Sausage bolognese with mushrooms is a super flavorful sausage-based meat sauce thanks to the homemade blend of spices and herbs, and rich umami flavor of the mushrooms. It doesn't require an entire day of cooking and is absolutely delicious!
Recipe: $9.25 | Per Serving: $1.54 | Yield: 6
This recipe was originally published in September of 2015! I have updated the photos and instructions, but the recipe is mostly unchanged. Enjoy!
This is not your average, or even traditional bolognese. It's like taking a classic bolognese or meat sauce and significantly amping up the flavor. My favorite (and well loved) Italian Sausage Seasoning provides rich sausage flavor, while minced mushrooms disappear into the sauce to amp up the umami goodness.
Really, I could eat this with a spoon. Ah, who am I kidding? I DID eat this with a spoon. Straight from the pot. And then straight from the fridge, cold. I hope you enjoy it as much as me!
Why You'll Love Sausage Bolognese with Mushrooms
- Easy to make. You don't really have to wait ALL afternoon to make your own red sauce!
- Perfect for meal prep! If you've got large pots and freezer space, I highly recommend doubling the recipe and saving it for later.
- Family-friendly. A great sauce that kids and adults will love, with the benefit of containing veggies and mushrooms!
- Hearty, delicious flavors that work in many different preparations.
- Use any ground meat to make this meat sauce with sausage! The 'sausage' flavor comes from the seasoning, so ground beef, pork, turkey, chicken, or crumbled tofu will all work here.
Here's a look at the simple ingredients you will need to make this sausage meat sauce. See recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
- Herbs and spices: The combination of herbs and spices give this bolognese sauce with mushrooms plenty of Italian sausage flavors. You will need oregano, basil, ground (or whole) fennel, smoked paprika, and cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes. I know a lot of people don't have fennel at home, but it is well worth the visit to the grocery store to pick it up. (Usually available in most stores, but always available at Indian markets and on Thrive Market .)
- Vinegar: A touch of vinegar deglazes the pan. You can use just about any type of vinegar you have on hand, or substitute with wine, water, or broth.
- Aromatics and veggies: An onion, some garlic, and a single carrot add depth of flavor to the sauce while the meaty mushrooms melt into the background enhancing the savory flavors of the sauce.
- Tomatoes: Use tomato paste to thicken and add richness to the sauce while canned tomatoes give the sauce it's tomato-y goodness and saucy bulk.
Choosing Your Sausage
When it comes to making homemade bolognese sauce you've got quite a few options. This homemade Italian sausage seasoning blend means you can take any ground meat and use it as an Italian sausage substitute. You get the same great flavor, but you get to choose the meat, and you can skip the nitrates and nitrites.
The recipe works well with ground beef, chicken, turkey, lamb, pork, or any combination of these meats.
Can I make Italian meat sauce with sausage?
Yes, of course! You can use "real" Italian sausage instead of the homemade version made with ground meat to make Italian sausage bolognese.
Use about two large sausages and remove the meat from the casings. You will need to make a few adjustments to the herbs and spices as well. You can just reduce the oregano, basil, and fennel to one-quarter teaspoon instead of half a teaspoon for similar results.
Dietary Modifications and Variations
- Paleo: Yes!
- Vegetarian: Nope! But you can easily make it vegetarian by doubling the mushrooms. Just be sure to add a source of protein since mushroom bolognese (without the meat) will be very low in protein.
- Fresh tomatoes: You can make this bolognese sauce with mushrooms using fresh tomatoes instead of canned. I suggest using very sweet and perfectly ripe on the vine tomatoes. You will need about 12 roma tomatoes to equal a 28-ounce can.
- Make a creamy bolognese sauce. After cooking, stir in cream or cashew cream to change things up!
- Use different mushrooms: Further boost the umami notes of this recipe by using even more flavorful mushrooms such as shiitake, king oyster, or wild mushrooms.
How to Make Sausage Bolognese with Mushrooms
Here's an overview of how to make bolognese sauce with mushrooms. Be sure to check the full details in the recipe card before you get started!
- Place the vegetables and mushrooms in a food processor.
- Pulse just until the veggies are finely diced. We're aiming for more of a dice than a mash and it shouldn't be liquidy.
PRO TIP: No food processor? No worries, you can also do this with a box grater, mandoline, or a knife.
- Add the ground meat to a large pot or pan over medium-high heat and let it cook undisturbed for about 2-3 minutes to allow it to brown on the bottom. Sprinkle the meat with all of the dried herbs and spices.
PRO TIP: If using leaner meat such as ground turkey or ground chicken be sure to add a tablespoon of olive oil or ghee to the pot before cooking the meat.
- Brown the meat on all sides, breaking it up as you go. Then stir in the tomato paste and cook for about 30 seconds.
- Add the chopped vegetables and cook over medium-low heat until soft and fragrant.
- Push the meat and vegetables to the side. Add the vinegar (or wine) and “deglaze” the pan by scraping up the brown bits.
- Add the canned tomato and a ½ cup broth (or water) and stir well.
- Cook the mushroom meat sauce over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
PRO TIP: I recommend partially covering it with an offset lid to prevent splattering all over your stove.
How to Store
Allow your deliciously enticing sausage meat sauce with mushrooms to cool to room temperature before storing in an airtight container. If cooled quickly (within 1 hour or so), you can store in the fridge for up to one week, or in the freezer for about 3-6 months.
When freezing, you can store it in single or double portions so you can only take out the amount you need. Thaw it out in the fridge overnight before reheating.
Reheat the sauce in the microwave covered loosely with a lid or return it to a saucepan and heat on the stove over medium heat until hot.
How to Serve
This mushroom bolognese recipe is perfect to serve all year round. Here are a few ideas for a bit of inspiration.
- You can use it in your favorite baked pasta dishes as well as zucchini boats and zucchini rollatini!
- Enjoy it for breakfast or a light lunch on toast or with a poached egg.
- Use can use it in any of your favorite bolognese-based recipes or simply toss this meat and mushroom spaghetti sauce with your favorite pasta and top with fresh herbs and grated Parmesan.
- Serve it up with garlic ricotta toast and a simple arugula salad with lemon basil dressing or a side of lemon Brussels sprouts.
If the sauce seems too thin you can cook it for longer, stirring often. If it's too thick, add a bit more broth or water to thin it out.
Avoid over chopping the veggies in the food processor. Ideally you want a bit of texture in the sauce.
When simmering, partially cover it to keep the sauce from splattering everywhere.
If possible, make a double batch and store some in the freezer for those nights when you need a meal on the fly!
Depending on the sausage, about 5-10 minutes. For this recipe, use a skillet or pan with a larger base to cook it more quickly. Over medium heat you can brown Italian sausage meat in about 3-5 minutes. Sausage cooked inside a casing may take longer, and you should always check it with a meat thermometer.
Mushroom bolognese will last about one week in the fridge if cooled correctly and stored in an airtight container.
Use two Italian sausages, removed from their casing along with the same herbs in the recipe but reduce the amount of the oregano, basil, and fennel to ¼ teaspoon.
Tagliatelle, a large flat noodle a bit wider than fettuccine, is the traditional pasta served with it. But really the best pasta for bolognese is whatever you choose to use! It can be short pasta, long pasta, zucchini noodles, or gluten-free noodles!
More Homemade Sauce Recipes
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Sausage Bolognese with Mushrooms
- 1 small onion
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 medium carrot
- 8 ounces crimini mushrooms or other
- 8 ounces ground meat pork, lamb, turkey, beef, etc. (or prepared Italian Sausage)
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- ½ teaspoon ground fennel
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne powder or red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 Tablespoon white vinegar or apple cider, rice, etc.
- 28 oz canned tomatoes diced or crushed, both ok here
- ½ cup broth or water link to my bone broth recipe here
- Peel the onion and garlic, wash the carrot and mushrooms. Give the carrot and onion a rough chop just so they fit in your food processor.
- Process vegetables & mushrooms until finely diced. If you go too long it will start to become a mash, which is not what we’re looking for here, but will still work. Set aside. (You can also do this with a box grater, mandoline, or a knife.)
- Add ground meat to a large pot or pan over medium-high heat. I recommend a wide pan with high sides to allow for quickest cooking. Leave undisturbed for about 2-3 minutes to develop a bit of browning on the bottom. (If using leaner meat, be sure to add a tablespoon of olive oil or ghee to the pot first.)
- Sprinkle the meat with all of the dried herbs and spices (oregano, basil, ground fennel, smoked paprika, cayenne, salt, and pepper), and brown the meat on all sides, breaking it up as you go. (Alternatively, you can use 3 teaspoons of my Italian Sausage Seasoning blend.)
- Add the tomato paste and stir well; cook for about 30 seconds.
- Reduce heat to medium-low. Add chopped vegetables and cook for 8-10 minutes, until soft and fragrant. If your pot is tall, not wide, this may take closer to 15 minutes.
- Push the meat and vegetables to the side and “deglaze” the pan by adding the vinegar (or white wine) and scraping up the brown bits (aka fond). This is the good stuff!
- Add the canned tomato, and ½ cup broth (or water) and stir well.
- Bring sauce to a simmer, then reduce to a low simmer. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. I recommend partially covering it with an offset lid to prevent splattering all over your stove.
- Use this in your favorite bolognese-based recipes or simply toss with your favorite pasta and top with fresh parsley and grated Parmesan.