Authentic Ragù Bolognese

A plate of pasta with a fork on it.

Ragù Bolognese is one of the most famous sauces in the world. Everyone loves its fragrance, its delicious taste, and its uniqueness. Nothing says “family” like it does. Although the traditional recipe has a specific method and cooking time, you may prepare it yourself wherever you are in the world, right there in your kitchen. 

A bowl of pasta with sauce and a glass of wine.

What is Bolognese ragù?

It is a scrumptious sauce used to season egg pasta: tagliatelle or cappelletti. The sauce is made of four different kinds of meat, vegetables, wine, and milk.  

A plate of pasta and a spoon on a marble table.

What is the best meat for ragù bolognese?

  • Veal and pork are most common in Italy; in the US, substitute the beef for the veal. 
  • The traditional recipe calls for bacon, ham, beef chuck, and pork capocollo, a smoked cold cut, which provides flavor and the right amount of fat. 
  • How the meat is ground makes the difference; you are looking for a coarse grind

The recipe I am providing you is the one from the genuine “holy” traditional cookbooks from Bologna. You will find out both how magical this recipe is and how easy it is to make. Since the ingredients are quite ordinary, you do not need any specials cooking skills. 

It is made in two steps: first, it is cooked over high heat without a lid; then the heat is reduced to low and it simmers slowly half covered by a lid. Finally, add a little milk to make it creamy and smooth.   

Ragu Bolognese

You know what I am talking about. You have already tasted it and I am sure you have fallen in love with it at once: bolognese ragù! I think it is the best loved accompaniment to pasta.
It is a trap-ladden issue here, since every region of Italy has got its own recipe, and of course, everyone says they have the "only traditional one"! Ragù makes people get heated, indeed!
A traditional recipe has been standardized, but every housewife has inherited the family's one and has varied it over the years.
I don't use any wine, tomato paste, milk or butter, least of all cream. My ragù is not so "red" as the traditional one (actually, I am from Ferrara, not from Bologna, this makes the difference), anyway, try to make my recipe, it is a delight.
Please, keep in mind: don't be in a hurry because cooking a tasty ragù takes quite a lot of time; nothing is worse than undercooked ragù! Grant your ragù plenty of time, because all the ingredients have to combine together, be patient. 
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword bolognese ragù, ragù, ragù sauce
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 30 minutes


  • ¾  cup of fresh bacon  (150g)
  • ½  cup of carrots (100g)
  • ½  cup of celery (100g)
  • ½  cup of onion (100g)
  • ½  lb coarsely ground beef chunk  (227g)
  • ½ lb coarsely ground pork capocollo (227g)
  • ¼ lb of coarsely ground ham  (114g)
  • 1 glass of dry white wine
  • 1 ¼ cup of tomato sauce (300g)
  • 1 glass of milk 
  • Beef broth for thinning out sauce (if needed)
  • 4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
Servings 6 people


  • Dice the bacon and finely chop the celery, carrots, and onion;
  • Brown the bacon in a stockpot or cast iron pot with 4 tablespoons of oil; add the vegetables and season with plenty of salt to release the liquid; 
  • Fry over medium heat until softened and golden brown; make sure the water has evaporated because a too liquid ragù does not taste good; 
  • Stir in all the ground meat, breaking up all the clumps of meat and brown over medium-high heat. The mix should be smooth, golden brown, and dry. Be careful not to burn it;
  • Pour in the wine, combine well, and boil off the alcohol;
  • Season with salt;
  • Add the tomato sauce or the peeled plum tomatoes with their liquid, cover with a tight-fitting lid but leave enough space to let the steam out. Reduce the heat to low, and let cook for about 2 hours;
  • Stir in some broth if the sauce gets too thick;
  • Season with salt and pepper; after about 2 hours, pour in the milk for a creamy smooth sauce.

Do you have any ragù left?

You should prepare ragù according to the recipe; 2-3 tablespoons are enough to season an average serving of pasta of 2 cups (about 80-100g). When the ragù is cool, put it into glass containers and store it in the freezer for up to 3 or 4 months. 

How can you serve bolognese ragù?

  • Cook, drain, and put pasta into a serving bowl. Pour on the hot ragù and toss well to coat the pasta evenly. Serve hot. 
  • In case you are using frozen ragù, put it into a pan, add a few spoons of pasta cooking liquid, cover with a lid, and cook over low heat. You can also microwave the sauce by first defrosting it and then reheating it until hot. When it is done, pour the pasta directly into the pan with the ragù and stir for a few minutes to combine well. 

How do you make ragù sauce tastier?

The “registered” recipe does not allow for any variations, but in the secrecy of my kitchen, I usually make a few changes. With the addition of some basil and rosemary during the cooking process, my ragù tastes better. You may also like to add some red pepper flakes as well.

Please, leave cheese, cream, mushrooms, or garlic out; they may taste good, but they really don’t belong in an authentic ragù.

What do you eat with ragù?

Ragù is an important sauce, which is prepared for special occasions or for Sunday lunches because it takes time. Sunday lunch is typically a rich meal. Usually, starters come first, then the Tagliatelle al Ragù, then some roasted meat with a side vegetable, and finally the dessert. During the week, meals are lighter: pasta with ragù is followed with a crisp green salad that is dressed with olive oil and vinegar. 

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