We should all be able to create mouth-watering dishes using fresh, healthy ingredients while spending less time in the kitchen. This quick and easy recipe for pasta with beef ragu provides a truly satisfying dinner made with everyday pantry ingredients.–Brigit Binns


We’re glad you asked. LC Hump Day Pasta (#LCHumpDayPasta) is a little something we cooked up to help you on the night of the week that you feel least like cooking. Wednesday was traditionally Prince Spaghetti Day (for those of you old enough to remember). We’ve revamped and updated that to Hump Day and included every type of pasta there is.


Ragu is a class of sauces and Bolognese is a specific sauce (that also happens to be a ragu). Confusing? We promise…it’s not. Anything considered a ragu is made with ground or minced meat, vegetables, tomatoes, and some form of liquid–broth, stock, wine, cream. The amount of liquid and tomatoes will vary greatly depending on the region of Italy that the sauce comes from and the kind of ragu being made.

Bolognese is a type of ragu, typical of the region of Bologna where it’s customarily used on flat pasta like tagliatelle and to prepare lasagna. A slow-cooked, meat-based sauce that uses soffritto (minced onion, carrot, and celery) and minced beef. White wine, milk, and tomatoes are added to make a thick, rich sauce. Outside of Italy, it’s become a standard sauce for spaghetti and occasionally lasagna.

A light blue plate with a serving of rigatoni pasta covered with beef ragu, garnished with green herbs.

Pasta with Beef Ragu

4.80 / 5 votes
Pasta with beef ragu tastes like it took all day but you can have it on the table in less than 2 hours. Made with ground beef, tomatoes, red wine, carrots, celery, rosemary, garlic, and onions, it's hearty, filling, and oh-so satisfying.
David Leite
Servings4 servings
Calories887 kcal
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time1 hour 30 minutes


  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small (4 oz) yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (3 oz) carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 3/4 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 3 tablespoons store-bought or homemade tomato paste
  • 2 1/2 cups canned whole plum tomatoes, chopped, juice reserved
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound penne or rigatoni


Make the ragu

  • In a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium-low heat, warm oil. Add onion, garlic, carrot, celery, and rosemary and cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened, about 8 minutes. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons water if necessary to keep vegetables from browning.
  • Add beef and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Add wine and tomato paste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until wine evaporates slightly, 3 to 8 minutes. Add tomatoes, tomato juice, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and stir.
  • Reduce heat to low, cover partially, and cook, stirring occasionally, until ragu is thick and aromatic, about 1 hour.

Cook the pasta

  • Just before the sauce is done, bring a of water to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons salt and pasta. Cook, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until al dente, according to the package directions.
  • Drain and add to sauce, stirring to combine. Warm briefly over low heat to blend flavors. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.
The Weeknight Cook

Adapted From

The Weeknight Cook

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Serving: 1 servingCalories: 887 kcalCarbohydrates: 94 gProtein: 31 gFat: 40 gSaturated Fat: 10 gMonounsaturated Fat: 23 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 60 mgSodium: 168 mgFiber: 6 gSugar: 8 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2012 Brigit Binns. Photo © 2012 Guilio Di Gregorio . All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This pasta with beef ragu recipe comes together easily. After a minimum of chopping & prep, it is great to be able to set it on low and the sauce will take care of itself; cooking the ingredients and allowing the flavors & aroma to build.

We enjoy a hearty, beefy, thick red sauce with pasta. This recipe delivers a big sauce. I firmly believe that a big sauce demands a big pasta, so select your noodle accordingly.

We don’t eat pasta in my house (well, I don’t, and everyone else must suffer) so I served this ragu over cauliflower gnocchi with lots of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano and it was perfectly lovely. The richness in the flavor after only an hour of cooking was impressive, and the next time I need a “simmered all day” sauce in a pinch, I’ll be reaching for this!

I love pasta with a meat sauce that has that “cooked all day” flavor. This pasta with beef ragu delivers that flavor in less than 2 hours. The vegetables cook down and add to the richness and sweetness of the sauce.

I don’t usually stray from the original recipe when I make it for the first time but on this one, I did substitute chicken stock for the red wine because I didn’t have any on hand. I also used crushed tomatoes instead of whole just as a personal preference. The red wine would definitely add another level of flavor so I plan to make this ragu again when I have a bottle. If you’re looking for a good standby ragu recipe, I think this might be the one for you.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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