Do you put milk in Bolognese?

This blog will offer some insight into whether or not you should put milk in bolognese, among other tips for bolognese, and how to make the perfect homemade bolognese.

Do you put milk in Bolognese?

Milk is considered to be essential in bolognese to intensify the richness and deepen the flavor. Adding milk also improves the tenderness of the meat.

Although it is widely debated that adding milk to this tomato sauce is not the authentic way of preparing bolognese, it is still agreed upon that this additional ingredient is what makes it go that extra mile in making your bolognese creamier and richer in taste. 

When adding milk to bolognese, the milk is usually added in the end and then put on low heat to simmer for 30 to 45 minutes. This is what achieves that silky sauce that will make all the difference in your dish.

What is bolognese?

Bolognese is a tomato-based meaty sauce that pairs well with any type of pasta or noodle and tends to have a thick and chunky consistency. It usually consists of onions, celery, carrots, pancetta, ground beef, tomatoes, white wine, and milk.

This sauce originated in the town of Bologna and is used in Italian cuisine. Bolognese is a type of ragu, which is the Italian word for “meat sauce”. Sure enough, it is characteristically known to have minced beef, pork, or chicken incorporated into the sauce itself, making it the perfect fix for a savory, flavorful meal.

The authentic bolognese sauce is quite different compared to its American counterpart, the main differences being:

American bologneseItalian bolognese
Tends to have a larger quantity of tomato pasteOnly contains about one tablespoon of tomato paste
Includes the use of crushed garlic or garlic powderDoes not contain any garlic
Made creamier by adding full fat cream or milkDoes not contain milk or any dairy

Nevertheless, both ways of cooking bolognese sauce are unique and flavorful in their own way, and it all comes down to personal preferences.

How much milk should you add to bolognese?

Experts recommend that you add a liter of milk for every 600 g of meat. This may seem like a lot, but bolognese is meant to be slow-cooked into perfection. 

All that extra liquid is meant to allow the tomatoes and onions to completely release their flavor, the meat to tenderize, and the sauce to thicken into a solid, jelly-like consistency. 

What else can improve my bolognese?

As the table above shows, American bolognese contains a few extra ingredients that are considered unorthodox by Italian standards but are still appreciated nonetheless. These include adding more tomato paste, adding garlic, and using some form of dairy in the bolognese. 

Apart from these, some recipes add sweeteners like maple syrup or plain sugar to balance out the sourness of the tomatoes, whereas the Italian method is to simply caramelize the onions for a longer period so that they develop their natural sweetness.

Another great way is to add porcini mushrooms by simply covering them in boiling water and setting them aside for 10-15 minutes. Next, drain them thoroughly and slice the mushrooms. Finally, add them to the pot after browning the meat, so that they have more time to develop their flavor.

What can I make with bolognese sauce?

Bolognese sauce may take some time on the stove, so it can be a good idea to make a large batch and then freeze it for a rainy day. 

Leftover bolognese can be used to make a spaghetti bolognese bake by adding the frozen bolognese to a casserole dish and possibly adding additional veggies to bake in the oven.

Mexican lasagna is another option, made by adding ingredients such as black beans and corn to the bolognese. Also, instead of lasagna noodles, you can use tortillas in this recipe. With a few simple changes, a Mexican twist can be given to this originally Italian dish.

Other FAQs about Milk that you may be interested in.

Can you eat milk powder without cooking?

How much liquid milk equals 2 tablespoons of dry milk

Can you steam milk at home?


We hope this article helped answer the question “should you add milk to bolognese sauce” and left you better equipped with some knowledge in general about bolognese. Happy cooking!


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