CuisineDips and SaucesItalianMainsQuick & Easy

Spaghetti Bolognese

30 mins Cook
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Everyone needs a great everyday spaghetti bolognese recipe and this is mine! Bolognese sauce is rich, thick and full of flavor. It’s perfect for a quick mid-week meal, but it’s even better if you can simmer it for hours! Serve it over pasta, stuff it into coated potatoes, and make an epic lasagna or baked spaghetti pie!

This is a reader favorite and was included by popular demand in my first cookbook, Dinner!

Spaghetti Bolognese
Spaghetti BologneseNomNomWow

Spaghetti Bolognese

We Australians like to shorten words. A good day is a good day. Pavlova is pav, noon is arvo, and mosquitoes are mozzies. Sharon is Shazz and Nagisa is Nagi (your heart).

So shortening Spaghetti Bolognese to Spag Bol is totally Australian!

Here it is – my Spag Bowl. Rich, thick and incredibly flavorful in a sauce, even if you only have time for a quick simmer for 20 minutes. But if you can slow cook it for hours, it really takes it to the next level!

What goes in Spaghetti Bolognese

I’ve been faithful to this bolognese recipe since I learned to make it as a teenager. There are 3 little things in this recipe that might be slightly different from the Bolognese recipes you see around:

  1. Worcestershire Sauce: It just adds something extra. I get upset when I find myself in a situation where I have to give it up;
  2. Beef Bouillon Cubes (Beef Bouillon Cubes) to add flavor to the sauce to compensate for it being a daily mid-week version rather than the traditional Started With soffrito (onions, celery, carrots sautéed slowly) and bacon.
  3. Sugar, if desired: If you’re not using good canned sweet plum tomatoes, adding a little sugar can change the sauce. Canned tomatoes from Australian supermarkets are notoriously sour. Especially Australians – it pains me to say this, but it’s true.

How to make Bolognese Sauce

Quick and easy to make:

  • Saute garlic and onion – about 3 minutes;
  • Brown beef – about 2 minutes; hours (delicious on weekends!). The slow cooking makes the beef incredibly tender and the sauce adds extra flavor.

Difference between bolognese and sauce? Chapter Another Name For The Same Thing! You’ll find bolognese made in different ways in Italy and around the world, but mostly ground meat (usually beef, sometimes mixed with pork or veal) in a herb-scented tomato sauce.

The “proper” way to serve pasta: toss with the sauce

As with all my pasta recipes, I’ve included a step of tossing the pasta into the sauce instead of just putting the pasta in a bowl and pouring the sauce over it.

This emulsifies the bologna sauce, making it thick, shiny and sticky to the spaghetti. No more sauce running down the bottom of your bowl of pasta! This is how chefs and Italians make pasta. Try it once and you will change!
But this is an optional step. Sometimes you just don’t have the energy to clean another pan. I hear you

What to serve with Spaghetti Bolognese

For a classic Italian feast, serve with:

Garlic Bread – or go more indulgent with Cheese Garlic Bread (or go overboard with crackers). Or, for a more traditional starter, a real Italian focaccia.

Garden Salad with Italian Dressing (a must for a fresh and crunchy salad!)

Tiramisu with an Espresso Martini

For a super quick side salad, make this Parmesan Arugula Salad with Balsamic Salad. Probably the biggest side salad I’ve made since it’s literally a 2 minute unchopped salad!

This recipe is the way I’ve made spaghetti bolognese for decades (omg that’s horrible to say!!). I like it a lot, and I find that the sauce is full of flavors, especially the Bolognese recipe in 30 minutes.

But if you have time, cook it gently for a few hours.
The flavors gradually develop and the meat becomes very tender.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Spaghetti Bolognese

Spaghetti Bolognese

Everyone needs a great everyday spaghetti bolognese recipe and this is mine! Bolognese sauce is rich, thick and full of flavor. It's perfect for a quick mid-week meal, but it's even better if you can simmer it for hours! Serve it over pasta, stuff it into coated potatoes, and make an epic lasagna or baked spaghetti pie!
prep time
10 mins
cooking time
30 mins
total time
40 mins



  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil

  • 2 garlic cloves , minced

  • 1 onion , finely chopped (brown, yellow or white)

  • 1 lb / 500g beef mince (ground beef) OR half pork, half beef (Note 1)

  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) dry red wine (sub water or beef broth/stock)

  • 2 beef bouillon cubes , crumbled OR granulated beef bouillon (Note 2)

  • 800g / 28 oz can crushed tomato (or tomato passata)

  • 2 tbsp tomato paste

  • 2 tsp white sugar , if needed (Note 3)

  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

  • 2 dried bay leaves

  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried thyme or oregano)

  • Salt and pepper


  • 400 g / 13 oz spaghetti , dried

  • Parmesan cheese and finely chopped parsley (optional)


Heat the oil in a large skillet or deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook for 3 minutes or until lightly browned and tender.
Heat to high heat and add the beef. Cook gradually, until browned.
Add red wine.
Simmer for 1 minute, scraping the bottom of the pan, until the smell of alcohol disappears.
Add the remaining ingredients except salt and pepper. Stir and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and allow to bubble gently. Cook 20 to 30 minutes (covered), adding water if the sauce becomes too thick for your taste. Stir occasionally.
Slow Cooker Option: Really takes it to another level, if you have the time! Add 3/4 cup water, cover and simmer over low heat for 2-2.5 hours, stirring about every 30 minutes. (Note 5) Open the lid and simmer for 20 minutes until the sauce thickens. (Slow cooker Note 6)
Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with pasta - if you have time, I recommend following the steps below to mix the sauce with the pasta.
Pour in sauce and pasta (optional, Note 4)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions minus 1 minute.
Take 1 cup of pasta cooking water and set aside, then drain the pasta.
Heat about 1/2 cup (125 mL) reserved pasta water over medium heat and add pasta to meat sauce.
Stir gently for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes or until pasta turns red and sauce thickens.
distributed among the bowls. Garnish with Parmesan and parsley, if desired.


Meat – Some traditional stews are made with a combination of ground beef and pork. The taste of beef, the juiciness of pork. I don't usually use it mid week. Beef cubes - I use Oxo beef cubes (Woolies & Coles). Use any beef stock/stock in cubes or powder form (called "granulated beef stock" in some countries). If using powder, use 2 teaspoons (i.e. 1 teaspoon for 1 cube). Canned tomatoes – Mid-range canned tomatoes can be very acidic. A little sugar can make an incredible difference. The amount needed will depend on the tomatoes and the sweetness/tartness of the tomato sauce - to taste. Generally, the higher quality they are, the less acidic they are, so less sugar is needed. Pour in pasta sauce - see comment on post about emulsified pasta sauce. It's the "right" way to cook pasta, and it's how restaurants serve pasta. Slow Cooker Option - This is how you can turn delicious bolognese into amazing bolognese that will make your Italian Nonna proud. The key here is the very low heat - after simmering, reduce the heat so the surface is slightly bubbly with a few bubbles here and there. Feel free to peek after it's been covered for a while - as it gets hotter with the lid on. I use my smallest burner on the lowest setting. Additional Notes: * Increase recipe (use automatic recipe measurer) - if you double recipe (or more!) and brown beef in batches. If you try to cook it in batches, you'll end up simmering it instead of browning it! * Slow Cooker: What a wonderful thing to do in the slow cooker! The meat turns out so tender and the flavor of the sauce is amazing. Cook in stage 3 until the wine is gone, then put it in the slow cooker in stage 4 and cook for 6 hours. * Changes: Here are some ways to upgrade it if you want! – Grate 1 carrot + celery and brown them with the onions to make fluffy pancakes. Cook for 10 minutes over medium and low heat, there are more surprises! - Add chopped bacon (smoked is perfect!) or pancetta, cook with onions - 1 tbsp soy sauce (my mom makes it and I do it sometimes! I've seen this in some cookbooks) - Fresh or dried red peppers - Meat sauce tastes better the longer it cooks and even better the next day! Nutrition per serving, assuming 5 servings, including pasta.
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