Marcella Hazan’s Bolognese Sauce Recipe (2024)



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I cannot comment of the taste of the sauce. It was cooling and I ran a short errand. In the meantime, my 8 year old Labrador Retriever, Jake, (who had never, ever bothered anything in the kitchen) somehow got the pot off of the cooktop and ate all of the sauce. The worst part was that I had tripled the recipe, so Jake ate 3 pounds of Bolognese sauce! I am certain he would rate the sauce a 5. We had to go out for dinner, but I will make the recipe again and post relevant feedback!PS Jake is fine.

Rob Ron

At the end of the cooking process am I to remove the separated fat. I'm new to this.

Andrew from New York

This was a great and helpful guide. Added a few bits more here, reduced a few things there and ended up with a great bolognese.

I have to laugh at the people who are complaining about it not being good. You're saying that you had something on your stove top for 3 hours and not once did you taste it? This is cooking not baking. You taste everything at every step along the way and make adjustments. It is the lazy cook that blames the recipe


I've been making this sauce for 25 years. It comes out great every time. I can say that it works with ground beef or a mixture of beef, pork and/or veal. I can also say that this sauce is 97.32% as good after 1 hour as it is after 3 hours, so if you're impatient. Noting that it takes about 1 hour to get to step 4, so if you started cooking a bit late, when you get to step 4, you can eat it with minimal reduction in quality after one hour of cooking.


I have the 1979 version of the book. The proportions of ingredients in my cookbook are very different.

For 3/4 lb of beef, go with:
3 tbs each - olive oil and butter
2 tbs each chopped onion, celery and carrot
1/2 c milk
2 c canned Italian tomatoes, roughly chopped.

My recipe calls for adding the wine and cooking off, before adding the milk.

I always make a triple or quadruple recipe. I cut down on the amount of butter/oil I use - never more than 4-6 tbs of each. It freezes well.


Marcella has never never let me down. No exception here. If you have had less than a satisfactory result, less thaN a religious experience, try this:1.Do what she says—EXACTLY.2.Tell Alexa to play Puccini or Verdi3.Use the heavy bottom pot.4.Do NOTHING to make any step happen more quickly.7.Don’t deviate from her instructions.You will have a different result. Tanti saluti.

Brian T Hunt

Authentic. Using a broad, flat noodle such as parpadelle is essential. Chop the vegetables pretty fine- they seem to disappear, but are actually part of the chunks in the ragu. The tip about using a little butter and a little starchy pasta water to toss the sauce with the pasta is also important. And spring for the real Parmesan-Reggiano- desecrating a five-hour ragu with stuff from the green can would not only be disastrously counter-productive and sad, but borderline immoral. :)


This the the best Bolognese recipe there is in my opinion. Btw... Ground chuck is 80/20 ground beef. That is also known as 80%. Any leaner beef and the sauce would not be correct. We do not find it too fatty in the least. You need the butter and whole milk for this sauce to be the way it is supposed to be. Using turkey and skim milk might give you a tasty end result, but it is not Marcella's sauce. As far as I am concerned this recipe is perfect as written . No changes necessary.


I am making this right now and it is going great. I really just wanted to say that I love the expression, "laziest of simmers".

Patricia Garcia

Marcella hailed from the Northern Adriatic coast, where seafood was the most commonly available. She only learned to cook after she was married, trying to please Victor, who was and is an oenophile. She was a gifted cook. I wonder how many of the complainers bothered with the is the most defining flavor in a true Bolognese sauce, which this most definitely is


I've been making this for over 30 years. I cook it exactly for 5 hours. The difference in the taste when you cook it for 3 hours (more bland) and 5 hours is incredible and well worth the time. It ends up being a thick, concentrated sauce that you don't pour on top of the pasta but that you toss into the pasta.


Holy goodness. I'm amazed at the number of people who are absolutely sure that the version of Bolognese that they prefer is the one, true, authentic version. I imagine there are as many variations as there are kitchens in Bologna, folks.

If I could add anything to the conversation, it would be to throw a little starchy pasta water in with the sauce and pasta as they are being tossed together, and really bring it all together.


No; it's just a signal that it's finished cooking ("ready to eat"). When sauce cooks long enough that the fat separates it 1) improves the taste of the ingredients, and 2) improves the appearance of the dish. Separated fat looks and tastes beautiful in a dish--it often takes on the deepest colors and flavors in the pot, and is one measure that separates an amateur's dish from a professional's. So, yes! The fat is meant to stay in the pot!


I've made this sauce many times, and I like it for what it is. I love to doctor things, too, but sometimes a classic is a classic. That being said, I would add two observations:
-Fresh, blanched, peeled, and chopped tomatoes work well, too. Lean toward longer cooking time. Haven't needed to add water when using fresh.
-I finely mince the vegetables, particularly the carrot and celery. Otherwise, it has a "beef stew" appearance that my family finds less appealing.


Oh goodness no! Fear not the fat! Fear the pasta more.


No no no. Carrot and celery in a bolognese? No no no


3x recipe:1 big can (32 oz) tomatoes 1 small can (14 oz)

Joan DeCenzo

I cannot fathom the rave reviews about this recipe. There is not one redeeming aspect. The flavor was bland, texturally the meat dissolved into tiny pieces ultimately leaving it visually unappealing. I made the recipe exactly as directed and simmered the sauce for 5 hours. It required some "doctoring" before I could serve it to my family. A huge disappointment given the time required.


Oops realized I accidentally grabbed strawberry flavored milk. It’s already evaporated into the beef. Wish me luck 😬

Name Debbie

I forgot to add the milk and everything is simmering. Is it too late?

Rie Rie

Thank you to the person who noted that they allow 30 minutes between each layer. I am very new to cooking and still not confident about when a liquid "evaporates off". I am guessing that it means there is virtually no liquid remaining before the tomatoes are added. Fingers crossed but I'm feeling pretty good about how it smells so far and haven't added the tomatoes yet.

Charlene Spierer

I’ve made this recipe for years. Perfect every time! I usually double the recipe so I could freeze half. Highly recommend. Huge fan of Marcella Hazan.


It is amazing, although, I call it my mom's bolognese, as I have been making it for over 20 years based on my mom's recipe. It is also a very flexible and forgiving recipe - a tasty addition is Trader Joe's Italian bacon pieces (I think 4 oz), which gives some additional flavor. I usually make a triple portion of this without the milk and freeze it, and then cook it with some added milk for another hour. I would not abbreviate the cooking time, the longer the better.


Excellent recipe. I had to add garlic, how could you not? I also used a combination of pork/veal/beef for protein. Cooking was done in a large cast iron pan, which worked perfectly. I agree that long simmering is key here.

Jeanette R

Followed recipe exactly with hopes of discovering how six hours plus exacting handling could render such basic ingredients magical. The result, we agreed, was certainly edible, but far from approaching five star status.


This is my favorite bolognese ever. I do prefer red wine to white, so I always make it that way now.

Glennito Barcelona

Does NYT Cooking have any plans to add metric measurements to their recipes? "1½cups canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, cut up, with their juice" Is that the equivalent to a 400g can?

Mark B

I am fortunate enough to be the recipient of game from time to time and have used ground venison, antelope, and elk in this recipe. Maybe not entirely “authentic,” but very tasty, although needs the addition of a bit more oil or butter.


Beautiful dinner. Worth the extra time.


I’m wondering how far in advance I can make this? And as a follow up, can I freeze it?

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Marcella Hazan’s Bolognese Sauce Recipe (2024)


What is the best white wine for Marcella Hazan bolognese? ›

WHITE WINE: for acid and balance. Seek out a dry white wine, such as Pinto Grigio, Pinot Gris, or Sauvignon Blanc. CANNED TOMATOES: I prefer a bolognese that has a slightly higher ratio of tomatoes than Marcella Hazan's original recipe calls for.

Can you freeze Marcella Hazan's Bolognese sauce? ›

Once done, you can refrigerate the sauce in a tightly sealed container for 3 days, or you can freeze it. Before tossing with pasta, reheat it, letting it simmer for 15 minutes and stirring it once or twice.

What can I add to my Bolognese sauce to make it taste better? ›

6 Things That'll Make Your Spaghetti Bolognese Taste SO Much...
  1. Milk. Adding milk to Bolognese is actually a part of the traditional method. ...
  2. Sundried Tomatoes. I can't get enough of sundried toms, and I have been known to sneak a few straight from the jar (boujee snack alert). ...
  3. Anchovies. ...
  4. Wine. ...
  5. Porcini mushrooms. ...
  6. Sugar.
Nov 20, 2019

What is Bolognese sauce made of? ›

Bolognese sauce is a classic Italian sauce for pasta made with ground meat such as beef or pork. It's slow cooked with a soffritto of onions, carrots, and celery, tomatoes, and milk to give it a creamy texture. Pronounced "bow-luh-nez," the sauce comes from the Bologna region of Italy, hence the name.

What's the best pasta for bolognese? ›

Tagliatelle: Tagliatelle is a long, ribbon-like pasta that is wider than fettuccine but narrower than pappardelle. Its wide surface area and slightly curled edges make it perfect for holding the rich Bolognese sauce.

Is bolognese better with red or white wine? ›

Analyze the ingredients for your pasta

For heartier meat-based dishes, such as a ragu or Bolognese, consider red wines with more robust tannins like a Sangiovese or a Cabernet Sauvignon to complement the richness of the meat.

How much bolognese sauce for 1 lb of pasta? ›

Typically, we like the ratio of one jar of our sauce to 1 pound (or package) of our pasta. Don't dump that pasta water. That hot starchy water is an asset to your pasta dishes. Reserve about 1 cup of pasta cooking water before draining your noodles.

How much bolognese sauce per pound of pasta? ›

If you prefer a lighter coating of sauce, you can typically use about half a jar (approximately 12 to 13 ounces or 340 to 370 grams) for one pound (16 ounces or 454 grams) of pasta.

What is the best cut of beef for bolognese sauce? ›

Marcella Hazan wrote that any cook can achieve a great ragù by being careful about a few basic points. First, the meat should not be from too lean a cut; the more marbled it is, the richer the ragù it makes. The most desirable cut of beef is the neck portion of the chuck.

How do you make bolognese taste richer? ›

A few things.
  1. Substitute the bacon for chopped prosciutto or pancetta. ...
  2. Meat adds a lot of flavor to a bolognese sauce and it seems like you don't have a lot of meat. ...
  3. Once the meat browns, reduce it in a dry white wine... ...
  4. Consider adding chicken broth when you add the tomatoes. ...
  5. On top of all of this...
Mar 20, 2015

Should I add milk or butter to bolognese? ›

Classic bolognese is made with… MILK! There are a few qualities of a bolognese which make it easy to distinguish. It's acidic, it's tomatoey, it's rich, it's packed with minced meat and it's a deep red colour.

Why does my bolognese taste bad? ›

Your spaghetti sauce may taste bland due to insufficient seasoning. Try adding more salt, herbs (like basil, oregano, or thyme), and other flavor enhancers like garlic, onion, or red pepper flakes. Also, a dash of sugar can balance flavors and bring out the natural sweetness of tomatoes.

Do Italians put milk in bolognese? ›

However, there are as many recipe versions of this delicious slow-cooked sauce as there are cooks in the Italian city of Bologna. The secret ingredient to a true Bolognese Sauce is milk (or cream), which is added in such small amount, you don't even know it's there.

Why sugar in Bolognese sauce? ›

Why should you add sugar to your spaghetti sauce? If the tomatoes are too acidic or you add wine to the sauce, and you don't plan on cooking it for hours like an authentic Sunday Sauce, then a teaspoon of sugar can help reduce the acidity.

What is the difference between Italian bolognese and American bolognese? ›

The American bolognese is essentially a southern-Italy style ragù with minced meat instead of meat in pieces, which means that it's very rich in tomato, and it has a too short cooking time. Besides, it tends to include a huge number of pointless ingredients and often the wine is used in the wrong way.

What wine should you use in bolognese? ›

A dry red wine is ideal for Bolognese sauce. Traditional choices include Italian varieties such as Chianti, Barolo, or Sangiovese; these wines not only enhance the sauce but also complement the finished dish when served alongside it.

Can you use Marsala wine in bolognese? ›

Add Marsala and bring to a boil; cook, scraping up browned bits, until liquid has almost evaporated, about 1 minute. Add 1/2 cup mushroom liquid and mushrooms, broth, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 1 hour.

What is the best white wine to use in spaghetti sauce? ›

White sauce with wine for pasta

Pasta with cream sauce begs for white wine. If you are making a cream sauce or a dish with poultry, seafood, pork, or veal, and you want to play it safe, try a crisp, dry white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris (Pinot Grigio), Pinot Blanc, or Sémillon.

What is the best Italian dry white wine for cooking? ›

Pinot Grigio, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Blanc, and dry sparkling wines labeled "brut" are especially good choices. Fuller whites with strong, oaky flavors, like some Chardonnays, don't work as well for cooking because they are lower in acidity and don't provide as much punch as the crisper wines.


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