Can I substitute ragu for tomato sauce?

In this article, we will answer the question: “Can I substitute ragu for tomato sauce?” and discuss how you can substitute ragu for tomato.

Can I substitute ragu for tomato sauce?

Yes, you can substitute ragu for tomato sauce. Ragu is a meat-based sauce with a heaping helping of tomato sauce. It has extra meat and minced ingredients, such as carrot, celery and pancetta.

It is prepared using wine, beef broth and a small amount of heavy cream or milk to reduce the colour and increase the flavour.

Ragu sauces are typically served with spaghetti since they are better suited to wider-shaped pastas.

How can you substitute ragu for tomato sauce? 

You can substitute ragu for tomato sauce by chopping onions, carrots and celery. These vegetables are then sautéed in some extra virgin olive oil. 

After adding the meat and cooking it for a few minutes, a cup of white wine is poured to deglaze the pan. Finally, a bay leaf and tomato purée are added and the sauce is simmered for two hours, adding as much water as needed.

The secret to any ragu is the extended cooking period, which allows all of the ingredients to combine to produce an intense, nuanced sauce.

When the sauce is finished, season with salt to taste and garnish with a few leaves of fresh basil before serving.

Substituting ragu for tomato sauce in spaghetti 

Substituting ragu for tomato sauce in spaghetti is absolutely okay and may be a better option to add extraneous flavour. 

What are the different types of ragu? 

Ragu has many different types. From options for meat lovers like Beef Ragu with Parmesan Gnocchi, Leftover Pulled Pork Ragu, and Roasted Red Pepper Harissa Lamb Ragu to vegetarian alternatives like Vegan Mushroom Ragu, Tuscan Lentil Ragu with Cheesy Polenta, and Veggie Loaded Ragu, there’s a ragu for everyone. 

The primary meats used in this sauce are veal, hog, land, fish, and fowl. This beef is chopped and diced before being mixed with tomatoes. Carrots, soffritto, and celery are among the additional vegetables and herbs used in this sauce.

It is crucial to note, however, that Ragu sauce has a relatively thick texture. This consistency is achieved by using milk or cream. This cream is used to alleviate the flavour of the dish while also thickening the texture.

This sauce comes in a variety of flavours emphasising the meat aspect of the sauce and frequently includes more than one sort of meat in it.

What are the tips when substituting ragu for tomato sauce? 

Here are some of the tips to consider when substituting ragu for tomato sauce. 

  1. Cook the ragu for hours in a heavy-bottomed pot, such as enamelled cast-iron, to avoid burning.
  1. Select the highest-quality ingredients you can afford. Ragu often asks for inexpensive cuts of beef, but they should be of high quality.
  1. Well-marbled beef will make a more delicious ragu than leaner mass-produced meat, whose texture will break down after extended simmering. Look for unseasoned tomato puree and paste that has a fresh, not harsh, flavour.
  1. Most ragus begin with fragrant vegetables sautéed in olive oil known as a sofrito. Finely and uniformly chop them, ideally by hand (a food processor tends to shred vegetables, which can prevent them from cooking evenly).
  1. Slowly brown the ground pork for the Bolognese sauce over medium-low heat. The goal is to gradually bring out the rich caramel taste of the meat without making it tough or dry.
  1. Season the meat before browning it over medium-high heat to get a nice sear for southern Italian-style ragu. This will add flavour to the ragu.
  1. Allow a good-quality, affordable wine to bubble off the pan, leaving a nice acidity.
  1. Use homemade broth for ragus that calls for broth, particularly beef ragus. The majority of commercial beef broth is unpleasant and tastes more like onions.
  1. The fresh broth adds to the sauce’s deep umami taste and gives it a silkiness that allows it to adhere to the spaghetti.
  1.  Keep a close eye on how your ragu evolves as it cooks. The veggies will soften and sweeten as they cook, finally blending into the sauce.
  1.  Tomatoes will soften and turn terra-cotta in colour as they age. The fat from the beef will be used to enhance the sauce and develop its texture.
  1.  Even when you think your ragu is done, it isn’t. Allow it to cool to room temperature before refrigerating it overnight.
  1. This final step actually brings the sauce together. Gently reheat it on the stovetop, adding a little water if required to loosen it.

Final Thoughts 

Ragu sauce is one of the most popular meat sauces, but it appears to be too complex to produce for many. This is why we’ve included a simple step-by-step recipe that we hope you’ll be able to serve alongside your favourite sort of pasta.

Other FAQs about ragu you may be in interested in

Is marinara sauce the same as Ragu?

Is Ragu better than Prego?

Does Ragu sauce have dairy?


In this article, we have answered the question: “Can I substitute ragu for tomato sauce?” and discussed how you can substitute ragu for tomato.” 


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