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A Pot of Creamy Bolognese – Nicky’s Kitchen Sanctuary

Rich beef bolognese cooked together with pasta shells and finished with cream and cheese. I love how those little shells hold the sauce!
All cooked in one pan, this easy dinner is ready in 30 minutes!

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Spag Bol – the classic dinner I always make.
I made a few tweaks to my go-to recipe to make it a one-pot dish that can be cooked with pasta shells (or your favorite pasta shape).

All it takes is the addition of some stock. You need enough to cook the pasta, but not so much that the sauce becomes too runny after the pasta has absorbed the required liquid.
I also add cream and cheddar cheese to make it wonderfully creamy and extra tasty.

What do we need?

Ingredients for one pan of bolognese pasta on a wooden table.
  • Pasta – I use pasta shells, but this would work just as well with spiralli, rigatoni or other pasta, whatever you have in your cupboard.
  • Minced beef – personally I usually go for 10-20% fat, the fat keeps the beef moist and makes it more flavorful. However, you can also use lean beef if you prefer.
  • Canned tomatoes – I like to go with finely chopped canned tomatoes because using it results in a thicker sauce without the large chunks of tomato. Regular canned tomatoes also work well.
  • stock – you can use homemade broth or 2 stock cubes mixed with water.
  • Cheese and cream – yep, I like creamy, cheesy dishes. If you don’t want to add a lot of cream and cheese, you can omit it or use less (you don’t need to adjust the amounts of anything else).

📺 Watch how to make it

Full recipe, with detailed steps, in the recipe card at the end of this message.

PRO TIP Be sure to keep an eye on the pasta and stir it occasionally. You want to make sure the pasta doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan as it will absorb the excess liquid.

Look at those shells! Like small edible cups of bolognese

A pan of pasta bolognese in a white bowl.  There is a fork and a piece of bread in the bowl.

🍽️ What do you serve it with?

Finish with a sprinkling of chopped chives, a pinch of black pepper and a little grated Parmesan cheese. I also like to add a few chili flakes (red pepper flakes) for a little kick.

Close up overhead of bolognese pasta in a pan.

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Close-up above ground view of one pot bolognese in a pan

A Jar of Creamy Bolognese Recipe

Rich beef bolognese cooked together with pasta shells and finished with cream and cheese. Everything ready in 30 minutes!

Preparation time 5 minutes

Cooking time 30 minutes

Total time 35 minutes

Class Dinner

kitchen British-Italian, Italian

Portions 4 -6 Servings

calories 596 kcal


  • Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and pepper and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often, until the onion softens.

  • Add the garlic and cook for another minute.

  • Add the ground beef and cook for 5-6 minutes until browned. Stir often and break up large pieces of meat with a spatula.

  • Add the tomato paste, oregano, thyme, Worcestershire sauce, beef stock, milk, canned tomatoes, salt and pepper and stir to combine and bring to a boil.

  • Stir in pasta shells, return to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, cover and cook for 17-22 minutes, stirring a few times while cooking, until pasta is cooked through.

  • Remove the lid and stir in the cream and cheese until the cheese melts

  • Serve with chopped chives, chili flakes and grated Parmesan cheese.

✎ Notes

Can I move forward?
Yes, you can make it ahead of time, then cool, cover and refrigerate for up to two days.
Heat in a saucepan, on the stovetop, over medium heat, stirring often. You’ll probably need to add a few splashes of water or stock to loosen up the sauce.
Note: As the dish cools, the pasta will continue to absorb liquid, so the pasta will be slightly softer when reheated.

Can I freeze it?
Yes, leftover portions can be placed in freezer safe containers and frozen.
Thaw overnight in the fridge, then reheat according to the ‘make ahead’ instructions above.

Swap ingredients/adds

  • exchange the minced meat for minced pork or turkey
  • exchange the pasta shells other pasta shapes such as rigatoni or spirals
  • To add extra vegetables – such as chopped zucchini or mushrooms (also add to the canned tomatoes), or you can stir in the baby spinach during the last minute of cooking.

How to reduce this recipe?
You can reduce this recipe to 2-3 people by halving the ingredients. It’s a good idea to use a smaller pan.
The cooking time will be the same.

Alternative to cream
You can omit the cream altogether if you wish. Optionally, you can add an extra splash of water or stock to loosen up the sauce.
Alternatively, you can add a few spoonfuls of crème frache or 4 tablespoons (¼ cup) of coconut milk.

The nutritional information is approximate, per serving, based on this 6 serving recipe. Nutritional information does not include toppings.


Calories: 596kcalCarbohydrates: 51GProtein: 27GFat: 32GSaturated fat: 14GPolyunsaturated Fat: 2GMonounsaturated Fat: 12Gtrans fat: 1Gcholesterol: 95mgSodium: 933mgPotassium: 824mgFiber: 4GSugar: 9GVitamin A: 3125IUVitamin C: 43mgCalcium: 249mgIron: 4mg

Keywords midweek dinner, One Pan, One Pot Recipes, Quick and Easy

Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links – meaning if you buy the product, I’ll get a small commission (at no extra cost to you). If you buy, then thank you! That’s what helps us keep Kitchen Sanctuary going. The nutritional information provided is approximate and may vary depending on several factors. For more information, please refer to our Terms and Conditions.

Hi, I’m Nicky

I love to cook and want to share my favorite, delicious, family-friendly recipes with you. I want to inspire you to make fantastic food for your family every day.

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