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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(460 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 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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Camilla Young's picture
Camilla Young
22nd Dec, 2019
This is the absolute ultimate Spag Bol recipe. I’ve followed it exactly for a number of years and I always cook it for as long as possible. I have used chorizo as a flavouring instead of smokey bacon when I’m in Spain.
Siri Wandee's picture
Siri Wandee
24th Nov, 2019
I tried this yesterday, great recipe!!!! It was amazing with out beef stock cube! You absolutely don't need beef stock cube!! What would be the point of doing everything from scratches if you would add the stock cube with unnecessary chemical additives?? Here are what I did additionally and differently from the instructions 1.I caramelized onion first, then garlic, pepper bell (instead of chilly, if you grill it first, it would be sweat and aromatic)carrots, cellery. These are reason you don't need any stock cube, hence your good quality meat would make this sauce flavorful!! 2.I misread tsp so I added 1 tbsp of dried oregano haha. 2. I didn't add wine because I don't have it available in my kitchen (Thai household don't usuall have wine or even oven). 3. I didn't continue letting it simmer 1. hour more because Ii spent a lot of time frying onion and each veggies already.4. I used dried bay leaf and rosemary. No salt or any other seasonings needed at all. Just a question, how did you spend only 25 minutes in preparation when it took more than 20 minutes to dice/finely chop everything, especially the carrots? Lol
TiffanyJayne's picture
26th Oct, 2019
Good recipe, you can definitely taste the wine lol. I would recommend stirring more often than suggested as after the first fifteen minutes some had stuck to our brand new pan - although this may have been because we also have a gas hob that gets a little too hot even on the lowest setting at times.
22nd Sep, 2019
Tried this today and it's a definite keeper. I minced both the bacon and the vegetables in the food processor and the end result was a very good textured sauce, nice and rich, with evenly distributed ingredients (and "no bits" for little people). I also replaced the rosemary for thyme and didn't use cherry tomatoes. Still a very good recipe, well worth trying.
paul Newman's picture
paul Newman
18th Sep, 2019
I made this and I found it to be long winded and not particularly good. I do a lot of cooking and I think this could be totally simplified. Too many ingredients and too many herbs. I won’t make this again
7th Sep, 2019
I prepared everything but then put it into a slow cooker for about 2 hours which was so convenient for a dinner with friends. I added a little sugar to improve taste at the end but I guess tomato ketchup would also work. Lovely rich sauce so would definitely do this again in the slow cooker.
9th Jul, 2019
I have just made this and really like the flavour and the use of plenty of vegetables. I chopped the veg quite fine in a food processor and simmered gently for 2 hours so everything was well cooked and tender. I did find the sauce lacked some of the sweet richness l like and added a few good squirts of tomato ketchup which gave the desired result at the end. You could add more chilli if you like it spicier. Definitely better than a bought jar of sauce.
Sam Comgall's picture
Sam Comgall
3rd Jun, 2019
This is the tastiest bolognese I've ever made. But be warned - don't add salt. The stock cube and parmesan will season the sauce and any extra salt may well spoil the dish. So be careful! I added extra celery and carrots.
GinginFWD's picture
1st Jun, 2019
This is always a winner in our house. Absolutely delicious!!
asdfghjkl; -'s picture
asdfghjkl; -
6th May, 2019
Have made this twice now, recommend cooking the veggies a little longer other than that it’s beautiful


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.
goodfoodteam's picture
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.
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!


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.
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!


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