THE Classic Bolognese Sauce, Marcella Hazan’s


This is the sauce you want.  And this is the recipe that will give it to you.  Almost creamy, silken in texture and rich beyond belief, this sauce is better than most restaurant’s Bolognese.  Marcella Hazan’s version of Bolognese is the linchpin of one of Italy’s fundamental sauces.  Have you ever spent hours in the kitchen, hunched over your cutting board and pot, to ultimately finish with a pasta dish that when plated resembles a scarlet island surrounded by a watery moat?  Well, I have.  But not with this dish.  Ain’t nothing sloshing around your bowl when you have this sauce.  Although it’s been around for years there is no better recipe than this robust and satisfying rendition.  For all its big, luscious flavor this dish is not expensive to prepare; it only requires time and high quality ingredients to render perfection in a bowl.  So, let’s get started.  Marcella’s recipe calls for ground beef chuck and she’s not giving permission to pick up a pack of 7% fat chuck.  Full fat is the only ratio that will give you the buttery consistency you’re looking for.  And that’s exactly what you’re looking for.  This is NOT a diet dish.  It’s a treat, a reward if you will, for finally losing those first 8 pounds, for biting your tongue and not saying all those hateful things you thought of this week when you exchanged a few words with a family member, for getting up, dusting yourself off and giving the middle finger to the latest thrashing life may have served you.  This is the dish that confirms what everyone else seems not to have noticed.  You ARE special and this is the dish which will bow down and quietly obey.  For that reason, use a cup of whole milk and not almond milk although I completely understanding you wanting to substitute ingredients…hell, it’s one of the crosses I bear.  Do that with another recipe but not this one.  To do it absolute justice, stick close to the recipe.  It is a wonderment. Oh, and make certain to wrap it up in a high quality pasta.  I chose pappardelle and my boys swooned.  Swooned.


Marcella Hazan's Bolognese Sauce

  • Servings: 2 heaping cups
  • Print


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter plus 1 tablespoon for tossing pasta
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2/3 cup chopped celery
  • 2/3 cup chopped carrot
  • 3/4 pound ground beef chuck
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, cut up, with their juice
  • 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds pasta
  • freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese at the table
  1. Put the oil, butter and onion in the pot and turn the heat on to medium.  Cook and stir the onion until it has become translucent, then add the chopped celery and carrot.  Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring the vegetables to coat them well.
  2. Add ground beef, a large pinch of salt and a few grindings of pepper.  Crumble the meat with a fork, stir well and cook until the beef has lost its raw, red color.
  3. Add milk and let it simmer gently, stirring frequently, until it has bubbled away completely.  Add a tiny grating – about 1/8 teaspoon – of nutmeg and stir.
  4. Add the wine, let it simmer until it has evaporated, then add the tomatoes and stir thoroughly to coat all ingredients well.  When the tomatoes begin to bubble, turn the heat down so that the sauce cooks at the laziest of simmers, with just an intermittent bubble breaking through to the surface.  Cook, uncovered, for 3 hours or more, stirring from time to time.  While the sauce is cooking, you are likely to find it begins to dry out and the fat separates from the meat.  To keep it from sticking, add 1/2 cup of water whenever necessary.  At the end, however, no water at all must be left and the fat must separate from the sauce.  Taste and  correct for salt.
  5. Toss with cooked, drained pasta, adding the remaining tablespoon of butter and serve with freshly grated parmesan on the side.


      1. Nitrous

        Is it not a little light on spices? No thyme? No oregano? You guys sure? Also, for a bit of spice, some chilli peppers or cayenne?

      2. Alicia

        I’m sure! This is a true bolognese. The secret is in cooking it low and slow and with the best quality ingredients you can get your hands on. Marcella’s sauce is rich and velvety…pure magic! A light sprinkle of freshly grated parm to finish the plate is all you need. Truly, it’s fine restaurant quality. Hope that helps!

  1. Peter Kawerau-Barich

    This recipe, just like Marcella Hazan herself, is all about authenticity and respect for flavour and the produce. (Have you ever cooked her ‘Chicken with Two Lemons’ recipe? It’s the ultimate expression of this.)

    I also love your comment about ingredient substitution. It’s something that just drives me crazy! There’s a reason that some things are classics and have stood the test of time, and there’s no reason to start changing and messing about. Once you start making changes, it’s simply a different dish.

  2. Lipto

    Oh, Fine. … Just fine.

    A curmudgeonly conservative male at min. soc. security age, and having missed it all my life, I now know what “swooned” means, and not in the research/dictionary sense.

    This recipe. This technique


    “Swooned”. No. Can’t deal with that just now.
    I need a safe space and not to be triggered any more.

    Best wishes!

  3. Whitney Pearson

    I crave this recipe every few weeks in the winter. Follow it exactly and be rewarded with a sublime meal. Prepare Sat. let it “cure” overnight in fridge and enjoy on Sunday. I make homemade sheets of pasta to toss with sauce and butter. Make fresh grated Parm or pecorino rain all over the top Serve in heated shallow bowls.. O it’s heaven!
    Make sure to simmer the entire time as recipe calls for, something magic happens to the sauce in the last few mins of simmering.

  4. peter Wright

    We have cooked this Ragu using Marcella’s recipe from her second book of “Essentials of Classic Italian Cuisine” since the early 1990’s. It cannot be bettered. Amazing. Her Risotto recipes are superb as well. Her Mushroom one uses wild mushrooms (we know what we are picking!) and definitely NO garlic or wine!

  5. Faith

    Best Bolognese recipe. The secret to her sauce is the simmering. You can’t rush this process. Just like “Eataly” …😊

    1. Alicia

      I think it would be just fine! I’m pretty sure if Marcella didn’t have white wine, she’d make do. I’m these times I say “Heck, yeah! Go for it!”

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