The best spaghetti Bolognese

The best spaghetti Bolognese

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(114 ratings)

Prep: 25 mins Cook: 1 hr, 50 mins


Serves 6

Good Food reader, Andrew Balmer shares his recipe for the ultimate spaghetti Bolognese, deliciously meaty with a chilli kick

Nutrition and extra info

  • sauce only

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal624
  • fat25g
  • saturates10g
  • carbs58g
  • sugars12g
  • fibre6g
  • protein35g
  • salt1.6g
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  • 1 tbsp olive oil
    olive oil

    Olive oil

    ol-iv oyl

    Probably the most widely-used oil in cooking, olive oil is pressed from fresh olives. It's…

  • 4 rashers smoked streaky bacon, finely chopped
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped



    Onions are endlessly versatile and an essential ingredient in countless recipes. Native to Asia…

  • 2 carrots, trimmed and finely chopped



    The carrot, with its distinctive bright orange colour, is one of the most versatile root…

  • 2 celery sticks, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2-3 sprigs rosemary, leaves picked and finely chopped



    Rosemary's intense, fragrant aroma has traditionally been paired with lamb, chicken and game…

  • 500g beef mince
  • 2 x 400g tins plum tomatoes
  • small pack basil, leaves picked, ¾ finely chopped and the rest left whole for garnish



    Most closely associated with Mediterranean cooking but also very prevalent in Asian food, the…

  • 1 tsp dried oregano



    Closely related to marjoram, of which it is the wild equivalent, oregano has a coarser, more…

  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 1 red chilli, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
  • 125ml red wine
  • 6 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 75g Parmesan, grated, plus extra to serve



    Parmesan is a straw-coloured hard cheese with a natural yellow rind and rich, fruity flavour. It…

  • 400g spaghetti
  • crusty bread, to serve (optional)


  1. Put a large heavy-based saucepan on a medium heat and add 1 tbsp olive oil. Add the bacon and fry for 10 mins until golden and crisp. Reduce the heat and add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic and rosemary then fry for 10 mins, stirring often, until the veg has softened. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the mince and cook stirring for 3-4 mins until the meat is browned all over.

  2. Add the tinned tomatoes, chopped basil, oregano, bay leaves, tomato purée, stock cube, chilli, wine and cherry tomatoes. Stir with a wooden spoon, breaking up the plum tomatoes. Bring to the boil, reduce to a gentle simmer and cover with a lid. Cook for 1 hr 15 mins stirring occasionally, until you have a rich, thick sauce. Add the Parmesan, check the seasoning and stir.

  3. When the Bolognese is nearly finished cook the spaghetti following pack instructions. Drain the spaghetti and stir into the Bolognese sauce. Serve with grated Parmesan the extra basil leaves and crusty bread, if you like.

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Comments (112)

tema00's picture

A-m-a-zing! I loved it so much!

Elgordo's picture

Brilliant recipe! It did take a bit longer than stated but was well worth the wait. Even better the next day! I'm sure I'll make this a hundred times or more!

Hasan92's picture

A very rich bolognese sauce. I found that it didn't need the full 1:15 to cook as the sauce thickened fairly quickly. Will definitely cook again!

LEDear's picture

Everyone I make this for loves it! I don't add celery or carrot and I prefer it like this. The wine definitely adds to the flavour but I don't always use it. Adding extra Parmesan gives it a lovely thick sauce. Such a lovely recipe!

Coolkets81's picture

Absolutely easy and always a winner! Only down side is, it takes almost 2 hrs including preparation. Those who love bit of kick, don't avoid that red chilli. I used dried crushed red chilli instead of fresh. I also added little extra red wine which meant extra time for reducing the liquid but it gives nice depth to the sauce. once I forgot to add that extra wine and my hubby immediately noticed the difference. so it's worth to be little generous on wine ;-)

lcleworth's picture

Lovely recipe, have tried many variations but will definitely make this one again. Yes there are a lot of ingredients but as long as you have got the essentials then leave out what you don't like or haven't got in, in my case celery, bacon, parmesan & basil - still tasted delicious. I used 750g of minced too, an extra stock cube and an extra onion and have loads left over. Looking forward to eating it again tomorrow.

Vonnie22's picture

First time ever making a from scratch homemade spag bol, used this recipe and will definitely use again, absolutely delicious. I swapped beef mince for turkey and dried crushed chilli instead of a fresh one, also used chopped tomatoes with added chilli. A great recipe, thanks for sharing!!

Paulapat's picture

I have made this twice following the recipe except since there are only 2 of us I halve everything. It is delicious and I have enough leftover for two lunches. Very yummy

starry639's picture

This was a really nice recipe. I made a few changes to it to meet the tastes of the family. Added Worcester and soy sauce, used one carton of passata and then half filled this with water, rather than the chopped tomatoes and added more fresh plum tomatoes. An extra beef stock cube, peppers, mushrooms and a bit more pepper. Not the same recipe at all really!! However, the fam loved it - clean plates all round. Thanks

boocoodinkydau's picture

For me, as a keen home cook, I think Italian cuisine is all about the flavour and simplicity. Not going overboard with a long list of ingredients for a dish. I once heard an Italian cook say that when making a pizza, you use no more than four ingredients. That stuck with me, and it applies to many dishes, not just Italian. I looked at the list of ingredients for this recipe an almost choked. But than I thought, wait a minute. When you make a Bolognese sauce what do you need? Meat and a sauce! It's that simple, and that's pretty much what this recipe provides. However, I would not use the bacon. It's a personal preference that I stopped using a long while ago. But I would have used pancetta rather than smokey bacon. Adding stock is right and proper, but please....1 beef stock cube doesn't cut it If you are submitting a recipe of your own, make your own beef stock or use a really good quality concentrate (and I'm not advertising MPW's concentrates, although they are adequate enough in a pinch). I wouldn't use Rosemary. I don't see the point of halved cherry tomatoes either. And there's no way in hell that I would add Parmesan to the sauce. That goes on afterwards, when you serve. Strictly speaking, even though I do include it, there is no garlic in a Bolognese sauce either! Like the High Street Indian curry became to the English, which has nothing to do with real Indian cuisine, 'Spag Bol' has been turned into authentic Italian cuisine. It's not....not the way it's cooked in this country at least. If you want to know what a Bolognese sauce should be, just look at Gennaro Contaldo or Antonio Carluccio's recipes. They are extremely simple, and full of flavour. The reason I have commented at all, and I had to sign up to do so, was because of some of the dumb comments about it being tasteless and having less flavour than dog food....I hate trolls! They are a waste space, time and oxygen!!! Also, I am right in the middle of making a Bolognese sauce and was curious about about other variations. My own is the bog standard sofrito, then the ground beef, topped off with a homemade Marinara sauce and left to bubble away gently for a couple of hours, it's got about an hour left. Finally, I would advise against calling any recipe you provide, "The Best......"!! Okthanksbye! :)

squiffyas's picture

You Sir/Madam, are the troll. Oh and I registered because of your awful, nasty, passive aggressive comment. Great recipe Andybalmer , thank you for sharing.

mrbright's picture

Simply sumptuous !

Swedmonkey's picture

Omg, this is so good that I created an account just to comment. Best bolognese I have ever had, would be happy to eat this for the rest of my life!!

Matango's picture

Amazing! I keep making larger and larger portions and it's never enough ;)

I think you really should add the chili and wine, they do make a big difference. I also add more herbs but skip stock cubes and bacon to make it a bit lighter, the beef itself makes it meaty enough for my taste.

beccib1983's picture

Wonderful recipe. Tasted amazing. I didn't add chilli or red wine but loved it. Kids are the lot and even carried on for seconds after I told the mall the veg they had just eaten.

hansmuff's picture

Absolutely fantastic recipe. I did have to guess how much a "tin" of tomatoes are, because there are different size cans, but it all went well with 1 1/2 large cans.

Absolutely beautiful texture and excellent taste.

bobstitch's picture

I have never cared for spaghetti bolognaise , and never cooked it myself , i've had swallowing problems for the past year and am constantly looking for easy to swallow meals , i thought i'd give making spaghetti bolognaise a go myself and chose this recipe, it was easy for me to swallow and tasted great , i absolutely enjoyed every mouthful and can't wait to eat the rest of it tomorrow , thanks for a super recipe , i'll be using it again soon..................

Mike Caveney's picture

Added a touch of light brown muscovado sugar and the family raved over this.

adele5050's picture

I made this ready for our tea tomorrow evening, a special request for Spaghetti bolognese from my daughter. It's made loads and the spoonful I tasted tastes wonderful.

TanyaManser's picture

I have made this recipe over and over, always a favourite! A nice variation which works well is to use chorizo instead of bacon and omit the chilli. I add extra veggies (stealth to get family to eat more veg): mushrooms and peppers. Fab easy recipe!


Questions (8)

T5Howard's picture

Can this recipe be frozen?

rockjockey's picture

why wont the print button work?

phythian's picture

The best spag Bol I have ever had

RyanMcQuitty's picture

If I were to make this the day before I intend to eat it, how would I go about doing this?
Should I freeze it, refrigerate it or would it be ok to leave in the pot?
Thanks in advance :)

Team601's picture

roughly how long does the whole thing take??

timidheathen's picture

"A good lug" is how much, exactly?

vikieh's picture

Can i use mild cheddar instead of parmesan as I've been to three shops and they are all sold out :(

Dormouse7's picture

I'm no expert on cheese but I would imagine any hard cheese would do; cheddar being my top choice.

Tips (9)

starry639's picture

I used a food processor to do all of the chopping, threw everything together and I think this radically reduced the prep time. Also add Worcester and soy sauce.

harimarierose's picture

Add 3-4tbsp of ketchup, 2tbsp of good quality balsamic vinegar, 2tbsp more of tomato puree, and another good glug of red wine. This adds richness to the end product.

I also added a tin of chopped mushrooms about 5 minutes before serving (drain before adding).

yettimonster's picture

Delicious Spagetti Bolognese dish and a real crowd pleaser.

Effort: more a w/ender or day off dish. Takes a little more time to prepare the veggies, cutting in small pieces and re-referring back to ingredients/method.

Additional: I added Worcestershire Sauce (a good splosh), a teaspoon of marmite and 1/2 teaspoon of English mustard and 1 chunk of dark chocolate. Added different veggies I.e peppers.

* Phillipa28 great tip: I put dish in the oven on Gas Mark 4 covered for 1 1/2 hours, really worked. Thanks for tip. :0)

Briggsyuk's picture

I am not sure it's worth buying fresh rosemary just for 2 stems so I used dried.turned out fine! I didn't use celery as my wife does not like it, however I added mushrooms.

Briggsyuk's picture

I am not sure it's worth buying fresh rosemary just for 2 stems so I used dried.turned out fine! I didn't use celery as my wife does not like it, however I added mushrooms.

Evie Jean's picture

I've made Bolognese many times before but my family agreed it was the best ever. Doubled the quantities, as I was cooking for 9. However, there were approx. 3 portions left over, which I froze, thawed out and left for my daughter and her husband when they came from Rome - they loved! it My BIG TIP is do all the first bit in a big pan then cook, covered in the oven at 150 deg. for approx. 1.5 hours. Check occasionally to see if it's too dry/wet. If too wet, take off the lid. It made an amazing ragout.

Cookingbee28's picture

Delicious recipe. Made some modifications. Did not add celery or carrots. Used San Marzano tomatoes in a can, smoked bacon (not streaky), used a Beef Stock pot, added salt/white pepper instead of parmesan cheese, simmered for a good 1hr and 30mins, made fresh garlic bread...worth every bite.

vikieh's picture

I can't get parmesan any where. Was it just white pepper and salt u used instead?

Dormouse7's picture

Salt and pepper is part of the recipe and no substitute for cheese! If you have no Parmesan go for a mature cheddar or any hard cheese you like