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Pomodoro Sauce vs Bolognese: 6 Differences You Need to Know

There are endless possibilities when it comes to a pasta dish.

You can dress it up or down, change the sauce, add different meats or vegetables, and still end up with a delicious dish.

However, with so many options, it can be hard to know what sauce to choose.

When it comes to Italian cuisine, there are a lot of different sauces that can be used to accompany a variety of dishes.

Two of the most famous tomato sauce are Pomodoro sauce and bolognese sauce.

Both Pomodoro sauce and Bolognese sauce are tomato sauces that originated in Italy.

They are both commonly used as a pasta sauce.

Although these two things may look the same, some significant distinctions exist

Read on to learn more about the difference between Pomodoro sauce and Bolognese sauce.

Pomodoro Sauce vs Bolognese
The main differences between Pomodoro sauce and Bolognese are the type of meats and vegetables, cooking time, texture, flavor, and uses. Bolognese is generally richer and more savory. It is usually served with wide noodles like fettuccine or rigatoni. At the same time, Pomodoro sauce is brighter and more acidic and is often used as a topping for pizza or other dishes.

What is Pomodoro sauce?

Pomodoro sauce is a tomato-based sauce that originates from Southern Italy. 

It is typically made with fresh tomatoes or canned tomatoes (tomato paste), garlic, olive oil, basil, and salt.

Some recipes also call for onion, but it is not traditional.

This sauce is quick and easy to make, which makes it perfect for a weeknight dinner.

Pomodoro sauce is often used as a pasta sauce or served with meats or vegetables.

It is typically used in spaghetti saucechicken Pomodoro, or fish Pomodoro.

One of the key things to note about Pomodoro sauce is that it is not typically meaty; instead, it relies on the natural sweetness of tomatoes to provide flavor.

Pomodoro Sauce Recipe

-1 tablespoon olive oil

-1/2 onion, diced

-3 cloves garlic, minced

-1 pound ground chicken or turkey

-1 (28-ounce) canned tomato (tomato paste)

-1 teaspoon salt

-1/2 teaspoon black pepper

-1/4 teaspoon sugar

-1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

-1/4 teaspoon dried basil

-1/4 teaspoon dried thyme


1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.

2. Add the chicken or turkey and cook until browned, about 5 minutes.

3. Add the tomatoes, saltpeppersugaroreganobasil, and thyme to a simmer.

4. Cook for 10 minutes or until the sauce is heated thoroughly.

What is Bolognese Sauce?

Bolognese sauce is a meat sauce that originates from the city of Bologna in Northern Italy.

It is typically made with ground beef (or sometimes pork), baconcarrotsceleryonionsgarlic, red wine or white wine, and milk or heavy cream.

This type of sauce is thick and has a rich flavor.

It is a richer and heartier sauce than Pomodoro sauce. 

Bolognese sauce is typically used in dishes like spaghetti bolognese or lasagna bolognese.

This sauce takes time to prepare, but it is well worth the effort.

Bolognese freezes well, too, so you can make a big batch and have it on hand for those busy nights.

Bolognese Sauce Recipe

-1 tablespoon olive oil

-1 onion, diced

-2 carrots, diced

-1 celery stalk, diced

-3 cloves garlic, minced

-1 pound ground beef

-1 (28-ounce) can of crushed tomato

-1 teaspoon salt

-1/2 teaspoon black pepper

-1/4 teaspoon sugar

-1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

-1/4 teaspoon dried basil

-1/4 teaspoon dried thyme


1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onioncarrotscelery, and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.

2. Cook the beef until it browns, which should take around 5 minutes.

3. Add the tomatoes, salt, pepper, sugar, oregano, basil, and thyme to a simmer.

4. Cook for 30 minutes or until the sauce is thickened.

What are the differences between Pomodoro sauce and Bolognese

At a glance, Pomodoro sauce and Bolognese may look quite similar.

After all, they’re both red Italian pasta sauce made with meat.

However, several key differences set these two sauces apart.

Here’s a closer look at the distinct elements of Pomodoro sauce and Bolognese.

1. Type of meat

One of the most notable differences between Pomodoro sauce and Bolognese is the type of meat used in each dish.

Bolognese traditionally contains ground beef, while Pomodoro sauce typically features diced or ground meatchicken, or turkey.

This gives Pomodoro sauce a lighter flavor than Bolognese.

2. Vegetables

Another difference between these two sauces lies in the vegetables used.

Bolognese usually contains carrotscelery, and onions, while Pomodoro sauce typically features garlictomatoes, and fresh basil.

These different veggies create distinctly different flavor profiles for each dish.

3. Cooking time

Another key difference between these two sauces is cooking time.

Bolognese is typically simmered for a more extended period than Pomodoro sauce, which allows the flavors to meld together and develop more depth.

On the other hand, Pomodoro sauce is typically cooked for a shorter amount of time, resulting in a brighter flavor.

4. Texture

The texture of each sauce also varies.

Bolognese is usually thick and hearty, while Pomodoro sauce is typically thinner and smoother.

This difference is due to the different types of meat used in each dish as well as the cooking time.

The longer cooking time for Bolognese allows the sauce to reduce and thicken, while the shorter cooking time for Pomodoro sauce prevents it from getting too thick.

5. Flavor

Because of the different ingredients and cooking methods used, Pomodoro sauce and Bolognese also have unique flavor profiles.

Bolognese is rich and savory, with a deep umami flavor from the long-simmered meat. 

On the other hand, Pomodoro sauce is lighter and brighter, with a fresh tomato flavor from the shorter cooking time.

6. Uses

Pomodoro sauce and Bolognese can be used in many of the same dishes, such as pasta, lasagna, or stuffed shells.

However, because of their different flavors, they can also be used in different ways.

With its rich flavor, Bolognese can be used as a standalone dish. 

It is usually served with wide noodles like fettuccine or rigatoni.

While Pomodoro sauce is commonly served with shorter noodles like penne or spaghetti.

It is often used as pizza sauce or topping for other dishes.

Pomodoro sauce vs Bolognese: Are they the same?

Though they may appear similar at first glance, Pomodoro sauce and Bolognese are two very different dishes.

From the type of meat used to the veggies included and even the noodles paired with each sauce, there are several key distinctions that set these two pasta favorites apart.

Pomodoro sauce is typically made with just tomatoes, garlic, onions, and basil while Bolognese sauce contains ground meat, bacon, carrots, celery, onions, garlic, wine, and milk or cream making it richer and heartier.

Bolognese is generally richer and more savory, while Pomodoro sauce is brighter and more acidic.

Additionally, Bolognese is cooked for a longer period of time than Pomodoro sauce, which contributes to its heartier taste.

To sum it up, the main differences between Pomodoro sauce and Bolognese are the type of meat used, the vegetables included, the cooking time, and the texture.

These elements create two very different pasta sauces that are each delicious.

So, which sauce should you choose?

If you’re looking for something light and refreshing, then Pomodoro sauce is the way to go. 

Bolognese sauce is the way to go if you’re looking for something hearty and filling.

Ultimately, the decision comes down to personal preference.

Try both sauces and see which one you like best!

Buon appetito!

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