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How to Make the Best Bolognese Spaghetti Sauce

Bolognese sauce is so delicious it has become a staple in so many countries outside Italy. I recently discovered that the spaghetti sauce we all love in the States differs a great deal from its original, Italian counterpart. These two differ in ingredients and the manner of preparation but the biggest surprise was to find out that Italian chefs consider it a blasphemy to serve Bolognese on top of spaghetti as people in the States prefer. I found this out, along with more interesting facts in The Best Homemade Spaghetti Sauce Recipes.


Bolognese spaghetti sauce is a perfect combination of tomato sauce and minced meat. People adore it for its rich taste as well as the simplicity of preparation. I am sure you have your own favorite recipe for this sauce that always works, but anything can be improved, right? Here are my top tips and tricks for a perfect Bolognese spaghetti sauce.

#1 Make the Base for Your Bolognese Spaghetti Sauce

The Italian versions consider tomatoes an auxiliary ingredient and use it in smaller amounts. In America, Bolognese is considered a tomato sauce and the quantity of tomatoes in recipes rises accordingly. Both fresh and canned versions can be used.

Onion is a must in every Bolognese spaghetti sauce recipe, finely diced, sautéed until soft and light-brown. Onion is often combined with finely diced carrot and celery. If you are going for a more authentic taste, fry these veggies in butter to obtain a mixture that Italians call soffritto.

Some spaghetti sauce recipes suggest adding a dash of sugar in order to caramelize the soffrito and emphasize the tomatoes’ natural sweetness. If you do this, make sure to balance the taste with an acidifier, preferably lemon juice. Don’t add salt because it interferes with the caramelization process, you’ll add it in the later stages.

Note: In American varieties of this spaghetti sauce, smashed garlic is also added.

#2 Choose the Right Meat for Your Spaghetti Sauce
The usual meat of choice for Bolognese spaghetti sauce recipes is minced beef. It is used individually or combined with pork mince. 

American varieties are not reluctant in the use of veal mince, sausages, diced bacon, and pancetta. More radical additions include chicken mince or even chicken livers or even a glass of milk. I like the addition of milk because it contributes a somewhat creamy note but in that case, I add larger amounts of spices. Bear in mind though, that milk will dilute the tomato taste.

#3 Make Your Spaghetti Sauce Flavorful
I was surprised to find Bolognese spaghetti sauce recipes that call for anchovies. Even though the authors claim these tiny fish emphasize the flavor of the red meat and you won’t even know they are in the sauce, I think anchovies are reserved for Puttanesca sauces.

When it comes to herbs, choose those that won’t overwhelm your Bolognese sauce like parsley, bay leaves, oregano, marjoram, or thyme. Use more flavorful herbs like basil and rosemary in smaller quantities. Opt for fresh varieties whenever possible to add color and freshness. Add half of them during cooking and the rest just before serving.

Americans tend to further enrich their Bolognese sauces by adding splashes of soy or Worcestershire sauce and complement with grated Parmesan cheese on top.

Final note: cook your Bolognese sauce slowly, on a low heat.

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