This Spaghetti Bolognese is a hearty dinner that’s always a hit with kids and adults alike! Only 15 minutes of prep for this thick and flavorful meat sauce recipe!
Growing up, we had “pasta and red sauce” (as I liked to call it) aka spaghetti with marinara and ground beef almost every week.
Well, my friends, this spaghetti bolognese is like the elevated version of pasta and red sauce. It’s still quick and easy, but instead of using a jarred sauce, we’re making our own marinara and we’re throwing in a bit of bacon for good measure. 😉
What is spaghetti bolognese?
Bolognese sauce is a thick and hearty tomato-based sauce made with ground meat and Italian seasonings.
Spaghetti bolognese is spaghetti noodles served with the bolognese sauce. It’s a super filling, super delicious dinner that is sure to be a crowd pleaser!
A few secret ingredients take this spaghetti bolognese to a whole other level!
- Bacon – adds delicious smoky flavor. Bacon really adds a nice depth and richness to the sauce.
- Ground Beef and Italian Sausage – I love the flavor combination of beef and Italian sausage in this recipe, but feel free to use just one if preferred.
- Onion, Carrot, and Celery – the classic veggie blend. Adds flavor, texture, and bonus! good for you veggies that the kids will never know are in there!
- Garlic – adds that subtle nutty flavor.
- Dried Basil, Italian Seasoning, Ground Nutmeg, Salt, Pepper, and Red Pepper Flakes – a simple but effective seasoning blend that adds just the right amount of flavor, sweetness, and heat.
- Red Wine and Chicken Broth – thins out the sauce. This recipe only calls for 1/2 cup of wine, so there’s plenty left to enjoy WITH the pasta. 😉
- Tomato Paste, Tomato Sauce, and Crushed Tomatoes – the base for the bolognese sauce. The paste adds a really nice, rich tomato flavor and the crushed tomatoes just a touch of texture!
- Balsamic Vinegar – adds a touch of tanginess that compliments the tomatoes.
- Spaghetti Noodles – for serving! Other noodles will work too but spaghetti is a classic.
How to make
- Cook the bacon in a large stockpot. Remove once it’s crispy, then crumble and set aside.
- In the same stockpot, add in beef, sausage, carrot, celery, garlic, and seasonings. Cook until the meat is cooked through and the veggies are tender.
- Drain the grease then deglaze with red wine. Stir in tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, chicken broth, and cooked/crumbled bacon. Simmer, stirring regularly.
- Stir in balsamic vinegar, toss with pasta, then serve and enjoy!
Can you use fresh herbs?
Technically, you can use fresh herbs instead of dry, but I don’t recommend it. If you want to incorporate fresh herbs, I’d suggest using fresh basil as a garnish.
If you really want to use fresh as more than a garnish, you’ll need one tablespoon of fresh herbs for every one teaspoon of dried.
- Use a different meat. Try my healthy turkey bolognese instead!
- Add more veggies. Try broccoli, peas, greens, you name it.
- Make it vegetarian. Simply omit the meat or substitute the beef/pork for a meatless “meat” or try a walnut/lentil combo. You’ll also need to sub the chicken broth for veggie broth!
What to serve with spaghetti bolognese
- Green Salad with Italian Dressing
- Garlic Bread
- Pear, Blue Cheese, and Candied Pecan Salad
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts
How to store
Store the bolognese sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days or in the freezer (just the sauce) for up to 3 months.
To reheat, thaw in the fridge if frozen, then microwave or heat on the stovetop before serving over spaghetti noodles!
Equipment for this recipe
- 6 slices bacon
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 pound Italian sausage
- 1/2 yellow onion diced
- 1/2 cup diced carrot
- 1/2 cup diced celery
- 6 cloves garlic minced or pressed
- 4 teaspoons dried basil leaves
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon salt plus more to taste (I did about 2 teaspoons)
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes optional
- 1/2 cup red wine can replace with grape juice
- 1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
- 1 (28 oz) can peeled and crushed tomatoes
- 1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 pound spaghetti cooked al denté according to package directions
- Cook bacon in a large stockpot over medium heat. Remove once crispy, then crumble and set aside.
- Add in beef, sausage, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, basil, Italian seasoning, nutmeg, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.
- Cook, breaking up the meat as you go, until the meat has cooked through and the carrots are cooked to your liking, about 10 minutes.
- Drain grease.
- Return stockpot to the stove, and deglaze with the red wine.
- Stir in tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, chicken broth, and crumbled bacon.
- Bring to a simmer, stirring regularly.
- Once simmering, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Stir in balsamic vinegar. Taste and re-season if necessary.
- Toss with pasta, serve, and enjoy!
*Note: Nutrition information is estimated and varies based on products used.