Classic Tagliatelle alla Bolognese (and pappardelle alla Bolognese) is as good as pasta gets and it’s incredibly easy to make! A rich slow-simmered beef, pork, and tomato Italian ragù with extra flavor from soffritto and the addition of white wine, milk, and beef stock tossed together with wide ribbons of chewy egg-rich pasta — this is one of the most delicious Italian pasta sauces of all time. Double, triple, or quadruple this sauce to freeze it or to make the best homemade Lasagna alla Bolognese. If you’re looking for a Bolognese recipe that uses red wine (instead of white), you can find our favorite TWO Bolognese recipes over here with tips from the locals for how to make it.
Where Does Bolognese Sauce Come From?
The birthplace of the original recipe for Ragù alla Bolognese can be traced back to the end of the 1700s. The chef of the Cardinal of Imola (just outside of the city of Bologna) cooked the first real Bolognese ragù. and served his tomato-based meat sauce with a plate of maccheroni pasta. By the 1800s, recipes for tomato-based ragù start to show up in a few cookbooks from the Emilia-Romagna region, but the official Ragu alla Bolognese was officially registered by the Italian Academy of Cuisine at the Bologna Chamber of Commerce on October 17th, 1982.
What is Tagliatelle alla Bolognese or Pappardelle alla Bolognese?
Tagliatelle alla Bolognese and Pappardelle alla Bolognese are both delicious Italian pasta dishes that come from Bologna, Italy, and the surrounding area. The only difference between these two egg-rich pasta dishes is the width of the actual pasta (with the pappardelle being slightly wider than the tagliatelle).
Pasta is tossed in an hours-long slow-simmered ragù (ragù alla Bolognese) made of ground beef, pancetta, onions, carrots, celery, garlic, milk, beef stock, tomatoes, and wine. Just about any wide, egg-rich pasta (including fresh maccheroni) pairs really well with Bolognese (see below).
Below in Photos — One Version of Tagliatelle Bolognese When you Order it In Italy
What Does Tagliatelle alla Bolognese Look Like When You Eat It In Italy?
Of course, Bolognese dishes vary from restaurant to restaurant and home to home, but the photos above will help give you a better idea of what you can expect when you order Bolognese in Italy. Some restaurants will have lots of sauce covering the pasta, while others will be slightly less so. For the most part, the sauce is creamy and has an orangeish-red color from the addition of tomatoes and milk.
The ragù itself will often have finely chopped bits of beef, pancetta, and vegetables that seem to mostly melt into the sauce. If you want to mimic this authentic style be sure to finely chop the beef and pancetta before cooking it and add plenty of milk.
If you want to see two other styles of Authentic Bolognese Sauces (our favorites in fact) that I’ve learned from all of my research in Bologna, Italy, and the surrounding Emilia Romagna region head over to my Ultimate Bolognese Sauce post to get those recipes and plenty of tips from the locals.
Why We Love This Pappardelle alla Bolognese Recipe
- Classic Ragù alla Bolognese is one of the easiest Italian pasta sauces you can make
- Slow-simmered braising marries all of the delicious flavors together and tenderizes the meat
- The combination of beef and pork makes this ragù extra tasty
- Wine brings out the flavor of the tomatoes and overall finished ragù
- Milk adds richness, and color, and gives the ragù its melt-in-your-mouth feel
- The actual hands-on time for this Bolognese recipe is only about 20 minutes
- A great meal prep meat sauce that freezes perfectly
What’s The Difference Between Bolognese Sauce & Spaghetti Sauce You Ask?
The short answer — everything (take a look at the comparison photos above and below between Bolognese Ragù, and Spaghetti Sauce). The difference between Bolognese and typical American-style “Spaghetti sauce” is the ingredients, length of required cooking time, and even the type of pasta they’re paired with. Head over here to learn even more about what separates these two sauces.
Tagliatelle alla Bolognese Ingredients (Tagliatelle w/Bolognese Ingredients)
Authentic Italian Bolognese sauce is incredibly easy to make but needs ample time (in this case 3 hours) to simmer into a delicious ragù that melts in your mouth. After that, all you need is some chewy egg tagliatelle or pappardelle pasta and dinner can be ready in about 5 minutes. Double, triple, or even quadruple the Bolognese ragù recipe to portion and freeze for easy weeknight meals.
- ground beef
- garlic (not traditional, but sometimes I’ll smash them and remove them just before serving, so the flavor doesn’t overwhelm the ragù)
- dry white or red wine (nothing sparkling or sweet)
- beef broth
- salt and pepper to taste
- Tagliatelle or Pappardelle egg pasta (or your favorite pasta)
Adding Starchy Pasta Water to Bolognese Sauce Changes Its Appearance
In the photos above, you’ll see what Bolognese sauce looks like after cooking — thick, rich, and luscious. But when you’re making pasta Bolognese with tagliatelle or pappardelle, etc. it’s customary (as with most pasta sauces) to add a little starchy pasta cooking water to the sauce just before adding and tossing the cooked pasta. When you do this with Bolognese sauce, the starchy water revives the milk solids in the ragù turns the sauce into a beautiful color and it makes the sauce super velvety!
Overview: How to Make Tagliatelle (or Pappardelle) alla Bolognese
With just about 20 minutes of actual hands-on time, white wine Bolognese is one of the easiest meat ragùs you’ll ever make. But you’ll need to keep an eye on it and stir it occasionally throughout it’s low and slow simmer time. If you don’t, this could happen!
- Render the fat from the pancetta.
- Sauté the vegetables.
- Cook the beef.
- Deglaze the pan with wine, add the tomatoes and broth, and simmer for 2 hours.
- Add the milk and simmer 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- Cook the Pasta & combine it with the sauce.
Pappardelle alla Bolognese step-by-step photos
Meal Prep Bolognese Sauce (Portion, Freeze, Reheat & Eat)
This sauce recipe is a favorite MealPrep dish to make ahead of time. I freeze it into 225-250g (about 1 cup) portions that we can pull out of the freezer to reheat for easy weeknight meals or in larger portions for when we want to easily assemble Lasagna Bolognese or for dinner parties. Plus, if I’m going to cook something as long as this Bolognese sauce, it’s worth my time (and the energy it consumes) to make extra. I like to double or triple the recipe to maximize the yield.
Looking for More Delicious Pasta Recipes to Make?
If you love pasta as much as we do, here are a few more recipes to inspire your next dinner.
- Asparagus & Ham Lasagna (w/Asparagus Bechamel)
- Classic Lasagna Bolognese (authentic Italian recipe)
- Shrimp Fettuccini Alfredo Pasta Recipe (w/Parmigiano Cream Sauce)
- Baked Ziti with Ragù (from Scratch)
- Abruzzese Almost-Bolognese (Lasagna al Ragù w/Porcini Béchamel)
Let’s Get Started!
The Original Ragù alla Bolognese Recipe from the Italian Academy of Cuisine — A Very Old Authentic Italian Recipe
If you’re curious about the official Bolognese recipe from Bologna, Italy, click over here to find it.