You’ll never want another bolognese after trying this recipe. This fusilli bolognese is comforting, absolutely delicious, and a perfect staple recipe.
I come back to this bolognese every winter. It’s an absolute classic. You can make a big batch and it will stay for days in the fridge. There’s just something so comforting about a warm bowl of this fusilli bolognese. My summertime go to is this pesto ricotta pasta.
Ingredients for Fusilli Bolognese
This fusilli bolognese uses simple, wholesome ingredients.
- Ground beef
- Tomato paste
- Bay leaves
- Whole milk
- Broth or stock
- Kosher salt
See recipe card for quantities.
Break up and brown the beef. The pieces should be crisped and caramelized.
Mix in the finely diced onion, celery, carrot, and butter.
Add the tomato paste, then stir in.
Add the bay leaves and kosher salt.
Add in whole milk, stir, and let reduce. Repeat this step once more.
Add in the broth, stir, and let reduce. Repeat this step once more.
Optional: add a pinch of nutmeg or cinnamon.
Add the fusilli with some reserved pasta water. Mix the pasta and sauce together.
Hint: Get the ground beef crisp and caramelized. Dice the vegetables small. Feel free to use a food processor to get the vegetables really small. Don’t just add sauce on top of the pasta. Make sure to stir the fusilli and bolognese together for 1-2 minutes.
If you know how to make the recipe fit a certain diet, let the reader know here. Don’t fake it – only provide guidance on topics you have actual experience with.
- Beef – I make my bolognese with all-beef. Using another meat will alter the flavor and method, so I would recommend sticking to beef.
- Whole Milk – my fusilli bolognese calls for whole milk. I have made this recipe with low-fat milk + 2 extra tablespoons butter, and it tasted great.
- Broth/stock – Feel free to use what you have on hand, whether beef, chicken, or vegetable.
- Tomato paste – this fusilli bolognese calls for tomato paste. Using tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes will alter the consistency and will not be the same. I recommend sticking to tomato paste.
- Nutmeg – this is optional but I find it adds an extra savory element. You can substitute with a pinch of cinnamon, or letting a cinnamon stick simmer in the sauce along with the bay leaves
Variations of Fusilli Bolognese
Feel free to make this fusilli bolognese your own!
- Spicy – add chili pepper flakes or Calabrian chilis while cooking to imbue heat into the dish, or just top the pasta with red pepper flakes.
- Noodles – while the name of this recipe is fusilli bolognese, you can use any noodle your heart desires! Fettuccini, rigatoni, parpadelle, or even gnocchi would go wonderfully.
Store the fusilli bolognese in the fridge for up to five days. The flavors actually build overnight, therefore this would be a wonderful dish to make ahead!
You can freeze the bolognese sauce to eat at a later time. Do not freeze with the pasta mixed in.
Lastly, if you do make this fusilli bolognese recipe (then first of all, thank you!!), be sure to rate this recipe and leave a comment and rating below! It would mean the world to me if you tagged me on Instagram or TikTok so I can see your creations.
- 2 lb ground beef
- 1 yellow onion finely diced
- 2 celery stalks finely diced
- 1 carrot peeled and finely diced
- 4 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 ½ cans tomato paste
- 5 cups whole milk
- 3 cups broth
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoon kosher salt
- pinch nutmeg
- 1 lb fusilli pasta or any other pasta
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese optional, for topping
- Heat a 6-quart (or larger) pot on high heat. Add the ground beef to the pot and break apart. Cook the ground beef on medium-high until the pieces are browned and caramelized. This will take about 20 minutes, requiring stirring every 2-3 minutes. The beef will emit liquid and you can use this to deglaze any parts that get stuck. Add about 2 tablespoons of butter as the liquid evaporates. Add 1 teaspoon of salt.
- Once the ground beef has browned and caramelized, add the finely diced onion, celery, carrots, and 2 tablespoons of butter and mix together.
- When the onions are translucent (about 8 minutes) fold in the tomato paste and remaining 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir until the ground beef is evenly coated in tomato paste. Lower the heat to low.
- Add in the bay leaves.
- Add 2 cups of whole milk. Stir and let simmer for about 20 minutes or until the sauce has reduced, stirring a few times throughout as to not let the bottom burn
- Add 2 cups of broth. Similar to above, stir and let simmer for 20 minutes or until the sauce has reduced, stirring a few times throughout as to not let the bottom burn.
- Remove the bay leaves. Then, perform the above two steps one more time. Add the whole milk and simmer and stir for 20 minutes, then add the broth and simmer and stir for 20 minutes.
- When ready to serve, boil the fusilli according to package instructions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water before draining. Do not rinse the noodles.
- Mix the fusilli pasta with the sauce, adding the reserved pasta water. Stir for 1-2 minutes to meld the bolognese into the fusilli fully.
- Plate, and top with parmesan. Enjoy!