Traditional Italian Beef Ragu Recipe

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This Traditional Italian Beef Ragu Recipe simmers slowly to give it tremendous flavor. It is sure to be a favorite weekend meal. Toss it with your favorite pasta and enjoy with a nice glass of wine.

traditional beef ragu over a bed of spaghetti noodles

This is a family favorite meal and it is another classic Italian dish that we like to make on a Sunday afternoon. The slow simmer allows the family time to spend together.

And it makes a great fall time cozy comforting meal.

What is the Difference Between a Ragu and a Bolognese?

I’d like to explain this a bit because they are similar sauces. However, there are some slight differences to each sauce.

A ragu is a meat based sauce with a little bit of tomato added to it. It also contains a combination of minced vegetables, such as, carrots, onions, and sometimes celery.

A ragu sauce also simmers slowly in red wine, beef broth, and usually has a little bit of heavy cream added towards the end to lighten the color.

Now, a bolognese is a variation of ragu — Ragu alla Bolognese. It uses a white wine and less tomatoes.

So really it comes down to slight variations.

What Pasta to Use with the Beef Ragu Recipe

Usually I serve a ragu sauce with spaghetti noodles. But feel free to pair this sauce with your favorite pasta noodle!

The general rule of thumb is to serve a thicker sauce with a wider noodle. A couple of varieties of wide pasta noodles are pappardelle and mafalde.

A ragu sauce also makes a great choice for a homemade lasagna.

beef ragu over spaghetti on a platter

Beef Ragu Recipe

This classically inspired Italian dish is the perfect comforting meal. Full of delicious flavors, it is sure to please any dinner guest! Simmer it slowly for a coupld of hours on a Sunday for the perfect Sunday family meal – Italian style! Or paired with a nice glass of wine.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 40 minutes
Author Mary Woita
Servings 6
Calories: 601kcal



  • Heat up olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet or dutch oven. Add the chopped onion and carrots. Sauté the carrots and onions together until the onions become translucent – just a few minutes.
  • Add the minced garlic to the pan and stir until fragrant. Just a minute or so – be careful not to burn the garlic because it becomes bitter.
  • Stir in the ground beef and brown completely. I would recommend a less greasy ground beef for this recipe. Otherwise, drain out the excess grease.
  • Once beef is cooked through, add in the salt and tomato paste and mix well.
  • Then add the wine and broth. Simmer on medium low for about 2 – 2 1/2 hours or until the broth has simmered down completely.
  • If the liquid evaporates too soon, you can also add in a little more broth or water.
  • When the sauce is finished cooking, stir in the heavy cream. The sauce should be thick and not runny like a traditional marinara.
  • Prepare the pasta according to the package instructions. Don’t forget to salt the pasta water!
  • Lay your cooked and drained pasta over a nice platter and pour the ragu sauce over top for a pretty presentation. Or you can mix the ragu sauce in with the pasta noodles.
  • Serve & enjoy!


This sauce can be stored in the refrigerator and reheated for another day. It is perfect for meal prep and freezes well, too.
You can use a semi sweet red wine for this sauce if you’d prefer a slight sweetness. My husband loves it and I will make the sauce with a lambrusco or other mildly sweet wine for him to enjoy.

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