Spicepaw’s Spag Bol ( aka Spaghetti Bolognese)

The British Comfort Food

Spaghetti Bolognese, aka spag bol, is not just pasta with meat sauce but is actually the ultimate comfort food in the UK.

For a Brit, a plate of spaghetti bolognese tastes like childhood and a mother’s love and the comfort of coming in from the cold on a rainy day to sit in a big comfy chair by the fire with a cup of tea.

No longer called by its full name but instead given the moniker, ‘spag bol’, this pasta dish has been elevated to almost God-like status in the UK.  If you need proof of the fervor dedicated to this dish just Google ‘Spaghetti Bolognese Britain’ and see what comes up.

In a nation seemingly so reserved, you’d be surprised at the outrage over this dish.  I know because I have experienced it myself in my own household.

‘No white wine!’,
‘More tomato and onion’,
‘Less garlic!’,
‘Why are you putting cream in that?!’.

It took me years and many attempts to work this recipe up to British standards of ‘spag bol’ perfection.  Now, I am happy to report that this is the version of Spaghetti Bolognese that gets a thumbs up from all members of the family.  Loved both by my husband and our daughter, this is the winning recipe.


a plate of spaghetti bolognese



bacon frying in olive oil
Cook the bacon in olive oil. You can use guanciale, pancetta or lardons for a richer and smokier flavor. However, here in Malaysia, those things are hard to come by so use whatever is available.
diced vegetables cooking in a pan
Add garlic, celery, onion and carrot
minced beef and diced vegetables cooking in a pan
Add the minced beef and chopped herbs
minced beef and diced vegetables cooking in red wine
Turn heat to high and add red wine
meat sauce before reduction
Add passata, stewed tomatoes, beef broth and bring  the Bolognese sauce to a boil
bolognese sauce reduced after 2 hours of cooking
Turn heat to low, cover and let the Bolognese sauce simmer for 1-2 hours until sauce as thickened and flavors have married together.
bolognese sauce over cooked fettuccine
Serve the Bolognese sauce over your favorite pasta. (It doesn’t have to always be spaghetti)






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A plate of pasta with meat sauce

Spicepaw’s Spag Bol ( aka Spaghetti Bolognese)

  • Author: Spicepaw
  • Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: serves 4-6 1x


A British-Italian pasta classic of tomato sauce, fresh herbs, red wine and beef. This spaghetti bolognese is both great comfort food and a family favorite. #familydinners #comfortfood #pasta #sauce #beef #spaghetti


Units Scale
  • 3 strips of bacon (finely chopped)
  • 1 large onion (diced small)
  • 3 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 medium-sized carrot (diced small)
  • 1 cup chopped celery with leaves (diced small)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme (leaves separated from the stalk)
  • 2 tbsp fresh oregano (chopped)
  • 4 tbsp fresh basil (chopped)
  • 300g (10.5 oz) beef mince
  • 120ml (4 oz)red wine
  • 400g (14 oz) can of stewed tomatoes
  • 680g (24 oz) Passata (tomato sauce)
  • 475ml (2 cups) beef stock
  • 12 tbsp sugar (optional)


  1. In a large pot, add 1-2 tbsp of olive oil and heat on a medium flame.
  2. Chop up the bacon into small pieces and cook in the oil until the fat on the back has crisped slightly.
  3. Next, add the minced garlic, small diced onion, carrot and celery.  Cook with the bacon until all the vegetables have softened and are beginning to brown.
  4. When vegetables have softened, add minced beef, chopped oregano, chopped basil, thyme and bay leaves.  Cook for 2-3 minutes until the meat has browned and is no longer pink.
  5. Increase heat to high and add the wine so as to deglaze the pan.  Stir and bring to a boil to allow for the alcohol to cook off (this shouldn’t take too long, about 2-3 minutes.
  6. Add tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes, and beef stock. Stir together and bring to a boil.
  7. Once boiling, reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer for 1-2 hours until the sauce has thickened and all flavors have married together.
  8. Season with salt and pepper at the end and the additional tablespoon or so of sugar if necessary.
  9. Serve atop your favorite pasta and enjoy!
  • Prep Time: 30
  • Cook Time: 2 hours
  • Category: Pasta, Sauce
  • Method: stew
  • Cuisine: British, Italian

Keywords: Spaghetti, meat sauce, comfort food, pasta, family dinners, tomato

Eat more pasta with these tomato sauce recipes:

Easy Vegan-Friendly Tomato and Basil Sauce

Pasta Shells Tossed in Bacon & Fresh Tomato Sauce

Spicy Spanish Chorizo and Tomato Pasta Sauce



Author: Natasha

I'm just a busy expat mom who has a psychological need to feed people. I enjoy learning about new cultures, (especially the food) and enjoy experimenting with new ingredients and spices

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