How To Make Awesome Spaghetti Bolognese

How To Make Awesome Spaghetti Bolognese
Carly Jacobs

On Friday night Mr Smaggle came back from a week away and he requested that I make his favourite dinner – my famous spaghetti bolognese. It’s mainly based upon Mama Smaggle’s bolognese but I’ve adapted it and added to it over the years. I was debating whether or not to share my recipe because How To Make Awesome Spaghetti Bolognese seems like a seriously over populated section of the web but then I thought it would be a rad idea to get everyone to share their spaghetti bolognese recipes. Here’s mine and I hope you’ll share yours with me too!

Smaggle's Spaghetti Bolognese
Serves: 8 to 10
What You Need
  • 1 kilo beef mince
  • 1 brown onion
  • 4 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 800gm can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 bottle pasta sauce
  • 1 bunch basil, finely chopped
  • 1 large red chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 birdseye chilli, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • ½ beef stock cube
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 500gms dry pasta
What You Do
  1. Heat oil in a fry pan. Fry onions for a few minutes until soft. Add garlic and chilli and fry until fragrant.
  2. Add beef and use a wooden spoon to break it up in the pan. Cook until just brown.
  3. Add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and pasta sauce. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for at least 20 to 30 minutes.
  4. NOTE: I tend to cook this over a few hours, sometimes up to 3 hours. It tends to be a bit more flavoursome the longer you cook it but I wouldn't simmer for less than 20 to 30 minutes. I also add water as it simmers so it doesn't get too dry.
  5. Add ½ cube of beef stock, dried herbs, fresh herbs and salt and pepper to taste.
  6. NOTE: At this stage you can keep tasting it and add extra herbs, chilli or salt and pepper until it tastes the way you want it to.
  7. Bring a large pot of water to boil and follow the instructions on the pasta packet. Drain pasta, stir through sauce and serve with parmesan cheese and salt and pepper.


There’s always heaps of left overs when ever I make this and we can usually get around 8 to 10 meals out of it. Sometimes I’ll add some spinach or have it with SlimPasta if I’ve been over indulging a bit too much or I’ll have it on toast if I’m feeling a bit lazy and need an easy dinner.

Now I’d love very much if you would share your spaghetti bolognese recipe with me. There are 2 ways to share – you can simply pop your recipe in the comments below or if you have a blog of your own, you can publish your own spaghetti bolognese recipe and pop the link in the comments. It’s an awesome way to create a solid resource of spaghetti bolognese recipes and also give you a chance to show off your spag bol chops!

Do you have a stand by, tried and true spaghetti bolognese recipe? Is it an heirloom recipe? Out of a cook book? Did you make it up?


  1. DameChandra Crowther 7 years ago

    Omg where is the red wine in this recipe!? Thats my secret ingredient (and the urban myth is true! You have to use the good bottle that your drinking otherwise it ruins it) but seriously thanks for this recipe I’m going to cook it for dinner tonight!

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 7 years ago

      We’re actually not big wine drinkers so we don’t tend to have it lying around but I’ll definitely try it if I happen to have some around when I’m cooking! So cheap wine is the devil yeah?

  2. Red wine is my secret weapon in my spag bol and if my husband isn’t eating it, I’ll pack it with mushrooms too. I like to stir through some fresh oregano just before serving. Here’s my favourite recipe (minus a photo)

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 7 years ago

      Amazing! Thank you for sharing. I love fresh herbs in my spag bol. It’s the best.

  3. Ali 7 years ago

    definitely gotta have some red in there. my usual spaghetti is pretty similar to yours, minus the chili. BUT if I’m feeling fancy on a weekend…

    cut lots and lots of tomatos into wedges and put them on a baking tray with olive oil and herbs. add an onion or two (cut in half across-ways) and a whole head of garlic with just the end cut off. sometimes I need two baking trays for this. douse everything in lots of good olive oil and put in the oven on about 150 degrees for an hour or two, until the tomatoes are all deliciously shriveled and the garlic cloves go super soft (the skin stays hard like a handy container).

    cook some more onions (diced) and chopped garlic on the stove and add mince. then add all the stuff from the baking tray, plus some butter and beef stock and wine. add tiny cherry tomatoes cut in half (so you get the combo of the lovely slow roasted ones and fresh little ones) and cook til you can’t resist the delicious smell anymore. add lots of fresh basil at the last minute. yum yum!

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 7 years ago

      Oh yum that sounds amazing! Yeah the wine thing has never really been a big thing on cooking but I’m certainly keen to try it!

  4. Kara 7 years ago

    Wow that’s a shitload of pasta hahaha! Sounds yum- pretty similiar to how I do mine 🙂

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 7 years ago

      Isn’t that just like a normal packet of pasta? I may have stuffed up the grams… we do get around 8 to 10 meals out of it though!

      • Kara 7 years ago

        Hi Carly – yeah it is. We would only use about 300/500g mince and 1-2 cups of pasta. 8-10 meals is a fair amount though!
        Looks yum!

  5. I was wondering about the red wine too! Mine has red wine and brown sugar in it. But I see this recipe has a bottle of pasta sauce – you wouldn’t need wine or sugar.
    so mine is:
    500gm beef mince
    tablespn minced garlic, heaped tablespoon tomato paste, about a quarter cup of red wine, heaped tablespoon brown sugar, tin of diced tomatoes. I will usually add grated zucchini and carrot and mushroom too.
    piled on top of spaghetti.
    Hubby and I will stir in a dollop of pesto to our own dish after serving. Kids have their’s with a sprinkle of parmesan.

    my mum uses vegemite when browning her mince.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 7 years ago

      Ah! Good to know! I don’t know how the wine thing skipped my attention, I must be the only person in Australia to not put red in their spag bol! 🙂

  6. Cilla 7 years ago

    I use 500g beef mince, 500 g pork mince, Onion, garlic, carrot and zucchini, bottle of passata, red wine, oregano, good spoon of basil pesto, salt and pepper and to add some sweetness either a glob of balsalmic vinegar or some tomato sauce (my shameful secret)

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 7 years ago

      Ha! Love it! I promise I won’t tell anyone! 🙂

  7. Cheekiechops 7 years ago

    Yep, red wine in mine too and I grate up carrot and celery to boost the shit outta the bolognaise. Fry up some pancetta (Stephanie Alexander’s version). Chilli,, thyme and a bay leaf. If I am making a really mild version, for visiting kids, I add a teaspoon of cinnamon and bay leaf only, no other herbs/spices/wine to the basic tomato /meat mix (it’s an ol WW recipe, lame but tasty) and lamest and yummiest recipe is on the Heinz tomato soup can…

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 7 years ago

      I’m a total veggie smugler when it comes to spag bol – I sometimes put mushies in there too!

  8. Nina 7 years ago

    Ooh I made an awesome one the other night. My secret ingredient is a chorizo sausage, it adds amazing flavour! And yesterday I turned the leftovers into a ricotta lasagne… YUM!

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 7 years ago

      Oh chorizo! I’ll have to keep an eye out for a gluten free version!

    • Natalie 7 years ago

      Yep! Chorizo = AWESOME in Spaghetti Bolognese!!

  9. Olivia 7 years ago

    I brown all the different ingredients in a fry pan then deglaze with white wine, then transfer to a big pot one at a time. You have to cook the meat especially in small batches so you get max browning without cooking the rest too fast. The benefit of doing veg this way is you can chop and cook at the same time, because I don’t prep. After you’ve got a couple of ingredients in you add a tin of tomato, salt and pepper, and oregano or something.
    Ingredients: pork and veal mince, bacon or speck, mushrooms, mire poix, garlic.

  10. Olivia 7 years ago

    Oh, this is really good on the science of browning, and how to do it best.

  11. Erika 7 years ago

    This is my proper version. Shorter versions get cooked but leave out ingredients if I don’t have them. The carrots/celery (mirepoix) does make a huge difference and it’s so worth it!

    Heat olive oil or butter in pan. Add chopped onion and garlic to taste (lots of both in our house). Get nicely softened and golden so you get the sweetness of caramelisation. Add finely diced carrots and celery (and zucchini in season – have to smuggle it past Best Beloved who wont’ eat it if he can see it), cover and let it sweat down. Push to the edges of the pan, add beef mince and brown, breaking up the lumps as you go. Add tomatoes (bottle of sugo, tin of crushed, bag of frozen cherry toms, chopped up fresh ones – whatever you’ve got). Add dried herbs – oregano, marjoram, little bit of thyme, couple of bay leaves. Add mushrooms (fresh or dried – dried ones seem to have extra flavour – buy fresh ones and forget in a paper bag in the fridge.) Maybe add some red wine. Freshly cracked pepper. Simmer until it smells like heaven on a stick. If using fresh herbs, add about half way through the simmering. Pull out the bay leaves. Serve on top of freshly cooked pasta and with generous amounts of freshly grated parmesan. If feeling in need of indulgence, add fresh mozzarella as well.

  12. Kate 7 years ago

    Yours is very similar to mine, except that I make mine with finely chopped mushrooms, instead of meat. You cannot tell the difference! My 5yr old will eat it and thinks it is meat! Winning! Then I save little portions of it to use when having nachos or tacos. Or if I’m cooking something for hubby and I that I know my little one won’t eat, I’ll thaw some “faux mince” for him. Yum!

  13. Liz @ I Spy Plum Pie 7 years ago

    So I’m a bit late to the party but today on zee blog I’ve posted my lentil version if anyone is looking for a meat-free option!

  14. Liz @ I Spy Plum Pie 7 years ago

    I’m going to try take 2 on sharing my vego-friendly bolognese, which is up on zee blog today. My secret ingredient is using leek instead of onion!

  15. Bec Thexton 7 years ago

    I do indeed (my awesome spag bol recipe was also taught to me by mumma). I always grate 2-3 carrots into it to bulk it up, add a tbsp of honey (a nonna told me to do that) and 2 bay leaves and a splash of red wine. EVERY TIME. I also have been using lentils instead of mince since I became a vegetarian! Bec x | dancingthroughsunday

  16. snoskred747 7 years ago

    Here is my secret wine tip. I do not drink wine at all myself, but I use it in cooking all the time. When I am cooking the meat for a sauce I will put wine over it and then put the lid on, it cooks a lot faster in the steam that rises up.

    I buy Banrock Station casks – usually Cabernet Merlot for the red, and any of the whites generally work for my cooking but most of the time I use Sauvignon Blanc.

    There have been times where I ran out of white and had to use red instead, which resulted in several incidents of the purple white pasta sauce, or the purple mushroom soup. 🙂


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