Spicepaw’s Spag Bol

meat sauce over cooked pasta garnished with cheese and fresh basil

Things I have learned as an American in my relationship with my British husband:

1. it’s never too early to start drinking on Christmas (I kind of like this rule)

2. Potatoes are an important vegetable in every meal and don’t try to reduce the amount


3. Spaghetti Bolognese is not just pasta with meat sauce but is actually the ultimate comfort food in the UK.


For a Brit, a plate of this pasta tastes like childhood, 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 it’s full name but instead given the moniker, ‘spag bol’, this 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 ‘Spag Bol 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 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 pasta with meat sauce

Spicepaw’s Spag Bol

  • Author: Spicepaw
  • Prep Time: 30
  • Cook Time: 2 hours
  • 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. It’s a comfort food at its finest and a personal family favorite. #familydinners #comfortfood #pasta #sauce #beef



  • 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!

  • Category: Pasta, Sauce
  • Method: stew
  • Cuisine: British, Italian

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





One Comment Add yours

  1. mistimaan says:

    Looks tasty

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