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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(574 ratings)

Prep: 25 mins Cook: 1 hr, 50 mins


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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  • 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

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



    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, 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 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 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 either, stir into the bolognese sauce, or serve the sauce on top. 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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Peter Glenn's picture
Peter Glenn
8th Jul, 2020
I make it without the carrot and celery and add extra cherry tomatoes and for the bacon I use Canadian maple syrup streaky and add some "heaven forbid" Heinz ketchup. Takes it to the next level
23rd Jun, 2020
Derome, your comments show you know nothing about bolognese!
skigirl44's picture
11th Jun, 2020
Really liked this recipe, very tasty. I couldn’t get any basil, but it was still really nice. I didn’t put any bacon in either. This will definitely be my go to recipe for Bolognese.
28th May, 2020
This is lovely. the only thing I would change next time is to put in less celery. I am not a big fan of it and the taste of it was a bit strong for me. Otherwise it was fantastic.
26th May, 2020
I tried this recipe with the bacon and without the chilli for my family but it got the thumbs down. I have since tried it without the bacon and with just half a beef stock cube and they love it. The veggie and herb base seems like a lot but actually the depth of flavour that develops is very good as well as helping to bulk up the batch to stretch it for a couple of meals. This is now my go-to recipe for bolognaise or lasagne.
Imogen Carter's picture
Imogen Carter
28th May, 2020
Is it a stock cube by itself or mixed with water as per packet instructions? I've seen recipes that say different
Deróme Roosevelt Clinton's picture
Deróme Roosevel...
24th May, 2020
No! You should never put carrots in Bolognese. Neither should you put bacon or celery in there. Seriously, this is why Britain has a reputation for having terrible food.
Peter Glenn's picture
Peter Glenn
8th Jul, 2020
Call it something else then and if it tastes better then that's good
Jess Miree's picture
Jess Miree
7th May, 2020
This is my go-to bolegnase recipe, perfect for a mid week meal! I follow the instructions but add pepper, and usually leave out the red wine and chilli- it still tastes amazing. I also add a little bit of sugar so that the tomato isn't super acidic. If I want a healthier option I will swap out the beef mince for turkey mince. It cooks exactly the same and is much softer / less gristly than beef. Delicious!
Sándor Lénárd's picture
Sándor Lénárd
17th Apr, 2020
This has been my goto recipe for years. Thank you very much. I add an extra tin of tomatoes the whole kind. A pinch or two of sugar to make it less acidic. And i cook it for an hour longer to make the veggies almost melt.


Imogen Carter's picture
Imogen Carter
28th May, 2020
Is it just a stock cube broken up, or mixed with water per packet instructions?
lulu_grimes's picture
1st Jun, 2020
Hello, It's just the stock cube, if the sauce looks a bit thick when you add it you can add it to a little water first if you prefer. Any excess water can be boiled off at the end. I hope this helps, Lulu
rebeccafindlay's picture
4th Sep, 2019
Is there a way to adapt this for a slow cooker? What would you suggest?
goodfoodteam's picture
9th Sep, 2019
Thanks for your question. We'd suggest transferring to the slow cooker after step 5 and cooking on Low for 6 - 8 hours, then uncovering turning up to High and cooking for a further hour to thicken. Alternatively you can try this slow cooker Bolognese recipe:
KEVIN blackley's picture
KEVIN blackley
30th Nov, 2018
Hi, the image clearly shows the spaghetti served aside the sauce, yet the recipe states to drain and mix into the sauce. I realise personal preference is the key, however will not have a chance of a trial run with this. Thank you
Daddys food
6th Apr, 2019
You mix it together
goodfoodteam's picture
3rd Dec, 2018
Thanks for your question. We have tested this recipe both ways and either works well. There's just the right amount of pasta for the sauce so you can confidently mix it together if you want to.
Rafael Yaro
22nd Nov, 2018
Hello folks. Can someone tell me please about how many grams of Bolognese sauce should I serve per person?
goodfoodteam's picture
26th Nov, 2018
Thanks for your question. We can't give you an exact weight but this recipe divides into 6 portions. We hope this helps.
Chris Norris's picture
Chris Norris
13th Mar, 2018
What is "small pack basil" no body has used that term before according to google.


Lewis Hetherington's picture
Lewis Hetherington
13th Feb, 2020
I add a tablespoon of sugar and a little bit of mild chilli powder to this :)
2nd Feb, 2020
A few good dashes of Worcestershire sauce add extra depth
29th Dec, 2019
I used the leftover Christmas turkey, chopped up instead of mince. I added it for the last 30 minutes and it was absolutely amazing!!!
21st Jul, 2019
Made without pancetta / bacon because we didn’t have any but it was still really tasty. I would recommend: • Season everything really well as you go, especially the mince • Bake the mince separately to save time and ensure even browning (especially if you are doubling quantities to make extra) - 180 fan for about 15-20 mins checking and stirring regularly • Add chopped mushrooms to the veg mix • If you have one, save time by using a food processor to chop your veg • Add a tablespoon of sun dried tomato paste when you add the tomato purée • Add a tablespoon of good quality balsamic when you add the passata • Simmer for 2 hours to allow the flavours to fully develop • Use generous measures of dried herbs and save the fresh for garnishing with basil just before you serve
Aslı Pelvanlar's picture
Aslı Pelvanlar
7th Jan, 2019
I used chorizo instead of bacon and the result was fantastic!
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.
30th Jul, 2018
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.
30th Jul, 2018
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.
1st May, 2017
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.
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.


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