Macaroni Bolognese is a super quick and easy way to get dinner on the table. Similar to traditional spaghetti bolognese with a meaty tomato flavoured sauce this recipe uses macaroni for a game changer! Bolognese macaroni is the cheesy comfort food that you need in life 😉.
Recipes like the Fusilli Bolognese, Linguine Bolognese and Slow Cooker Spaghetti Bolognese are beef bolognese recipes.
The Lamb Bolognese, Pork Bolognese and Turkey Mince Bolognese offer non traditional bolognese sauces with different proteins.
🤍 Recipe Highlights
I have summarised everything that you will come to know and love (LOVE ❤) about the recipe in the points below:
- Simple and straight forward: there is nothing tricky or difficult about this recipe. It is as simple as cooking some mince, adding the sauce ingredients and cooking some pasta, for an easy breezy dinner option!
- Taste and texture: its cheesy, its got garlic, its meaty, saucy and delicious. All of these good things are packed into the 1 recipe.
- Minimal prep involved: I have cut down the hard work so you won't have to peel, slice or dice anything for this recipe. It is very much back to basics.
- Basic ingredients: I don't complicate bolognese but I do give you options in the substitutions and variations if you want to switch it up a little.
- Family friendly: everyone will love this dish from the little ones to big kids. Its the perfect meal to enjoy sitting around the table together after a busy day.
- Full of flavour: the bolognese sauce has a rich tomato flavour dappled with the dried onion and Italian herbs. It is unmistakably of Italian origins and delivers much value in terms of a full bodied hearty dish.
The photo below is to show you everything you need to make the recipe. Please refer to the printable recipe card for specific ingredient measurements as well as detailed instructions.
As you can see the recipe calls for:
- Macaroni: (also referred to as maccheroni and elbow macaroni): is a short tubular pasta hugely popular when used in 'mac and cheese'.
- Beef mince (ground beef): an economical cut of meat that freezes exceptionally well. You can purchase in advance, freeze then thaw and whip this up when the craving hits you.
- Garlic: chunky minced garlic has great texture, you can also use finely diced cloves if you wish, 2 to 3 will be fine.
- Salt and pepper: we use these in the initial process when cooking the beef mince with the garlic and olive oil. These help to season the meat.
🍜 Bolognese Macaroni Sauce
- Tomato passata: this can also be known as tomato puree in some parts of the world. Smooth and rich in tomato flavour. It is a fantastic ingredient to form the base of any bolognese sauce.
- Tomato paste: often used as a pizza sauce, this paste is thick and full of flavour.
- Worcestershire sauce: a great alternative to using wine or stock in recipes. This is a condiment that will be easy to get your hands on in the sauces section of the supermarket.
- Dried onion: saving time and tears, this ingredient allows us to use the onion flavour but not cry your eyes out in the process. Plus is is super easy as you simply open the jar and spoon it in as opposed to using a knife and chopping board to peel and finely dice an onion, easy peasy, I say!!
- Dried Italian herbs: a common dried herb combination that you will find in every supermarket from Walmart to Tesco, Aldi, Safeway, Woolies and Coles. This will be found in the herbs and spices section of the supermarket.
Here are the step by step instructions to make the recipe. We start by browning the beef mince in a large sauté pan with the olive oil, minced garlic, salt and pepper.
- Add oil, garlic, beef, salt and pepper to the saute pan (Photo 1)
- Brown the beef mince (Photo 2)
- Add sauce ingredients (Photo 3)
- Reserve pasta water (Photo 4)
👩🍳 How to Make Macaroni Bolognese
Starting by placing a large saute pan on the stove, turning it to high heat, adding the olive oil, garlic, ground beef mince, salt and pepper. Cook this for 5 to 8 minutes until the beef has browned. You will need to use a wooden spoon to break up any clumps of meat as you go.
Next, add the tomata passata, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, dried onion and dried Italian herbs. Stir these together to create the bolognese sauce. Once done turn the heat down to low and let the sauce bubble away (simmer) on its own lid on or off giving it the occasional stir for 15 minutes.
- Simmer sauce for 15 minutes (Photo 5)
- Add cooked macaroni (Photo 6)
- Add reserved pasta water (Photo 7)
- Stir to heat through (Photo 8)
The heat needs to be reduced to allow for the sauce to simmer at low heat. This 15 minutes is a great opportunity to cook the macaroni on a separate element.
You can do this by adding a teaspoon of salt to a pot of boiling water and then following the packet instructions regarding the cook time for the macaroni.
Before it is cooked, you need to spoon some of the pasta water out as this starchy goodness is going to help bind the bolognese sauce to the pasta.
Pour this in, give everything a good stir (it will be making a wet sticky delicious sound at this point 😍) and now you are done and ready to serve it up! It will be the fastest 30 mins of your life!
🍽 Serving Suggestions
Let's make it an Italian dinner experience by serving the dish with the Turkish Garlic Bread, Ciabatta Garlic Bread or Garlic Pizza Bread.
If you want a light and bright colourful side, the Cherry Tomato Caprese Salad works exceptionally well with the dish.
If you are feeding a number of people and want similar options, the Bruschetta Pizza and Ciabatta Pizza stick to the same theme.
Of course, you will want to garnish the macaroni bolognese with liberal amounts of parmesan cheese (or Pecorino Romano), freshly cracked pepper and finely chopped parsley. Both flat leaf and curly will work!
👍 How to Guide
How to Store
Store leftovers of the macaroni on a plate in the fridge with cling wrap or in a sealed air tight container. They will last for 3 days.
How to Freeze
Allow the dish to fully cool before portioning into containers. A good option is to freeze the bolognese sauce separately and then cook fresh macaroni to go with it the night you want to eat or serve it. Thaw the dish completely before reheating.
How to Reheat
Refrigerated leftovers can be reheated in the microwave, on a plate with cling wrap over the top. They will only take 2 to 3 minutes to heat through. You can also add a couple of drops (teaspoon) to a saucepan and add the leftover bolognese sauce. Turn the heat to medium and stir till heated through.
😉 Substitutions and Variations
Here are my sub ins and outs that you might be thinking about as you read the post and I will tell you if I think they will work or why they won't:
- You can add some peeled and sliced carrots, sliced mushrooms or celery ribs to the bolognese sauce. Do this after browning the meat before adding the sauce ingredients to allow them to fry off a little.
- Oregano is a good option if you don't have combined dried Italian herbs. Or dried basil will work well also.
- Some people like to add a little bacon to their bolognese. If you want to do this you can add it towards the end of the cook time for the beef (not my recommendation, but happy for you to do you 😉👌).
- Half of a diced onion can be used if you have it but not dried onion flakes.
- You can add 2 x bay leaves to the sauce as it simmers and then discard them prior to serving (aromatic way of adding additional flavour).
- Fresh basil leaves are a garnish that will work in place of the parsley.
💡 Tasty Tips
Here are my top tips and tricks that I want to share with you so that you master the recipe from the get go:
- The beef mince can be cooked at high heat, but the sauce is best simmered at low heat.
- You can add a splash of red wine or white wine to the sauce as you stir in the other ingredients if you wish.
- It is not necessary to have a lid for the sauce pan when you are simmering the sauce, but it does help to reduce bits of the sauce splashing out onto the tiles (this also happens if you forget to turn the heat down).
- Some people like to keep their pasta and their sauce separate, so you could also serve this by portioning the cooked macaroni onto serving plates and then dolloping the sauce over the top if you know you or the eaters prefer this type of combination.
🤓 Frequently Asked Questions
What is pasta bolognese called in Italy?
In Italy pasta bolognese is called Ragu Alla Bolognese.
Why do Italians add milk to Bolognese?
Milk is added to bolognese as a way to tenderize the meat. It is not essential however and many recipes will omit this as an unnecessary step in order to keep the recipe simplified.
Should you Stir bolognese while simmering?
Yes, it is a good idea to stir bolognese occasionally whilst it is simmering. This keeps the sauce's consistency thick and robust.
😍 More Easy Dinner Recipes
Let's get dinner on your table without too much effort or fan far. These recipes give you a wide variety of cook times and taste but don't make things tricky in bringing together simple ingredients:
- Carbonara Macaroni
- Lamb Osso Bucco
- Rigatoni Gorgonzola
- Baked Pasta Bolognese
- Garlic Spaghetti
- Slow Cooker Lamb Stew
- Honey Glazed Pork Chops
- Teriyaki Glazed Salmon
- Slow Cooker Lamb Ribs
You can also find all of my pasta recipes in the one spot. Let's mac it up with some bolognese my friend (so cheesy right 😂!)
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- 1 Sauté pan
- 1 Wooden spoon
- 1 Sauce pan
- 1 Colander
- 1 Heatproof jug
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 500 grams/1 pound beef mince (ground beef)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 700 grams/24.5 oz tomato passata
- 400 grams/16 oz diced tomatoes
- 2 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon dried onion
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
- 500 grams/16 oz macaroni
- 1 teaspoon salt to cook the macaroni
- cracked black pepper
- parsley finely chopped
- parmesan cheese
- Cook the beef mince: heat 1 and ½ tablespoons of olive oil in a large heavy based pan at high heat. Add the garlic, beef mince, salt and pepper. Cook till browned (5 to 8 mins) and use a wooden spoon to stir and break up any clumps of meat as you go. The mince will turn a medium brown colour as it cooks.
- Add the sauce ingredients: pour in the passata (tomato puree), diced tomatoes, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, dried onion and dried Italian herbs. Stir to combine.
- Simmer: turn the heat to low, place a lid over the pan (optional, not essential) and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Cook macaroni: bring to the boil a medium sized saucepan with a teaspoon of salt. Cook the macaroni according to the instructions on the packet. Then drain and reserve ¼ cup pasta water.
- Combine: add the cooked macaroni to the bolognese sauce as well as the ¼ cup of pasta water. Stir to combine.
- Serve and enjoy: portion the macaroni bolognese onto serving plates. Garnish liberally with freshly grated cheese, cracked black pepper and finely chopped parsley.
- Note 1 - Macaroni: penne pasta or rigatoni are good substitutes if you want to use one of those instead of the macaroni.
- Note 2 - Reserved pasta water: this is the water that the pasta has cooked in. Before you drain the pasta, scoop some out with a heatproof jug or drain with a colander and jug underneath. It helps bind the sauce to the pasta.
Jenny Smith says
This is a great recipe, we had it for dinner last night. Thanks, easy and yum.
Thanks Jenny! I appreciate your feedback.
Penny Abbott says
This tastes so good and my kids enjoyed it as we usuallly use spaghetti for bolognese. It was a great change to try with macaroni.
Thanks Penny for your feedback! I am happy that you all enjoyed the recipe.
Tina Fields says
Yummo this was devoured when I made it for dinner. Everyone loved it, I will make it again. Thanks.
Great to hear Tina, thanks for your feedback!