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5 from 36 votes

Creamy Bolognese

This easy Creamy Bolognese sauce is loaded with three kinds of meat, parmesan cheese, and half and half. The meat sauce starts on the stove and then is finished in the slow cooker. This helps the sauce develop tons of flavor!
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time4 hrs
Total Time4 hrs 5 mins
Course: Main
Cuisine: Italian
Diet: Gluten Free, Low Lactose
Servings: 10 people
Calories: 575kcal
Author: Brianna May


  • 1 pound mild or hot italian sausage
  • 1 pound ground beef 85-15
  • 4 ounces diced pancetta or bacon
  • ¾ cup dry red wine*
  • 2 Tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1 Tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 Tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon red chili flakes*
  • 1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup water or beef broth
  • 1 6 ounce can tomato paste
  • 1 large yellow onion minced
  • 1 cup minced carrot
  • 1 cup minced celery
  • 8-10 cloves garlic pressed or minced
  • cup half and half*
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • pasta for serving


  • Over medium high heat, sauté the sausage, beef, and pancetta, until cooked through and browned.
  • Turn the heat down to medium. Stir in the oregano, basil. thyme, salt, pepper, and chili flakes. Sauté for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant.
  • Deglaze the pan with the red wine. Cook for 1-2 minutes.
  • Add the meat mixture, crushed tomatoes, water, onion, carrot, celery, and garlic into a slow cooker.
  • Stir until all of the ingredients are combined. The mixture should be thick.
  • Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-7 hours.
  • Turn off the slow cooker and stir the sauce.
  • Stir in the half and half and parmesan cheese. Let cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.


Dry Red Wine: Merlot, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, and lighter style Cabernets will all work. White wine, like Sauvignon Blanc can also be used if this is all you have on hand. You can also swap the wine for beef broth, but wine gives the sauce more flavor. 
Red Chili Flakes: These add a bit of mild heat to the sauce. Omit if you are sensitive to spice. 
Half and Half: I like to use half and half instead of heavy cream because I don’t think the sauce needs the additional fat. Heavy cream can be used, it will be even richer.
Refrigerator: Store leftover creamy bolognese in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.
Freezer: This bolognese freezes great. Let it cool overnight in the fridge. Portion the sauce in airtight freezer bags or containers. Store in the freezer for 2-3 months.
Brown the meat. Let the meat cook until it begins to caramelize and brown a bit. This adds so much flavor to the sauce. This also allows the fat to render.
Don’t skip the pork or wine. The combination of the beef, italian sausage, and pancetta is unbeatable. The sauce is not the same with just ground beef. The red wine also adds so much depth to the sauce. I highly recommend using it. 
Mince the veggies finely. The smaller the vegetables are cut, the faster they will cook. If you are short on time, be sure to cut them pretty small. You do not want large chunks of celery or carrots in the bolognese. 
Simmer. Allowing the sauce to cook for hours gives it the best flavor. I highly recommend transferring it to a slow cooker to simmer all day. 
Use high quality parmesan cheese. Parmesan reggiano has the best flavor, but it is pricey. Use any fresh parmesan found in the refrigerator section of the grocery store. 
Serve over pasta. I like to serve this bolognese over pappardelle, tagliatelle, penne, or rigatoni.


Calories: 575kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 41g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 17g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 111mg | Sodium: 1425mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 10g