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.
Subscribe to my Newsletter, follow me on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube for all my latest recipes and videos.
- 4 cloves, whole
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 10 black peppercorns
- 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
- 12 oz Tagliatelle or pasta of choice
- 2 tbsp butter
- 4 oz burrata cheese or shredded Parmesan
- leaves fresh basil for garnish
- 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.
This made such a great meal everyone loved it.
Thanks for coming back to let me know Dave!
Best Bolognese sauce recipe ever! I made this on a busy day where I was packing to move but also needed to cook dinner for my parents. Very easy and it was a hit, packed with flavor. I’ll definitely make it again. I used my Instant Pot on the slow cooker mode and it turned out well. I did turn it on saute mode at the end of cooking to boil off some extra liquid and thicken the sauce since the Instant Pot doesn’t vent as much as a slow cooker does.
This made my day, thanks Lisa. So happy you enjoyed this and I hope the move was as successful! 🙂
Wow wow wow!!! So easy and so delicious. This will be made over and over. I might try using some sort of beef roast instead of ground beef next time. I can’t wait!
Excellent, love getting comments like this Maureen! Thanks for taking the time to come back and let me know!
This is in my slow cooker…right now 🙂 and the aroma is amazing.
I halved the recipe …do you think that will also cut the cooking time in half?
Excellent Elisabet! No I would make as directed. Enjoy!
O.M.G Becky…this was delicious! Did I mention that it was delicious…because, it was delicious! The addition of burrata made it extra special. I made this for our game night dinner and used fresh pasta from a local vendor. It was a last minute decision to make so I used a cast iron dutch oven on the stove to speed up the cooking time so we weren’t eating at 10 pm. Everyone gobbled it up which meant that sadly there were no leftovers😩. Will definitely make again! Thank you for sharing your recipie.
Now these are the kind of comments I enjoy reading! Thanks for taking the time to come back and let me know. 🙂
I want this now! Please ?
Thanks for stopping by!
Greetings. Your recipes are way too intriguing so I finally had to sign up. Thank you!
I have a question regarding your scrumptious sounding Bolognese sauce. Do I add the ground beef and sausage meats to the slow cooker RAW or do I sauté them first? I’d be truly grateful for a clarification. Again, thank you!
Hi there Mike! I added your email inquiry here in the recipe post comments in case others had the same question and everyone could read it if needed. To answer your question the meat is not browned prior to going in with other ingredients in the Slow Cooker. Thanks for asking and let me know what you think. 🙂
I made this before and it was delicious. But I can’t remember if I also fried the pork and ground beef first in a pan? Reading the recipe it seems to me it would be difficult to mix the raw ground beef with the soffrito? What am I missing here? Can you help me out please?
Hi Susanne! No you don’t have to brown the ground beef and pork first. See Step 4: Add the soffritto vegetables to a slow cooker coated with cooking spray. Stir in the spice mixture, pancetta, ground beef, pork sausage meat, red wine, tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir to incorporate and top with lid. Cook for 4 hours on high setting.
If you’d like the texture that browning the raw meat first brings, by all means go ahead. Enjoy!
Made this today and it was fantastic – great balance of flavors and spices. I cooked it on low for 7 hours (instead of low for 4 hours) but otherwise followed it exactly. I used some for baked spaghetti in place of the marinara I typically use and it was a delicious upgrade. You’re right – it makes a lot, so now I have several containers on hand for other dinners. Thanks, Kevin, this is a keeper!
Fantastic! Thanks so much for coming back to let me know Elaine.
This sounds amazing! Only thing holding me back..
I would be making this this week, on a “work night”. You have for the first part of slow-cooking to cook on high for 4 hours. What do you think about on low for 8 hours? While I’m at work? Then the 2 hours on high for the next step?
Funny you ask this as I made this again yesterday! I think that would be fine to do. Hope you enjoy and let me know if there is anything else I might help with. Cheers Jillian!
Made this last night, came out great. Highly recommend the recipe, pretty easy with the slow cooker. Thanks for posting it!
Thanks so much Mike, so glad you enjoyed this one!
WOW, I wish I could reach through the screen and eat this! It looks so good, and I am so glad I don’t have celiac disease, just an intolerance. I haven’t found a gluten free pasta that I like so those are my cheat days when It’s a pasta meal, one of my fav’s.
Hi Cathy! Me too, it’s so unfortunate, but there are alternatives for those who are, like my friend Mary. Hope you give this a go, gotta love the slow cooker! How was or is your visit with family?