Orecchiette Bolognese recipe

If you’ve never heard of orecchiette Bolognese I’m here to tell you this is one of the most comforting, delicious and hearty dishes! This kind of pasta Bolognese is so simple, easy and convenient to make when you’re craving comfort food!

Orecchiette alla bolognese

Orecchiette Bolognese is a classic Italian dish that has gained popularity all over the world. It is a type of pasta dish that consists of small, ear-shaped pasta (orecchiette) served with a rich and flavorful meat sauce (Bolognese). This dish is loved by many for its simplicity, yet it packs a punch of flavors and textures.

We absolutely love serving pasta for dinner! And one of my family’s favorite pasta is this recipe for orecchiette alla Bolognese. In addition to being simple and quick to make, the delicious Bolognese sauce is also packed with flavor. On top of tomatoes and a blend of Italian seasoning, my Bolognese sauce is enhanced by a combination of spicy Italian sausage and ground beef. All those flavors come together on top of a fun shell-shaped pasta your family is sure to love!

One of the reasons why orecchiette with meat sauce is so popular is because it’s incredibly versatile. You can add your own twist to the recipe by using different types of meat, such as ground turkey or pork, or even adding in some vegetables like mushrooms or bell peppers. Let’s explore this dish further and discover why it has become a staple in many households.

How to make Orecchiette Bolognese

Orecchiette pasta

Ingredients you need

To make a delicious orecchiette Bolognese dish, you will need the following ingredients:

  • Orecchiette pasta: This type of pasta is essential for this dish. Its unique shape allows it to hold onto the sauce and give each bite a perfect balance of pasta and meat.
  • Spicy Italian sausage: The addition of spicy Italian sausage adds a kick of flavor and heat to the sauce. You can use mild Italian sausage if you prefer.
  • Ground beef: A combination of spicy sausage and ground beef gives this dish the perfect balance of flavors and textures.
  • Olive oil: This is used for cooking the onions, garlic, and meat.
  • Onion: A diced onion adds depth of flavor to the sauce.
  • Garlic: Minced garlic adds a delicious aroma and flavor to the dish.
  • Red pepper flakes: This optional ingredient can be added for some extra heat.
  • Salt: A pinch of salt enhances the flavors in the sauce.
  • Fresh parsley and basil: These herbs add freshness and color to the dish. You can also use dried herbs if fresh ones are not available.
  • Crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce: These are the base of the Bolognese sauce. You can also use canned diced tomatoes if crushed ones are not available.


  • If you don’t have orecchiette pasta, you can use any other short-shaped pasta like penne or rigatoni.
  • Instead of using both spicy Italian sausage and ground beef, you can use just one type of meat. Ground chicken or turkey are great substitutes for the ground beef.
  • If you want to make a vegetarian version of this dish, you can omit the meat and add in some chopped vegetables like mushrooms or bell peppers.
  • If you prefer a smoother sauce, you can use tomato puree instead of crushed tomatoes.

Equipment needed

  • Large pot for cooking the pasta
  • Skillet or large pan for making the sauce
  • Wooden spoon or spatula for stirring

Step by step instructions

  1. In a large pan, brown the Italian sausage and ground beef with the olive oil and onion. When the meat has browned add the garlic and saute.
  2. Season with red pepper flakes, salt, parsley, and basil. Stir to combine.
  3. Add the tomatoes and tomato sauce. Stir to combine.
  4. Cover and cook over low heat for at least 30 minutes.
  5. Serve the sauce over cooked orecchiette pasta.

Tips for making the best orecchiette Bolognese

  • Cook the pasta al dente (slightly firm) to avoid it becoming too mushy when combined with the sauce.
  • If you prefer a thicker sauce, let it simmer uncovered for a few extra minutes.
  • For a creamier sauce, add in some heavy cream or milk towards the end of cooking.

Recipe variations

  • For a lighter version, substitute ground turkey or chicken for the beef and sausage.
  • Add in some vegetables like mushrooms, bell peppers, or zucchini to add extra flavor and texture.
  • Use different herbs and spices to customize the sauce according to your taste preferences.
  • Add some red wine to the sauce for a richer and deeper flavor.
  • For a non-traditional twist, try using different types of pasta like bowtie or rotini.

What to serve with orecchiette Bolognese

  • A simple side salad with a light vinaigrette dressing pairs well with this dish.
  • Garlic bread or crusty Italian bread is perfect for soaking up the delicious sauce.
  • Top it off with some grated Parmesan cheese for an extra burst of flavor.

Pasta bolognese

Frequently asked questions

Is Bolognese Spaghetti Sauce?

The short answer to this question is yes. But if you ask the reverse – is spaghetti sauce Bolognese sauce, you may get a different response. Traditionally, spaghetti sauce is simply any sauce you put on spaghetti. So, while that could mean Bolognese sauce, it could also describe marinara sauce, too.

Bolognese sauce can be used on spaghetti, but it also tastes amazing with other types of pasta. You could use it with or orecchiette pasta, like I use in this recipe, or other types of plain pasta, like rotini or penne. You could also use it in stuffed pasta dishes, like manicotti or lasagna. Or skip the pasta and make your own low carb dish by adding this meaty sauce to your favorite zoodles or roasted spaghetti squash.

How to Thicken Your Sauce

Bolognese sauce can be eaten thick or runny. If you prefer to have a thinner, runnier sauce, top the pan with a lid and add a few extra tomatoes to the recipe. But if you would rather have a thick Bolognese sauce on top of your pasta, cooking your sauce uncovered for an extended period of time will help thicken it. The longer you cook your sauce, more moisture will escape and the thicker the sauce will get.

How to Store Bolognese Sauce

The best part about this recipe is that the sauce can be made ahead and stored for enjoying later. If you plan on eating the sauce within the next few days, simply pour it into an airtight container and store it in the fridge.

Or, if you double the sauce recipe and want to store the additional sauce long-term, pour it into a container with a sealable lid or in a freezer bag. Then, place the sauce in the freezer until you’re ready to eat it. To reheat the sauce, simply warm it in a sauce pan over low heat. Allow your frozen sauce to thaw before reheating.

Storing and reheating the Orecchiette Bolognese

Store leftover pasta and sauce separately in airtight containers in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat the pasta by placing it in boiling water or microwaving it with a splash of water to prevent it from drying out. Reheat the sauce on the stovetop, stirring occasionally until heated through.

You can also freeze this dish for later use. Simply defrost in the fridge overnight before reheating.

Other pasta recipes you’ll love:

Serving size

This recipe serves 6 people, but can easily be doubled for larger crowds, leftovers or meal preps. Check out the recipe card and adjust the ingredients accordingly.

Enjoy your delicious orecchiette Bolognese! And don’t forget to top it off with some grated Parmesan cheese and pair it with a glass of red wine for the ultimate Italian dining experience. Buon appetito!

Delicious Italian orecchiette Bolognese, a comforting and hearty pasta dish perfect for satisfying cravings!

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Orecchiette alla bolognese
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Orecchiette bolognese

Discover the comfort and delight of orecchiette Bolognese. This simple, easy, and hearty dish is perfect for anyone craving comfort food.
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Total Time1 hour
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: orecchiette alla bolognese, orecchiette bolognese, pasta bolognese
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 632kcal
Author: Petro Neagu


  • 1 16- ounce package orecchiette pasta cooked
  • ½ pound spicy Italian sausage
  • ½ pound ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil chopped
  • 1 28- ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 8- ounce can tomato sauce


  • In a large pan, brown the Italian sausage and ground beef with the olive oil and onion. When the meat has browned add the garlic and saute.
  • Season with red pepper flakes, salt, parsley, and basil. Stir to combine.
  • Add the crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce. Stir to combine.
  • Cover and cook over low heat for at least 30 minutes. Serve the sauce over cooked orecchiette pasta.
    Pasta bolognese


Serving: 1g | Calories: 632kcal | Carbohydrates: 75g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Trans Fat: 0.5g | Cholesterol: 56mg | Sodium: 888mg | Potassium: 958mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 757IU | Vitamin C: 22mg | Calcium: 96mg | Iron: 5mg
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about petro


Hi, I’m Petro, author and founder of Easy Peasy Creative Ideas. Sewist, crafter, avid DIY-er, foodie, photographer, homemaker and mommy to one. I’m an expert at coming up with quick, clever sewing tips, recycling crafts and simple, easy recipes! You can find my ideas featured in reputable publications such as Country Living, Good House Keeping, Yahoo News, WikiHow, Shutterfly, Parade, Brit & Co and more. Thanks for stopping by and hope you’ll stay for a while, get to know me better and come back another time. Stick around for real fun projects! Read more…

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One Comment

  1. Oh yeah, this is yummy except I added tomato paste &garlic for added sweet and flavor. I love garlic.