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Classic Spaghetti Bolognese

Alex Guarnaschelli's Spaghetti Bolognese + Spicy Sloppy Joes + Taco Salad
Alex Guarnaschelli's Spaghetti Bolognese + Spicy Sloppy Joes + Taco SaladNathan Congleton / TODAY
Cook Time:
30 mins
Prep Time:
15 mins

Chef notes

This is a classic sauce where you taste the purity of the beef with the perfectly browned vegetables and finished with the tang from the milk at the end. I also love to transform this sauce into multiple leftovers like sloppy Joes or taco salad.

Technique tip: How do you know if your pasta water is "seasoned" enough to flavor your pasta? Taste the water once salted. It should taste like seawater. Add more salt if needed.

Swap option: Don't want spaghetti? Substitute rigatoni or penne.


  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium carrots, diced small
  • 2 small inner yellow celery stalks, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium yellow onions, minced
  • 6 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
  • pounds ground beef (preferably chuck)
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 pound spaghetti
  • 1½-2 cups grated Parmesan cheese



In a medium skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the carrots, onions and garlic. Season with the sugar and a generous pinch of salt. Cook for 10-12 minutes over medium heat or until the vegetables become tender and start to brown. Add the canned tomato and simmer over low heat, 10-12 additional minutes.


Heat a large skillet and add the remaining olive oil. When the oil begins to smoke lightly, add the ground beef in a single layer and season generously with salt. Brown the meat over medium heat, 5-8 minutes, and stir in the red pepper flakes. Stir in the white wine and simmer over medium heat until the wine cooks out and melds with the beef, 5-8 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Pour the tomato sauce and the milk over the ground beef. Stir to blend. Simmer over medium heat 2-3 minutes then, shut off the heat and allow the sauce to rest.


In a large pot, bring 6 quarts of water to a rolling boil. Add the 3 tablespoons salt. Bring the water back up to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook for 8-10 minutes. Stir the pasta with a slotted spoon to make sure it does not clump or stick to the bottom as it cooks. In a large colander, drain the pasta. Reserve some of the cooking liquid.


Toss the pasta in the skillet with the Bolognese. Stir to coat with the sauce. Taste for seasoning. Add pasta liquid if needed. Serve with Parmesan.