Ragù alla Bolognese

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A go-to meat sauce is an absolute must in my world. It’s one of those things I keep on hand in the freezer at all times so if I need a comforting / impressive / delicious meal, I pull out a Ragù alla Bolognese in like no time flat!

Ragù alla Bolognese Recipe from www.whatsgabycooking.com (@whatsgabycookin)

Like most things on What’s Gaby Cooking – this isn’t just any meaty red Bolognese sauce. It’s quite possibly the best combo ever as it’s a marriage of a Ragù Bolognese and a Béchamel sauce which gives it that extra creamy flavor and let’s be real here people, what isn’t better with a little cream sauce? It’s made with both ground beef and ground pork plus a giant glug of wine… so it’s a winner in my book. Not to mention it makes a whole vat of sauce! Which is perfect because I can stick half of it in the freezer for a rainy day when I am in a crunch for dinner!

Serve it up on a bed of pasta, a plate of gnocchi, on top of spaghetti squash… you name it! Skies the limit with this one. And it’s perfect for all that cold weather going on this time of year!

Ragù alla Bolognese Recipe from www.whatsgabycooking.com (@whatsgabycookin)

Ragù alla Bolognese

4.9 from 10 votes
The most perfect meat sauce in all the land. Trust me – it puts everything else to shame!
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 30 mins
Total Time 1 hr 45 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6 people


For the Béchamel

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 2 2/3 cups milk
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

For the Ragù

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 ounces pancetta, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 3 medium stalk celery with leaves, finely diced
  • 3 small carrot, finely diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 10 ounces ground pork
  • 10 ounces ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2/3 cup dry red wine
  • 1 cup half and half (or heavy cream or milk)
  • 1 28-ounce can san marzano tomatoes, hand crushed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Recommended for serving

  • 1-2 pounds cooked fresh fettucine pasta, or any other pasta, gnocchi etc of your choosing


For the Béchamel

  • In a large saucepan melt the butter over medium hight heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring with a whisk, for 3 minutes. Slowly add the milk, and whisk together. Add the grated parm. Whisk and cook over medium heat for several minutes, until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and let cool.

For the Ragù

  • Heat the olive oil in a 12 inch dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and chopped vegetables and sauté, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, about 10 minutes. Add in the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds before adding in the meat. Stir the meat into the pan and slowly brown over medium heat, breaking up with a wooden spoon. Stir often for about 15 minutes, or until the meats are a deep brown. Add the tomato paste and stir to combine.
  • Add the wine to the dutch oven, lowering the heat so the sauce bubbles quietly. Stir occasionally until the wine has reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Scrape up the brown bits as the wine bubbles. Stir in the half and half. Adjust heat so the liquid bubbles very slowly. Partially cover the pot, and cook for 30 minutes. Stir frequently to check for sticking. Add the tomatoes, crushing them as they go into the pot. Cook uncovered, at a very slow bubble for another 20-30 minutes, or until the sauce resembles a thick, meaty stew. Season with salt and pepper
  • Once cooked, stir in the Béchamel sauce into the meat sauce and combine with a wooden spoon until fully combined. Add the cooked fresh pasta and stir to combine.
Photo by Matt Armendariz / Food Styling by Adam Pearson / Recipe from What’s Gaby Cooking


  1. Seriously. What is better than a bowl of ragu? Nothin’ that’s what. Thank you for this recipe. This seems to be incredibly easy–which makes me think I might have to go make this ASAP! Yay!

  2. Weirdly this is exactly what I am making for dinner tonight. Mine has beef and pork, but I have veal instead of prosciutto and I always add a touch of milk. Love the synchronicity. GREG

  3. So nice to see an authentic recipe for ragù alla Bolognese! Brava – and now, thanks to you, I have one! When I was in Bologna, I was told that they never use garlic – too overpowering for the sauce. And tradition is so strong there! he combination of the milk with the meats and tomatoes is what does it for me! Thanks so much!

  4. Love this old, standard Ragu Bolognese. And there’s no question of what wine to serve it with…a good old Chianti. There is a reason why Italian food goes with Italian wines.

  5. Hi Gaby, I plan on making this yummy sauce tomorrow…I just need to get a few more of the ingredients. I was wondering….do you have a favorite brand of Italian Plum tomatoes you like in the can? I would appreciate knowing what you recommend. Thanks.

    1. Oh, thank you so much….off to go food shopping! So, it turns out that we have a place here in the Village of the Arts called Arte Caffe…it is a restaurant owned and operated by an Italian chef, right from Italy. He makes the most wonderful Gnocchi …I am going to buy some from him for my sauce…excited! I will post my creation when it is done. Happy Holidays to you and yours, Gaby. ❤️

  6. Hi. I’m making now. But the recipe is a bit off. The ingredients don’t call for pancetta but in the instructions it says add pancetta. So I’m making with just prosciutto.

    1. Hi Shellie, I’m confused with your comment. Pancetta is in the ingredients and it’s in step 3 for the sauce. I’m sure either way it will be delish

  7. What’s the best way to freeze/unfreeze this? Can’t wait to try!
    Mine will be with Turkey though and I’ll let you know how it works out!

    1. once you make it let it cool for a bit, pop it in an airtight container and then freeze. I take it out and put it in the fridge the day before I want to serve and then warm it over low heat on the stove to re-heat

  8. Can I make this a day ahead and put in the fridge and warm the day of?
    Do I cook the meat first in a separate pan before straining and then add to the dutch?

  9. I’ve made this 2x now and it’s absolutely fantastic. Only thing is when I add the bechemel, the sauce becomes light orange rather than rich red like the photo – maybe I’m not making the bechemel thick enough or not getting the right depth to my meat sauce? I also realize this could just be a photo/internet colour thing. Regardless, it’s great and is anew family classic for us – making it again tonight for a party.

  10. Just noticed the two cups of milk in the ragu ingredients but no step for it in the recipe…is this reduced down too? Might explain my colour issue. Regardless, still delicious

  11. Hey I really want to make this recipe but I’m from Australia so measurements are different here we don’t use ounces for meat here we uses grams or kilograms so many ounces in Australian measurements is that I just find ounces bit confusing in my country ? Hope I didn’t confuse you I tried looking it up online

  12. Just checking if the “2 cups of milk” in Ragu portion of this recipe is an error? I have made many, many of your recipes and all have been wonderful and looked very similar to your photos. (so thank you for all of your great recipes, I have shared with many friends and they now follow you as well)
    This sauce, however, was a VERY light pink and was also very thin, even after simmering one hour after adding the milk as recipe indicates. Your photos show a rich and thick deep red sauce.
    Any tips you may have for achieving a better result are appreciated! Thanks!

  13. Question – How do you measure 3 cups of whole peeled plum tomatoes? I have two 28oz cans. Should i use both or just one? Also, so far the ‘stew’ is very beige, not deep red… #gettingworried

    1. it’s roughly 1 28-ounce can! No need to worry – color develops as it cooks! And if you want to add extra tomatoes to make it more red, that’s totally allowed

  14. My family LOVES this sauce. They waited a long time for me to finish making dinner, and it was unanimously totally worth the wait! Six of our nine kids are home today (only two are still living at home). This was the perfect meal to end the weekend with (even if it was 8 pm when we ate!) Thanks so much, Gaby, for a delish sauce that we will be putting into the regular rotation.

  15. 5 stars
    I have made this many times for my family and it is a amazing. I am a Bolognese snob and I think this one is incredible. Everyone Gaby fan/follower should try it – they will make it over and over.

  16. So when you say you pull it out of the freezer do you just freeze the red sauce and make the white sauce at the moment you are reheating spaghetti?

    1. no i make the entire thing, and then freeze portions of it!! and then re-heat over low heat on the stove

  17. This looks amazing! Do you have a alternate suggestion for the pancetta? I’m sure it’s won’t be the same but unfortunately I can’t eat pancetta….

  18. 5 stars
    I made this last night and the whole house smelled like we had gone to Italy! Thank you so much for your detailed instructions! It was wonderful!

  19. 5 stars
    Not only is this one of the best pasta recipes I have ever made, I truly believe it is one of the best meals I have ever had! Well worth the time to put into it, I already can’t wait for the next time we make it! Outstanding!

  20. Dear Gaby, I just finished making Ragù alla Bolognese. The recipe turned out with great flavor but the appearance is not as nice as yours. I noticed that my Red sauce was not as red so I proceeded to add a smaller can of the tomatoes. Still the colors is not too appealing. May be there was too much bechamel in mine. I’ve had to ask my family members to close their eyes and taste the sauce otherwise we’ll, anyway Thank you for a great recipe I will stick to the red sauce and use the bechamel for something else.

  21. 5 stars
    Absolutely AMAZING! Saving this recipe as one of my go-to’s. I did not have pancetta on hand so I used bacon and also just had regular crushed tomatoes but I think it turned out so good!

  22. Hi!

    I’ve been searching for a great bolognese recipe but don’t eat meat. Any suggestions on how to modify this one to make it vegetarian?

    Thank you!

  23. Gaby – I’m in the process of making your bolognese and just realized you don’t list any herbs…. I’m going to assume the flavor is coming from everything else? Would it hurt if I added some rosemary, thyme and oregano? And like a few other comments from others, I haven’t added the bechamel yet and it’s definitely going to be more of a pink bolognese once I add it. The color won’t bother me too much and I’m hoping that like all your other recipes I’ve tried, it will be delicious. Thanks.

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