Spaghetti Bolognese

This is one of my most popular recipes – a favourite from Everyday Delicious (this is the improved version of the one previously on my website). A long, slow simmering makes for a rich, flavoursome, Italian-Mama-approved Spaghetti Bolognese; it should not be rushed. It will seem as if there is a great deal of liquid at first, but just keep simmering the sauce until it’s lovely and thick. I actually went to Bologna in Italy recently (the birthplace of the bolognese ragu sauce) and it’s a very simple dish over there. I’ve loaded this one with ingredients to make it a healthier, tastier more balanced version. I’ve used penne instead of spaghetti, but use whatever pasta takes your fancy.

Serves 4–6
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour


800g beef mince
Olive oil for cooking
4 rashers bacon, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 large carrot, grated
5 cloves garlic, crushed
250g mushrooms, thinly sliced
½ cup (about 140g) tomato paste
¼ cup chopped fresh herbs (rosemary, sage, thyme)
1 tbsp dried oregano
1½ cups red wine
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes in juice
2–3 cups reduced-salt beef stock
3 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
1 tbsp brown sugar
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
handful fresh basil leaves
½ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
cooked pasta to serve


Take the mince out of the fridge 30 minutes before cooking.

Heat your largest frying pan over a high heat. When the pan is very hot, add a splash of oil and half the mince. Quickly break it up with a wooden spoon, then let it sizzle without stirring until the underside is nicely browned. Give it a stir, brown the other side, then transfer to a bowl. Repeat with the remaining mince.

Wipe out the pan, place over a medium-low heat and cook the bacon until crispy. Set aside.

Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, the onion, celery, carrot and garlic to the pan. Cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes, until the vegetables are very soft. Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook for another 5 minutes to soften. Add the tomato paste and herbs, turn the heat up and cook for another few minutes, stirring.

Add the red wine and bring to a rapid simmer – let it bubble for about 30 seconds – then add the meat back into the pan along with the chopped tomatoes, stock, anchovies and sugar. Stir well and simmer over a medium heat, uncovered, for about 30 minutes to an hour, stirring every now and then (you can add more stock or tomatoes if it looks too dry). When it has reduced to a lovely thick sauce, stir through the Parmesan, basil and parsley. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.

Toss the sauce though cooked pasta and serve with extra Parmesan and extra fresh herbs.

Chelsea’s Tips

  • This is gluten-free if you serve it with gluten-free pasta, rice or quinoa.
  • The meat sauce is perfect to freeze and reheat for a quick weeknight meal.
  • If you don’t like mushrooms, try adding 3 grated courgettes instead.
  • If you can find dried porcini powder, add 1 teaspoon for maximum flavour
These days, when I’m not writing cookbooks and dashing around the country doing foodie things, I spend most of my time gangling around in my little kitchen, creating new and exciting recipes to inspire home cooks, like you.
  1. Melissa Brinsdon Reply
    Hi Chelsea, I made your spag Bol recipe tonight. Lots of delicious flavours. It was taking much longer than 30min to reduce liquid. I had it up on high heat and it was on a high simmer. I ended up dishing up with still more liquid than I like cause it was taking too long. Any tips?
    • Chelsea Winter Reply
      Hmm, that's odd - I guess everyone's elements are different, so really it's just a matter of either turning the heat up a bit or just simmering a bit longer. The law of thermodynamics means it has to reduce eventually!
  2. Sharron Reply
    Hi Chelsea, i have just joined your site and am very glad as you have heaps of good recipes. i just looked at your spag bog recipe and it is almost the same as mine. i just add a little bit of dry mustard and also a bit of dried basil. i have been putting carrots and greens in mine for years but i put all the veggies in after the onion has softened to allow the veg to disappear in the sauce after it cooks for quite awhile. all the goodness goes into the meat and nobody even knows its there. have just copied your recipe for lemony white chocolate mousse. looks very naughty but once in a while should be ok i think. many thanks for opening your site and i look forward to using it frequently. Kind Regards, Sharron
  3. Kelsey Toomey Reply
    Made this tonight ...was wonderin if that crunch crumb topin wud work for me...and yum it so and hubby loved it...I made me a beefless version...used lentils and just pulsed it up and omg YUMMO! Thanks for anoyha goodie :)
  4. Lisa Williams Reply
    Just made this tonight. I have awful memories of this recipe while flatting, usually with my male flatmates making it cause they didn't know how to do anything else, manky tasteless mince dumped on cold spaghetti - so much so that I couldn't make it for years! This is gorgeous. We have reclaimed this dish in our house. Delicious!
  5. Margaret Tillott Reply
    Wow a beautiful change from the old spaghetti Bol flavours are really tasty. Crunchy topping just gives it a wow factor. Sensational Regards marg.t
  6. Claire Reply
    I tried this tonight, as a I felt like cooking my own wholesome sauce rather than using a jar. Didn't have time for the topping on a work night, but the bolognaise was absolutely delicious even without it. I modified it just a little, as i had less mince,(470gm) so only used 1 cup of the beef stock and 2 tab tom paste. I used baby spinach from salad bag (already in fridge) and the little brown mushrooms. Will definitely make it again and try the topping too. Thanks for another great recipe Chelsea. I'm becoming a big fan of your recipes.
  7. Tracey Reply
    Wish me luck , trying this today ?
  8. Susan Reply
    I love that your recipes tend to use items that evryone has in their pantry. Makes it so achievable and likely to happen. The only item I didn’t have was anchovies which aren’t a fave. Off to buy your Scrumptious recipe book, and use flybuys for another. Nice thing is I can see me using your cookbook, not just collecting one to keep in the cupboard ;)
  9. Polly Reply
    I made this for the first time over lockdown. Hands down the best spag bole our family has every had!! I’m making it again tonight just for hubby and me. FYI, I made heaps of your recipes over lockdown. Thank you.

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