This 30-minute Easy Bolognese Sauce recipe makes it possible to enjoy bolognese on a weeknight thanks to store-bought marinara sauce. This recipe is easy, economical, and makes enough to feed a hungry crowd.
This Bolognese recipe is “easy” in part because of the use of the jarred marinara sauce. In traditional Bolognese sauce, you will see a combination of canned whole tomatoes and tomato paste used. Is using marinara sauce cheating then? Well, sort of. But the use of marinara allows the ability to make a full-flavored Bolognese sauce in a compact amount of time without compensating on the depth of flavor. (No patience required!)
This easy beef Bolognese recipe with jar sauce makes weeknight Bolognese possible. It brings the cooking time from three-plus hours to just thirty minutes without compensating for flavor. This is all thanks to the store-bought marinara sauce. This Bolognese is hearty, meaty, and filling. This recipe will feed a crowd or leave you with some delicious leftovers. As a bonus, this sauce freezes well for future meals!
What is Bolognese Sauce?
Bolognese sauce is a classic Italian meat sauce originating from Bologna, Italy. In simplest terms, it is a rich, meaty tomato sauce. It's rich in flavor thanks to the usually slow cooking process that starts with a soffritto (celery, carrot, and onion). The meat and vegetables simmer alongside tomatoes for hours. For an added depth of flavor, this classic Italian sauce is finished with dairy, typically whole milk.
Does the 30-minute cooking time of this recipe dilute the overall flavors of this classic sauce? In all honesty, no. This bolognese sauce recipe with ground beef is full-flavored and absolutely delicious.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Olive Oil
- Vegetables – This sauce starts with a soffritto (celery, carrot, and onion). All of which is to be minced. The vegetables impart flavor, not texture, and practically melt into the sauce.
- Ground Beef (80/20) – This is a beef Bolognese sauce, however, other ground meats can be used in substitution. This includes ground pork, veal, turkey (healthy), and even beef short ribs.
- Pancetta – Pancetta is available to buy in small portions, already diced, at most grocery stores. It adds depth and richness to the finished sauce.
- Store-Bought Marinara - Yes, store-bought marinara. Choose a jarred sauce with real ingredients, like Rao's, for the best flavor.
- Heavy Cream – All Bolognese recipes call for some form of dairy, usually full-fat milk. This recipe calls for heavy whipping cream for its rich and creamy consistency.
- Salt and Pepper
- Pasta - Bolognese is a heavy sauce. It's best served with wide-set noodles such as pappardelle or tagliatelle.
- Parmesan Cheese – For garnish.
How to Make Bolognese Sauce
In a large nonstick pan or Dutch oven pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook until slightly crispy. Add the carrots, celery, and onion. Sauté until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.
Add in the ground beef, break up the meat as you stir, and cook until browned.
Stir in the marinara sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Let the sauce simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until thickened.
Once the sauce has simmered for 30 minutes, pour in the heavy cream and stir to incorporate.
Serve immediately with the cooked pasta. Garnish each serving with grated parmesan cheese.
Tips for Success
Use a wide skillet instead of a Dutch oven pot. The wide surface means faster cooking.
For a spicy Bolognese add ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes. While garlic is not traditional in Bolognese sauce, it’s always delicious in pasta sauces. Mince two cloves of garlic and add alongside the other vegetables.
Other Pasta Recipes You Will Love
- Lemon Garlic Pasta
- Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Pasta
- Orecchiette with Sausage and Peas
- Easy Beef Meatball Recipe
- Creamy Chicken Pasta with Spinach
Frequently Asked Questions
If stored properly, this sauce will stay fresh for up to 3 days. Transfer the cooled sauce to an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator.
Yes, this pasta sauce freezes well. Transfer the completely cooled sauce to airtight containers. Freeze for up 3 months.
This meaty sauce is heavy, so it is best served with thick, wide-set noodles like pappardelle or tagliatelle. Spaghetti is additionally delicious with this sauce, but I prefer the long, flat noodles. This Bolognese is also fantastic when used in lasagna.
Easy Bolognese Sauce
- In a large skillet or Dutch oven pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta, and cook until slightly crispy. Add the carrots, celery, and onion. Sauté until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.
- Add in the ground beef, breaking up the meat as you stir, and cook until browned.
- Stir in the marinara sauce, and season with salt and pepper. Let the sauce simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until thickened.
- Once the sauce has simmered for 30 minutes, stir in the heavy cream.
- Serve immediately with the cooked pasta. Garnish each serving with grated parmesan cheese.
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