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Tagliatelle bolognese is made with a homemade bolognese sauce featuring pancetta, pork sausages, ground beef, and vegetables. Serve it with al dente tagliatelle pasta and a sprinkle of your favorite cheese!
Pasta lovers, unite! Some of my most loved pasta recipes include this smoked sausage and brown butter pasta, this white pesto pasta, pasta with vodka sauce and (one of my ultimate favorites) Lasagna with Bechamel. And, don’t get me started on bolognese. It’s definitely one of those sauces that gets better and better the longer you let it simmer!
I’ve transformed this classic Italian sauce recipe into a slow cooker version so that it can do all of the heavy lifting for you. Pair with pasta and you’ve got yourselves a delicious tagliatelle bolognese!
INGREDIENT NOTES AND SUBSTITUTIONS
- Pancetta – Pancetta is like cured Italian bacon. It’s salty and peppery and delicious! You can also replace it with traditional bacon.
- Ground Beef – The perfect addition to this meaty sauce. You can also use ground turkey or chicken if you want to make it a bit lighter.
- Italian Pork Sausages – Use sweet or hot varieties. I like spicy foods, so I almost always go with hot ones!
- Spice Mix – This spice mix is where much of the flavor of the sauce comes from! Include:
- Whole Cloves
- Bay Leaf
- Fennel Seeds
- Red Pepper Flakes
- Dried Thyme
- Black Peppercorns
- Onion, Carrot, & Celery – The base of your tagliatelle bolognese is a little something called soffrito. It’s essentially a medley of finely chopped vegetables that give a lot of flavor to sauces, soups, and stews.
- Salt – You’ll also need this for your vegetable mixture. You can also use more to taste.
- Garlic – No Italian-inspired sauce is complete without a bit of garlic!
- Canned Whole Tomatoes – Tagliatelle bolognese is a tomato sauce, so you’ll need a whole lot of them.
- Tomato Paste – This concentrated paste made from tomatoes adds even more tomato flavor.
- Red Wine – Don’t worry — all of the alcohol content burns off as it cooks. If you don’t want to cook with alcohol, you can skip it.
- Whole Milk – A bit of milk goes a long way towards making your meat sauce tender and flavorful.
- Red Wine Vinegar – For a bit of added tang.
- Tagliatelle Pasta – I love using this type of noodle for my bolognese sauce. Feel free to use your preference, or whatever you have on hand. Fettuccine or pappardelle are great substitutes.
- Butter & Fresh Basil – For serving.
- Cheese – Also for serving. Choose between creamy burrata, shredded Parmesan, or another favorite.
HOW TO MAKE TAGLIATELLE BOLOGNESE
1. Prepare Your Spice Mix. Place the cloves, bay leaf, fennel seeds, red pepper flakes, and peppercorns into a spice mill and grind until they become a fine powder. Set aside for later.
2. Brown The Pancetta. Add your cubed pancetta into a large skillet and brown until it becomes nice and crispy. Remove from the pan and set it aside.
3. Sauté The Vegetables. Using the same skillet, remove most of the fat, but make sure to leave at least 1 tablespoon to cook your veggies. Add the onions, carrots, celery, and salt to create your soffrito. Sauté for about 5-6 minutes, or until the mixture becomes golden. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
4. Load Up Your Slow Cooker. Coat your slow cooker with cooking spray, then add in the veggies, spice mix, pancetta, ground beef and pork sausage (both uncooked), red wine, tomatoes, and tomato paste. Stir to combine and break up the meat. Cover and cook for 4 hours on high.
5. Add The Milk. After 4 hours, remove the cover and stir in the milk. Cook on high for 2 more hours, or until the sauce has thickened. Now, add the red wine vinegar and stir. Taste and add more salt if needed.
6. Cook The Pasta & Serve. Cook your pasta. Once it’s finished, toss the tagliatelle in butter in a large skillet over medium heat, then add two cups of the sauce, plus the pasta water. You want your sauce to be thick and glossy. Serve with your cheese of choice and basil garnish! You can add more sauce if you like, or freeze the rest for later.
What’s The Difference Between Bolognese Sauce And Pasta Sauce?
Traditional pasta sauces often used canned tomatoes or a mixture of canned and fresh. Bolognese sauce almost always includes fresh vegetables. I add meat to mine to make it even heartier!
Why Do You Add Milk To Bolognese Sauce?
Milk may seem like an odd ingredient to add to a red tagliatelle bolognese sauce, but trust me on this one! It adds greater depth of flavor and it also goes a long way toward making the meat nice and tender. Don’t skip it!
Do You Add Pasta Water To Bolognese?
It isn’t mandatory but I like adding it to my pasta when I prepare it in the skillet. It makes the sauce even thicker — which I love!
This recipe post, originally published on Kevin Is Cooking October, 2016, has been updated with new content, photos and/or video in August, 2022.
- 1/2 lb pancetta diced small (or bacon)
- 1 large yellow onion finely chopped
- 2 carrots peeled and diced small
- 2 celery stalks diced small
- 1/2 tsp salt plus more
- 4 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 14 oz canned whole tomatoes
- 4 oz tomato paste
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 1 lb ground beef 90/10
- 1 lb Sweet or Hot Italian pork sausages casings removed
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- Blend the cloves, bay leaf, fennel seeds, red pepper flakes, and peppercorns in a spice mill and finely grind. Set aside.
- In a large skillet add the cubed pancetta (or bacon) and brown until rendered and crispy. Remove from pan and place on plate lined with paper towel. Set aside.
- In same skillet remove all but 1 tablespoon of fat and save remaining for other use. Add the onions, carrots, celery and salt, stirring as needed until golden in color, about 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic and stir, cooking another 2 minutes.
- Add the sauteed vegetables to a slow cooker coated with cooking spray. Stir in the spice mixture, pancetta, ground beef (uncooked), pork sausage meat (uncooked), red wine, tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir to incorporate, breaking up meat and top with lid. Cook for 4 hours on high setting.
- At the 4 hour mark, remove lid of slow cooker. Stir in the the milk and cook on high setting for 2 hours or until thickened and reduced. Add the vinegar, stirring to incorporate, and adjust seasoning with salt if needed.
- Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling, heavily salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente (or package directions). Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.
- Toss pasta and butter in a very large skillet set over medium heat. Using ladle add 2 cups of sauce to coat pasta and cook, adding some of the pasta cooking liquid as needed, until sauce is thick and glossy.
- Serve topped with a scoop of Burrata cheese (as shown), or shredded Parmesan cheese and fresh basil leaves.
- Save balance of bolognese sauce for other use or freeze.
- The ground beef and pork sausage meat go in uncooked. No need to brown prior to adding to slow cooker.
- This bolognese recipe makes enough for 8 people or more depending on portions. I’ve included directions for pasta, but it’s only for 4 servings. Save remaining sauce in refrigerator covered, or freeze for later use. Nutrition information is for bolognese sauce only.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.