The BEST Vegan Bolognese sauce and it’s super simple to make with only 8 ingredients and about 40 minutes. Savory, meaty and hearty, everyone will love this Italian classic made vegan!

vegan bolognese sauce in black bowl over pasta

While I love Lentil Bolognese, this recipe for vegan bolognese is my absolute favorite. It’s meaty, savory and so satisfying! Plus it is seriously easy to make, with only 8 ingredients and about 40 minutes, most of which is hands off.

This is one of those meals you will come back to again and again, because it doesn’t require much effort and your whole family will enjoy it, even picky kids!

Ingredients needed (with substitutions)

  • Low sodium soy sauce – I always use low sodium soy sauce, but you can use regular as well. For gluten free, use tamari instead.
  • Your favorite marinara sauce – I love Trader Joe’s jarred tomato basil marinara, and they have several other ones I like as well. Use what you love, because this will make up most of the flavor in the sauce! You can also make this pretty easy from scratch.
  • Olive oil – Omit for oil free, it just helps the tofu brown nicely and not burn in the oven.
  • Smoked paprika – This has a wonderful smoky flavor. If you can’t find it, use regular paprika and a touch of liquid smoke if you can.
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Firm or extra-firm tofu – No need to press the tofu here, just remove from water and pat dry. You could try using tempeh for a tofu free option, or go make my lentil bolognese sauce instead.
  • Spaghetti noodles – I used brown rice quinoa spaghetti, but you can use any kind you like, white, whole wheat or a gluten free variety.

fork full of pasta with sauce on it

How to make vegan bolognese

  1. In a large bowl, add the soy sauce, 2 tablespoons of the marinara, olive oil, smoked paprika, garlic powder and onion powder.
  2. Stir well with a large spoon or whisk.
  3. Crumble the tofu into the bowl. You can use your hands but I usually use a potato masher to mash it, which also crumbles it.
  4. Stir the tofu crumbles into the sauce.
  5. Place in the oven and bake for 25-40 minutes until chewy, but be careful not to burn.
  6. They are done when they have turned golden brown, are chewy and there is not water on the pan. You can stir them a few times if the edges start to burn.

collage of how to make vegan bolognese with tofu step by step

While the tofu bakes, cook your pasta and heat your marinara sauce on the stovetop. When the tofu is done baking, add to the sauce and stir to create your meaty, easy vegan bolognese sauce! Serve immediately.

Serving suggestions

Serve bolognese over cooked pasta. Sprinkle some vegan parmesan on top and serve with some crusty bread for sopping up the delicious sauce!

On the side, try serving with a salad or cooked vegetable, like one of the following:

cast iron pan with marinara sauce and tofu crumbles

Tips for success

  • Extra-firm tofu will bake up faster in the oven and have the best texture, but regular firm tofu works fine as well.
  • Make sure to use a quality marinara sauce! This is key. If you don’t like the flavor of the sauce, you will not like the dish. Make your own from scratch if you are picky, but I love how easy this dinner is using store bought sauce. Trader Joe’s has inexpensive, quality spaghetti sauces.
  • Add more herbs/salt/pepper to taste. You could even sauté a few cloves of garlic in olive oil on the stovetop before adding the jarred marinara for extra flavor!

Leftovers + Freezing

Leftover bolognese sauce keeps very well in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave until warm.

Leftovers can also be frozen in freezer friendly containers, then thawed and warmed when ready to serve.

meaty sauce in pan with ladle

Want more vegan Italian-inspired recipes?

close up of vegan bolognese sauce in black bowl over pasta

square image of a bowl of pasta with meaty looking sauce on top

Favorite Vegan Bolognese - Super Simple!

The BEST Vegan Bolognese sauce and it's super simple to make with only 8 ingredients. Savory, meaty and hearty, everyone will love this Italian classic made vegan!
5 from 5 votes

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce, *use tamari for gluten free
  • 1 jar your favorite marinara sauce (about 3 cups), divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 block firm or extra-firm tofu (14-16 oz)
  • 8 ounces spaghetti noodles or other pasta, *gluten free if needed

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or spray well with oil.
  • In a large bowl, stir together the soy sauce, 2 tablespoons of the marinara sauce (adjust if doubling/halving the recipe), olive oil, smoked paprika, garlic powder and onion powder until well combined.
  • Now drain the tofu from the package, pat with paper towels and crumble into the bowl with the sauce. You can use your hands OR use a potato masher to mash it right in the bowl.
  • Stir to coat the tofu crumbles in the sauce, then transfer to the prepared baking sheet, spreading it out into a layer (see photos above for visual reference). Bake in the center rack of the oven for 25-40 minutes, until chewy and golden in spots, but be careful not to burn it. You can give it a stir halfway, if the edges start to burn.
  • While the tofu is baking, cook your pasta according to package instructions, then drain and set aside.
  • Add the rest of the marinara sauce to a medium sized pot and warm on low heat. Once the tofu is done baking, remove it from the oven and add to the pot with the marinara. Stir to make a meaty bolognese sauce!
  • Serve immediately over pasta, sprinkled with vegan parmesan, if desired, and some crusty bread. Enjoy!

Notes

  1. Gluten free: Easy! Use gluten free tamari instead of soy sauce and gluten free pasta. I used Trader Joe's brown rice quinoa spaghetti!
  2. Tofu free: Try substituting tempeh instead! But don't bake it as long, probably only 15-20 minutes instead of 25-40. Or make my lentil bolognese instead.
  3. Omit oil for oil free and use parchment paper. You will also need to find a marinara sauce that doesn't contain oil, as most do.
  4. Tofu bolognese sauce will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days and reheats well either in the microwave or stovetop. It may also be frozen.

Nutrition

Serving: 1of 4 servings, Calories: 363kcal, Carbohydrates: 56g, Protein: 20g, Fat: 9g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 816mg, Potassium: 756mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 8g, Vitamin A: 1042IU, Vitamin C: 13mg, Calcium: 170mg, Iron: 5mg

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