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Stovetop Fettuccine Bolognese (In Half the Time)

5 from 5 community reviews

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Fettuccine Bolognese, made easy. Cook this thick, rich, and utterly delectable pasta with Bolognese sauce in half the time of a traditional long-cooked sauce. It’s not complicated! You get ALL the flavor without having to spend hours over the stove. Follow my recipe steps to learn how to make the recipe, which is a combination of ground meat, tomato, milk, wine and vegetables. Bonus — the simmering sauce smells so good everyone will be running to the table.

A serving of wide pasta noodles with tomato meat sauce in a bowl with a fork

Fettuccine Bolognese is one of the ultimate homemade pasta sauce recipes — think pasta strands coated in a silky sauce that sticks to the noodles like heavy cream on a spoon. As much as I love that cooked-all-day flavor in meat sauce for pasta, I found a way to simplify the process so you can make this unctuous dish with ease.

About Bolognese sauce

Pronounced bolo-nay-sa, Bolognese sauce is one of the most satisfying Italian pasta recipes on the planet. It has a thick, meaty texture that’s almost like a stew, with layers of flavor you don’t taste in a quick, everyday marinara sauce.

There are almost as many “authentic” recipes for pasta Bolognese as there are cooks. It all comes down to individual taste and experience, which are as personal as a fingerprint. Ragu from Bologna is all about northern Italian cuisine, which is abundant with meat, dairy and pasta.

Bolognese versus tomato sauce

What sets Bolognese sauce apart from tomato sauce is the ratio of meat, vegetables and tomatoes in the recipe. It’s often described as a “meat sauce with tomato, not a tomato sauce with meat.” In other words, the main ingredient is meat, bound together with milk, tomato paste, wine and broth.

Ingredients for cooking Bolognese sauce, including bowls of chopped celery, carrots, onion, tomato paste, ground sausage, butter and milk.

About the ingredients

  • Meat: For convenience, I often make this Bolognese sauce with bulk Italian sausage as the meat base. It’s not traditional, but the seasoned meat and fatty bits in the sausage add tons of flavor. Otherwise, you can buy ground beef chuck (not lean beef), or a combination of ground veal, pork and beef chuck to make a total of one pound of meat.
  • Vegetables: The sauce starts with a “soffritto,” a mixture of finely chopped aromatic vegetables — carrot, onion and celery, which forms the base of many Italian soups, sauces and stews. I like to use an equal amount of each vegetable, 1/2 cup each.
  • Milk: Whole milk reduces to give a creamy texture to the sauce. For those sensitive to cow’s milk: I’ve tested the recipe using full-fat oat milk and it turns out beautifully.
  • Tomato: A small amount of tomato paste adds sweetness and acidity, while thickening and binding the sauce.
  • Wine: Choose a dry white wine such as pinot grigio, Soave or sauvignon blanc.
  • Chicken broth: Use a good homemade chicken broth or your favorite prepared chicken stock.
  • Spices: To keep this sauce totally simple, I use salt, pepper and nutmeg. Ground nutmeg is a sweet spice used to accent creamy sauces and pasta fillings. It’s very much a part of the cooking of Bologna, which is in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy.

Best pasta for Bolognese sauce

Egg pasta, whether fresh or dried, pairs flawlessly to capture every bite of the rich-tasting sauce.

  • Fettuccine: A classic pasta for Bolognese sauce, and one of the most popular long pasta noodle cuts, It’s also essential in creamy fettuccine Alfredo and fettuccine primavera with colorful vegetables.
  • Pappardelle: This is one of our all-time favorite types of long pasta noodle. Its wide, flat shape is perfect for chunky, ragus made with mushrooms or meat.
  • Tagliatelle: A long, medium-width pasta that’s a twin to fettuccine.
  • Garganelli: A tube-shaped pasta that’s a cousin to fusilli.

Recipe steps, at a glance

The steps for making the sauce are simple to execute. It’s mostly about the allowing time for for the sauce to reduce. That’s why I opt to use a large, wide pan rather than a deep pot or Dutch oven.

  • This recipe makes enough sauce for a half pound of pasta, or about 4 servings. It doubles easily.
  • Bolognese sauce keeps up to one week, refrigerated and 1 month in the freezer.
Fettuccine with meaty sauce in a serving bowl, with a fork twirled around some noodles.

Stovetop Fettuccine Bolognese (In Half the Time)

Karen Tedesco
Fettuccine Bolognese, made easy. Cook this thick, rich and utterly delectable pasta with creamy Bolognese meat sauce in half the time of a traditional long-cooked version. It's not complicated! You get ALL the flavor without having to spend hours over the stove.
Print Pin
5 from 5 community reviews
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Pasta
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons (30 g) butter
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion, about ½ of one medium onion
  • ½ cup finely chopped carrot, about 1 large, peeled carrot
  • ½ cup finely chopped celery, 1-2 stalks
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 pound (450 g) ground beef, bulk Italian sausage or ground pork
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup (240 ml) whole milk
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 1 cup (240 ml) dry white wine, such as pinot grigio
  • ½ cup (120 ml) chicken broth
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

To serve

Instructions 

  • Place a 10-12-inch deep saute pan over medium heat. Add the butter and olive oil to the pan. When the butter has melted and is no longer foaming, add the onion, carrot, celery and ½ teaspoon of the salt. Cook 2-3 minutes, stirring to coat the vegetables in the fat, until the onion is translucent.
  • Add the meat, breaking up clumps with a fork or a spatula. Cook until it's no longer pink, 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally to mix the meat with the vegetables.
  • Pour in the milk and add the garlic and nutmeg. Turn the heat up to medium-high and bring to a lively simmer. Cook, stirring frequently, until the milk is almost completely evaporated, 10-15 minutes. It's okay if the mixture looks a bit curdled at this point.
  • Push the meat and vegetables to the sides of the pan and add the tomato paste to the center. Let it cook in the fat for about 30 seconds, then stir it in to blend with the meat mixture.
  • Pour in the wine, chicken broth and another ½ teaspoon salt. Stir well to combine. Bring to a simmer. Cook until the liquid has bubbled away and the sauce is thickened, which should take 20-25 minutes. Stir frequently as it cooks, and adjust the heat as needed to be sure the sauce doesn't begin to stick to the bottom of the pan.
  • Stir in the Parmesan and parsley. Taste the sauce and add more salt, if needed, and black pepper to taste. Add hot, cooked fettuccine or your choice of pasta to a serving bowl. Add the sauce and toss to coat. Serve right away and enjoy!

Karen’s Notes and Tips

  • It’s important to use a wide pan, rather than a deep pot, such as a Dutch oven. More surface area means the sauce will reduce in less time.
  • If you’re not using bulk Italian sausage as the base, buy ground beef chuck (not lean beef), or use a combination of ground veal, pork and beef chuck to make a total of one pound of meat.
  • Because a few of my family members have milk sensitivity, I’ve tested this recipe using full-fat, unsweetened oat milk instead of cow’s milk and it works beautifully.
  • This recipe makes enough sauce for a half pound of pasta, or about 4 servings. It doubles easily to serve 6-8.
  • Bolognese sauce keeps up to one week, refrigerated and 1 month in the freezer.
To research and test this recipe, I referred to Mastering the Art of Italian Cuisine by Lidia Bastianich and Marcella Hazan’s cookbook Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking.

Nutrition

Calories: 474kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Sodium: 763mg | Potassium: 749mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 3260IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 136mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutrition facts are calculated by third-party software. If you have specific dietary needs, please refer to your favorite calculator.

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Hey, I’m Karen

Creator of Familystyle Food

I’m a food obsessed super-taster and professionally trained cook ALL about creating elevated dinners with everyday ingredients. Find simplified recipes made from scratch and enjoy incredibly tasty food! Read more about me here.

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