Marcella Hazan’s Bolognese Sauce

Marcella Hazan’s Bolognese sauce recipe is authentic as can be and is, according to many we’ve heard of the absolute best Bolognese sauce recipe ever. It’s also easy and impressive.

A blue bowl filled with pappardelle noodles and Marcella Hazan's bolognese sauce on a wooden board with a block of Parmesan and a grater beside the bowl.

Marcella Hazan, in her inimitable fashion, offers the home cook an authentic Bolognese sauce recipe, the traditional kind an Italian grandmother would approve of, thank you very much. This is my version of her recipe, with very subtle tweaks. It takes a while to make, although most of the time the Bolognese is spent simmering, unattended, on the back burner except for occasionally making lazy eights with a wooden spoon.–David Leite

What's the difference between Bolognese and spaghetti sauce?

In essence, Bolognese sauce is spaghetti sauce. Though it’s 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 also is less predominated by tomatoes than your typical marinara. It’s named for its city of origin, Bologna.


Marcella Hazan's Bolognese Sauce

  • Quick Glance
  • (44)
  • 20 M
  • 6 H
  • Makes 4 cups
4.9/5 - 44 reviews
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In a heavy 5-quart Dutch oven over medium heat, warm the oil and 6 tablespoons butter until the butter melts and stops foaming. Toss in the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is softened and translucent, about 5 minutes.

Toss in the celery and carrot and cook, stirring to coat them with the oil and butter, for 2 minutes.

Add the chuck and pork, a very healthy pinch of salt, and a goodly amount of pepper. Crumble the meat with a wooden spoon and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meats have lost their raw red color.

Reduce the heat to low. Pour in the milk and simmer gently, stirring frequently, until the liquid has completely evaporated, about 1 hour.

Stir in the nutmeg. Pour in the wine and gently simmer, stirring frequently, until it’s evaporated, about 1 1/4 hours more.

Add the tomato purée or crushed tomatoes and stir well. When the tomato puree begins to bubble, turn down the heat so that the sauce cooks at the laziest of simmers with just an intermittent bubble breaking the surface.

Cook, uncovered, for 3 hours or more, stirring from time to time. While the sauce is burbling away, there’s a chance that it’ll start drying out. To keep the sauce from sticking to the bottom of the pot and scorching, add 1/2 cup water if necessary, just know that it’s crucial that by the time the sauce has finished simmering, the water should be completely evaporated, and the fat should separate from the sauce.

Take a spoonful—or two—of sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter to the hot pasta and toss with the sauce. Serve with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano on the side. Originally published January 31, 2012.

Print RecipeBuy the Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking cookbook

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    What You Need To Know About Making The Most Classic Italian Bolognese

    • Following are some techniques and tricks to ensure the most classic Italian Bolognese:

      The more marbled the meat, the sweeter the ragu. (The most desirable cut of meat is the neck portion of the chuck. You may have to special order it from your butcher.)

      It’s important to salt the meat as soon as it hits the pan. This draws out the juices and imparts flavor to the Bolognese.

      Use a heavy pot that will retain heat. I use my Le Creuset 5-quart Dutch oven. Avoid using cast-iron, as the acid can interact with the metal and turn the sauce a blech color.

    Recipe Testers Reviews

    This is the perfect recipe to make if you're stuck in the house doing chores and can’t leave. A little prep work and a little stir every now and then gives you a wonderful smell throughout your house and a nice, thick sauce for your pasta. I love that there isn’t a strong tomato taste to this sauce, unlike most commercial jar sauces. This is pure, hearty, stick-to-your-ribs comfort food.

    All you need is some warm bread and you have a meal. The next time I make it I'll probably omit the oil, as I felt there was a little too much oil floating on top when it was ready to serve.


    #leitesculinaria on Instagram If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.


    1. Hi, I want to make this. Is it okay not to use the butter and replaced it with more olive oil? What do you think? How much olive oil?

      Thank you for sharing Marcella’s recipe.

      1. Aileen, we haven’t tried this, so we can’t say for certain. One of the readers on the site did mention that they swapped oil for the butter (1 for 1) and it turned out pretty good. The flavor will be a little different. If you try it, do let us know how it turns out.

    2. I first made this over the stove and decided why not try it in the slow cooker next time to basically set it and forget it. Well, I’ve made it in the slow cooker two more times! I follow the ingredients precisely, only I puree my onion/carrot/celery mixture since my husband hates celery and won’t eat if even finely diced and cooked. I then put the milk, wine, tomatoes, nutmeg, etc into the slow cooker and mine has a setting for simmer so I sent it to that with the lid on for 6 hrs. Slowly but surely the liquid evaporates and you’re left with a thick sauce. Hope that helps!

      1. Fantastic, Mitzi! Thank you so much for sharing this with us. And your sauce looks perfect!

    3. LOVE this sauce! Thank you for this excellent recipe :-)

      Quick question: I’m making again for New Years Day. But, want to make it on NYE and serve the next day. What’s your best advice for cooling, storage, and reheating the day after? Thanks!

      1. It looks amazing, LT! I think you’ll enjoy it even more the next day as the flavors will really have a chance to mingle. Let the sauce cool completely before storing in a covered container in the fridge. The next day, gently reheat it over a low flame so that you don’t risk scorching the sauce.

    4. Quick question – should you be draining the fat after you cook the meat? I find that even after 3 hours, the sauce is quite fatty. thanks!

      1. Alexandra, the fat is critical to the amazing flavor of this sauce. If you want to skim some off at the very end, you can do that, but leave it in until the sauce is completely cooked to deliver that rich flavor that this sauce is known for.

      1. I think doubling it would suffice, Eric. Keep in mind that you may need to brown the meat in batches and that it will need to cook for longer for the sauce to reduce. Do let us know how it turns out!

    5. This is a classic recipe I’ve been making for many years. Although I’m normally someone who loves to “customize” recipes, I haven’t found a way to improve this one so I follow it to a T, always with perfect results. I would add that I prefer the combination of pork/beef (1-2 ratio as directed), always use diced San Marzano (once tried organic fire roasted and it overwhelmed the dish with tomato-ness), and normally double or triple the recipe as it freezes very well. Toss with a broad, thin flat noodle (pappardelle in my case) with a touch of pasta water. It can easily get dried out when reheated in the microwave so when possible, I prefer to boil the pasta fresh and toss with sauce just before eating. EVERYONE loves this recipe except those who like wet, saucy, Italian American style pastas.

      1. Thanks, Sandra! We’re so pleased that you’ve always had so much success with this recipe and that you continue to return to it. Appreciate the tips on using the San Marzano tomatoes and avoiding the microwave. Both very helpful to us and to your fellow readers.

    6. I hardly ever leave comments or reviews but this is a special recipe that changed my outlook on Bolognese. Definitely in my top 10 of any recipe on the internet. It’s 99% perfect!! The first time I followed it to the letter. The next few times I added a little basil and oregano and the last time I used sweet Italian sausage meat instead of ground pork…now I have a recipe that’s 100% perfect! Thank you for this recipe!!

      1. Thanks, Collin! We so appreciate you taking the time to let us know and to share how you made it perfect for you.

    7. I plan to make this over the weekend. In step 8 it says to take a spoonful–or two–and season with salt and pepper. I’m sorry; I don’t understand. I want to follow this correctly. Would you clarify step 8 for me? Thank you.

      1. Of course, Ellen! In step 8, you just want to taste a spoonful of the sauce, and then adjust the seasoning of the remaining sauce to your taste, and then sample again to make sure you’ve got it just right. Do let us know how it turns out!

    8. All time favorite! Never fails. And oh so satisfying on a chilly day. Also, besides Julia, one of my favorite cook books. ❤️

    9. I’m planning to try out this recipe in the next few weeks, is there a fat% I should aim for when purchasing ground beef if I can’t find ground chuck? Also for the ground pork? Thanks!

    10. This is my second time trying this sauce. Both times I get so much liquid fat (like 2+ cups) that never reduces in the milk and wine stages. I simmered the milk stage 1.5 hours and the wine stage nearly 2 hours. What am I doing wrong?!?

          1. Suzi, the recipe doesn’t call for veal, which has more fat than beef, ounce per ounce. Also, you may have a high proportion of fat in your beef. Try a 85/15 (85% beef and 15% fat) or even a 90/10 (90% beef and 10% fat). You can also skim off some of the fat with a ladle.

            1. I will try using all beef at a lower fat content. I did revisit the recipe above and it shows in parenthesis you used a 50/50 beef/veal mix. Thank you for the feedback!

              1. Suzi, I wrote this recipe so long ago, I was surprised to see veal in it, as I never use veal. So my apologies. Do let me know how it turns out if you make it again.

    11. This was awesome. Took a long time but easy to follow. Not sure if anyone still responds here but can I freeze this and think I can just double the recipe or will the ratios need to change.

      1. VK, I’m delighted you enjoyed the recipe. You can freeze the sauce. What I do is freeze it in 1-cup servings in zip-top bags. And, yes, you can double the recipe, but it will take longer for the liquids to reduce. Just watch the pot and you’ll be fine!

    12. One of my absolute favorite recipes! I’ve shared this recipe with countless friends who have added it to their dinner rotation. Previous to learning this recipe it was very intimidating to me to cook a bolognese so thank you so much!

      1. kendra, like you, we adore this recipe. Thanks so much for sharing it with your friends and taking the time to let us know how much you love it.

      1. Sandy, we haven’t tried this, so we can’t say for certain, but the issue here would be that the sauce is meant to be cooked uncovered so that the liquid can evaporate. In a covered slow cooker, the liquid remains trapped, and I don’t think a slow cooker would generate enough heat for it to be left uncovered. My concern is that you’ll end up with a very liquidy bolognese sauce.

        1. You also can NOT make this is an Instant Pot! Even my 60 year old pasta sauce recipe can’t be correct unless cooked at least 6 hours!

    13. During lockdown, it is hard to find all the right ingredients. So I substituted pork Italian sausage meat out of the casing and vegan crumbles with beef bouillon to add the flavor of beef, and omitted the butter. The sauce came out pretty good. And was fat-free. I plan to use it for a lasagna once I can have company for dinner.

    14. This recipe turned out incredible!!! I didn’t change a thing, and I used HemisFares Italian Flat Pasta Nests found at Kroger, and they were perfect! Family all agreed this was a white tablecloth restaurant quality meal. This is the meal we chose for Easter Celebration during the Corona Virus quarantine.

      Meal was complimented by the “Italian wedding music” channel on Amazon must, courtesy of Alexa! Thank you for having this recipe posted!

    15. Hello,

      Really looking forward to trying this recipe but I’ve two questions:

      1. Any non-alcoholic substitutes you would suggest for the white wine? Would white wine vinegar work?

      2. Could I adapt this for a slow cooker? E.g for the milk and then wine substitute to simmer off and then for the last 3-5 hours? Would I keep the lid open if using the slow cooker (to evaporate the liquid)?


      1. Hi Em Jay, you could probably use a bit of beef broth in place of the white wine. As far as using a slow cooker, I would suggest cooking on the stovetop though step 5, then transferring the contents to a slow cooker to finish the simmering process.

      1. Hi Christine, the milk adds depth and tenderness to the meat. If you can’t use milk, you might try a dairy alternative like almond milk. We only tested it with milk so would love to hear of your results.

    16. I, too, have been making this sauce for more than 30 years. (my great grandmother taught me a minor variation) but never learned the function of the milk –tenderizer?

    17. I too have a pot of this simmering at the mo. Both the wine and milk add their own special zing, and the nutmeg a subtle note. I’ve cooked this for > 30 years and no other recipe comes close to this one. It’s so substantial that you don’t need much to make a beautiful meal.

      1. I have to agree, this is the most divine recipe ever. I think I’ve been making for more than 20 years. Such a subtle flavor I prefer to serve smallish portions and judicious amounts of sauce if for no other reason than to point up how special it is.

    18. I’ve got a pot on the stove right now. I’ve got all day and all night and what’s better than comfort food for the uncomfortable time we’re in?!

      Besides, how many recipes can you find with beef, veal, milk, butter AND cheese? Everything but the moo and the marrow!

    19. Absolutely great. The flavor is so concentrated from the long cooking. I will definitely be making this again on a lazy Sunday.

    20. I’ve had Marcella’s book for years but never tried this recipe. Made this yesterday and after a few hours decided it was worthy of (my first attempt at) homemade pasta. My guy is picky about his Italian food, having traveled there extensively. He LOVED it and the pappardelle came out nicely as well! This is going in the regular winter rotation. Thank you!

    21. Made this sauce to serve over fresh tagliatelle. Holy damn. The depth of flavor was incredible. I had everyone in the house pitch in to stir the pot every time the walked by, so the fat didn’t break from the sauce by the time it was ready to serve- I really think that helped to make this dish what it was.

    22. I’ve seen this recipe several times and it always looks and sounds heavenly. Today is the day I’m trying it! I have to say it smells absolutely devine, I’m at the last step of simmering lazily of no more than 3 bubbles ;) Only 3ish more hours to go before getting to delve into a yummy bowl of this.

      The wait is over and OMG the flavor is wonderful! Will definitely make again and again!

        1. Hi. Question. When the simmering takes place with the milk and the wine, should the pot be covered or not? Only when the sauce is simmering don’t see direction to leave the pot uncovered. Thanks.

          1. Hi Mark, I double checked with David and he leaves his sauce uncovered. Hope you enjoy the recipe, it is a stunner!

    23. Just a quick question, I’m planning on cooking this tomorrow–it sounds so delicious! But as I’m not that big a cook/have any idea what I’m really doing, can I ask what adding the veal instead of cooking with just beef and pork is going to do to the flavour? Just not sure what I’m better off cooking with. Thank you :)

      1. Sophie, the trio of meats gives a more complex, deeper flavor than just beef. Now, some people prefer not to use veal for ethical reasons, others don’t use pork for dietary reasons. There’s no harm done if you want to use just beef. Marcella did many times, too.

    24. Made this last night. It’s unbelievable how good this is. I followed the recipe exactly with only minimal addition of sugar and salt. So so good! Make sure you time each step – one hour with milk and 1 1/4 hours with wine…then simmer away with tomatoes. Next time I’ll double the batch and freeze at it is time-consuming–but so so worth it! Served it with spaghetti squash and Italian bread.

    25. I haven’t made this yet because I’m wondering if it can be made a day or two before serving without hampering it’s flavor.

      1. Oh, Ann! You’re in for a treat, then. I always make this a day or two ahead. It allows the flavors to snuggle up to each other. Just make sure to reheat it over a very low flame.

        1. I love this recipe and have made it many times. The cookbook I have has the wine first then the milk. Is there a difference to wine or milk first?

          1. Anita, I contacted Harold McGee, the highly respected food writer and author of the award-winning book On Food and Cooking. Here’s what he said: “I checked, and milk before wine is Marcella [in the] 1990s; wine before milk [in the] 1970s. Of course, ideally one would do a side-by-side comparison. But I doubt that after hours of cooking the meat is going to come out significantly different. My guess: if the milk is less than fresh, then adding it to the hot meat and wine might cause an initial curdling from the wine’s acidity. Cooking the milk down first would avoid that.”

            I hope that sheds some light on the subject!

    26. Hi, I’m looking at Marcella’s recipe right from her book ; essentials of classic Italian cooking and this recipe is off. It calls for one cup of milk and one cup of wine. Plus 4 tablespoons of butter, not 8 and only 3/4lb ground beef.

      I learned how to cook from my aunt and grandparents from Sicily so I know how to adjust. This recipe just seemed off to me which is why I pulled out my book.

      1. Kim, if you look at the recipe, I say it’s my take on her dish. I also explained what to do with the meat. But also, if you look closely, you’ll see all the ingredients are doubled, because this makes twice as much as her recipe. That’s why the double butter, milk, and wine.

        1. Yes, makes sense when it’s a long cook like this (and freezes so well) to double the recipe. I’m glad I found your take on this before I started — I’m happy to have some in the freezer ;-)

      2. That is because the recipe is halved. Normally 2 cups wine 2 cups milk 8 tbsp butter 1 1/2 meat. I don’t think anything was wrong with the recipe

        1. Yes, you’re correct, Cheryl. The base ingredients for the recipe are doubled. Who wouldn’t want twice as much of this amazing sauce?!

    27. This recipe is killer. My husband and I have each made it, with slight variations, and both times it turned out insanely good. 5 stars!

      1. Hi, I made this exactly as written over the fall and it was amazing! I paired it with fresh homemade pasta. How would substituting the white wine with red wine be? That’s all I have at the moment. Do I substitute it cup for cup?

        1. Jj, the white wine is traditional, but you can make it with the same amount of red. The flavor will be a little different and likely a bit more robust.

    28. I made this recipe over the weekend and it was …… perfection. Grateful to all the previous comments (I think I read all of them), I followed Marcellas recipe to a T, adding milk then wine, with the only exception being I didn’t use veal or pork (only because I didn’t have any). The result was an intensely flavoured, perfectly rich Bolognese. I tripled the recipe, used two Le Creusets simultaneously!, and it still turned out amazing. Grazie Marcella!

      1. Hi June, isn’t this an amazing recipe? I just love it, comfort food at its finest and perfect for this chilly weather.

        1. I’ve made this many times now and it is a family favorite! So glad to have found the recipe. Question, can I make it with fresh tomatoes? And how would I prepare them?

          1. Hi Jacqueline, you can certainly use fresh tomatoes though you might want to remove the skins to make the sauce smoother.

    29. Very disappointed with this recipe. Too much cream, not enough tomatoes, and way overcooked. Will not make again.

      1. Hi Susan, so sorry that you did not like this recipe. It is one of my favorites and always transports me back to Italy. If you like a pasta with more tomatoes, you might want to try this. It is especially lovely with ripe summer tomatoes.

    30. What a beautiful dish to prepare on a lazy boxing day. Just a few minutes chopping, a few more minutes stirring then time to relax and watch a day of soccer. The sauce happily burbles away and is very content to be given a quick stir at halftimes. Such an easy comfort meal.

    31. I love this recipe ! I would like to know if I can substitute coconut milk for the milk. Trying to keep it dairy free.

      1. Idit, we didn’t try it that way, so we can’t say for certain. But I like the way you’re thinking. If you try it, I would water down the coconut milk with about 2 parts coconut milk and 1 part water. Be aware that it will add a little more sweetness to the sauce than regular milk. Kindly let us know how it goes!

        1. Hi Renee, I would like to report that using the coconut milk to keep it dairy free worked famously! I was a little worried that it would lend a coconut flavor to the sauce, but after it reduced and I added the wine and reduced again I couldn’t tell that I used coconut milk. PS Used diced fennel instead of celery (ran out ). I must say that this is a wonderful sauce, it is very forgiving, and I would certainly make it again! Next time I’ll make sure I have celery! :)

          1. Idit, love the substitutions, both of them!!! Thank you so very much for letting us (and our readers) know! I suspect there’s sufficient other flavors to overwhelm the coconut so that its sweetness just sorta smoothed everything together. And I personally loathe celery so I appreciate the fennel trick!

            1. I guess I should point out that I used a can Thai Kitchen Lite Coconut Milk and I did dilute it a bit.

          2. Hi Idit. I took your suggestion on the coconut milk and it turned out very well. I have a child with a severe dairy allergy. I was skeptical but it was a great hit with the whole family and I am going to make it regularly with this substitution. I diluted a bit as you suggested.

    32. I made this today. It is fabulous and a keeper! I did add more meat than the recipie calls for. I used 1 lb each of veal and chuck, and about 4 oz pancetta. It was very greasy even without the pork, so I’ll use a leaner beef next time. I drained a lot of the grease before I added the wine. The end result was just perfect.

    33. I discovered this recipe decades ago when I bought Hazan’s book The Classic Italian Cookbook. I rarely if ever buy prepared spaghetti sauce anymore. It is easy and the taste is so wonderful. My brother in law would have the leftover spaghetti for breakfast the next day. It is also one of the things that will get my son to the dinner table. One of the best versions is with very ripe homegrown tomatoes. The sauce will have a golden light color and unbeatable flavor. Cooking the meat her way mellows the taste with the milk and gets rid of heavy meaty, slightly gamey flavor, especially with ground beef. I have also made it without meat or added Italian sausage. I remember days in college where we would add wine, other spices to the tomato sauce, but this is the real thing and so savory. I no longer order spaghetti in non-Italian restaurants as I have been disappointed compared to this version.

    34. I used 4 Tbsp butter and 2 Tbsp butter made was canola oil. I used 85% beef and pork. There was so much liquid even before the milk. I cooked that part til the whiteness was gone from liquid. I added wine but with so much other liquid doubt it evaporated but I added tomatoes anyway. It’s been 4 hrs since then. Less liquid but still a lot. Is this normal? I even scooped out a few spoonfuls. What will the separated fat look like?

      1. Sharon, it sounds like the pork or beef you use had a lot of water in it. That can sometimes happen. The total simmer time for this recipe is between five and six hours, if not more. I would suggest continue cooking until more of the liquid evaporates. If after all that time it’s still very liquidy, then, yes, spoon off some of the liquid.

    35. I’ve been making Marcella’s bolognese from “Essentials” for several years and haven’t bothered to learn another. I like finishing penne in it. Several variations over the years due to not having things: finely chopped beef rather than ground, red wine instead of white, a little chopped pepper in the vegetables–but the essential ingredients are nutmeg and milk. Love this recipe.

      1. Chet, completely agree with you. When something works, no need to fix it. Thanks so much for taking the time to share your experience with this bolognese. Looking forward to hearing which recipe on the site becomes your next favorite…

    36. Hi, I’m new to your site and I’m thrilled to have found it. I’m trying Marcella’s Bolognese recipe as I write this. I’m an hour into it and have just gotten to the point where I’ve added the tomatoes. Does that sound about right? I’ve loved reading everyone’s comments about this sauce. It’s nice to see with so many helpful and respectful comments.

      1. Welcome to the site, Mari B! Happy to have you join us. Yes, it seems as if you’re right on track with the recipe. Please let us know how it turns out.

        And you’ll find all the comments here respectful. It’s part of who were are and we take it very, very seriously.

    37. Thank you for introducing this recipe to me. I’ve made it a few times and the flavor is delicious. I wonder though if I am doing something wrong, because I can never get the 2 cups of milk and 2 cups of wine to evaporate even after hours of simmering. Yestaterday I spent all day on this sauce and after 3 hours the milk was only reduced by about half so I just went ahead and added the wine and kept on going. The sauce tastes great but it’s still pretty liquid at the end. Is this anyone else’s experience?

      1. Sylvan, that’s odd because liquid will eventually evaporate. It’s physics! What kind pot are you using? A taller pot will take longer for the liquid to evaporate.

    38. David,
      Thank you for putting this recipe up with great lead in and discussions. I have been on a global search for a good Bolognese and now I think I have found it. In our own Washington DC kitchen. My mother was born in Roma and the amazing dishes I was raised on are hard to put into contact how Fortunate and blessed I am. As a military officer, I’ve travelled the globe and to me nothing compares to Italian cooking I was raised on and during my summers as a kid in Roma.

      Soon as I made this dish I went on line and bought the late (Zia) Hazan’s book. I’m excited to dive intto the numerous dishes. You honor her by keeping her legacy alive and well with people like me. As my mother ages I will now enjoy using my mom’s recipient along with Marcella’s. This recipe was perfect. I executed it exactly as the book described. I want to attempt veal and pancetta my mom brought back from Italy on my next experience. Two questions for you if you could be so kind to comment. 1). Does the type of wine matter (i.e. Pinot, Chardonnay etc) 2). Do the leanness of the meats cut matter and if so how?

      I’m grateful for what you have done in your website. Thank you and the great Marcella Hazan!! Thom

      1. Thom, my pleasure. I’m so delighted you enjoyed the recipe. As far as the wine, any dry vino will do–as long as it’s something you’d drink. And as to the leanness of the meat, I use 90% for the beef and whatever the butcher hands me for pork and veal. So, that’s a long way of saying: There’s a lot of flexibility to the recipe.

    39. Whilst the orginal authentic recipe has cream added to it (served with tanglatelli), i can assure you, nobody, i mean nobody, and that is from a 93 year old sardinian grandmother to ‘everybody i know’ (a lot) uses milk or cream in the ragu here. You yanks have had an italian job done on you by the dairy industry. And btw carbonara HAS NO CREAM either!!! :) Milk and meat!?! You should try eating mussel cooked in milk, see how you get on.

    40. Hello! I am cooking for nine tomorrow and I am wondering if this recipe should be doubled for that many people. Thanks! : )

    41. This was truly sensational. I cannot reiterate how perfect this bolognese was. I did add pancetta and I need to use onion powder (1tbl) as I’m intolerant to onion, but gosh, this was the bomb! I enjoyed the cooking process too, very therapeutic. I will never make bolognese any other way, ever!!

    42. This looks and sounds divine.

      This may be a dumb question, but when you say that the fat should separate from the sauce… do we skim it off and remove it?

      Planning to try the recipe tomorrow!

      1. Lovely to hear you’ll be making this bolognese sauce, Leah! And it’s not a dumb question at all. Yes, you can skim the fat from the surface of the sauce but try not to do this while it’s cooking because the fat will lend flavor to the sauce. Only skim it after cooling. Looking forward to hearing what you think!

    43. David, David, David…

      How do I describe the deliciousness that is Marcella Hazan’s Bolognese sauce… made my husband weak in the knees and me swoon. This sauce is divine. It is now my go to sauce when I want to impress my dinner guests with a delectable meal. I too enjoy the laziness and the slowness it takes for this sauce to develop its flavor.

      Thank you for introducing me to this wonderful Italian dish.


    44. Well, I’m a devotee of the Mozza Cookbook bolo for the obvious reason that I wrote the book, but your unending passion towards Marcella’s recipe is going to force me to branch out and try this. Maybe even side by delicious side. The big diff (that I can see): Mozza doesn’t use beef, just pork and veal, and, Mozza being Mozza, they also start with pork– pancetta to be specific.

    45. Love the sound of this recipe. Sadly I can’t eat dairy. Has anyone tried any substitutions for the milk and butter?

    46. I had no idea the recipes differed from Classic Italian Cooking to Essentials! I just dug out my beat-to-death copy of the original. Lo and behold, it’s true. I then pulled Giuliano Hazan’s The Classic Pasta Cookbook (sadly out of print), the best book on pasta that I own, to see which one he follows. Wine first!

      My grandmother made homemade manicotti with crepes (crespelle), not pasta. I have made that crepe recipe and filled it with this Bolognese sauce; delicious. I topped it with tomato sauce, but I am thinking maybe topping it with béchamel sauce would be the way to go. Next time.

    47. This is a fabulous recipe, which I’ve made a few dozen times both at home and in restaurants where I’ve worked. The only change I’ve ever incorporated is the addition of some chicken livers, which I mince so that my children don’t know that liver is part of the whole. Try it some time.

      1. Mark, yes, chicken livers are a favorite addition, some say it’s the classic recipe. If I remember to pick them up, I add them. Gives some nice bass notes.

        1. Hi David,

          I would like to try adding chicken livers to this incredible recipe. At what point would you recommend adding the chicken livers?

          1. Hey, Mark. Some people add them early in the cooking, but I think the flavor gets lost. I would add them the last 20 minutes of cooking. Roughly chop them, toss them in, and stir until they cook through and break down. That way you’ll still get a wonderful flavor.

        2. I don’t have Ms. Hazan’s cookbook but I’ve been making this recipe for a few years. I’m always flummoxed by the lack of any mention of draining fat. I end up with so much fat it’s downright unappetizing, so I drain all but the smallest bit. It’s quite delicious that way, but I wonder if I’m doing my sauce a disservice by draining. What do others do?

          1. Sarah, no, you’re not doing a disservice at all. I do wonder: What’s the fat ratio of your beef? And are you using all the butter in the sauce or half in the sauce and half for the pasta?

    48. Thank you for sharing this recipe. I am one to improvise on recipes or forget steps, but in honor of Marcella, I followed the recipe to a “T” and didn’t add anything extra. It came out amazing. The recipe takes time but is simple in technique, and it taught me how much of a difference time can make. In my improvisational cooking style, I never put too much thought into time and layering flavors. Not only is this a recipe I’ll keep forever, but the skeleton of the recipe will help me cook more thoughtfully.

      1. Tara, then Marcella (and I guess me, in the smallest of ways) have done our jobs. Now, you can go on to show others the benefit and pleasure of slow, layered cooking!

    49. “But it’s crucial that by the time the sauce has finished simmering, the water should be completely evaporated,”

      I’m confused by the sentence I’ve copied above. First of all, it can’t possibly be accurate; if all the water evaporates, the sauce is becomes a mixture of powder and rock-hard chunks of former food.

      What I assume it means is that if I draw a spoon through the middle of the sauce, it stays parted like Moses did to the Red Sea.

      When I made this sauce in this way, I found the end result inedible. In the dozen or two experiments that I’ve run since then, I discovered that when the sauce is too dry, some of the flavors become very harsh. It makes sense, because some flavors are water soluble, and without enough water, you won’t be able to taste them.

      However, the above picture looks pretty dry to me and I’m not sure why that hasn’t worked for me.

      1. Greg, it definitely means what it says: that the water evaporates. And it won’t be a mixture of powder and rock-hard chunks because there is fat in it, as well as moisture in the meat, tomatoes, etc. Basically, make sure that the added water evaporates, and only the added water. Hope this helps.

        1. David, thanks for replying. Afraid it doesn’t help, though….you’d have to reach through the screen and taste what I’d made. As I said, my batch of Hazan’s Bolognese was inedible. Had to throw it away. It tasted…vegetably (is that a word?). I’m not sure if this is something I’m doing wrong, or I don’t know what this sort of Bolognese is supposed to taste like. Other recipes seem more liquid….”The Splendid Table” says consistency of thick soup, which is a lot thinner than Hazan’s Bolognese, or so it seems to me.

          I probably suffer from not ever eaten a true Bolognese, so I don’t know what all the fuss is about. I’ve never actually seen it on any of the menus of the Italian restaurants in my city, and I’m not sure it would be an accurate rendition if I did.

          Road trip! Where is the best Bolognese that you’ve ever eaten?

    50. Dear David
      I found this recipe with relief. I’ve cooked it several times over the years but not for a while. My original copy of Marcella’s book was collateral damage in a messy relationship breakup (long story), so I wrote it out from memory and stored it on my pc. Or so I thought. When I looked today, vanished. doncha just love technology… Anyway, I just wanted to check the quantities.

      It is the most divine dish. It tastes most of one thing: love. You follow the method, you get lost in the process, the flavours are to die for, the taste sublime. So thank you for sharing. (btw i’d prefer to sing the whole of Oklahoma, but that’s just me).

      I will pick you up on one point. You’ve edited out one of my favourite details. When you’ve finally finished adding things, you leave the pot to simmer. Marcela is very precise here: she insists you set your ring to the lowest heat to ensure that THERE ARE NO MORE THAN THREE BUBBLES BREAKING THE SURFACE.
      It’s unbelievably precise and off-the-scale controlling, but god it’s a good tip.

      Anyway, off to get my ingredients

      Ciao bello. And thanks.


      1. Richard, well, I’m glad you’re back with the recipe. The version of the book I have says, “…with just an intermittent bubble breaking through the surface.” Which was so specific, I kept it in above. Three bubbles! How extraordinarily precise.

    51. To David Leite: Before our entire class entered medical school, we had to take the MMPI, which is a personality test, Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory test. We had to score high on the obsessive compulsive neurosis portion or we could not get into med school. Therefore, from now on, its only rigatoni, conchiglie, fusilli or tagliatelle. If I’m forced to use any other pasta shape, I will likely have a panic attack.

    52. I always served it on spaghetti and it did not stick well. So, now I know why. From now on it’s on a wider flatter noodle for the adults.

      I actually like to serve my Italian sauces dishes with rotini because my 5 little grand kids can more easily get the sauce and noodle onto their spoons and forks.

      Paul must be one heck of an obsessive compulsive individual…in a good way. If something should be done in a certain way then it should be done that way.

      1. That’s the reason why, Stu. Chunky sauces slide off of thin noodles. They need pasta shapes that can hold the little bits of veggies or meat. Rigatoni, conchiglie, and fusilli are also Marcella’s recommendations.

        And we love OCD folks. They keep us on our toes!

    53. The picture at the start of this article is a poor choice. In Hazan’s Bolognese sauce recipe she says (1) don’t serve on spaghetti, and (2) toss the noodles and sauce and don’t just let the sauce sit atop. This picture is not what the recipe should look like.

      1. You’re completely right, Paul. (Funny, though, when Marcella was alive and visited the page, she didn’t seem to have a problem with it.) But as I only had spaghetti on hand when I shot it, that’s what I used. And when I tossed it in, as I do at home, it didn’t look great. Better creative license than turning people away from it.

        But thank you for that. And that being said, everyone, Marcella’s first choice is tagliatelle, and, of course, tossed in before serving.

    54. Has anyone doubled the recipe? I’d like to, because I like to freeze several portions for later use. Just wondering if doubling it would crowd the pot (using a Le Creuset dutch oven) too much or have any ill effect…

      1. Courtney, I don’t think there would be any ill effects; I’ve doubled it often. I’d just suggest browning the meats in batches. Otherwise, you should be good to go.

    55. I just saw this from Marcella and think that this is good advice for this recipe, particularly about not browning the meat. Gotta love her bossiness, evident with her liberal use of the word “must”:

      “The meat must be sauteed just barely long enough to lose its raw colour. It must not brown or it will lose its delicacy.
      It must be cooked in milk before the tomatoes are added. This keeps the meat creamier and sweeter tasting.
      It must cook at the merest simmer for a long, long time. The minimum is 3½ hours; 5 is better.”

        1. David, you are so right. This recipe is killer! Even my BF who doesn’t like pasta (I know, it’s sick) went back for more. This is amazing.

    56. This is a very forgiving recipe. You can make it with all sorts of approximations of ingredients and it will turn out great. I’ve used wine that had changed color and smelled funny, Condatina tomato paste, cheap vegs, and fatty (22%) ground beef, and it still came out like the kind I remember my Modenese noni serving to me as kid. The same has been true when I’ve made chicken tortollini or baccala ragu. For me, at least, the food from Emilia-Romagna is about slowly making food complex enough that not only is it more than the sum of its parts, its parts should be mostly a mystery to the uninitiated.

    57. I’ve been eyeing this recipe for awhile and was always put off by the amount of time needed for the simmering. But my curiosity got the better of me, and, being a blustery day outside, I decided to just get on with it. I’ve made other bolognese sauces before but even though they seemed nice and thick in the pot, I would get a bit of watery juice at the bottom of my pasta bowl. But this?! Uh uh. Nice and thick and delicious and wonderful and yummy and I could go on! Even my husband, who’s always impatient when it comes to something like this, had no complaints. His memory of, “Just open a can of sauce and throw some meatballs into it” had completely faded. This is definitely going to be part of my recipe rotation. Thanks again for your wonderful site. I look forward to my next discovery!

    58. just made the Marcella Hazan Tomato Sauce with onion and butter for the first time last night. I don’t know how I missed Marcella but I’m a devotee now. Have the book on my wish list for Christmas and will probably make this recipe in the coming weeks. Love the idea of it taking hours – especially in winter! I also read another version that called for adding the wine first somewhere on the internet… Reminded me of one of my favorite paella recipes with sherry… Thanks for posting this!

    59. I don’t know what to say. It all started in London in 1986. Wet afternoon. Went into a bookshop. Saw a book that had won the Glenfiddich. Whatta I really know about Italian food, apart from the occasional pizza and shag bog? Got reading. A whole new world unfolds. She makes it easy. More, she respects her readers. I hate when some guru tells me to do this and that. Why? Marcella will tell you if you do this, this is the result. If you don’t, well…

      Ciao, Marcella.
      Peter Yeong

    60. I have a pot of this simmering on the stove right now. It smells wonderful, and it has 2 hours or so of simmering to go still. While there’s no garlic in the sauce, some garlic bread would taste pretty good with it. We’ll have some green beans on the side. Mmmm… it’ll be worth the wait.

      I also ordered Ms. Hazan’s book. Can’t wait for that to arrive also!

      1. Jenna, how fabulous to hear! We can (almost) smell it now. We’re vicariously excited for you to experience more of Marcella’s loveliness via her book. And do, please, let us know what you think of the Bolognese…

      1. John,

        Careful there….you’re pffff-ing Marcella Hazan. Plus there is no garlic is classic Bolognese sauce. In fact, garlic isn’t used that much (or at all) in dishes from the region.

        1. I read about this recipe in the New York Times obituary of MH. I want to try it but my husband doesn’t eat red meat…can I make it with ground turkey?

          1. You certainly can, Amanda. It won’t have quite the same taste as the original, but then, you already knew that. But I think it will still be quite lovely. Hope you feel the same. And we look forward to hearing what you think.

            1. I’ll try it! I have long since let go of the idea of the same taste, rats, but I try whenever possible to make things like this because I love them and won’t give up!

        2. John, David is correct – in the north, we’re not as big a fan of the garlic as in the south – but I’ll say, I’ve started adding the garlic, and my parents haven’t been complaining – and that’s saying something. They complain about any deviations from the originals :) I’ll point out though, that if you follow the recipe correctly and plan to simmer for 3+ hours, you’ll lose all the garlic anyhow. What I typically do, is prior to serving, I’ll saute the garlic in a tablespoon or 2 of olive oil, and then add that to the ragu, and then continue warming the ragu up (if coming out of the fridge). If it’s fresh, then let it sit in the warm sauce for 30 minutes prior to heating. This gives you the garlic flavor you’re probably looking for – and as always, you can adjust the amount of garlic to your tastes. It’s fantastic, particularly when paired with bread we lightly pan fry in rosemary/olive oil. Yum!

    61. When I prepare Marcella Hazan’s recipes, I almost feel as if she comes along right beside me with her nod of approval, guiding me through the cooking process with her descriptive recipes and anecdotes. I feel truly blessed to obtain success and inspiration in the kitchen with each every recipe I’ve made. Through her cookbooks, she, in fact, teaches much like a grandmother would, passing her recipes and methods down to future generations. This Bolognese recipe in particular is what lead me to discover and take notice of the LC site. I am reminded of many reasons to be ever so grateful for Marcella Hazan and her contributions of helping promote proper Italian home cooking.

      1. Mrs. Dawn E., I think you have expressed the feelings of many, many cooks from around the world. Marcella will be missed but her work and spirit live on, every time you heave a pot on the stove and begin sautéing onions.

    62. Here in the U.S. the meat is fattier – I’d probably only use oil if I were making this in Italy – the meat, both pork and beef, in Italy is much, much leaner.

      1. Barbara, thanks for writing. Actually, the pork in the U.S. is leaner than Europe. I can’t speak for Italy, but in Spain, Portugal, and some part of France it’s fattier. I can see our beef being fattier for sure.

    63. I love how we need ‘kosher salt’ and then have minced meat with milk! Why ‘adapt’ these recipes when their strength is in their simplicity?

    64. This recipe is a true bolognese. It is a meat sauce. Not a tomato sauce. It is rich, very rich with the oils of 3 meats, whole milk and butter. It is cooked slowly for many hours to meld flavors. This recipe is classic and wonderful. It must be made slow. It must not be rushed. You do not want to crank up the heat to get it done more quickly because of a busy schedule. Make it only when you have the time to dedicate to it.

    65. Ahhhhhh! You have found the recipe for the only sauce Bolognese I ever make. Have a good rest Mrs. Hazan.

    66. A great loss to all of us who value great….and simple…..Italian food….I took five days of courses with her at the old Peter Kump School….will never forget those classes…or the great teacher…riposa in pace, Marcella cara

    67. I am always troubled when a recipe calls for wine. Yes, I cook with it but I never know what “flavor” to buy when a recipe calls for “dry white wine” or a “hearty red.” What dry white do you think was used by MH?

      1. JuneC, while I don’t know for certain what the lovely Marcella Hazan used in terms of a dry white wine for cooking, I dare say she would have used a Pinot Grigio. (If not sticking to Italian whites, a sauvignon blanc would also work well.) In response to the larger question, you don’t want to uncork an amazing bottle of wine to pour into a pot, but you do want to use the same quality wine that you’d pour into a glass for yourself.

          1. JuneC, one of our recipe testers who’s made this Bolognese several times just mentioned to me that she purchased a Gruner Veltliner 2012 from Trader Joes and used it in the sauce and in her words, “it was absolutely delicious…and the best part about it..the bottle was $4.99 and it was very easy drinking as well.”

            Perhaps for the next time you make it, JuneC?

    68. I wish you could send a copy of this recipe to Prince William and Kate. Parade magazine printed his favorite recipe of ground beef and pasta and I decided to make it…it was completely tasteless. I don’t think the Brits do much flavoring. This would warm William, Harry, and Kate’s evening with a good bottle of their favorite wine.

    69. It is so wonderful to know that the Hazan version of ragu is still being made, enjoyed, and adored. In 1980, her book “Classic Italian Cooking” was published and its ragu has been a recipe to which I return again and again. Her instructions on risotto and polenta are also impeccable and should be followed precisely. I never make the Bolognese unless I can obtain veal and have even used cream once instead of milk, though my cardiologist has to be kept in the dark. Thanks to both of you!

      1. Dennis, yes, her sauce is alive and well and living in my kitchen–and the kitchens of many. Her risotto recipe is one of my favorites, too–really a master class in patience.

      1. FoodieGoesHealthy, thank you. Thanks very kind. It’s always amazing to me that so many of us have this deep connection to food through our grandmothers. I hope that continues as many people step away from the stove….

    70. After learning of this recipe through this site, I became a believer after making this delicious sauce. Soon after trying the recipe I purchased Marcella Hazan’s book and I love it! I received a pasta maker as a gift and I have already experimented with fresh pasta. I have also made the green spinach lasagna with this sauce, it was delicious! Thank you David for posting this recipe!

      1. Dawn, your comment was 100% perfect because 1.) You found the recipe, 2.) You liked the recipe, 3.) You bought the book, and 4.) You made even more from it. What more can a publisher ask?!

    71. Thanks for the great ragu inspiration. Only modifications I made were to omit the veal (using a 50/50 mix of lean beef and pork ground to order) and add a bit of julienned carrot to the pasta water a minute or two before draining. Love the long cooking and warm oven in a January kitchen.

      Bolognese Sauce Recipe

    72. After several failed attempts over the years at making a good bolgonese sauce, I want to express to Marcella Hazan what a boost of confidence and sense of accomplishment her recipe has given me. I would love to start cooking more of her authentic Italian recipes recipes. Now, I can not stop thinking about purchasing her book and trying to make my own fresh pasta for the first time. Marcella has truly inspired me. Her passion for cooking and sharing these authentic recipes has definitely rubbed off on me. Thank you, Marcella, for sharing your knowledge, secrets, and love of cooking, and David thank you for posting this recipe on your blog!.

      1. I’ve been making this for many years, and the original recipe from The Classic Italian Cookbook calls for cooking the meat/vegetable mixture with wine before adding the milk. Marcella changed this when she published her first two cookbooks in combined form as Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. I’ve made it both ways and prefer the original.

          1. This makes a great Bolognese. I do believe the wine should be 1st after you have browned the meat. The purpose is to use the wine to deglaze the pan. The wine is cooked out in several minutes. Then the milk which will take a lot longer at a simmer to cook out.
            Just my 2 cents….

            1. I originally made this from Marcella’s first book. When I “retired” first book for Essentials I noticed the difference and tried it that way. Seems it took lots longer to get it started with milk first than wine first. Don’t get me wrong. I cook this sauce for a minimum of 4 hours (yesterday 5) but don’t take as long with the simmering wine and milk as you do. I don’t cook it rapidly but don’t simmer until dissipated. As far as taste… honestly did not notice difference. ALSO, in first book she uses 1/2 cup of milk instead of 1 cup which, to me, is enough. Hope I am clear!!!

    73. I’ve made this recipe about a half a dozen times since my first attempt, and I just made it again tonight. This ragu Bolgonese recipe is everything I was hoping for. The first time I made it, my butcher shop didn’t have veal, so I substituted 1/2 pound ground chuck. I was so skeptical about putting in the milk before the wine, but everything happened according to the recipe…and the flavor? Rich depth, just like the restaurant version I’ve been trying to duplicate for years—but even better. Thanks for sharing the recipe, this one is a keeper. The surprising part was no garlic, and I did not even miss it in the final flavor, as it reads authentic Italian all the way.

      1. Mrs. E, that is wonderful beyond words. Many thanks for taking the time to comment so effusively! Wishing you many, many more evenings spent at the table with family and friends and this keeper of a recipe.

      2. You have helped me forget all the media examples of ragu that have bobbed to the surface. I am pleased as well to read that Mrs. E prefers the homemade to the restaurant version. If there is a single recipe that points to the origin of good Italian cooking–the home–it is this one. Where I come from, Emilia-Romagna, a restaurant’s ragu is commendable only to the degree that it approaches what la mamma or la nonna makes in her kitchen. Thank you for this, David. You have made me happy.

        1. And Momma H., you have honored and graced us with your presence. Thank you for dropping by, and I’m sure Mrs.–and all our readers–will be utterly delighted you responded!

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