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Difference Between Ragu and Bolognese

raguRagu vs Bolognese

Italian cuisine is famous for its simplicity and variety with cheese and wine as major components of every Italian food recipe. It is also known for its pasta of different shapes, lengths, and widths and sauces with different ingredients.

There are several different sauces used in Italian food and cooking. One is pesto sauce made from crushed basil, garlic, nuts, cheese, and olive oil. Then there is puttanesca sauce made from tomatoes, garlic, olives, anchovies, and red chilies.

The most popular and widely used Italian sauce is Ragu which most people think as a tomato-based sauce but is actually a meat-based sauce with only a small amount of tomato sauce or paste added to it.

Ragu is a traditional Italian meat-based sauce that is usually served with pasta. It is prepared with ground beef that is simmered slowly until tender and can have several different condiments. A soffritto consisting of chopped onions, celery, carrots, and seasonings are added together with tomato sauce and other flavorings.

Compared to other sauces it is thicker and made creamier by adding milk at the later stage of cooking. It has several different versions, and lamb, poultry, fish, veal, or pork can be used instead of ground beef. Other spices like chilies, peppers, beans, tarragon, and cumin can also be added.

Ragu alla Barese is prepared using horse meat; Ragu alla Napoletana has a lot of tomatoes and uses red wine; Ragu alla Bolognese uses white wine and less tomatoes. Ragu alla Bolognese or Bolognese sauce is the most popular version of ragu.

Bolognese sauce originated in Bologna, Italy and dates back to the 15th century. It is a pasta sauce that is meat based and contains a small amount of tomato sauce. It is traditionally served with tagliatelle, green lasagna, and other wide-shaped pasta instead of spaghetti pasta because the sauce holds up better with wider pasta.

Its ingredients include beef, soffritto, pancetta, onions, tomato paste, meat broth, white wine, and cream or milk. Like all other food preparations, Bolognese sauce has different variations. Pork, chicken, veal, rabbit, goose, and other meats can be used instead of beef.

The soffritto is made with celery, carrots, and onions cooked in butter or olive oil. Mushrooms, ham, and sausage are also added together with milk or cream to add more flavors and give it more creaminess. It is usually simmered for at least five hours.


1.Ragu is a meat-based Italian sauce that is served with pasta while Bolognese sauce or Ragu alla Bolognese is a variation of ragu.
2.Ragu is thicker than other sauces, and while other variations of ragu such as Ragu alla Napoletana use red wine, Bolognese uses white wine.
3.Other ragu sauces use it for spaghetti pasta, but Bolognese uses it with wider-shaped pasta like lasagna because the thick sauce blends better with wider-shaped pasta.
4.Ragu and Bolognese taste better when cooked for as long as five to six hours.

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  1. Mmm. Good, thx for the clarification

  2. This is wrong.

    In Italy there’s no bolognese sauce. This exists only outside the country. In tourist areas they have bolognese in the menu of the restaurants so that tourists have some orientation and are able to order accordingly. Nevertheless in less touristic places you won’t see bolognese in the restaurants. When you have bolognese on the menu, you won’t have Italians eating there.

    Ragù in Italy is not a mix of different types of meat. It’s grinded meat in tomato sauce. Depending on the taste of the person you put garlic and/other onion too.

    People write a lot of nonsense, like pomodoro meaning golden apple. Pomodoro means simply TOMATO. Apple in Italian is MELA. Salsa al pomodoro means this way nothing more than tomato sauce. Salsa al sugo is another name for salsa al pomodoro, which means tomato sauce. Some would say that it is just thicker and fruitier, but it’s just another name for tomato sauce.

    Salsa al ragù is what people in other countries call BOLOGNESE sauce.

    Italians laugh when they hear bolognese sauce, because it doesn’t exist in Italy. Of course they are polite and won’t laugh in front of the tourist, but they always laugh, because they simply don’t understand this phenomenon and where it comes from.

    No matter if you are in the alps in the north, Tuscan hills, at the Amalfitl coast, in Calabria, Sicily or Sardinia. It is the same thing.

    People should stop or avoid spreading untruths without knowing. I wouldn’t say lie, because I guess they don’t do that with the purpose of doing so. Nowadays it’s easier to get real information.

    I’m half Italian, BTW.

    • Informative post. Unfortunately that stands true in every cultural cuisine, some smart Alec coins a name or phrase and spins a yarn to go with it for a fast buck. Fortunately, people are floored for the delights of Italian cuisine

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