Some recipes I have seen just sweat the meat then inserts the vegetables in them (so the meat is gray colored), but some recipes say you have to have them browned to have the maillard reaction give extra flavors.

I have watched several youtube videos regarding Bolognese recipes and all have different styles.

  • 1
    Besides subjectivity issues, as far bolognese is concerned these two links are quite detailed aifb.it/calendario-del-cibo/… and itchefs-gvci.com/…
    – Alchimista
    Apr 16, 2019 at 12:20
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    Italian-language recipes vary a lot, but commonly they start with minced pancetta, then do the "sofrito" of vegetables in the rendered fat (maybe with oil, maybe not), then the meat which is almost always mince (ground). They seem to worry about browning the vegetables more than the meat. With mince, too much browning can create little pellets that never get tender.
    – Pointy
    Apr 16, 2019 at 13:03

2 Answers 2


"Better" is a matter of opinion. Recipes for bolognese vary widely. Both methods are possible. Try it both ways, see which one you prefer. My practice is that the meat is not seared. Because of the nature of the recipe, I usually have a lot of meat, it would certainly take longer to sear it in batches, as opposed to dumping it all in with the sweated vegetables.

  • Right experimentation is great but then it takes a lot of time to test several variations. I was hoping to start with a great recipe and tweak from there. Most recipes I find online and some youtube videos lack in depth of flavor. They only use 1-2 spices together with a 50/50 of ground beef/ground pork (sometimes with veal) carrots, celery, and onions, sometimes with stock or sometimes replaced with plum tomatoes, and tomato puree. But i'm used to a good tomato sauce with more depth in flavor and I find the ones online to be light and simple
    – Pherdindy
    Apr 15, 2019 at 15:42
  • I was just confused why it's not 100% seared in recipe when they say not having a maillard reaction loses flavor for the dish in general
    – Pherdindy
    Apr 15, 2019 at 15:44
  • @Pherdindy The Maillard reaction produces a different flavour, not a better one. Whether you think it's better is entirely subjective and no one on the internet can tell you which one you should prefer. I personally find that cooking the sauce for at least a couple of hours with few spices and aromatics gives a wonderful depth of flavour. My brother thinks it's incomplete without tons of spices. Neither is better.
    – user141592
    Apr 16, 2019 at 10:46

Flavor from the maillard reaction is considered very desirable, it's why we barbecue or fry rather than poach burgers, so browning the meat is "better". I have tried it both ways with a bolognese and chili, the flavor from the browning when it is done right is noticeable and my tasters all preferred it to the non-browned product.

However, it's challenging to do that when making bolognese, I had to use a separate pan, browning the meat in batches, which was extra work and mess. It was enough work that I rarely do it that way.

Instead I do a hybrid method where I sweat the vegetables, then I push them to the side, crank up the heat and add one pack of the ground meat as a slab, smushing it out a bit to maximize surface area. After it gets a bit browned on one side I'll flip the meat to do the other side until browned, then add all the meat and sweat it all together. That way I get some browned flavor in there without that much extra work.

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