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Easy spaghetti bolognese

Carlton Boyce / 06 July 2016

A delicious and easy recipe for traditional spaghetti bolognese.

Spaghetti bolognese
Spaghetti bolognese

Cooking time

40 minutes




  • 500g minced beef
  • 2 tins chopped tomatoes
  • 2 onions, finely diced
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 glass red wine (optional)
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 1 teaspoon of dried mixed herbs
  • Pinch dried chilli flakes (optional)
  • 400g dried spaghetti
  • Parmesan cheese, to serve


A good spaghetti bolognese is a truly wonderful supper, hearty and tasty and incredibly easy to cook. I try and stockpile it in the freezer for use on those evenings when there’s just too little time but we inevitably run out when we need it most…

Having said that, it only takes ten minutes to get it to the simmering stage, at which point you’re free to chase the kid’s homework, take a quick shower, check your emails, or just sit quietly with a glass of something reviving until it’s time to summon up the energy to put the spaghetti on.

1. Fry the onions and garlic gently in a knob of butter or a dash of olive oil until soft. Don’t rush this stage, as it’s important not to burn them!

2. Add the minced beef and fry until brown.

3. Drain off any excess fat (if there is only a little bit I leave it in for extra flavour) and add the herbs, both tins of tomatoes, bay leaves, and stock cube plus the red wine and chilli flakes if you are using them.

4. Simmer gently with no lid for twenty minutes or so until it is thick and wonderful. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste and leave to simmer while you cook the spaghetti.

5. If the Bolognese sauce is a bit thin please feel free to add a tablespoon or two of beef gravy granules; it’ll thicken the sauce and add a lovely meaty flavour into the bargain. Similarly, if it tastes a bit sharp, a tablespoon of sugar or, even better, a couple of decent dollops of tomato ketchup will sweeten it up very nicely. (I won’t tell if you don’t.)

6. Boil the dried spaghetti in a large saucepan of salted water (the larger the better as it gives the pasta the space it needs to circulate and cook quickly) until al dente or soft on the outside but with a slight ‘bite’ to the centre still.

7. Drain the spaghetti in a colander and heap into bowls.

8. Top with the bolognese mixture (conventional cooks like to remove the bay leaves, but I prefer a quick round of Bay Leaf Bingo) and some grated or shaved Parmesan cheese, plus another generous grind of black pepper

Visit our beef section for more ideas for cooking with beef, or try another pasta recipe, including spaghetti vongole, spaghetti carbonara and spaghetti piemontesi.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.