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Italian meat sauce

Easy Bolognese Recipe

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  • Author: amycaseycooks
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: 5 servings 1x


Your kitchen will smell heavenly with a simmering pot of this easy bolognese recipe with pancetta. With ground beef, salty and crisp pancetta, chunky tomatoes and Italian spices, this versatile sauce will be a family favorite. 


  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion chopped, about 1 cup
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 cups mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small carrot, finely chopped, about 1/2 cup
  • 1 small celery stalk, finely chopped, about 1/2 cup
  • 4 ounces pancetta, finely chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef, 85/15 blend
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1/4 cup half and half or light cream
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Pasta, polenta, or zucchini noodles for serving


  1. Heat a large saute pan over medium heat and add the olive oil. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the onion, garlic, mushrooms, carrot, celery and pancetta. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Saute for 10 to 12 minutes or until the vegetables are softened and beginning to caramelize and the pancetta is almost crisp.
  2. Add the ground beef to the pan and continue cooking until the meat is browned, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain off the fat.
  3. Return the pan to the burner over medium heat. Add the red wine. Scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Cook until the wine is almost evaporated or about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the can of diced tomatoes and their juices, the half and half, red pepper flakes, basil, and oregano and stir to combine. Turn the heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes.
  5. Stir in the butter and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Serve over hot pasta, polenta or zucchini noodles.


  • Finely chop the carrot and celery. It is more important that they add flavor to the dish then it is to add color. You want the veggies to almost dissolve into the bolognese.
  • Pancetta is a smoky Italian bacon. It is available at most grocery stores. And conveniently, it is usually already diced for you. If you cannot find pancetta, substitute bacon.
  • I like to use 85/15 ground beef. The ratio is that of meat to fat in the ground beef mixture. This combination adds just the right amount of fat to the recipe.
  • Don't skip adding the half and half (or substitute light cream) and butter to the bolognese recipe. The ingredients add a sneaky rich creaminess to the sauce without overpowering it.
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 55 minutes
  • Category: entree
  • Method: stove top
  • Cuisine: Italian


  • Serving Size: 1/5 of recipe
  • Calories: 414
  • Sugar: 6.5 g
  • Sodium: 632 mg
  • Fat: 22.1 g
  • Saturated Fat: 8 g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 0 g
  • Trans Fat: 0 g
  • Carbohydrates: 12.4 g
  • Fiber: 3.3 g
  • Protein: 39.1 g
  • Cholesterol: 117 mg