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What makes the perfect Spaghetti Bolognese? Brits Share Their Secret (but not-so-Italian) Ingredients

To celebrate the launch of National Spaghetti Bolognese Day (22 May) a new survey has revealed the weird and wonderful secret ingredients the Great British Public use to make the ultimate spaghetti bolognese… and many of them are not quite so Italian in style!

Voted one of the nation’s favourite dishes, 1 in 5 Brits claim to eat spaghetti bolognese at least once a month, with more than 1 in 10 (14%) eating it weekly. And of the 2,000 people surveyed no one had gone more than 12 months without a bowl of Spal Bol.


Moving away from the tried and tested classic recipe of beef mince, Italian tomatoes and oregano, it seems we’re becoming increasingly experimental with this household favourite. Of the top three secret additions, nearly 20% of those cooking included Worcester sauce, 15% fresh chilli and 14% dabbled with tomato ketchup.

Within the top ten ingredients Spag Bol mavericks added gravy (7%), sweetcorn (6%), soy (6%) and cream (6%).

The poll of 2,000 British adults (16 and over), by the UK’s leading Italian food brand, Filippo Berio, also unearthed some truly horrifying and unusual additions – with open responses revealing some opted for crayfish, orange juice and turmeric as their secret ingredients.

Love it or hate it, several people suggested marmite to provide a tang, and dark chocolate was another popular addition… not forgetting the bougie Brits opting for a splash of trendy truffle oil to make their bolognese zing.

Spag Bol without Spag?

Amusingly the Brit-ifying of Italy’s famous dish continues, with 40% of the UK opting for cheddar cheese instead of parmesan, and 40% choosing pork or turkey mince instead of beef.

Of those surveyed 1 in five believed Spaghetti Bolognese was better without spaghetti, with 20% opting for penne and 10% preferring macaroni.

The research by the UK’s leading Italian brand, Filippo Berio, explored just how much the British love Spaghetti Bolognese. 71% of those surveyed said they liked the dish – with one in five openly admitting “it was love”.

Italian Style?

Filippo Berio UK managing director, Walter Zanré, said:  “Spaghetti bolognese is a firm favourite in households across the UK, although to an Italian it would be Ragu alla Bolognese.  Many Italians would be baffled and horrified with the way us Brits have put our stamp on the dish from adding extra ingredients to chopping up spaghetti.”

Filippo Berio commissioned the study to mark the launch of the latest in their range of award winning pasta sauces with the addition of a classic Bolognese variant. Filippo Berio is best known for olive oil but has diversified into pasta sauces with great success.

The sauces use the finest all-natural ingredients including Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil and 100% Italian tomatoes. The vegetables are cooked before the tomatoes are added – not at the same time. This crucial two stage cooking method locks in all the flavour, so the sauces taste fresh.

The sauces are gluten free and suitable for both vegetarian and vegan diets. They are also lactose free and have no preservatives, flavourings or artificial ingredients.

Walter added: “We’re proud of our new bolognese pasta sauce, which is designed to make life easier while still ensuring the authentic taste of homemade cooking. It makes cooking bolognese quick and easy, and without a crayfish in sight.”