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Macarronada (Brazilian Spaghetti Bolognese)

macarronada pasta with meat sauce

Around 30 million Brazilians have Italian ancestry, so it is not surprising that pasta dishes are very popular. It is even available as a fast food option: the beloved restaurant chain, Sprato, has over 200 locations in Brazil! You line up and select your type of pasta, sauce, and toppings much like you’d build a sandwich at Subway. But pasta is easy enough to make at home, and today’s recipe for macarronada is no exception. Traditional macarronada is a Brazilian version of spaghetti bolognese: ground beef, garlic, tomatoes, wine, and herbs are simmered for hours until they develop a supremely savory and complex flavor. Get ready for your new Sunday dinner favorite. 

Do Brazilians Eat Spaghetti?

Of course! As we mentioned above, Italian cuisine is very popular in Brazil. It was originally brought by immigrants in the late 19th century. Today, Italian dishes like pasta, pizza and lasagna are a staple of Brazilian cuisine. Macarronada was, until recently, the traditional meal to eat on Sundays after mass. It is sometimes still referred to as “macarronada de domingo,” or “Sunday pasta.”

Like other dishes, however, many Brazilians like to put a spin on these traditional recipes. It is not uncommon to find pasta sauces made with sliced green olives, sweet corn, or peas. We’re sticking with a more traditional bolognese (we’re keeping the olives, though).  

Macarronada translates to “pasta,” but it is often used to refer to spaghetti in particular. That being said, you can use any type of pasta you want for this bolognese recipe. We like spaghetti noodles because all the nooks and crannies between them means you’ll get a taste of delicious, meaty sauce in every bite. But pappardelle would also be delicious, or fettuccine. 

Macarronada Recipe


1 pound lean ground beef
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
6 strips of bacon
¾ cup white wine
One 14 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 oz tomato paste
¼ cup diced green olives
1 cup beef stock
8 oz spaghetti noodles
Parmesan cheese
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper,  to taste


  1. Bring a large skillet to medium high heat. Add in the bacon and cook until crisp. Remove and strain over paper towels. When cool to the touch, chop into small pieces.
  2. Reserve a tablespoon of the bacon fat and add in your ground beef. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until evenly browned. Remove and strain excess grease.
  3. Return the skillet to the stove and bring back up to medium. Add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Add in the tomato paste and let it cook for a minute or two on its own. Then, stir in the chopped onion and cook until softened and translucent (2-3 minutes). 
  4. Add in the garlic and cook for a further 30-60 seconds, just until fragrant.
  5. Deglaze the pan with the wine. 
  6. Add in the beef, bacon crumbles, tomatoes, olives, and beef stock. 
  7. Bring the mixture to a rolling simmer. Reduce heat to low and cover the pot with a well-fitting lid.
  8. Simmer on low for two hours, or until you have a thick, uniform ragu for your macarronada.
  9. During the last fifteen minutes of cooking, bring another large pot of salted water to a boil. Add in your spaghetti and cook until it is al-dente. Strain and toss with a little olive oil. 
  10. Taste your macarronada sauce for salt. Add in more if necessary.
  11. Serve a generous ladle of the sauce over a portion of noodles. Garnish with basil or fresh parsley and parmesan cheese. 

More Great Brazilian Recipes to Try:


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