Cheesy baked gnocchi Bolognese is the perfect Sunday dinner. Guaranteed to keep those Sunday Scaries at bay. GOOD homemade Bolognese is very easy to make, and incredibly delicious. The only real hurdle in this recipe is giving the sauce 1.5-2 hours to gently simmer.
This bolognese is paired with tender gnocchi and baked in the oven with mozzarella cheese rendering a hearty cheesy Italian dinner that is sure to impress. It’s become a staple in our home and one of my absolute favorite recipes to make!
Looking for more delicious gnocchi recipes? Try my pesto gnocchi recipe and my cheesy baked gnocchi. If you’re looking to make your own homemade gnocchi, try my sweet potato gnocchi with brown butter!
What is Bolognese?
Bolognese is a fairly simple Italian meat-based sauce made with ground beef/sausage, onions, carrots, celery, fresh herbs, garlic, diced tomatoes, wine, and whole milk. It’s most famous for its thick and meaty texture that is reminiscent of the texture of sloppy joe.
For this recipe, I used rigatoni but you can pair it with your favorite pasta. I personally love gnocchi and pappardelle, too.
Tips & Tricks
- I typically make bolognese in a large Dutch oven. It’s best for cooking beef and simmering large quantities of sauce.
- It’s so important to very finely dice the celery, carrots, and onions. It improves the flavor and overall texture. My favorite hack is using shredded carrots and chopping them further. It’s an easy way to quickly finely chop carrots. If you have a food processor, you can quickly dice the veggies.
- The sauce should simmer for about 2 hours. This tenderizes the meat, thickens the sauce, and allows the flavors to really meld together. Bolognese should not be runny or loose.
- The meat should be very finely broken down and almost granular. Use the top of a rubber spatula to break up the meat as much as possible. A beef and pork combo is my favorite.
- If you can’t find ground Italian sausage, use Italian sausage in the casing and squeeze it out.
- Use spicy Italian sausage for a spicy twist on this recipe. It’s so good!
You’ll Also Love
- Simple creamy gnocchi
- Pesto gnocchi
- Sweet potato gnocchi
- Rigatoni bolognese
- No-boil baked ziti with ricotta and mozzarella
- Creamy pasta shells with sausage
Simple homemade, baked gnocchi bolognese topped with melted mozzarella cheese. A simple and delicious authentic Italian recipe.
- 1 pound gnocchi
- 1/2 pound 85% lean ground beef
- 1/2 pound ground sweet Italian sausage
- 1 (28-ounce) can of crushed tomatoes
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1/2 cup celery, diced
- 1/2 cup carrot, diced
- 1/2 cup white wine (or red if you prefer)
- 1/3 cup tomato paste
- 8–10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
- 3–4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 cup cubed low-moisture mozzarella cheese (size of dice)
- Dash of crushed red pepper flakes
- Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
- Bring oil and butter to medium heat in a large pan or dutch oven. Once hot, add minced garlic and chopped onion. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Stir in celery and carrots, simmering for 3-4 minutes until tender. Add ground beef/sausage and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Use the tip of a spatula to break up the beef and pork into the smallest chunks possible. Season all over with salt and pepper liberally.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and add the wine. Simmer until evaporated, about 7-10 minutes.
- Stir in tomato paste until thoroughly mixed and the meat mixture has thickened.
- Add crushed tomatoes, milk, chicken broth, crushed red pepper, chopped basil, oregano, and sugar. Mix until incorporated and reduce heat to low.
- Let simmer on the lowest heat setting so the sauce is JUST simmering. Simmer for 1 1/2-2 hours, stirring every 20-30 minutes, until the sauce has thickened. You can use a spoon to skim some of the fat off the top if desired. If the sauce gets too thick, add a splash of chicken broth. Consistency should be similar to sloppy joe filling. Season with more salt and pepper to taste.
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the gnocchi and boil until they float to the top, about 3-4 minutes. Strain and stir into the bolognese sauce.
- Top with mozzarella and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until cheese has fully melted. Serve immediately garnished with chopped basil.
Bolognese can be made ahead of time and reheated when ready to serve. You can also store it in the freezer for 4-6 months. Let thaw in the fridge and reheat in a saucepan. You may need to add some reserved pasta water or chicken broth if the reheated sauce feels too thick.
- Serving Size: 1/4 skillet
- Calories: 927
- Sugar: 5.9g
- Sodium: 1273mg
- Fat: 43.1g
- Saturated Fat: 15.5g
- Carbohydrates: 79.7g
- Fiber: 1.4g
- Protein: 46.5g
- Cholesterol: 129mg
Keywords: bolognese sauce recipe, gnocchi recipe