Pasta with Bolognese Sauce

Bolognese Sauce with Vodka

This is a wonderful recipe that I found some time in 2019. It has a wonderful depth of flavor and it got two thumbs up from Rob!

This sauce can also be made in a slow cooker if you aren’t going to be around to stir the sauce every once in a while as it simmers on the stovetop. To make in a slow cooker, complete step one in a large skillet. Then transfer the meat and vegetable mixture to the crock of your slow cooker. Add the ingredients in step two to the meat mixture in the slow cooker. Stir to combine. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4-6 hours. Serve as directed below.

I often freeze part of this sauce as well. When you are ready to serve, cook the amount of pasta that you need. Follow the same serving steps using the amount of sauce that you prefer. Let the rest of the sauce cool to nearly room temperature. Then refrigerate the sauce for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 1 year. When you’re ready, heat up the sauce and cook some more pasta. You’re ready to enjoy some more!

If you don’t have vodka or don’t want to use vodka, you can use wine, chicken broth, beef broth, or even water in its place. The vodka adds a wonderful depth of flavor that is absolutely wonderful!


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped (about 3/4 cup)

  • 1 medium shallot, diced (about 1/3 cup)

  • 3 medium carrots, chopped (about 1 cup)

  • 1 pound lean ground beef

  • 3/4 pound ground spicy Italian sausage (or ground beef if you don’t want sausage)

  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 large can (about 30 ounces) whole tomatoes, broken up by squeezing between your fingers or snipping with kitchen shears

  • 1 small can tomato paste

  • 2 celery stalks, halved

  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano

  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 Parmesan rind

  • 1 cup whole milk

  • 3/4 cup vodka

  • grated Parmesan cheese for serving

  • 1 pound pasta


  • Heat the olive oil in an enameled Dutch oven (or large non-reactive soup pot) over medium heat. When the oil shimmers, add the onion, shallot, carrots, and season with salt and pepper. Stir until all the vegetables are coated in the oil. Cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook 5 minutes or until the onion is beginning to soften. Increase the heat to medium and add the beef and sausage, brown all over, breaking up the meat as you go, about 10 minutes. 
  • Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, celery, oregano, bay leaf, thyme, milk, vodka, and parmesan rind. Season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally.
  • Remove the parmesan rind, celery, and bay leaf. If the sauce is soupy, cook, uncovered for 20-30 minutes over medium heat.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat and boil the pasta until al dente according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water. Drain and return the pasta to its cooking pot.
  • Use the pasta water to thin the Bolognese sauce, if needed.
  • To serve, add about 3/4 of the sauce to the hot pasta and toss to coat the pasta with the sauce. Add additional sauce as you prefer or you can top each serving with a little more sauce as you are plating the dishes. Divide the sauced pasta among your pasta bowls. Top with grated Parmesan. Enjoy!
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Bolognese Sauce with Vodka
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