Who doesn’t love a good, easy bolognese recipe? It’s such a delicious classic! However, there’s definitely an art to making a bolognese sauce with tons of flavour without simmering it for hours. After all, it usually takes time for the flavours to develop. However, I think I’ve found the key to a delicious bolognese in just half an hour!
Now, this recipe might not be authentic, but I can promise you that it’s delicious! I make it regularly and usually eat it 2-3 days in a row and freeze the rest. After all, if there’s ever a food that freezes well then it’s a good bolognese sauce!
Personally, I love plenty of herbs, chilli flakes and tomato puree in my bolognese. They just add so much flavour! I do have a trick for a smooth, perfectly seasoned bolognese sauce though – parmesan cheese!
Just stir in plenty of grated parmesan at.the end for a gorgeous, silky smooth finish to the sauce. You can easily use grana padano or pecorino romano instead of parmesan if you prefer – I’m a particularly great fan of grana padano and use it in almost everything!
What do I need to make this easy bolognese recipe?
You really don’t need much at all! However, it is worth noting that some ingredients don’t have good substitutions.
- olive oil, salt (to taste) and black pepper (ideally fresh ground) – the building blocks of any great recipe!
- plenty of garlic! I like to use fresh garlic here, but pre-minced jarred or frozen garlic works just as well. Make sure to reduce the garlic if you prefer to use a little less – I’m a massive garlic fan, so I use tons!
- a large yellow/brown onion, diced. I like to dice mine fairly finely, but you can leave it as chunky as you like!
- lean ground beef (beef mince). I use 5% fat beef mince – the leanest typically available in supermarkets here.
- double concentrate tomato puree. If you can’t buy this then use regular tomato puree and double the quantity given in the recipe. Since tomato puree is so concentrated, it brings a lovely natural hint of sweetness and acidity to the bolognese – and tons of natural umami flavour!
- some sort of smooth tomato pasta sauce. Try to use one that’s relatively plain and unseasoned. In a pinch, try using crushed tomatoes or passata instead.
- Italian herb seasoning! Alternatively, instead of 1 tbsp of Italian seasoning, use 1 tsp each dried basil, thyme and oregano.
- chilli flakes! Make sure to only use these to taste – reduce them if you don’t like too much heat. You could use a fresh chilli pepper (diced and deseeded) instead if you like – just add it with the onion and garlic instead of nearer the end.
- grated parmesan, grana padano or pecorino romano. It’s best to grate the cheese yourself to ensure a silky texture – pre-grated cheese tends to turn rather lumpy and not melt entirely.
See, not too bad! Chances are that you already have the essentials and just need some ground beef and perhaps some parmesan and another onion – not too much to add to the shopping list for sure!
What’s the basic method for making a simple bolognese sauce?
The basic method for this recipe really is ridiculously simple. You just:
- heat olive oil on medium heat
- soften onion and garlic
- add the beef and cook until browned
- add tomato puree
- stir in the tomato pasta sauce, dried herbs, chilli flakes and season to taste
- bring to boil then remove from heat
- stir in grated cheese
See? What could be simpler than that? You just add the ingredients one or two at a time and cook for a few minutes in-between adding each one! After all, spaghetti bolognese is a stereotypical student food for a reason – it’s cheap and easy to make!
How can I customise this recipe?
There are so many ways that you can jazz up a quick bolognese sauce to make it classy and interesting again!
I like to add some finely chopped carrot, celery and red bell pepper with the onion and garlic. They bring so much flavour to the bolognese and that brings this one meal to having 3 of your 5 portions of fruit/ veg per day! Serve it with a side salad and you can probably hit all 5 with no problem!
Make it Veggie/Vegan
Making this recipe vegetarian is easy! Just use vegetarian ground meat – such as quorn mince (if you’re in the UK). However, these meat-alternatives don’t always have a lot of flavour, so why not try removing the casings from 500g vegetarian sausages to use as the meat-substitute? They’ll pack in tons more flavour!
You’ll also need to swap the parmesan for a vegetarian/vegan alternative (parmesan isn’t actually vegetarian – it uses animal rennet). Vegetarian parmesan is available in most large supermarkets, but if you’re vegan then you may want to find a different option.
If you’re planning on using vegan parmesan then it might be worth reconsidering that – it usually won’t melt into the sauce to create the silky texture. So, instead, why not try adding a drizzle of dairy-free cream (1/4 cup or 4 tbsp should be plenty) and a dash of soy sauce for the salty flavour – or just extra sea salt!
Swap out the Beef
Why not try using ground chicken, turkey or pork? Or even sausage meat? In fact, if you’re feeling fancy then you could even use a combination of two or more meats! Why not try a combo of lean ground beef and sausage meat for maximum flavour?
Swapping out chicken or turkey for the beef is a great option if you’re trying to keep things lean. After all, they’re famous for being the leanest meats available!
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large yellow onion
- 500g (1 lb) lean ground beef (beef mince)
- 2 tbsp double-concentrate tomato puree
- 500g (1 lb) jarred tomato pasta sauce
- 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp chilli flakes
- 30g grated parmesan (or other Italian hard cheese such as grana padano)
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- sea salt, to taste
- Heat the olive oil over medium heat.
- Add the onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes, or until soft.
- Add ground beef and cook until browned.
- Add tomato puree and stir into the ground beef. Leave to cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Add tomato pasta sauce, Italian herbs, chilli flakes, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
- Stir in the parmesan and remove the pan from heat.
- You can substitute other ground meats or meat-alternatives for ground beef.
- Adjust garlic and chilli flakes to taste.
- Leave to cool to room temperature in Tupperware, then move to the fridge (for up to 3 days) or freezer. Reheat from chilled in the microwave or in a saucepan until piping hot.
Nutrition InformationYield 4 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 408Total Fat 21gSaturated Fat 8gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 11gCholesterol 118mgSodium 992mgCarbohydrates 14gFiber 3gSugar 6gProtein 40g
Nutrition information is an estimate and may vary.