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Classic Ragù Bolognese

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A certain magic happens as the beef and aromatic vegetables slowly cook down with wine, tomato paste, and broth in this classic bolognese recipe.


4 to 6 Servings


Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil


medium onions, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)


celery stalks, finely chopped (about 1 cup)


carrots, peeled, finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)


oz. ground beef (85% lean)


oz. ground veal


oz. thinly sliced pancetta, finely chopped


/2 cup dry red wine


cups (about) beef stock or chicken stock, divided


Tbsp. tomato paste

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


cup whole milk


lb. tagliatelle or fettuccine (preferably fresh egg)

Finely grated Parmesan (for serving)


Step 1

Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add onions, celery, and carrots. Sauté until soft, 8-10 minutes. Add beef, veal, and pancetta; sauté, breaking up with the back of a spoon, until browned, about 15 minutes. Add wine; boil 1 minute, stirring often and scraping up browned bits. Add 2 1/2 cups stock and tomato paste; stir to blend. Reduce heat to very low and gently simmer, stirring occasionally, until flavors meld, 1 1/2 hours. Season with salt and pepper.

Step 2

Bring milk to a simmer in a small saucepan; gradually add to sauce. Cover sauce with lid slightly ajar and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until milk is absorbed, about 45 minutes, adding more stock by 1/4-cupfuls to thin if needed.

Step 3

DO AHEAD: Ragù can be made 2 days ahead. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Rewarm before continuing.

Step 4

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season with salt; add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until 1 minute before al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water. Transfer ragù to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pasta and toss to coat. Stir in some of the reserved pasta water by tablespoonfuls if sauce seems dry. Divide pasta among warm plates. Serve with Parmesan.

How would you rate Classic Ragù Bolognese?

  • Loved this but I had to speed up the process as my son was quite hungry. Came out delicious, but I must say I am surprised the recipe did not call for garlic. All I had on hand for broth was the Better Than Bouillon low sodium chicken and a No Chicken Chicken, I opted for the former. Next time I will start earlier in the day to give the ingredients a chance to marry in the pot.

    • JBryant

    • Waco, Texas

    • 12/31/2021

  • When they say 'Ragù Bolognese' - they mean it, tasted pretty close to the traditional ragù bolognese that I had in Bologna! This is not a tomato heavy sauce like American Spaghetti Bolognese. The traditional Italian recipe is a low-and- slow sofrito and meat sauce with a bit of tomato paste. I made a few tweaks - I only used beef with a higher fat percentage (I don't eat pork), added a bit of freshly ground nutmeg, substituted the milk for cooking cream, and added the tomato paste before the stock to let it cook off some of the acidity (I made these changes because that's how the recipe and technique were explained to me in Bologna). It takes a lot more time than I thought- several hours and everyone was starving- but so worth it! I would 100% make it again, but I would probably make it the day before. Everyone had seconds!

    • Z.S

    • 12/17/2021

  • This recipe is delicious. I used 1 lb. of ground beef instead of the half/half. I also used heavy cream instead of milk. And I added a pinch of sugar to balance out the acidity. It's soooo amazing. Second time making it this week! :)

    • Alexandra Ruiz

    • Fort Collins, Co

    • 9/2/2021

  • Had never made a Bolognese before and wanted to try a fairly simple recipe. Made a few modifications, such as shallots instead of onions and almond milk instead of whole milk. I think the whole milk or cream would have added more body, but it's what we had in the fridge. Also used ground pork instead of veal because, again, it's what we had. Used a herb salt instead of straight Kosher salt which lifted the flavor in my opinion. This seemed like it would be more complicated because of the amount of ingredients, but it was fairly straightforward and easy. Next time I will definitely use heavy cream or whole milk though as the almond milk made it a bit too thin with the amount of pasta water I put in to help the dryness.

    • CJ Butterbaugh

    • Alabama

    • 9/1/2021

  • I first made this recipe as a young cook, when it first appeared in the BA print edition. I will avoid giving the year in order to protect myself! The only change I have made over many years is to use cream, not milk, and ground pork in addition to the beef. Who would spend the time to make this and NOT make fresh pasta?!

    • Kathleen the Cook

    • Chicago

    • 1/23/2021

  • This recipe is easily my go-to special dinner menu item when I have 3+ hrs to be near the stove and don't want to be too precious about serving time (you can keep simmering the ragu then quickly make the pasta). The only change I do is using all ground beef instead of a split. I highly recommend buying fresh pasta - it makes a huge difference versus boxed.

    • Anonymous

    • Los Angeles, CA, United States

    • 10/27/2020

  • Ya’ll are clownin’. This recipe is great. I also used only beef, instead of veal. The beauty is in the simplicity, and the low, slow cooking of this sauce. If you are so compelled to add garlic, do so. But don’t down-rate the recipe because YOU think it should have something that’s not even traditionally in the sauce. Louder for those in the back: THERE IS NO GARLIC IN TRADITIONAL BOLOGNESE. Thanks, BA!

    • Vascular_potato

    • Chicago

    • 10/5/2020

  • I have tried this multiple times. I skip the milk often as well. Great recipe!

    • Anonymous

    • San Francisco

    • 6/29/2020

  • I want to know what kind of Prego they’re selling in Oregon.

    • MikeRad

    • Nelson Bc Canada

    • 6/7/2020

  • Fantastic!!! I skipped the milk and the ragu turned out absolutely Great. I’ll definitely be making this again!

    • Anonymous

    • Manhattan, NYC

    • 5/3/2020

  • As an American who studied in Italy for my last term in college 15 years ago, this really hit the spot. I made a few alterations. Instead of 6 oz beef and 6 oz veal, I used 1 lb of beef. I also used a full cup of red wine and 3 carrots and 3 celery stalks I added 3 cloves of garlic and 2 bay leaves I seasoned sparingly with salt at every step and then salted to taste when it was done. I fortified my milk with a half ounce of heavy cream

    • Anonymous

    • California

    • 5/1/2020

  • This recipe is wonderful. The beauty of it is that it is packed with flavor and not because you are having to adding every herb in your cupboard. Texture is beautfiul. First time i made this was two years ago and it’s now a staple especially at christmas eve dinner.

    • Anonymous

    • St . Paul, MN

    • 12/24/2019

  • If you don't like this very traditional Italian recipe, that's fine, but this is as authentic as it gets. Adding garlic, a bunch of aromatics and/or more acidity no longer makes it truly a traditional and classic, albeit it is still a good Ragù. This dish was crafted from a very simplistic approach. Italian recipes are made very slowly, delicately, simply and with passion and love. This recipe is a 10/5, one of the few truly traditional recipes on the internet.

    • Anonymous

    • 11/3/2019

  • Nowhere near BA’s best. The sauce is way to thin, missing garlic, seasonings, etc. I think Prego makes a better option.

    • Ian Howard

    • Hillsboro, Oregon

    • 4/7/2019

  • I love this recipe, and while I can see why some people were not happy with it, you just have to remember this is not an "American" bolognese. In our house we are garlic lovers and yes, I added garlic. Also, followed the one suggestion and cooked the tomato paste with the veggies to caramelize it, then removed them while I browned the meat. THEN brought everyone back to the party. Yes, it took longer to simmer to get the right texture but once it did, it's amazing. However, next time I make this recipe, I WILL add some herbs, I agree it needs some. And will do a little seasoning in the beginning (careful not to over-salt). We love this dish and I make it at least once a year - double batch - so I can freeze some for later.

    • Anonymous

    • Illinois

    • 1/21/2019