The BEST Vegan Bolognese provides comparable richness and meaty texture to the classic ground meat sauce. Even the biggest meat lovers will love this vegan spaghetti bolognese.
A plant-based take on the classic Italian ragù, this vegan bolognese features mushrooms, a slew of aromatics, and a couple secret umami boosters.
In addition to being the "meatiest" meatless recipe in my dinner arsenal, this bolognese:
- Comes together in right under one hour.
- Holds up incredibly well for leftovers.
- Is a delicious way to sneak in extra veggies.
It's truly the BEST way to win over the hearts of vegetarians and omnivores alike. (Just like my Chipotle Black Bean Burgers!)
How to Make Vegan Bolognese:
It's no secret that traditional bolognese has a rich cast of characters (up to three kinds of meat, plus cream and loads of cheese).
Here, mushrooms mimic the texture of ground meat while adding plenty of savory depth. (Just like in this Portobello Steaks recipe.)
This sauce also ditches the heavy cream in favor of plant milk, which still yields a sauce that tastes thick and decadent.
So not only are we slashing the saturated fat, we're adding tons of micronutrients and fiber.
- Mushrooms: I suggest a mix of cremini and shiitake mushrooms. Cremini are easy to find and inexpensive, however shiitake really pack an umami punch.
- Aromatics: The classic trio of onions, carrots, and garlic add texture and rich aromatic flavor to the sauce.
- Tomato Paste: For adding color, body, and bright acidity to the sauce. Tomato paste also ramps up the savoriness and complexity factor.
- Rosemary: I love the earthy undertones of rosemary in this savory sauce.
- Tamari: I like to think of tamari less as a Japanese condiment and more as a universal flavor booster. Tamari has a darker color and richer flavor than soy sauce, and is typically less salty.
- Alternatively, use lower-sodium soy sauce.
- Walnuts: For bulking up the bolognese with richness and texture. Alternatively, pine nuts or almonds also work.
- Wine: Red or white wine will work fine. Alternatively, use any type of broth you have on hand.
- Pasta: I suggest spaghetti, Tagliatelle, or any long-strand type of pasta.
- If making gluten free, use your favorite chickpea or lentil-based pasta.
Step 1: Toast Spices until warm and fragrant, about 2 minutes.
Step 2: Pulse Vegetables in a food processor until finely chopped.
Step 3: Sauté Vegetables in olive oil until soft, about 8 minutes.
Step 4: Simmer Sauce - add tomato paste, garlic, and rosemary, cook until fragrant. Stir in remaining sauce ingredients and gently simmer.
Step 5: Toss Sauce with Pasta until it's well-coated. Add pasta cooking water to help thin the sauce and help it cling to the noodles.
Expert Tips and Tricks:
- Don't over-blend the vegetables. They should still be chunky, which will add texture to the sauce.
- Toast the spices. This amplifies and extends the spice flavor to spread throughout a dish.
- Cook the tomato paste until it turns brick red. Allowing it to caramelize takes away the raw tomato flavor, therefore unlocking its full flavor potential.
- Reserve pasta cooking liquid. This is added to the bolognese to help loosen the sauce, which makes it better cling to the noodles.
- Don't rinse the pasta! This removes the starchiness of the noodles, which prevents the sauce from sticking to them.
- Add garnishes. A little vegan Parmesan, fresh basil, or additional rosemary really makes the dish pop.
In Lasagna: Swap the classic meat sauce in place of this plant-based bolognese for a vegetarian lasagna.
Over Zoodles: For a lower carb dinner.
With Bread: Break out some crusty Italian bread for sopping up the sauce.
Store: Transfer leftovers to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
Reheat: Rewarm in the microwave, adding a splash of broth or water to help rehydrate the sauce. If reheating larger portions, place in a baking pan, cover with foil, and bake in a 300ºF oven until warm.
Freeze: Place leftover sauce in an airtight freezer-safe storage container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
Food Processor: I love my 14-cup food processor, which has enough room for chopping up the veggies.
Sauté Pan: A stainless steel sauté pan is ideal for holding all of the sauce.
Tongs: For transferring the noodles to the pot of sauce.
More Vegan Pasta Recipes to Try:
If you give this vegan spaghetti bolognese a try, be sure to snap a picture and tag #dishingouthealth on Instagram so I can see your beautiful creations. Also, follow along on Facebook and Pinterest for the latest recipe updates!
Vegan Mushroom Bolognese
- Food processor
- Large sauté pan
- Stock pot or Dutch oven
- 2 tsp. fennel seeds
- ½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
- 8 oz. cremini mushrooms
- 8 oz. shiitake mushrooms
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, cut into four segments
- 1 large carrot, cut into large chunks
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- 6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 1 Tbsp. finely chopped rosemary
- ½ cup dry red or white wine (sub broth)
- 1 (15-oz.) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 ¼ tsp. sea salt
- ¾ tsp. cracked black pepper
- ½ cup finely chopped walnuts
- 1 Tbsp. lower-sodium tamari (sub soy sauce or coconut aminos)
- 12 oz. spaghetti, tagliatelle, or pappardelle pasta
Optional for Serving
- Fresh basil leaves
- Pine Nut Parmesan (recipe in notes section)
- Toast fennel seeds and red pepper flakes in a small skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a food processor.Add cremini and shiitake mushrooms to food processor with spices; pulse mixture 3 to 5 times, until the mushrooms are finely chopped. Transfer mixture to a bowl. Next, add onion and carrot to the food processor; pulse 4 to 6 times, until finely chopped.
- Heat olive oil in a large high-sided sauté pan over medium-high. Once hot, add mushroom mixture, onion, and carrots; cook until soft, stirring only occasionally, about 8 minutes.Reduce heat to medium, and push vegetables to one side of the pan. Add tomato paste, garlic, and rosemary to open side; cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Stir in wine to deglaze and cook for 2 minutes, until most of the alcohol evaporates. Stir everything to combine.Add crushed tomatoes, salt, pepper, walnuts, and tamari; stir well. Gently simmer sauce, partially covered, while you prepare pasta.
- Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente.
- Using tongs, transfer pasta to pot with bolognese. Add 1 cup pasta cooking liquid and toss continuously, until the sauce begins clinging to noodles, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; taste and adjust seasoning as needed (you may want a pinch more salt).Serve with fresh basil and pine nut Parmesan, if desired.
- Store: Transfer leftovers to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
- Reheat: Rewarm in the microwave, adding a splash of broth or water to help rehydrate the sauce. If reheating larger portions, place in a baking pan, cover with foil, and bake in a 300ºF oven until warm.
- Freeze: Place leftover sauce in an airtight freezer-safe storage container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
Love this recipe! Quick question… up in the description of the swaps you make it mentions you use plant based milk instead of cream, but there’s no plant based milk in the actual recipe. Was that just an error in the description or should there be some in the recipe?
Made this meal last night and it was Delicious! Thank you so much for the recipe. I guarantee a meat lover wouldn't know there's not meat in this dish (if anyone is skeptical of the meal being vegan). We'll definitely make this again and agin!
I’m wondering if this recipe is ok to freeze?
Many thanks, from Adelaide Australia
The effort is worth it for this one! Flavors are incredible.
Loved this veggie Bolognese sauce!
Took a little time to make but the flavors were really delicious!
Definitely making this again and again!
Soooo yummy! Love the veggie to pasta ratio- doesn't leave you feeling weighed down afterward like pasta sometimes does. I added a head of chopped kale at the end to make it more colorful. Definitely making this again!
I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Erin! Thank you for taking the time to leave a review!!
Hi Jamie, reaching out from Germany with a question: is there a replacement for using wine? I'd love to leave out the alcohol to make it enjoyable for everyone.
With this I can't wait to try it out, sounds fantastic.
Best regards and thanks,
Hi Claudia! I would use 1/3 cup beef or veggie broth mixed with 3 Tbsp. sherry vinegar or white wine vinegar. Enjoy!!
Delicious! I always start with the recipe as is and make notes on what I might do differently next time. The ONLY thing I would do differently is chop the walnuts a little finer than I did. Thanks for a great recipe!
Hi Lynn--I'm so thrilled you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for taking the time to leave a review--it's much appreciated!
Subbed red lentils for walnuts. Added lentils with onion/carrot mixture, fantastic addition. Great flavors, borderline spicy. Will be added to our recipe book.
Hi Sam, I'm so glad you enjoyed it!! Thanks for coming back and leaving a review. Cheers.
Delish! subbed the walnuts with red lentils and only used about half the garlic - it was so freaking good! Will make over and over and over again
Hi Nicole, I'm so glad you enjoyed it!! Thank you for coming back and leaving a review. Cheers