Spaghetti Bolognese Recipe


  • 1½ tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 onion, finely chopped (brown, yellow or white)
  • 1 lb / 500g ground beef (mince) OR half pork, half beef (Note 1)
  • ½ cup (125 ml) dry red wine (or sub with water or beef broth/stock)
  • 2 beef bouillon cubes, crumbled (Note 2)
  • 28oz / 800g can crushed tomato (or tomato passata)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste / puree (Note 3)
  • 2 – 3 tsp sugar (any – I use white) (Note 4)
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme (or ¼ tsp dried thyme or ½ tsp dried oregano)
  • Salt and pepper

To Serve

  • 400g / 13 oz spaghetti
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Parsley, finely chopped

Spaghetti Bolognese Recipe


  1. Heat oil in a large pot or deep skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic, cook for 5 minutes or until light golden and softened.
  2. Turn heat up to high and add beef. Cook, breaking it up as your go, until browned.
  3. Add red wine. Bring to simmer and cook for 2 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pot, until the alcohol smell is gone.
  4. Add remaining ingredients except salt and pepper. Stir, bring to a simmer then turn down to medium so it bubbles gently. Cook for 20 – 30 minutes (no lid), adding water if the sauce gets too thick for your taste. Stir occasionally.
  5. Adjust salt and pepper to taste right at the end.
  6. Spaghetti (Note 6)
  7. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta and cook per packet directions MINUS 1 minute.
  8. Scoop out a mug of pasta cooking water and set aside, then drain the pasta.
  9. Add pasta into the bolognese sauce with about ½ cup (125 ml) of reserved pasta water over medium heat. Toss gently for 1½ – 2 minutes, or until the spaghetti turns red and the sauce thickens.
  10. Divide between bowls. Garnish with parmesan and parsley if desired.


  1. Some traditional slow cooked Bolognese Sauce are made with a mixture of beef and pork mince. Beef for flavour, pork for juiciness. I typically do not use this for midweek.
  2. I prefer beef bouillon cubes rather than beef stock/broth because it has a more intense flavour and also broth makes the sauce watery and takes longer to reduce. I use Oxo Beef Cubes (Woolies & Coles).
  3. Tomato paste / puree – the concentrated tomato paste that comes in jars or tubes.
  4. The amount of sugar required will depend on how sweet / sour the tomatoes and tomato paste is. Typically, the better the quality, the less sour they are so the less sugar you will need. Go by taste!
  5. Here are some ideas for ways to take this up a notch, if you are so inclined!

– Add finely chopped bacon (smokey is the ultimate!) or pancetta, cook with the onion
– 1 tbsp soy sauce (my mother did this, I sometimes do! I’ve seen it in some chef recipes)
– Fresh or dried red chilli
– Finely chop 1 carrot + celery and saute that with the onion to make a softrito
– Mix of pork and beef (per Note 1)
– Bolognese gets better the longer it is cooked, and it’s even better the next day. A traditional Italian Bolognese Ragu is cooked for around 2 hours!

  1. This method of cooking the cooked spaghetti in the sauce is the proper way to cook pasta – the real restaurant and Italian way. During this step, the sauce emulsifies (fat in Bolognese sauce reacts with starchy pasta water = thickens sauce so it clings to the pasta = no watery sauce at bottom of pasta bowl!). This step makes all the difference, turning a good pasta into a GREAT one!
  2. If you are not using all the Bolognese in one go, divide the sauce first before adding the pasta into the sauce. Pasta is always best made fresh.
  3. If you double the recipe (and who wouldn’t want to? :) ), then brown the beef in 2 batches. If you try to cook it in one batch, you will end up stewing it rather than browning!
  4. SLOW COOKER: This is really fantastic made in a slow cooker! The meat becomes so tender and the sauce has incredible flavour. Transfer it into the slow cooker at step 4 and cook for low for 6 hours. 
  5. Nutrition per serving, assuming 5 servings.


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