This is a dish that reminds you of family. It’s about that feeling of warmth and satisfaction you get when you’re full of good cooking, but not too full for dessert. It’s about sharing the food that you love with the people you love, and it’s about grating carrot into your bolognese because that’s how you like it.–MOB Kitchen

Spaghetti Bolognese FAQs

What is Bolognese sauce?

Bolognese sauce is no ordinary meat sauce. It’s a long, slowly simmered sauce that’s richer and creamier than your everyday marinara due to the inclusion of milk. It’s also less predominated by tomatoes than your typical marinara.

What are the best noodles for Bolognese sauce?

In Italy, Bolognese isn’t served with spaghetti noodles because the noodles don’t pick up the meat, leaving it all on the plate. Typically, it’s served with a thicker noodle like pappardelle and tagliatelle, or tubular noodles like penne and rigatoni. This recipe uses spaghetti, but if you’ve got one of the other types in your pantry, feel free to substitute.

What should I serve with this?

A Caesar salad and a loaf of crusty French bread or a great garlic bread would be great here. Don’t forget to enjoy the rest of the bottle of red wine, too.

☞ Like bolognese sauce? Try these recipes:

Spaghetti Bolognese in a large metal skillet, being served with tongs, on a wooden table.

Spaghetti Bolognese

4.89 / 9 votes
The key to the ultimate Bolognese is, believe it or not, milk. A generous glug of the stuff tenderizes the meat and evens out the acidity of the tomatoes. Don’t knock it 'til you’ve tried it.
David Leite
Servings6 servings
Calories750 kcal
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time2 hours 20 minutes
Total Time2 hours 50 minutes


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 7 ounces pancetta rounds, 1/2 inch (13 mm) thick, diced
  • 2 medium (14 oz) onions, finely chopped
  • 2 medium (6 oz) carrots, finely chopped
  • 3 stalks (6 oz) celery, finely chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 pound 10 ounces lean ground beef
  • 1 cup dry red wine, such as Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 1 2/3 cups store-bought or homemade beef stock
  • 1 2/3 cups whole milk
  • 1 can (14 ounce) plum tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for pasta water
  • 16 to 18 ounces spaghetti
  • Parmesan cheese, to serve


  • In a large wide saucepan or skillet over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add pancetta and fry until crisp, stirring occasionally, 5 to 8 minutes.
  • Add onions, carrot, celery, and garlic, along with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, and fry until soft, 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Increase heat to high, add ground beef and cook until browned, about 15 minutes. Pour in the red wine and continue to cook on high until liquid is reduced by half, about 8 minutes.
  • To the saucepan mixture, add the stock, milk, tomatoes, pepper, and bay leaves. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer gently until the tomatoes have dissolved and the sauce is rich reddish-brown in color, about 1 1/2 hours, stirring every 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the salt. Let rest, uncovered, for 15 minutes. The sauce can be made up to one day ahead and reheated.

    ☞ TESTER TIP: If your sauce looks very thin after an hour of simmering, remove the lid and let it continue to simmer until it thickens to your desired consistency.

  • Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the spaghetti. Follow package directions for al dente pasta, then drain in a colander.
  • Add spaghetti to the Bolognese, toss to combine, then divvy between four bowls. Top with grated Parmesan and serve immediately.


Easy Lasagne Bolognese variation

Layer the Bolognese sauce between sheets of lasagna noodles, top with grated Parmesan cheese, and bake until golden and bubbling.
Comfort Mob Cookbook

Adapted From

Comfort MOB

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Serving: 1 servingCalories: 750 kcalCarbohydrates: 70 gProtein: 45 gFat: 28 gSaturated Fat: 9 gMonounsaturated Fat: 13 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 105 mgSodium: 661 mgFiber: 3 gSugar: 6 g

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

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2021 MOB Kitchen. Photo © 2021 David Loftus. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Pasta is a meal that’s served at least once per week in this household. An opportunity to try a new recipe is always welcomed.

This Bolognese is an easy sauce to pull together. While it does take some time to simmer, it can be made ahead and noted in the fridge until pasta night arrives. The sauce is flavourful, and marries well to the pasta. I also like that the sauce would be a good accompaniment with other pasta favourites, such as rigatoni.

I also used this Bolognese in lasagna and it was terrific!

This spaghetti Bolognese recipe produced a very flavorful sauce with a lot of body and the pancetta added a great smokiness to the beef. I was intrigued by this recipe’s use of milk, and I will say that I think the sauce produced had an added richness.

It’s good to let this sauce sit for the recommended 15 minutes so you can drain some of the fat off the top before consuming. It’s fun to watch the sauce go from a milky pinkish-gray to a thick luxurious reddish-brown sauce.

I didn’t make the sauce ahead but ate it over the course of three days. So yes, I do feel the flavors melded over the course of this time.

I’m a big fan of Bolognese sauce, so I was really excited to see this iteration. It seemed like a more simple recipe, with ingredients I had in my pantry. It also seemed like a recipe that would be perfect for a rainy September Sunday, and I was exactly right.

I used some late-season tomatoes, onion, and carrots from my garden, and this recipe made every ingredient shine. It came together quickly, but had a depth and intensity that made it taste like it had been simmering all day. This is a definite keeper!

When the temperature dips or it’s just a rainy day, this spaghetti Bolognese would be the perfect antidote. The milk makes all the difference here, adding creaminess and balance to the wine and tomatoes.

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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