Bolognese Sauce for a Crowd (Gluten Free)

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When having a large group of people over for a meal, what do you like to fix? We love to make Bolognese Sauce for a Crowd (Gluten Free) when guests are coming! Served with a few big bowls of pasta, one gluten free and one regular wheat pasta.

Thick and meaty (and satisfying)

Bolognese Sauce or Sugo Sauce are thick sauces, usually meaty too, which are great for serving a large group of people. Bolognese Sauce for a Crowd (Gluten Free) has so much flavor and creaminess. It may have quite a few ingredients, but trust me, it will all be worth it when you savor this sauce over your favorite pasta!

Bolognese Sauce for a Crowd (Gluten Free)
Pasta with a delicious sauce makes a wonderful choice when entertaining for a large group

Of course, if we had any vegetarian or vegan guests, we would make another sauce for them to enjoy!

For a vegan choice, a pesto using a vegan cheese alternative is a good choice. Or a vegetable marinara would also be a nice choice.

You could use mushrooms, finely chopped Portabellas or Porcini maybe. They can feel quite substantial and almost “meat like” in recipes. Adding more spices and red wine will give the marinara more depth. If you don’t want to use red wine, either in marinara or in bolognese or sugo, just use double the amount of balsamic vinegar and use broth replacing the amount of wine.

For a crowd? Really?

This Bolognese Sauce for a Crowd, will actually feed a crowd! We use a bit more sauce on our pasta here than some, about 1 -1 1/2 cups per person. You can go a little lighter if needed, especially if the sauce has been refrigerated for one or two days to “marry” the flavors.

One of the best pasta tips

After cooking your pasta, pour about a cup and a half of the water into a glass measure, before straining the pasta. Then after straining, pour the pasta back into the saucepan. Spoon hot sauce over and add a small amount of the pasta water back in. Stir the water into the sauce and simmer over low heat if desired.

The pasta water will give the sauce a creamier texture and it will coat your pasta better than rinsing with water and adding olive oil to keep it from sticking. Creamy, well coated pasta is so much better tasting!

Use your favorite pasta or gluten free pasta

There are so many great pasta types that work well with this sauce, although you can definitely use whatever kind is you favorite. We love rigatoni or tagliatelle pasta with this sauce. It coats the pasta so nicely and gets inside the rigatoni to make it extra yummy! For a really good gluten free version, try Le Veneziane Rigatoni or one of their other pastas. I like to buy the Le Veneziane Rigatoni – 4 pk, because we eat so much pasta here. This Italian pasta is so good! Often, especially if using a lot of thick sauce, you will handly notice it is gluten free!

Another favorite brand is Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Tagliatelle Pasta. These pasta nests are easy to make and really good tasting. The main trick is to cook them “al dente”, even a minute less than the package states, in my opinion. The serving size is also a bit small for the pasta lovers in our family, so make about 1 1/2-2 times the recommended amount. Of course it will vary depend on what you are serving alongside the pasta dish.

What to serve with it?

If you are up for a great side for this, tryd one of our flatbreads or focaccia breads, or maybe breadsticks. A little gluten free bread, plus a green salad, like our Pomegranate and White Bean Salad over Spinach or maybe a Crisp Apple and Roasted Beet Salad (Gluten Free), is all you’ll need to make this a fantastic meal.

Crisp Apple and Roasted Beet Salad (Gluten Free) is a great complimentary side for this pasta dish

Bolognese Sauce for a Crowd (Gluten Free)

So flavorful and meaty, this Bolognese Sauce for a Crowd (Gluten Free) is very satisfying! Loaded with flavor, two kinds of meat, spices, and seasoning, everyone will love this delicious sauce covering pasta!
Servings 12 -14 servings
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 45 minutes


  • 7 qt Dutch Oven with lid or large stockpot with lid


  • 2 ½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onions, finely minced
  • 3 med carrots, finely minced
  • 3 stalks celery, minced
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 10 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb ground beef 80-85% lean
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon  fennel seed, crushed, gf
  • ½ teaspoon anise seed, crushed, gf
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper more to taste
  • 2 cups red wine
  • cups water
  • 2 28 oz cans Cento San Marzano Peeled Tomatoes or other stewed tomatoes
  • 2 cans  tomato paste unsalted
  • 2 tbsp  balsamic vinegar, gf
  • 2 teaspoons anchovy paste
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil, gf
  • dash or two of ground nutmeg, gf
  • parmesan to top bowls or serving bowl
  • fresh chopped parsley to top bowls or serving bowl


  • Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large stockpot or 7 qt Dutch oven. Saute the onion, carrot, and celery with a ½ teaspoon Kosher salt. Saute until just soft and transluscent. Add the garlic and stir for 25-30 seconds. Remove to a bowl.
  • Add the ground beef and the ground pork. Cook over medium to medium high heat, breaking up the meat until very small pieces remain. Add the fennel seed and anise seed, the honey, the remaining salt, and the black pepper.
  • Add the red wine and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the water, tomatoes, tomato paste, balsamic, anchovy paste, milk, cream, and basil. Add the cooked onion mixture back in. Stir until combined. Cover with lid cracked. Simmer for 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours, stirring often. When it's finished cooking add additional salt and pepper as desired.
  • Cook your preferred pasta, salting the water well. Rigatoni is delicious with this sauce! When the pasta is al dente cooked, pour some of the water into a glass measure or mug. Drain the pasta, but do not rinse. Pour the pasta back into the saucepan or stockpot. Add heaping spoonfuls of sauce, about 1-1 ½ cups of sauce per serving of pasta. Add in a 1/4-1/3 cup of the pasta water. Stir until it absorbs. You can also do this over low heat. Add more sauce as desired, or pour into a large serving bowl and add more sauce and parmesan cheese to the top. Sprinkle with chopped parsley just before serving.
Course: Main Course, main dish
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: bolognese, meaty pasta sauce, pasta sauce, red sauce

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