The best spaghetti Bolognese

The best spaghetti Bolognese

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(133 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, questions and tips

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18th Feb, 2017
Great recipe! I changed very slightly; Firstly, I used a food processor to finely chop the carrot, celery, onion and rosemary. (I have a mini one, cost about £10 and nice and small in the cupboard) saves so much time! Just chuck it all in and it comes out very finely chopped and ready to go! I left the garlic out from the carrot, celery, onion and rosemary and only added t the pan after the veg had been cooking for about 10 mins. I then added the tomato puree after the meat had browned, then cooked this out for 10 minutes before adding the wine (250ml as suggested in frandmckay's post) and cooking this for about 15 minutes until reduced. Only after that did I add all the other ingredients. I also used a hand blender to blend the tinned plum tomatoes before I put them in. I added mushrooms! Oh and season all the way :)
ljp1968's picture
11th Jan, 2017
Delicious recipe! Best Spaghetti Bolognese we've ever had thanks for frandmckay's guidance further down the comments. Will definitely be cooking this regularly, totally worth the effort!
11th Jan, 2017
7th Jan, 2017
Not sure what chilli has to do with Spaghetti Bolognese. Seems today all recipes include chilli! Didn't use it. Everyone enjoyed it and I shall definitely be making it again. The slow cooking is what makes it so tasty. Don't be tempted to rush it. It freezes welland tastes, if anything, even better
2nd Jan, 2017
Love this recipe. I was a bit put off by the amount of time it took to start with, but apparently that's the 'old fashioned' way (not my words!). Anyway, it has always been worth the wait. Deep, rich and full of flavour. Some things are worth waiting for...
13th Dec, 2016
Like everyone I followed the tips from the comments and this was brilliant! My husband normally hates tomatoes but he gobbled this up in an instant! Took a while to make but soo worth it! Also this can be used in a lasagne so you get two recipes out of it
12th Dec, 2016
This was really tasty spaghetti Bolognese and I would definitely make this again, although I was glad to have read the other comments and ideas of those who have tried and tested the dish.
28th Nov, 2016
On a scale of 1 to 10, this ranked as 'food'.
27th Nov, 2016
I realize that there is a difference in US vs UK measurements and perhaps terminology. Tomatoe 'Puree', here, is not something you ladle out in Tbsp. As the sauce finishes up here, I can see that I'm short on tomatoe sauce and long on meat. I think the recipe is worth working with, but I think it needs translation.
12th Nov, 2016
Can this be cooked in a slow cooker easily enough? And would I need to omit the wine if so?


28th May, 2016
Can this recipe be frozen?
goodfoodteam's picture
15th Oct, 2016
The blue star above the nutrition is the symbol we use on any of our recipes that can be frozen. Additional information is also added here so in this case, it's just the sauce that's freezable.
10th Nov, 2015
why wont the print button work?
5th May, 2015
The best spag Bol I have ever had
8th Apr, 2015
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 :)
11th Oct, 2016
I left in the pot overnight and it was fine the next day. But in saying that - if it was mid summer and very warm, then put into the fridge.
29th Sep, 2014
roughly how long does the whole thing take??
16th Jun, 2014
"A good lug" is how much, exactly?
10th Feb, 2014
Can i use mild cheddar instead of parmesan as I've been to three shops and they are all sold out :(
18th Mar, 2014
I'm no expert on cheese but I would imagine any hard cheese would do; cheddar being my top choice.
1st Nov, 2016
Great recipe, my fave that I've tried. Agree with frandmckay (below) that garlic should be added just 2-3 minutes before the mince. I'd also suggest using a blender to chop everything else in one go, making things easier/quicker (and giving very fine pieces, which seems to make the sauce thicker). Tossing the carrots, celery and onion all in there while the bacon fried, then doing the same with the basil and chilli, made it less laborious.
25th Oct, 2016
To the poster saying this was incredibly bland... as with any recipie use some common sense. The recipie fails to call for salt and pepper, likely accidentally omitted due to the fact that adding salt and pepper to taste is usually something that anyone with any sense at all just does naturally when cooking anything anyhow. If you followed this to the letter then it would be very bland. Also if it's too watery you can tell that before you taste it even, so simply leave off the lid, turn up the heat and let it cook down. The same goes for the thug about it being bland. You didn't taste it before you were done cooking it? That's your problem right there, as no sauce calling for this many seasonings could ever be bland.
4th Sep, 2016
I love this recipe for the mix of ingredients - I've used it a few times now. The taste is great! The method is poorly written in my opinion though - like someone tried to pack it down into too few steps. I suggest a few refinements to really get the most out of your ingredients: Step 1: Don't add the garlic until the rest of the veg is nearly done. Garlic burns very easily - it only needs 2-3 minutes to release the flavours before you add the mince. Add some salt & pepper here, but don't go crazy if your bacon is salty. Step 2: After the meat is browned, add the tomato paste and TWICE the amount of wine. Let it cook, stirring, until the alcohol cooks off and it reduces down to what would have been the amount of wine called for. This way you get the flavour in your sauce without the 'wine-y' alcohol effect - save that for the glass alongside! Keep tasting as you go - I can't believe this recipe doesn't call for salt and pepper! Don't be afraid to add it - tomatoes take salt like sponges. If your sauce gets thick before the time is up, add some stock and keep going. The cook time is about more than thickening the sauce - its about cooking off the acid from the tomato and letting the flavours of everything meld. Better to add liquid and let it keep cooking than to cut it off too soon. I hope this helps someone make a killer sauce - this is a GREAT simple recipe. Just needs a little technique to make it brill!
11th Oct, 2016
Thank you for this tip. I followed your instructions and it was delicious!
19th Apr, 2016
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.
5th Jan, 2016
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).
19th Jun, 2015
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)
11th Feb, 2015
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.
11th Feb, 2015
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
28th Apr, 2014
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.