Quick Bolognese Sauce

A traditional Bolognese sauce requires hours of simmering and careful attention. But sometimes we don’t have hours and we just want a sauce that’s maybe not as spectacular as it could be, but still quite good enough. This simplified Bolognese sauce takes about an hour to make, instead of several, but still delivers on wonderful flavor. Instead of starting the sauce with pancetta, which would be traditional, we use butter, which melts quickly and provides plenty of flavor. A key ingredient in the sauce is milk, whole milk. It’s standard for a Bolognese sauce and important for the flavor and creaminess of the sauce.

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4-6


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/4 (570g) lbs ground chuck
  • 1/2 cup (60g) finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup (60g) finely chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup (60g) finely chopped carrot
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup (118ml) full bodied red wine (optional)
  • 1 cup (236ml) whole milk (or low fat milk with a tablespoon of cream)
  • 1 cup (236ml) crushed tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper to taste


1 Heat butter in a large sauté pan on medium high. Add the finely chopped onion, celery, and carrots. Sprinkle a little salt over everything. Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir to combine, cook for another minute or so.

2 Add the ground beef to the onions, celery, and carrots, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon as you add it to the pan. Again, sprinkle a little salt over everything. Cook, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, about 15 minutes.

3 Stir in the wine (if using), scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Let this boil down by half. Stir in the tomatoes. Slowly stir in the milk. Increase the heat to bring the mixture to a simmer, then lower the heat to maintain a low simmer. Simmer uncovered about 20 minutes. Add a little water if the sauce ever begins to dry out. Add salt and pepper to taste.


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