese Lasagna? If you don't have a trusty bolognese sauce yet, this is definitely one to try as it may become a favorite in your house, too!
Beefy Tomato Bolognese Sauce
- 1 kg ground beef
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 1 medium onion diced fine
- 1 medium carrot diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 3 20-24oz. jars pasta sauce
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat large pot over medium heat. Add oil and saute onions and carrots until tender, about 5 minutes.
- Add garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add ground beef and cook through.
- Add salt and pepper and stir.
- Add pasta sauce and mix well.
- Once sauce starts to bubble, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 1 hour, lid slightly ajar.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- If you plan to freeze portions in zip top bags, let the sauce cool before storing in the refrigerator overnight. Then spoon the chilled sauce into the bags, seal, and freeze.
- Depending on how much of the sauce my family and I eat on the day of cooking it, I will get 4-6 bags worth of sauce to store in the freezer for future meals.
This recipe was originally posted March 26, 2017 and republished in March 2020 with updated photos, writing, and recipe notes.