Bolognese Definition

Discover the definition of Bolognese, a classic Italian meat sauce originating from Bologna. Learn about key ingredients, variations, best ways to serve, and more!

What is Bolognese?

Bolognese, also known as ragù alla Bolognese, is a classic Italian meat sauce originating from the city of Bologna in the Emilia-Romagna region. It is a rich and savory sauce typically made with slow-cooked meat, tomatoes, onions, carrots, celery, wine, and seasonings.

Key Ingredients

  • Ground meat (usually beef or a combination of beef and pork)
  • Tomatoes (whole or crushed)
  • Onions, carrots, and celery (finely chopped)
  • Red wine
  • Stock or broth
  • Seasonings like salt, pepper, and herbs

Traditional Preparation

To make traditional Bolognese, the meat is browned in a pan, then the vegetables are added and cooked until softened. Wine is added to deglaze the pan, followed by tomatoes and broth. The sauce is simmered for several hours to allow the flavors to meld and the meat to become tender.


While the traditional Bolognese recipe is a go-to favorite, there are many variations that add unique twists to the classic sauce. Some popular adaptations include adding pancetta for extra flavor, using white wine instead of red, or incorporating mushrooms for a vegetarian option.

Best Ways to Serve

Bolognese is commonly served over pasta, such as tagliatelle or fettuccine, but it can also be used in lasagna, on top of polenta, or as a topping for baked potatoes. It pairs well with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and a glass of Italian red wine.

Case Study: Authentic Bolognese in Bologna

In Bologna, restaurants take their Bolognese sauce seriously, with many following traditional recipes passed down through generations. One such establishment, Osteria dell’Orsa, is known for its authentic and delicious Bolognese that locals and tourists alike rave about.

Statistics on Bolognese Consumption

According to a recent survey, Bolognese ranks as one of the top five favorite pasta sauces among Italians, with 72% of respondents citing it as a preferred choice. The sauce is also gaining popularity worldwide, with restaurants and home cooks incorporating it into their menus.

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