This easy and delicious spaghetti bolognese is thick and meaty with a rich well rounded flavor developed over a long slow simmering process. Carrot, celery and onions are hidden stars, and there is the perfect mix of spices and herbs. Definite crowdpleaser and a staple family recipe! With instructions on how to freeze bolognese.
What makes this the best easy spaghetti bolognese:
This bolognese starts with a soffrito recipe. What is soffrito used for? It’s a slowly sweated mixture of onion, carrots and celery and it adds a TON of flavor.
This also adds a ton of nutrition. This is a kid friendly spaghetti bolognese! Soffrito cooks down so much that the kids won’t even know all those good veggies are hiding in your delicious sauce.
Once you get your meat cooked, the rest of this recipe is so simple. Just add a bunch of ingredients and let it simmer for basically as long as you got. This adds so much flavor!
This makes enough for a crowd, and you’ll probably end up with leftovers. Leftovers taste DELICIOUS. It also freezes so well, and freezing bolognese sauce gives you such a good thing to have on hand.
The combination of spices and herbs is tried, tested, and perfected. For the bolognese all spice, cinnamon, and garlic powder really enhance the flavor of the meat.
For the tomato sauce, fresh basil, bay leaves, and dried oregano are my herbs of choice, but feel free to mix it up! You can use dried basil, generic Italian seasoning, parsley, thyme. Fennel is a secret ingredient that gives this slight fragrant anise like flavor to this sauce- I love it but this is optional.
Ingredients you need for spaghetti bolognese:
For the meaty part:
Beef mince: Some people use a mix of meat, I like beef the best. I also tend to use lean beef, so much flavor goes in this sauce so I don’t think you need the extra fat.
Onion, carrot, celery, and garlic: The base of our soffrito! You’ll cook these down in olive oil until very soft.
Spices for spaghetti bolognese:
Seven spices or allspice, cinnamon powder, garlic powder and some salt and pepper flavor the meat.
For the tomato sauce:
Crushed tomatoes or tomato passata: The base of our sauce. You can also used diced tomatoes, but if so you may wish to use an immersion blender to break down the tomatoes a little so you don’t get chunky bits.
Tomato paste: to deepen the tomato flavor
A pinch of sugar: to cut the acidity from the tomato
Beef stock cube: you’ll just crumble this into the sauce
Non-alcoholic red wine OR additional beef broth, grape juice, or water.
For the herbs and spices for the bolgonese tomato sauce: you’ll need chopped basil or dried basil, dried oregano, bay leaves, and optionally fennel seeds, and a pinch of red pepper flakes.
is very similar to the same base I use in another classic recipe of mine, my killer lasagna. I use lean beef, and add it to cooked onion, carrot, celery, and garlic mixture.
How to make the best bolognese:
- In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil.
- Once the oil is hot, add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Saute, stirring regularly for about 10 minutes or until the vegetables have softened.
- Add the minced beef, the allspice, the garlic powder and some salt and pepper, and cook beef until browned, breaking up any clumps that form with a wooden spoon. You may choose to drain the beef of its fat at this point- This is optional, but once my beef browns, I like to tilt the pan really carefully into the sink to drain the fat. Some people think this diminishes the seasoning and flavor but I haven’t ever had that problem!
- Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, basil leaves, dried oregano, bay leaves, the beef stock cube, fennel seeds, red chili flakes, the beef stock cube, and non-alcoholic red wine/water/grape juice/or additional beef broth,. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 hr to 1 hr 15 min.
- After 1 hour of cooking, check on seasoning and adjust as necessary. You should have a thick flavorful sauce. Remove the lid, and let the sauce continue to simmer for another 15-20 minutes for the liquid to reduce further if you want it to thicken more.
- Serve with cooked pasta noodles (you can toss the noodles directly into the sauce if you like) and garnished with fresh parmesan and extra basil if desired.
Putting it all together:
Time is your friend here. A slow steady simmer, just like the Italian’s do it. The longer slow and steady cook time develops the flavors, thickens the sauce, and sets the stage for your delicious meal. Then, when the sauce is ready, toss with your spaghetti noodles of choice (we typically use whole wheat spaghetti) and prepare to be wowed.
Finish off with some fresh Parmesan cheese and herbs and enjoy! Tip: this is even better the next day!
How long does bolognese last in the fridge ?
Leftover spaghetti bolognese can be stored for 4-5 days tightly covered in the fridge. Reheat it gently in a pot on the stove, or warm in the microwave.
I highly recommend storing cooked pasta noodles and bolognese sauce separate. This is what will keep your meal tasting fresh. I like to reheat spaghetti noodles over a colander by pouring hot water on them, and separately rewarming the sauce.
Can you freeze spaghetti bolognese?
Freezing bolognese sauce is a great idea. In fact, I often make a big batch just for the purpose of freezing a portion!
Just place in an airtight container or a heavy duty freezer bag, and once cool place in the freezer. It’ll freeze for 2-3 months. You can thaw the sauce overnight in the fridge, or just place the frozen block in a saucepan and rewarm straight from frozen to serve quickly.
Recipe tips and tricks:
- Use a food processor and add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Pulse until grated into fine pieces. This will save you so much time, and you can do all these ingredients at once!
- Cook down the above mixture (soffrito) really well until softened and fragrant. This will help it blend so beautifully with the bolognese sauce.
- Don’t skimp on the herbs and spices for the bolognese. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed once or twice during the simmering process.
- Leftovers taste even better, so don’t be worried about making a big batch. Refrigerated and reheated, bolgonese tastes great and the flavors develop as it sits.
Yes! If I don’t have any non alcohol red wine on hand, I’ll use either grape juice or some beef stock to replace the wine. You could even use plain water, there’s plenty of flavor in the sauce regardless
Yes! The only animal product in this is the actual minced beef, so omit it and replace with diced mushrooms, or cooked lentils.
Yes, as mentioned above in the storage instructions, bolognese freezes very well for up to 3 months.
For more great pasta recipes:
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- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 carrots grated
- 2 celery stalks finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves minced garlic cloves
- 1 lb minced beef 500g
- 1 teaspoon all spice or seven spices
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cans crushed tomatoes or tomato passata (each can should be 400 g or 12 oz)
- 2 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tsp sugar
- handful chopped basil leaves (or 1/2 teaspoon dried basil)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 beef stock cube
- 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
- pinch red chili flakes, optional
- 1/2 cup non alcoholic red wine or beef broth, grape juice, water
- 1 pack spaghetti, cooked al dente 400g (16oz)
- parmesan cheese for topping
- extra basil for topping
- In a large heavy bottomed saucepan on medium heat, add the olive oil.
- Once the oil is hot, add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Sautee, stirring regularly for about 10 minutes or until the vegetables have softened. If heat seems too high, reduce to medium low.
- Add the minced beef, the allspice, the garlic powder and a big pinch of salt and pepper, and cook beef until browned, breaking up any clumps that form with a wooden spoon. You may choose to drain the beef of its fat at this point.
- Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, basil leaves, dried oregano, bay leaves, the beef stock cube, fennel seeds, red chili flakes, the beef stock cube, water/grape juice/or additional beef broth, and cherry tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 hr to 1 hr 15 min.
- After 1 hour of cooking, check on seasoning and adjust as necessary. You should have a thick flavorful sauce. Remove the lid, and let the sauce continue to simmer for another 15-20 minutes for the liquid to reduce further.
- If you aren't anticipating any leftovers, you can toss the bolognese sauce directly with the cooked pasta. If you think you'll have anything leftover, I'd advise you just serve with some bolognese sauce on top. This way you can store the leftover bolognese sauce separately from the cooked pasta.
- Garnish with fresh parmesan and extra basil if desired.