Bacon/ Beef/ Hearty Dinners/ Pasta

The Best Spaghetti Bolognese (Family Approved)

January 7, 2020 (Last Updated: January 8, 2020)

There’s a few secrets to creating the Best Spaghetti Bolognese recipe and here I’ll show you exactly what they are! A delicious and easy bolognese that your family are going to fall in love with.

spaghetti bolognese overhead shot with garlic bread and forks

The BEST Spaghetti Bolognese

Spaghetti Bolognese – the ultimate comfort food. The comfiest of comfort food if you will, and literally my favourite home cooked meal of all time. With so many different recipes out there it’s difficult to know what’s truly good advice. The beauty of this dish is there really isn’t a right or wrong way to make it. Having said that, I’m here today to present my argument for the BEST way to make it! 

This is a recipe I’ve been making for too long I care to remember and one I hold close to my dear bacon wrapped heart. One I’m now super duper excited to be sharing with you! Here’s why you’ll love it:

  • Rich in flavour – This spaghetti bolognese has a deep, rich flavour that’s an absolute treat to the taste buds.
  • Thick in texture – Ever plated up bolognese on spaghetti and 5mins later it’s swimming in it’s own juices? This bolognese is thick, luxurious and plonks on top of spaghetti beautifully.

shot of spaghetti bolognese plated up in white bowl with steam floating off

Tips for the Best Spaghetti Bolognese

1. Spaghetti Bolognese with Red Wine

Yep, you guessed it. My first absolute must ingredient is red wine in a bolognese. Adding a good glug of red wine to a bolognese gives a gorgeous depth of flavour. That and beef & red wine are a match made in heaven.

What wine to use for spaghetti bolognese?

Doesn’t need to be anything OTT. A cheap bottle of dry red, something like Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. Having said that, I keep to the general rule of thumb, if you wouldn’t drink it, don’t cook with it!

2. Spaghetti Bolognese with Bacon

A guy with a blog called ‘Don’t Go Bacon My Heart’ adding bacon to a bolognese, who’d have thought!? But all jokes aside bacon in a bolognese is an absolute must. It adds a smoky twang to the bolognese and also plays off the beef nicely. Pork and beef is often a combo of meats that go neatly together, just like making meatballs. The bacon also adds a second layer of texture which compliments the ground beef.

3. Time

If you ignore the wine and bacon, for heavens sake please don’t ignore this tip. Ever been rushing around trying to cook a quick bolognese, serving it on the spaghetti and BAM. It’s sat in a pool of watery tomato juice. Oh and the meat is pretty rough too. Yep, we’ve all been there.

The key to a delicious bolognese is allowing the mince to simmer with the lid on for a minimum of 90mins . This not only allows the beef to soak up all those gorgeous flavours, but keeps it mouthwateringly tender. As there is a fair load of tomato in this recipe it’s crucial to allow the bolognese to naturally thicken.

closeup shot of bolognese on spaghetti with parmesan next to it

How to make Spaghetti Bolognese

Spaghetti bolognese is one of the easiest dinners you’ll ever make. Promise.

The first tip is to use a heavy top pot, like a dutch oven. The reason being is as you’re simmering the bolognese for so long, you don’t want the steam to be leaking out, as this will reduce down the sauce. So, heavy lid is essential!

The second tip is to brown the beef first, then remove it from the pot. Getting a good browning on the beef is essential to bring out the flavour. Cooking the beef with onions etc prevents it getting a good browning. 

How long to simmer bolognese?

I simmer with the lid on for 90mins, then the lid off for around 15mins. The simmering with lid on will tenderise the beef and marry the flavours. The lid off will reduce and thicken the sauce.

How to make the best bolognese (quick summary)

  1. Brown beef.
  2. Remove and fry bacon.
  3. Add onion and fry.
  4. Add sun dried tomatoes and garlic.
  5. Stir in tomato puree.
  6. Pour in red wine & add beef back in.
  7. Add beef stock, passata, rosemary & basil, Worcestershire sauce and seasoning.
  8. Simmer with lid on.
What is Tomato Passata? – Tomato passata is essentially pureed tomatoes. The tomatoes are cooked and strained to make a thick tomato sauce. Perfect for bolognese.

How to make the best spaghetti bolognese - 8 step by step photos

Top Tip – To bulk out the bolognese and/or sneak some healthiness in the for kids, feel free to add more veggies! Mushrooms, celery, carrot and zucchini/courgette all work great!

What is the best ground beef for spaghetti?

I use ground beef with a fat percentage of around 10-12%. This will add some nice fatty flavour, but not so much it needs draining. If you only have fatty beef, so 20%, I recommend draining some of the fat away or it will be too oily at the end.

Can I use dried herbs in bolognese?

I usually go fresh, I find they work slightly better and give a slightly more ‘authentic’ flavour. But you can sub dried if that’s all you have. Quantities in the recipe card.

Can you freeze bolognese?

Sure can! Just allow the bolognese to cool, then pop in an airtight container (or freezer bags) and pop in the freezer.

How to reheat frozen bolognese?

Thaw in the fridge overnight and then heat on the stove. Add a splash of water to thin out if needed. Just make sure the beef is piping hot.

What to do with leftover bolognese?

Stir it through rice, make a bolognese quesadilla, stuffed bolognese peppers, OR, my favourite thing to do is Leftover Bolognese Sliders!

What to serve with spaghetti bolognese?

hand sprinkling parmesan over bolognese

Aaaaaaaaaand I think I’ve leaked my bolognese brain enough now for you to take the reins 🤣 If you like the sound of this bolognese recipe I know you’ll LOVE my Pappardelle Sausage Ragu, quite similar ingredients but completely different taste! Also check out these recipes for some more dinner inspiration:

Delicious Ground Beef Dinners

Alrighty, I think it’s time to finally tuck into the best bolognese recipe don’t you?! Follow me 😁

hand twisting fork into spaghetti bolognese

How to make the Best Spaghetti Bolognese (Full Recipe & Video)

Perfect Spaghetti Bolognese

The Best Spaghetti Bolognese (Family Approved)

There's a few secrets to creating the Best Spaghetti Bolognese recipe and here I'll show you exactly what they are! A delicious and easy bolognese that your family are going to fall in love with.
5 from 5 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dinner / Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
Servings (click & slide): 6 people
Calories: 769kcal
Cost per serving: £3 / $4

Equipment:

  • Large Dutch Oven / Pot with Heavy Lid (for bolognese)
  • Large Pot, Colander & Pasta Tongs (for spaghetti)
  • Wooden Spoon
  • Sharp Knife & Chopping Board
  • Jug (for stock)
  • Large Side Bowl (to transfer beef)
  • Fine Cheese Grater
  • Serving Spoon

Ingredients (check list):

  • 1lb / 500g Dried Spaghetti
  • 2lbs / 1kg Ground Beef (see notes)
  • 3 cups / 750ml Tomato Passata (pureed tomatoes in US)
  • 1 cup / 250ml Beef Stock
  • 1 cup / 250ml Red Wine (see notes)
  • 5oz / 150g Smoked Bacon, finely diced (see notes)
  • 3/4 cup / 100g Sun Dried Tomatoes, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup / 20g Freshly Grated Parmesan, plus extra to serve (see notes)
  • 2 tbsp Tomato Puree (Tomato Paste in US)
  • 3 cloves Garlic, finely diced
  • 1 large White Onion, finely diced
  • 2 large sprigs of Fresh Rosemary, finely diced
  • 1 large handful of Fresh Basil, finely diced
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 tsp Sugar, or to taste
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste
  • Olive Oil, as needed

Instructions:

  • Heat up a drizzle of oil in a large pot/dutch oven over medium-high heat and add 2lb/1kg ground beef. Leave to brown for a few mins, then break up with a wooden spoon. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper, then continue frying until nicely browned. Remove from pot.
  • Add a drizzle of oil (if needed) then add 5oz/150g diced bacon. Fry until the bacon begins to brown, then add 1 diced large onion. Continue frying until the onion begins to soften and brown, then add 1cup/100g diced sun dried tomatoes and 3 minced cloves of garlic. Fry for another 2-3mins until the garlic begins to brown.
  • Lower heat to medium and add 2 tbsp tomato puree. Fry for 1-2mins, then stir in 1cup/250m red wine. Allow the wine to simmer and reduce for at least 5 mins to burn off alcohol (should start forming a paste). Stir back in your beef.
  • Pour in 3cups/750ml passata (shake any left in the bottle out with a splash of water), 1cup/250ml beef stock and 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, then add your basil & rosemary and salt, pepper and sugar to taste. Give everything a good stir then pop on the lid, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1 hour 30mins (stir a few times during). This is important as it tenderises the beef and marries the flavours together.
  • Meanwhile, pop 1lb/500g spaghetti in salted boiling water and cook until al dente.
  • Take lid off the bolognese and cook for a further 10-15mins without the lid (so it can reduce/thicken) then stir in 1/4cup/20g parmesan. Serve bolognese poured over spaghetti or the spaghetti mixed in. Extra parmesan. Always extra parmesan. Enjoy!

Quick 1 min demo!

Notes:

a) Beef - I usually go for around 10% fat. Gives a bit more flavour, without draining it in fat. If you've only got high fat beef, say 20%, I recommend draining some fat when you cook. In both instances I recommend investing in some good quality beef. Will make the difference!
b) Red Wine - Adds a gorgeous depth of flavour to the bolognese. Most, if not all of the alcohol will burn off, but if for whatever reason you don't want to add it then just use more water/beef stock. I'm no wine expert, but usually go for dry red, something like Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot.
c) Bacon - I always go for smoked, just for an extra punch of flavour. But regular works fine. If you can find pancetta that works perfectly too!
d) Parmesan - Ensure you're using freshly grated, not the powdered stuff!
e) Dried Herbs - I always use fresh herbs for this, I think you get a better result. So I do recommend using fresh if you can. If not then sub 1 heaped tsp of each (basil and rosemary).
f) Time - Hugely important to simmer for at least an hour and a half. Also important you've got a heavy lid to go on top (so the steam doesn't escape and reduce the sauce). Remember, there's no such thing as a 'quick bolognese'!
g) Freezing - Perfect to freeze leftovers! Just allow to cool, pop in an airtight container and store in the freezer. Thaw in the fridge overnight and heat on the stove (with a splash of water if needed).
h) Calories - Based on using 1 tbsp olive for frying, no extra parmesan, 10% beef, shared between 6.

Nutrition:

Nutrition Facts
The Best Spaghetti Bolognese (Family Approved)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 769 Calories from Fat 265
% Daily Value*
Fat 29.46g45%
Saturated Fat 7.186g36%
Trans Fat 0.854g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.43g
Monounsaturated Fat 8.501g
Cholesterol 102mg34%
Sodium 424mg18%
Potassium 1477mg42%
Carbohydrates 69.95g23%
Fiber 4.9g20%
Sugar 9.85g11%
Protein 47.31g95%
Vitamin A 1153IU23%
Vitamin C 20.6mg25%
Calcium 106mg11%
Iron 6.04mg34%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition is based on the absence of salt unless stated as a measurement in the ingredients. Cost is worked out based on ingredients bought from UK supermarkets, then divided by the number of servings. In both instances these values are just for guidance. Please check out my FAQ Page for more info.
Tried this recipe?Show me how you got on by tagging @dontgobaconmyheart_ on IG and #dontgobaconmyheart!

If you loved this Easy Spaghetti Bolognese Recipe then be sure to pin it for later! Already made it or got a question? Let me know in the comments and pick up your free ecookbook on the way!

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22 Comments

  • Reply
    Claudio
    January 13, 2020 at 11:10 pm

    Hello guys, I am from Bologna and believe me, this recipe is not right. First, I apologize for my bad English.
    I would like give you some tips.
    The name… “Spaghetti alla Bolognese” is not correct, they do not exist… the correct name is TAGLIATELLE alla Bolognese.
    I understand that is not easy to find TAGLIATELLE pasta out of Italy but we don’t use spaghetti for this recipe.
    Don’t use smoked bacon but replace it with normal bacon and use 125ml of milk and 125 ml of white wine instead off red wine.
    Remove from the recipe garlic, rosemary, basil, Worcester sauce, they are not needed. Add 100g of carrot and 100g of green celery both finely diced.
    Your instructions are almost perfect. Put first in the pot the bacon, when it is melts, add onion, carrot and celery whit olive oil.
    At this point add beef and white wine. When almost cooked add the milk and adjust with salt and pepper.
    Another tip…step 6 is not necessary, “drain” the pasta, add the sauce and good meal.
    Claudio

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      January 14, 2020 at 5:22 pm

      Hi Claudio! Thanks so much for your comment. Your English is great, no need to worry! There’s some really useful tips here, will definitely give them a go. Having said that, in no way shape or form do I suggest this is a traditional bolognese. I’m 100% aware it’s not. It’s simply my interpretation of the dish 🙂 Thanks again for taking the time to offer your tips, appreciate it. Chris.

  • Reply
    Lowell Cassity
    December 1, 2018 at 7:52 pm

    I’m from the States, and have never heard of tomato passata. What is it, and can a substitute be used?

    • Reply
      Chris
      December 1, 2018 at 10:50 pm

      Tomato Passata is pureed strained tomatoes, like crushed tomatoes but a lot smoother. It’s like a thinner, less intense version of tomato paste. I believe in the US it might be called tomato puree 🙂

  • Reply
    Diane Gentile
    November 24, 2018 at 6:42 pm

    Hi Chris. This sounds DELISH. I have been making g Bolognese sauce (old family recipe) that cooks for 3-4 hours. But I am going to make this so we don’t have to wait so long to eat it!!!! One question what is the exact amount of Passata. I usually buy it in a glass jar. How many ounces needed in your recipe. Can’t wait to make this. TY for sharing your recipe.

    • Reply
      Chris
      November 24, 2018 at 6:45 pm

      Hi Diane! It’s 3 cups/750ml which works out to be around 26 fl oz. Apologies, I had a typo there so thanks for pointing it out! Enjoy! 🙂

  • Reply
    Diane Gentile
    November 24, 2018 at 6:35 pm

    Hi Chris, this sounds fantastic. I am used to making a Bolognese sauce (old family recipe) that cooks for hours, but I am going to give this a try. One question, what is the exact amount of Passata to use. I usually buy it in a glass jar how many ounces? Ty for sharing this recipe. Can’t wait to make it.

  • Reply
    Stephen Hedrei
    November 24, 2018 at 3:02 pm

    Hi Chris. Just love your receipes, especially the Bolognese. One question that I have regarding the use of Red Wine. The grocery stores here in the U.S. do sell red cooking wine. However, I do have some nice red wine which has been aging well. A 2007 California MERLOT and a 2010 CABERNET SAUVIGNON. Both were purchased before I knew I was Diabetic. Being Diabetic I cannot drink much and would not hesitate to use some of my wine. What kind/type of red wine would you recommend, or can I use any of the two that I have? Thank you in responding.

    • Reply
      Chris
      November 24, 2018 at 4:10 pm

      Hi Stephen! Either of those would work great! I tend to stay away from cooking wine and just use what I’ve got on hand, doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Enjoy 🙂

  • Reply
    Mary Ann Coy
    April 11, 2018 at 10:49 am

    5 stars
    Hello from Boston MA USA – this looks great, found it on Pinterest – 4/11/18 4AM our time, looks good 8 lbs of CSA burger in the freezer says dinner tonight. I’m guessing Tomato passata is Tomato Purée or Sauce, you specifically said not paste, I will risk Purée, I’m on low sodium diet, no sugar either but I can use 2 carrots, finely grated instead, they disappear into the sauce, but leave behind their sweetness. My American habits mean adding 11/2 cups onions, celery, green bell peppers & mushrooms. Your bacon Idea is fabulous here a rasher is a double serving (4 slices) I will have to pull a pound from the freezer, might just fry it all up maybe use a half in the sauce(it’s CSA, lower sodium, grass fed, no sodium nitrates, nitrites or sodium erythrobates, & not cured, just plain Smoked like good bacon should be) hide the rest for salads. I have a flat-bottom wok, a workhouse in my kitchen, nice high sides, nice 15” flat bottom. You add the wine to the meat after browning? I assume. No red on hand, just this once I’ll Sub some Balsamic, a bit different flavor, but can’t get out for the wine. Have Rigatoni on hand in the US it’s often served with Bolognese sauce. Fresh basil & parsley on hand. I will have to Sub A Good Italian Seasoning or Bell’s for rosemary I don’t have any.. Sorry if it seems like a big bunch of changes, but my next shopping is in May. Like your idea to use leftover sauce as sandwiches. They sound so much better than American Sloppy Joes.

    • Reply
      Chris
      April 13, 2018 at 10:33 am

      Thanks so much for your detailed message, Mary Ann! The definition of tomato puree differs from country to country. Here it means a super concentrated tomato paste, which is not what you want. You want more of a tomato sauce, which is what passata. Also yep, just chuck in the red wine after browning the meat. Hope it comes out good with all the changes 🙂

  • Reply
    Helen of Fuss Free Flavours
    October 11, 2017 at 12:08 am

    5 stars
    There is something very comforting about spaghetti bolognese, and it is one of those dishes you can fall back on, knowing you’ll enjoy it. Your recipe looks and sounds delicious, and I love the added extras to add that specialness about it. Perfect supper food.

    • Reply
      Chris
      October 11, 2017 at 2:09 am

      You’re so right, Helen! Spaghetti Bolognese is THE perfect comfort food.

  • Reply
    Liz
    October 10, 2017 at 11:44 pm

    5 stars
    Ok that sauce sounds amazing and your pictures are GORGEOUS! I want to take a bite right off the plate!

    • Reply
      Chris
      October 11, 2017 at 2:08 am

      Thanks, Liz! You and me both!

  • Reply
    Patty
    October 10, 2017 at 10:29 pm

    5 stars
    Wow! Best Bolognese sauce I have ever seen, wonderfully plated too!

    • Reply
      Chris
      October 11, 2017 at 2:07 am

      Thank you for your kind words 🙂

  • Reply
    Emma @ Supper in the Suburbs
    October 10, 2017 at 8:32 pm

    Why have I never thought of putting sun dried tomatoes in my bolognase before?! Will definitely give that a go. Also, LOVE how much cheese you put on top hahaha!

    • Reply
      Chris
      October 10, 2017 at 8:37 pm

      I have a strange a addiction to sun dried tomatoes so it just happened naturally. But totally works! Haha yeah, about the cheese…

  • Reply
    Amy | The Cook Report
    October 10, 2017 at 8:26 pm

    5 stars
    This looks gorgeous, you really cannot beat a spaghetti bolognese!

    • Reply
      Chris
      October 10, 2017 at 8:29 pm

      You’re so right, Amy! Always a staple on the weekly dinners in this house 🙂

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