Kristen Timmers

Marcella Hazan’s Bolognese

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Marcella Hazan Bolognese Sauce

There is nothing more delicious and comforting than a true classic Italian Bolognese Sauce. If you’re looking for an incredible pasta sauce to add to your recipe collection, look no further than this one.

This recipe is a light adaptation of Marcella Hazan’s bolognese from her well-known cookbook, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. My version stays true to the original, but is more detailed, simpler in ingredient quantities, and more tomato-forward in flavor.

I’ve made Marcella Hazan’s Bolognese countless times over the years. We love to serve it for special occasions and holidays. This sauce is big on flavor and always, always delivers. It also makes a lovely meal to gift to friends and family (it’s my go-to choice for Meal Trains!).

While the sauce is straight-forward to make, it does require several hours of simmer time, so it is a dish best planned ahead. If you’re looking for an easier recipe, this Slow Cooker Bolognese Sauce is a great option!

Marcella Hazan Bolognese Sauce Ingredients

Why You’ll Love This Bolognese Recipe:

  • Classic & Traditional  there is nothing more delicious and comforting than a classic Italian bolognese sauce and Marcella Hazan always delivers. I’ve made small changes to her recipe over the years – with tweaks to ingredients, quantities, and instructions – which, in my humble opinion, improve the final result.
  • Flavorful – this sauce gets its incredible flavor from 3 to 4 hours of simmer time, which produces a rich, intensely flavorful sauce. Whole milk tenderizes the meat and white wine and canned tomatoes add just the right amount of acid.
  • Easy to Find Ingredients – while all of the ingredients can be found at your standard grocery store, I recommend using the best quality ground beef and canned tomatoes available. No other specialty ingredients required!
  • Easy to Scale – this recipe yields roughly a little more than one quart (4 cups) of sauce, ideal for tossing with 1 lb of dried, cooked pasta. Since the recipe is time-intensive, I often double the recipe ingredients and freeze a portion for later. Your future self will thank you!
Marcella Hazan Bolognese Sauce Ingredients

Ingredients You’ll Need:

  • EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL + BUTTER: a combination of extra virgin olive oil and unsalted butter for sautéing the aromatics.
  • YELLOW ONIONCELERY, + CARROT: make up the base of this sauce. To produce the best texture, you’ll want to chop the onion, celery, and carrot into a small dice (1/4-inch cubes). This attention to detail is worth the added effort, trust me!
  • GARLIC: while garlic is not included in Marcella’s original recipe, I always like to include some for added flavor.
  • RED PEPPER FLAKES: I always like to add a touch of pepper flakes (1/4 teaspoon or less) to bolognese! It rounds out the sauce without lending any detectable heat.
  • GROUND BEEF: you’ll want to use 80% lean/20% fat ground beef (or minimum 15%). If the beef is too lean, the sauce will be drier and have less flavor.
  • WHOLE MILK: a traditional ingredient in classic bolognese, milk tenderizes the meat and produces a richer, more flavorful sauce.
  • NUTMEG: a touch of freshly grated whole nutmeg adds warmth, spice, and fragrance. Just a little goes a long way!
  • WHITE WINE: for acid and balance. Seek out a dry white wine, such as Pinto Grigio, Pinot Gris, or Sauvignon Blanc.
  • CANNED TOMATOES: I prefer a bolognese that has a slightly higher ratio of tomatoes than Marcella Hazan’s original recipe calls for. My version uses one (28-ounce) can of whole Italian plum tomatoes for maximum ease. Use kitchen shears to cut them into small pieces or substitute canned crushed tomatoes if you prefer a smoother texture.
  • PARMIGIANO-REGGIANO RINDS: I love to add parmesan rinds to pasta sauces as they simmer! They add incredible flavor. Be sure to remove and discard them before serving.
How to Make Marcella Hazan’s Bolognese Sauce:

While this bolognese sauce is straightforward to make, it does require quite a bit of planning as you’ll want to simmer it for at least three hours for best results.

See recipe box below for ingredient quantities and full instructions.

  1. Sauté the Aromatics: Heat the olive oil and a butter in a large (roughly 5-Quart) heavy-bottomed Dutch oven or pot over medium-low heat. Add the diced onions and sauté until softened and nearly translucent. Add the celery and carrots and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, if using, and cook for an additional minute or so.
  2. Cook the Beef and Simmer with Milk and Wine: Add the beef, a generous pinch of kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Cook over medium heat, breaking up the meat with a fork as needed, until nearly cooked through and no longer raw. Add the milk and simmer over low heat, stirring frequently, until the milk has mostly cooked out. Stir in the freshly grated nutmeg. Add the white wine and simmer until evaporated.

Marcella Hazan’s Bolognese

5 stars (1 rating)
Prepared with heavy cream, this Gruyère Leek Quiche boasts an exceptionally tender custard and a flaky all-butter crust.
This recipe utilizes a classic French custard ratio of 1 egg to ½ cup heavy cream (there’s no skimping here!). To ensure success, we’re starting with a prebaked quiche crust (we recommend using this quiche crust recipe) and baking the custard at a low temperature. Proteins (such as eggs) cooked at a low temperature will be more tender and retain more fat and moisture than proteins cooked quickly at a high temperature.
For an ideal pairing, serve this quiche with a leafy green salad tossed with a bright and acidic vinaigrette.





Substitution Notes:


Hi, I’m Laura! I’m a professionally trained chef. A Beautiful Plate is a website dedicated to simplifying the art of cooking and sourdough bread. Here you’ll find flavor-forward, approachable recipes and tips to help you become a more confident cook!

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