One-Pot Lentil Bolognese is hearty, flavorful, protein-packed and perfect served over spaghetti! Sure to become a staple recipe in your home.

looking down on a big plate of spaghetti and red meaty sauce

This vegetarian bolognese doesn’t rely on jarred marinara sauce, but is instead made from scratch with pantry staples like lentils, crushed tomatoes and dried herbs. For best results, make sure to use quality canned tomato products, since they make up the bulk of the dish.

Lentil bolognese is a “stick to your ribs” kind of meal, especially served over spaghetti. It’s comforting, classic, SO satisfying and a vegan recipe everyone can get on board with!

How to make it

  1. In a large skillet or pot, sauté the chopped onion, carrot and celery in a little olive oil until soft, 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 more minute.
  2. Pour in crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, dried herbs, a teaspoon of sugar and salt, and stir together to combine.
  3. Stir in lentils (uncooked) and 2 cups of water. Stir, bring to a boil then simmer on low heat for 25-30 minutes.
  4. Stir frequently to prevent lentils from sticking to the bottom and burning. Add a little more water if the sauce gets too thick. The sauce will be thick and flavorful!

collage of how to make lentil bolognese in 4 steps


  • If you only have green or brown lentils, they will work but be more obvious in the sauce. Red lentils are a bit more broken down when cooked and they incorporate better in the sauce.
  • The recipe makes a lot! Enough for about 8 good sized servings over pasta. You can cut the recipe in half if you’d like, or freeze it. Leftovers keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days as well, and reheat well.
  • When simmering, keep the heat nice and low, so it’s simmering but not boiling too hard, or the lentils may have a hard time cooking. Add water as needed.
  • Gluten-free: The lentil bolognese is gluten free already, so simple serve over gluten free pasta. I used brown rice spaghetti in the photos.

a fork swirling sauce and spaghetti around it on a plate

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square image of spaghetti and red thick sauce

Lentil Bolognese

One-Pot Lentil Bolognese is hearty, flavorful, protein-packed and perfect served over spaghetti! Sure to become a staple recipe in your home.
5 stars (12 ratings)


  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped small
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 stalk celery, finely diced
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 28 ounces canned crushed tomatoes
  • 15 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
  • 2 cups uncooked red lentils
  • 2 cups water, more as needed to thin sauce

For serving


  • In a large skillet or pot, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion, carrots and celery and sauté for 5-6 minutes until softened.
  • Now add the minced garlic and cook for 1 more minute until fragrant.
  • Pour in the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, basil, oregano, sugar, salt and optional red pepper flakes. Stir well until smooth and combined.
  • Add the lentils and 2 cups of water to the pot and stir well. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes. Stir every 5-10 minutes to make sure the lentils don't stick to the bottom and burn. Add another 1/2 cup water or so if needed to thin the sauce if it gets too thick.
  • The lentils should be tender and the sauce thick and flavorful. Serve over spaghetti or other pasta of choice and sprinkle with vegan parmesan if desired. Enjoy!


  1. Gluten-free: The lentil bolognese sauce is gluten free, simply serve over gluten free pasta.
  2. You can substitute green or brown lentils for the red lentils. They will be more obvious in the sauce, but still good.
  3. This recipe makes quite a bit of sauce, making it perfect for meal prep. It will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days, and freezes very well.


Serving: 1serving, Calories: 245kcal, Carbohydrates: 43g, Protein: 15g, Fat: 3g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 767mg, Potassium: 1074mg, Fiber: 18g, Sugar: 10g, Vitamin A: 3130IU, Vitamin C: 19mg, Calcium: 109mg, Iron: 7mg

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