Vegan Bolognese is savory, hearty, and made “meaty” with plenty of tofu crumbles! Tossing your spaghetti in this robust homemade marinara sauce is one of the best comfort meals you can treat yourself to. It’s an easy weeknight dinner the whole family loves!

If you love hearty pasta dishes as much as I do, make sure to check out my Vegan Baked Ziti and Vegan Lasagna!

vegan bolognese sauce in black bowl over pasta

Winter is just around the corner, and I’m preparing for the chilly evenings by remembering all of my favorite comfort food recipes! Stay full and warmed up this fall and winter with dinner recipes like Vegan Broccoli Cheddar Soup, Vegan Chicken and Dumplings, and Lentil Chili!

Why I love this vegan bolognese

  • It’s super filling. Spaghetti noodles always fill you up and they’re made even heartier here with the amount of crumbled tofu in this sauce. It’s a protein packed sauce that always hits the spot!
  • So much flavor! Oh yes, there’s so much mouthwatering flavor in this simple bolognese sauce! It’s created by seasonings like smoked paprika garlic powder that pair perfectly with the marinara sauce. 
  • One of the best comfort meals. After a long day, nothing’s more satisfying to curl up with than a pasta dinner. Make that pasta dinner the best it can be with a warm, “meaty” sauce like this vegan bolognese! 
fork full of pasta with sauce on it

Ingredients needed (with substitutions)

  • Soy Sauce – I tend to usually use low sodium soy sauce, but you can use regular instead. For a gluten free option, use tamari..
  • 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. You can also swap it for avocado oil if preferred. 
  • Seasonings – You’ll need a medley of smoked paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder for this sauce. You can replace the smoked paprika for plain if you don’t want the light note of smokey flavor. 
  • Firm or Extra Firm Tofu – There’s no need to press the tofu. Simply remove it from the water and pat it dry. You could try using tempeh for a tofu free option, or just make my lentil bolognese sauce instead. I’ve also used both Beyond and Impossible “beef” to make a killer Vegan Spaghetti with Meat Sauce. So good!
  • Spaghetti Noodles – I used brown rice quinoa spaghetti, but you can use any kind you like, white, whole wheat or a gluten free variety.
meaty sauce in pan with ladle

How to make vegan bolognese

Find the complete printable recipe with measurements below in the recipe card.

  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 it.
  6. They are done when they have turned golden brown, are chewy and there is no 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 with vegan parmesan and enjoy!

Consider serving alongside Vegan Caesar Salad and Dutch Oven Bread.

cast iron pan with marinara sauce and tofu crumbles

Frequently asked questions

  • How long will vegan bolognese sauce stay fresh? If you happen to have any leftover bolognese sauce, it keeps very well in the refrigerator for 3-4 days in an airtight container. Reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave until warm.
  • Can I freeze it? Yes! Simply store it in a freezer safe food storage container and pop it in the freezer, where it’ll stay fresh for up to 3 months. 
  • Can I make this sauce spicy? You sure can. If you want your vegan bolognese to have a little spice, sprinkle in some crushed red pepper flakes along with the other seasonings.
close up of vegan bolognese sauce in black bowl over pasta

More vegan pasta recipes you’ll love

square image of a bowl of pasta with meaty looking sauce on top
5 stars (12 ratings)

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!
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 40 mins
Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients 
 

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
Course: Main
Cuisine: Italian
Author: Nora Taylor
Did you make this recipe?Mention @nora_cooks_vegan_ or tag #noracooks!

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Comments

  1. I absolutely love this recipe and once I found, it is my go to!   I had to adjust initially since I did not have all the ingredients.  I used chili powder in place of the paprika and no soy sauce.   Last night I used all ingredients, tamari in place of the soy sauce, and it was perfect!  I appreciate the recipe!

  2. I cooked the tofu in a Nuwave counter top oven and it came out great.  No need to heat up an oven as the heat is instant.  25 minutes one side then 15 the other.  I’m loving the result and I’ll be making this for years to come.  Can’t thank you enough for what you’ve done to change my dinner menus.  

    1. What a great oven! I’m so glad that you are loving my recipes, and that they are helping you! Thank you for sharing your wonderful feedback!

  3. So amazing, I was surprised at how delicious it was! I love tofu but have never tried it with Italian food. My boyfriend loved it too and we will definitely be making again!

    1. Hi Amy. Isn’t it great!? Thank you for sharing your fantastic review and feedback! I’m glad you guys loved the bolognese!

  4. Hey Nora!

    I’ve been using your site for years and have never commented but I just have to thank you.
    I absolutely love this recipe, I make it for meal prep all the time and I never get tired of it. I took it a step further and used this recipe as the “meat” and sauce in a lasagna, and OMG, so good. My boyfriend really likes it too, says you can’t tell that it’s tofu. I make it all the time now and sell it on occasion. Definitely going to cook it for a family dinner and see what they think.

    Keep up the awesome work! Thank you so much for all you do! <3

    1. Hi Julia! Thank you so much for you using my recipes! I’m so glad you are enjoying them. I’m glad you and your boyfriend enjoyed the recipe! Thank you very much for taking your time to share your wonderful review and beautiful comments! Happy cooking!

  5. It was really good! This was my first time doing any sort of tofu crumble and it was simple to figure out for someone (me) who has a lower cooking skill level. I will 100% make this again!

  6. I discovered several months ago and have already made it multiple times!  It is soooo delicious AND easy. Thank you for the wonderful recipe!!!

  7. Can I substitute the onion and garlic powder for actual onion and garlic? Can I also saute the tofu instead of baking it?

    1. Sure, you could! You could sauté the tofu in a pan but it won’t get the same dried out, chewy texture. It will be more like a tofu scramble in sauce. Maybe if you cooked it long enough on the stove, but I’m not sure.

  8. This is a genius idea lol. Great for vegans/vegetarians. I only have super firm tofu, would that work? Or do I need to use firm or extra firm tofu?

    1. It’s so good Anna, I hope you love it! Super firm tofu will be fine, you just might want to bake it less since your tofu is likely drier to start with, so watch it closely in the oven. Thanks!

  9. Tried this tonight and it was excellent! I love how the tofu didn’t taste like tofu! It just soaked up all of those yummy sauce flavors! Even my picky two year old ate it! My husband asked whose recipe this was and I said yours and he replied, “She is officially my favorite vegan chef!” Thank you so much, Nora! 

    1. Hi Samantha. I’m glad you guys love the recipe! Your wonderful comments have brought a smile to my face! Thank you for using my recipes, and for taking the time to share!

  10. This was really good. Both my non-vegan family and I loved it! I loved the ‘beef-y’ taste the tofu took on (haven’t had anything like that in over 3 years).

  11. Because I don’t care for TOEFL in any form, I wonder if you would recommend something else, such as veggie crumbles or lentils in place of the tofu.

    1. SO TASTY!! I’m not sure what authentic Italian bolognese is supposed to taste like but this bolognese taste very delish for how simple and easy it is! I doubled recipe and it turned out great! I loved the texture of the baked tofu in the sauce. I used the super firm tofu and rigatoni pasta. Thanks, Nora!

      1. I’m so glad you love the bolognese! Thanks for using my recipe, and for sharing your review and feedback!

  12. Hi!  I made the butternut squash lasagna. I found it to be okay, but not great because of the sweetness of the squash sauce.  Nothing wrong with the recipe . Just my personal take on the sauce. I imagine that you experimented with several ingredients for the sauce, but decided that you like it sweet. I also made the ricotta. I found it easy to make and surprisingly good – I added oregano and basil to it. Good flavor. I enjoy your recipes and usually find them delicious. Thank you for all of your good work developing the recipes.

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