Brisket Bolognese

Bolognese on fettucine in a bowl with silverware

Brisket Bolognese: A Smoky Twist on a Classic Dish

When it comes to hearty and comforting pasta dishes, Bolognese holds a special place in my heart. I have always enjoyed a Bolognese sauce, but came to truly love it when I visited Bologna, Italy, the sauce’s origin. But what if I told you there’s a way to elevate this classic sauce even further? Enter Brisket Bolognese – a smoky, rich, and utterly delicious twist that will have you coming back for seconds, then thirds.

The Brisket Advantage

Instead of the usual beef chuck roast, ground beef, or ground pork, I am using smoked brisket as the star ingredient of this Bolognese sauce. I always have a lot of leftovers when I make smoked brisket, and this recipe makes quite a dent in that stock. But more importantly, the smokiness from the brisket adds depth and complexity to the sauce, taking it to a whole new level.

Brisket bolognese with biscuits and a blue napkin

Why Chop and Fry the Brisket?

In this recipe I chop the brisket into smaller than bite size pieces to make sure the sauce will be nice and hearty. I also fry the smoked brisket pieces before putting them in the slow cooker. Why, you ask? This has a couple of benefits. 

  1. To render some of the fat from the beef. Between the small chop and frying in a skillet, you will find very few, if any overly fatty pieces in the sauce. 
  2. Rendered fat crisps the brisket and flavors the vegetables. The second benefit of rendering the fat from the chopped brisket is that it crisps up the beef pieces and leaves a tasty fat to fry the vegetables in.

If you’re starting from pulled brisket, you can skip the chopping step, but I still recommend giving it a quick fry. Even pulled brisket will render fat, and the flavor that’s added by frying will be worth the time. Although you may need additional olive oil to fry the vegetables, you will be glad that you fried even pulled brisket.

Chopped beef brisket fried in a skillet

Slow and Flavorful

This dish is also enhanced by a low, slow cook, not unlike the smoking process for the brisket. Luckily, this cook doesn’t take anywhere close to 11 hours. I recommend using a slow cooker for this recipe so that once it’s set you don’t have to continue managing it. However, you could easily adapt this recipe to cook in a covered dutch oven. Either keep your burner on a low simmer or stick it in the oven at a low temperature for a couple of hours. This low and slow cooking method allows the flavors to really meld together, intensifying the final flavor of the dish. The result is a sauce that’s rich, savory, and downright addictive.

An unexpected addition to the savoriness of this recipe is the finely diced vegetables. Together, finely diced carrots, celery, and onion make up a mirepoix, an aromatic base for soups and stews, originating in France. You can read more on the history and other variations here ( These three combined add incredible flavor, especially when they’ve been lightly fried beforehand as this recipe recommends. The carrots specifically add a wonderful sweetness to the dish. The fine dice of the mirepoix also allows all of the vegetables to get very soft, which thickens the sauce without any help of tomato paste.

  • Tip: Frying the vegetables until they are mostly dry is the key to keeping this sauce thick, so don’t skip that step when cooking. Or if you must skip it, have a couple tablespoons of tomato paste on hand to thicken the final sauce.
Mirepoix in a food processor

Brisket Bolognese: A Great Meal Prep Candidate

This recipe makes a lot of sauce. It filled my 6 qt slow cooker, and could easily serve 6, even up to 8 if served with a side salad. So what can you do with all of that sauce? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Call it meal prep and eat for a week! This sauce tastes even better on day 2.
  • Freeze your leftovers in individual servings for Brisket Bolognese in the future.
  • If you only have a little bit leftover, try making one of my Homemade Naan Pizzas! Simply put this sauce on a naan, cover with cheese, and bake.

How to serve Brisket Bolognese

This Brisket Bolognese recipe is a delight and will pair well with any pasta you enjoy. Traditionally it would be served with a wide noodle like tagliatelle or fettuccine, but any pasta will be delicious. I have eaten this sauce with spaghetti noodles, and I have had similar sauces with rigatoni. For a side dish I recommend my Cottage Cheese Drop Biscuits, and don’t forget to top with fresh parmesan!

Bolognese on fettucine in a bowl with silverware

Brisket Bolognese

Brisket Bolognese is a smoky, rich, and utterly delicious twist that will have you coming back for seconds, then thirds.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Course Dinner
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6
Calories 259 kcal


  • slow cooker


  • 1.5 lbs Smoked brisket
  • 1 Large sweet onion
  • 4 Medium size carrots
  • 4 Celery stalks
  • 2 tbsp Minced garlic
  • 1.5 cups Dry red wine
  • 32 oz Tomato sauce
  • 3 Bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp Tomato paste If needed

For Serving

  • Fresh cooked pasta 2 oz per person
  • Grated parmesan cheese


  • Chop the smoked brisket into small pieces, about ½ inch wide.
  • Use a food processor to chop the carrots, onion, and celery into a very fine dice.
  • Heat a skillet over high heat and fry the chopped brisket until some fat has rendered and some pieces have browned, about 5-10 minutes. Transfer the chopped brisket to the slow cooker.
  • Add the diced vegetables to the skillet, keeping it at high heat. Pour 1 tbsp of olive oil over the vegetables.
  • Fry for 10-15 minutes, or until they are noticeably drier. When pressed down with a spatula, very little water should come out. In the last 5 minutes of this process, add the minced garlic and stir it in. Once the vegetables are ready, the garlic will be too and you can transfer the vegetables and garlic to the slow cooker.
  • Reduce the skillet’s heat to medium-high and add the wine. Bring it to a boil, then simmer for 2 minutes. Transfer to the slow cooker.
  • Add the tomatoes and bay leaves to the slow cooker and set it to cook for 4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low.
  • Serve over freshly cooked pasta, topped with parmesan cheese.


Calories: 259kcalCarbohydrates: 13.8gProtein: 26.2gFat: 8.5gSaturated Fat: 2.7gCholesterol: 68mgSodium: 672mgPotassium: 436mgFiber: 4.1gSugar: 6.8gCalcium: 71mg
Keyword bolognese, Brisket, brisket bolognese, smoked brisket
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