I am trying to make bolognese kosher for my family and struggling. Here is the list of ingredients I hope to find a substitute for:

  • Pork
  • Pancetta
  • Heavy cream
  • Milk
  • Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 5
    Are these not ingredients for a carbonara sauce? Commented Feb 21, 2017 at 13:41
  • 8
    @JeanHominal There's no cream or uncured pork in an authentic carbonara. Many Bolognese recipes include dairy for richness and pork for flavour. Commented Feb 21, 2017 at 14:04
  • I just don't get the idea of having milk and meat together can be kosher in the first place.
    – Hagoy
    Commented Feb 21, 2017 at 20:09
  • 1
    @Hagoy I think that's the point... it's not kosher. Plus, the pork itself is not kosher.
    – Catija
    Commented Feb 22, 2017 at 0:33
  • 1
    To be fair, I never used any of those to make a bolognese sauce. Bolognese is usually made with beef, not pork, and those other ingredients are complimentary but not part of the basic recipe. The old school bolognese (as in the ancient recipe) has cream as a optional extra, but depending on the regional variant you can drop it entirely. The South Brazillian variant adds tomato but removes the cream, for example - and it's a recipe that's around for something like a hundred years around here.
    – T. Sar
    Commented Feb 22, 2017 at 12:21

5 Answers 5


None of those is a necessary element in bolognese; find a recipe that doesn't use them (use beef mince, or quorn).

  • 8
    Agreed. Just make a meat sauce/ragu - beef, onions, garlic, tomatoes, carrot, celery, beef stock and wine, slow cooked. Commented Feb 21, 2017 at 10:24
  • 1
    And for such a recipe, try Gourmet Kosher Cooking. I have no affiliation, btw.
    – Giorgio
    Commented Feb 21, 2017 at 20:36
  • Quinoa is a surprisingly effective texture substitute for minced meat, and in a bolognaise most of the flavour comes from the vegetables. Also, I thought garlic was generally not used in a ragu?
    – Bob Tway
    Commented Feb 22, 2017 at 13:42
  • @ElendilTheTall the wine is not needed, and as this is for a family, would probably ruin the flavour for the kids (if there are any). Commented Feb 22, 2017 at 14:33
  • @MarkGardner I make a pasta sauce involving very reduced red wine which is then diluted by adding tomatoes. The wine flavour comes through quite noticeably, but that doesn't put children off. The actual alcohol content is miniscule because most of the liquid (ethanol+water) in the wine is evaporated before any other liquid is added.
    – Chris H
    Commented Feb 22, 2017 at 14:58

There are many bolognese variations out there, some which have milk in them, but there are many which do not as well. My understanding is that a traditional bolognese does not have milk, but as always with Italian food what's traditional is what Mama makes. In any case, you can drop the milk products without substituting anything for them. I don't think that adding soya or anything else will give you the same effect.

As for the pork you can replace it with ground beef or turkey, beef has more flavor than turkey but turkey is generally leaner. I make bolognese with a mix of beef and turkey because I find it's less greasy while still flavorful, but that's subjective. Pancetta adds richness, but is not essential.

Some people, myself included, use bacon in a bolognese. If you want a substitute for that there are turkey bacons out there in some places but to be honest the ones I've tried generally haven't been very good substitutes for the real thing. Bacon has fat, salt and smoke flavors (presuming it's smoked), so you could try and substitute any kosher cured and smoked meat sliced into thin strips. You could just leave it out entirely as well.

  • You've never seen one with cheese? Parmigiano cheese? Really? ô.O "No cheese => More traditional"? ... Nope?
    – Seth
    Commented Feb 21, 2017 at 13:29
  • 1
    @Seth but in the sauce? Surely it's added at the table.
    – Chris H
    Commented Feb 21, 2017 at 13:30
  • 4
    I've seen plenty of sauces what have dairy in them, but never a bolognese sauce @Seth. Cheese is an extra you can add on top if you like.
    – GdD
    Commented Feb 21, 2017 at 13:39
  • 3
    Many Bolognese recipes include milk (just use your favourite search engine to look for "Bolognese milk"); cream doesn't seem too much of a stretch as an extension of that. Commented Feb 21, 2017 at 14:02
  • 2
    @GdD That's a very good reason for using anything. :-) Commented Feb 21, 2017 at 16:35

Milk (and, I guess as an extension, cream and cheese) is included for richness, pork because a mix of pork and beef is somewhat lighter than beef alone, and pancetta for flavour. None of these ingredients is essential and a "basic" Bolognese sauce would work just fine without all of them.


In the original italian recipe of "Ragù alla bolognese", pork is optional, there is just beef mince simmered with red wine until reduced, some vegetables (carrot, onion and celery), tomato sauce, and absolutely no compulsory dairy products (cheese is added on personal taste when the dish is served).

this one seems perfect, notice:

olive oil or butter


½ glass of milk cream (optional).

  • There is "the" original recipe?
    – Robert
    Commented Feb 21, 2017 at 20:35
  • 1
    Apparently yes, there is a ratified "official" recipe. There are some variants, but the italian recipe is more or less the same, I don't know bolognese, bolognaise or the other "international" variants. the above recipe in my answer is on the international Bologna site.
    – GodTaxist
    Commented Feb 21, 2017 at 21:17
  • Uhm, actually the official deposited recipe (from your link and other sources) includes milk and pork meat, both non-optional. Commented Feb 22, 2017 at 9:32

When I was growing up, my family had a tradition of having bolognese once a week. We liked putting cheese on top and my mother is vegetarian, so for both of these reasons we used soy "mince".

I don't know how easy it is for you to find but I often see both dried and "fresh" varieties in my supermarket. It's often sold under the name "textured vegetable protein", or TVP.

As long as you're not eating any other meat, you can use as much or as little dairy as you like.


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