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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(163 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, seeded 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. Add the bacon and fry for 10 mins until golden and crisp.

  2. Reduce the heat and add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic and rosemary, then fry for 10 mins. Stir the veg often until it softens.

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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

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Comments, questions and tips

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melsaunders74
29th Nov, 2017
5.05
Same comments as Stacey below... I have made bolognase before but it's always been a bit bland, so sadly have used jars. Thought I'd try this - made double quantity, chopped all the veg in the processor (to get past fussy kids)... left for an hour... absolutely lovely! Really tasty, and no - I will never buy a jar again!
Stacey834
6th Nov, 2017
5.05
First time that I have made my own bolognese & I can honestly say I will never by a jar again! This is such an amazing recipe! Left out the bacon, used dry herbs, swapped celery for grated courgette & added mushrooms...why follow the recipe exactly?! I also added some seasoning due to leaving out the bacon & celery & I drained some of the liquid after browning the mince as I thought it would be too greasy otherwise. The wine and a decent stock give this recipe such a great depth of flavour. As a tip I would suggest that buying decent quality tin tomatoes It does take a while to prep and cook, about 1 hour 45 in total but so worth it! Definitely worth giving this one a go!!!
fiona_od
2nd Nov, 2017
5.05
Brilliant recipe. I threw the veg (onions, carrots, celery) in the food processor to chop as I saw Jamie Oliver do in one of his - made the prep super easy and quick
Hlmanning91
17th Sep, 2017
5.05
The best recipe, everyone I make it for loves it.
Ollieloveslaura
16th Sep, 2017
5.05
Wonderful. I have made this numerous times and the whole family love it.
Natasha London
9th Jul, 2017
5.05
The best Bolognese ever! I made it without the bacon, beef stock cube, chilli and wine-still very delicious. Many thanks for sharing the recipe!
Tbns
22nd Jun, 2017
5.05
Thank you for this recipe, I love it! Simply want to add that I made this recipe without the bacon (I eat Kosher) and it still came out fantastic. I skipped the first part and started with frying the onion, carrots, celery etc. I anticipated needing more fat so I added more olive oil, perhaps two or three more Tbsp as I was frying the veggies. Thank you for sharing this awesome recipe with us!
KarenP@123's picture
KarenP@123
11th Jun, 2017
5.05
Loved it but I used Port left over from Christmas. Forgot the cheese on the first batch but you don't need it if you want to leave it out.
Jo in Scotand
26th May, 2017
5.05
Delicious - unfortunately I didn't have any bacon to hand but it was still very tasty. I also didn't have any wine so made some extra beef stock (with a cube) and added a splash of balsamic vinegar. I'm curious to know why 6 cherry tomatoes would make a difference but I had plenty to use up so threw in about 20 :-D
spindoctor's picture
spindoctor
17th May, 2017
5.05
The title of the recipe says "The best spaghetti Bolognese recipe" and it is! This is the best bolognese recipe I have ever made in my life. I followed the recipe exactly but omitted the wine having only bottles of red 10 years and above old. I made double the amount and froze the rest in 1 portion containers to be eaten at a later date for a quick lunch

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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??
timidheathen
16th Jun, 2014
"A good lug" is how much, exactly?
vikieh
10th Feb, 2014
Can i use mild cheddar instead of parmesan as I've been to three shops and they are all sold out :(

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Symondo
1st May, 2017
3.8
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.
harimarierose
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).
yvetteredwood@gmail.com's picture
yvetteredwood@g...
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)
Briggsyuk
11th Feb, 2015
5.05
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.

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