Two bowls of spaghetti topped with Bolognese sauce and a pan of extra sauce on the side.

The best spaghetti Bolognese recipe

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(270 ratings)

Prep: 25 mins Cook: 1 hr, 50 mins

Easy

Serves 6

Our best ever spaghetti Bolognese is super easy and a true Italian classic with a meaty, chilli sauce. This recipe comes courtesy of BBC Good Food user Andrew Balmer.

Nutrition and extra info

  • sauce only

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal624
  • fat25g
  • saturates10g
  • carbs58g
  • sugars12g
  • fibre6g
  • protein35g
  • salt1.6g
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Ingredients

  • 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
    Onion

    Onion

    un-yun

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

  • 2 carrots, trimmed and finely chopped
    Carrot

    Carrot

    ka-rot

    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

    Rosemary

    rose-mar-ee

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

  • 500g beef mince

For the Bolognese sauce

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

    Basil

    ba-zil

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

  • 1 tsp dried oregano
    Oregano

    Oregano

    or-ee-gar-no

    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, deseeded and finely chopped (optional)
  • 125ml red wine
  • 6 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

To season and serve

  • 75g parmesan, grated, plus extra to serve
    Parmesan

    Parmesan

    parm-ee-zan

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

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

Method

  1. Put a large saucepan on a medium heat and add 1 tbsp olive oil.

  2. Add 4 finely chopped bacon rashers and fry for 10 mins until golden and crisp.

  3. Reduce the heat and add the 2 onions, 2 carrots, 2 celery sticks, 2 garlic cloves and the leaves from 2-3 sprigs rosemary, all finely chopped, then fry for 10 mins. Stir the veg often until it softens.

  4. Increase the heat to medium-high, add 500g beef mince and cook stirring for 3-4 mins until the meat is browned all over.

  5. Add 2 tins plum tomatoes, the finely chopped leaves from ¾ small pack basil, 1 tsp dried oregano, 2 bay leaves, 2 tbsp tomato purée, 1 beef stock cube, 1 deseeded and finely chopped red chilli (if using), 125ml red wine and 6 halved cherry tomatoes. Stir with a wooden spoon, breaking up the plum tomatoes.

  6. 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.

  7. Add the 75g grated parmesan, check the seasoning and stir.

  8. When the Bolognese is nearly finished, cook 400g spaghetti following the pack instructions.

  9. Drain the spaghetti and stir into the Bolognese sauce. Serve with more grated parmesan, the remaining basil leaves and crusty bread, if you like.

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Comments, questions and tips

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Gemztone1997
4th Oct, 2018
5.05
Really nice. Followed the recipe exactly other than using some water rather than red wine as we don’t drink alcohol and is definitely the best bolognese I’ve had
johnjustice
23rd Aug, 2018
4.05
Just made for the first time. I added the meat from 4 quality pork sausages, this helped with the texture and taste. I fried off the beef and pork separate from the rest of the veg. This allowed for a good browning of the meat. Every other step was as per the recipe. I found that the result was very good. the Bolognese was not swimming in sauce neither was it dry. It was chunky and substantial and very tasty with lots left over for the freezer. Will make again.
Tom28
30th Jul, 2018
3.05
I was very surprised. The ingredients looked like a good mix. I made a double batch and it took a long time to make, largely because of the great deal of chopping finely. I varied it by adding about two cups full of finely chopped sundried tomatoes. After it started boiling, I put it in a slow cooker for 4 hours. The flavour was quite mild; not the rich tomatoey bolognese that I know and love. If I make again, I'd probably use, instead of the two cans, a single carton of passata and equally as much double-concentrated tomato puree plus a tube of sundried tomato puree. I'd use dried basil instead of fresh, double the equivalent amount, and keep lots of fresh basil for serving. It's amazing how much Parmesan the recipe uses. It does make quite an impact on the taste, in a good way.
spectra_69
29th Jul, 2018
5.05
Fantastic recipe. Made it loads of times and is a firm family favourite . We omit the wine and bay but its amazeballs. Makes 6 good portions
aliceapplepie
29th Jul, 2018
5.05
This is one my all-time favourite recipes. I have made it again and again and again.
James Middledorp's picture
James Middledorp
4th Mar, 2018
5.05
This is absolutely the best spag bol ever. Just double (at least) the herbs and spices and stock cubes as the first batch was a little bland. Second batch...OMG. Ratios are spot on.But season very well with salt untill the flavour bursts! Kangaroo mince is economical, environmentally and animal welfare friendly and the flavour it adds means not need to add bacon (high welfare impossible to find for pigs, despite what they may claim). Just add a bunch of olive oil to make up for the low fat content of kangaroo mince.
Gina Vincent's picture
Gina Vincent
4th Mar, 2018
That’s not how you make Bolognese sorry that’s the Aussie way,I would never have carrots or celery in my bolognese yukkk.
James Middledorp's picture
James Middledorp
4th Mar, 2018
5.05
This is not the Aussie way. This is actually the traditional Italian way to make bolognese. Google soffritto (Italian holey trinity). It is equal parts onion, carrot and celery (or 2 parts onion depending on source). It is the starting point for many Italian recipes. It is divine!
Lachie Osborne's picture
Lachie Osborne
25th Feb, 2018
4.05
Nice but was a little plain. I added extra tomatoe paste, tomatoe sauce, little milk, little sugar, salt and pepper while it was simmering and got an excellent result
catie74
9th Jan, 2018
Nice recipe. I wouldn't say it was the best bolognaise recipe but nice enough. I always add some chicken livers too and find white wine works better

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Chris Norris's picture
Chris Norris
13th Mar, 2018
What is "small pack basil" no body has used that term before according to google.
goodfoodteam's picture
goodfoodteam
19th Mar, 2018
Thanks for your question. Herbs are often available in two different sized packets in the supermarket. We suggest opting for the smaller one which is around 25g.
PatV86
3rd Oct, 2017
Hi everyone This is in reply to frandmckay's tip posted in September 2016. Would someone be able to provide some further assistance regarding Steps 1 and 2 in Frand's tips? (1) For Step 1, when Frand mentions to add some salt and pepper, do you add this whilst you are cooking the onion, carrot, celery and rosemary? (2) For Step 2, once the meat is browned, do you add the tomato paste and the wine along with the rest of the ingredients (chopped basil, oregano, bay leaves, stock cube, chilli and cherry tomatoes) at the same time? Or do you wait until the alcohol has cooked off more before adding the rest of the ingredients? Thanks!
T5Howard
28th May, 2016
Can this recipe be frozen?
goodfoodteam's picture
goodfoodteam
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.
rockjockey
10th Nov, 2015
why wont the print button work?
phythian
5th May, 2015
5.05
The best spag Bol I have ever had
RyanMcQuitty
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 :)
orla431
11th Oct, 2016
5.05
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.
Team601
29th Sep, 2014
roughly how long does the whole thing take??

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saoirseroisin
3rd Aug, 2018
I cut off the bacon fat in long strips and cook them throughout to add flavour. The long strips makes the fat easy to lift out before serving. I also use a Knorr rich beef stock pot in 300ml water which adds a depth of flavour and achieves a nice consistency.
Tom28
30th Jul, 2018
3.05
I was very disappointed because it took a lot of time and effort but turned out quite bland even after slow cooking for 4 hours. The main factor was a lack of tomato so I added a few tubes of double concentrate tomato puree and of sun-dried tomato puree plus some dried basil. This completely turned it around with a much richer and tangier flavour and the other ingredients were still tasting through. I highly recommend you add extra concentrate to suit your taste. The chilli is worth it. Use dried basil and save lots of fresh basil for serving.
Tom28
30th Jul, 2018
3.05
If I made again, I'd use lots of dried basil instead of fresh. Swap the two cans for one carton of Passata and an equal amount of double-concentrated tomato puree plus a tube of sundried tomato puree.
Symondo
1st May, 2017
4.05
A top tip given by a M starred chef is to brown your mince in the oven in a baking tray at the start of your cooking. This allows you get on with the rest of your preparation, and also stops the mince from becoming stewed in the juices. It works - I use this method in all my mince dishes to get that nutty browned taste.
danicquinn
1st Nov, 2016
5.05
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.
rbanning0226
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.
frandmckay
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!
PatV86
3rd Oct, 2017
Hi Frand/everyone Would you be able to provide some further information regarding Steps 1 and 2 please? (1) For Step 1, when you mention to add some salt and pepper, do you add this whilst you are cooking the onion, carrot, celery and rosemary? (2) For Step 2, once the meat is browned, do you add the tomato paste and the wine along with the rest of the ingredients (chopped basil, oregano, bay leaves, stock cube, chilli and cherry tomatoes) at the same time? Or do you wait until the alcohol has cooked off more before adding the rest of the ingredients? Thanks!
orla431
11th Oct, 2016
5.05
Thank you for this tip. I followed your instructions and it was delicious!
starry639
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.

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