Flavorful, hearty, and filled with plant-based protein! This Vegan Tofu Bolognese Sauce is made from crumbled seasoned tofu, carrots, celery, onions, and crushed tomatoes. It's simmered for 1 hour to create a rich tomato sauce. It's the perfect family-friendly dinner, meal prep approved, and freezer friendly!
Whether you're vegan, vegetarian, or looking for a meat-free dinner, this tofu-based bolognese is sure to be a hit with the whole family!
This vegan pasta sauce is made up of simple ingredients and is bursting with flavor and makes such a satisfying meal (and tastes even better the next day!) It's hearty, meaty and an untraditional vegan take on a classic Italian dish that will satisfy even the meat eaters in the family!
Enjoy this bolognese recipe over pasta and garlic bread or side salad with a glass of red wine for a satisfying, comforting meal that’s perfect any night of the week! It's my absolute favorite comfort food that is a staple in my house.
What is a Bolognese Sauce?
Bolognese sauce is a classic Italian sauce for pasta that originates in Italy. It is traditionally made with ground meat such as beef or pork. It's slow-cooked with onions, carrots, celery, tomatoes, and milk. It is usually served over tagliatelle.
My version isn't traditional but it is delicious and I'm sure you will enjoy the simplicity of this tomato-based sauce.
- Tofu Ground Beef
- Yellow Onion, Carrot & Celery
- Garlic Cloves
- Tomato Paste
- Crushed Tomatoes
- Vegetable Broth
- Unsweetened Plant Milk
This tasty vegan pasta recipe is made up of simple ingredients that you might even have on hand already. This popular dish is simplistic but flavorful and will be a hit with the whole family!
- Tofu Ground Beef: For our protein, we are using extra-firm tofu to make crumbled tofu that has been seasoned then baked to resemble the texture of ground beef. It’s flavorful and delicious!
- Yellow Onion, Carrot & Celery: Flavor and texture!
- Garlic Cloves: Can't have pasta without fresh garlic.
- Tomato Paste: Adds a deep rich tomato flavor.
- Crushed Tomatoes: The base of our sauce. Some bolognese sauce contains jarred marinara but this one is made up of crushed tomatoes and is simmered for at least an hour to develop a rich flavor.
- Vegetable Broth: I used Better than Bouillon Vegetable Base mixed with water. It’s my favorite vegetable broth! You can use any brand you’d like. If you have white wine on hand, add a splash in replace of some of the vegetable broth.
- Unsweetened Plant Milk: You can use almond milk, soy milk or oat milk. Just make sure it's unsweet. If you want an extra creamy base, use Vegan Heavy Cream.
- Pasta: I used spaghetti noodles but you can use your favorite pasta!
How to Make This Recipe
Dice the onions, carrots, and celery then mince the garlic. Set aside.
Add the olive oil to a large pot on medium-high heat then cook the onions until soft, about 5-7 minutes. Then, add in the carrots and celery and cook for another 5 minutes.
Toss in the tomato paste and garlic and cook for 2 more minutes.
Stir in the tofu ground beef, crushed tomatoes, vegetable broth, plant milk, salt, black pepper, and Italian seasonings.
Bring the bolognese sauce to a simmer and cover. For best results, simmer on low heat for 1-3 hours. This sauce is best simmered for at least 1 hour for it to reduce and become super rich and flavorful.
Taste and adjust salt and pepper. If the tomatoes are still too acidic, add a small sprinkle of sugar to taste.
Serve over spaghetti noodles and top with fresh parsley. Enjoy!
How to Make Tofu Ground Beef
This Vegan Tofu Bolognese Sauce was created using my Tofu Ground Beef recipe. They add such a great flavor and meaty texture to the bolognese sauce!
The tofu ground beef is super easy to throw together. Simply press the block of tofu for 10 minutes, crumble it into small pieces, and toss in seasonings. Evenly spread the tofu crumbles on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes or until crispy.
This vegan bolognese sauce has to simmer for a while so make the tofu crumbles and toss them in the simmering sauce whenever they are done! No need to waste time by prepping them ahead or waiting until they are done to start the sauce.
Tips & Tricks
This tofu bolognese sauce is a very simple but delicious tomato-based sauce.
Depending on your preference, add as many or as few seasonings as you like. I opted for fresh ingredients like onion, carrots, celery, and garlic to bring in a lot of flavors as well as vegetable broth and salt and pepper. I only add ¼ teaspoon- you'll want to adjust that at the end to your preferences. As well as a pinch of sugar to cut the acidity of the tomato.
You can also add fresh herbs or Italian seasonings. I chose to add one teaspoon of dried herbs and fresh parsley as garnish- adding herbs is not traditional but I love the flavor that it gives the sauce.
I highly recommend giving this dish enough time to simmer. When simmered for over an hour the sauce becomes rich in flavor and more developed. It is worth it in my opinion!
Bread: Pasta is nothing without a side of bread. I served mine with a baguette that was buttered with vegan butter and sprinkled with salt and garlic powder. Kept it simple but sometimes simple is best! I also recommend serving this with Vegan Garlic Knots or Vegan Garlic Parm and Herb Star Bread.
Vegetable: I love serving this delicious vegan pasta side with a side of steamed or roasted broccoli or roasted asparagus.
Salad: Salad is a classic side of pasta! My favorite is a simple green salad with red onion, carrots, cucumber, and Vegan Italian Dressing.
- Make it creamy: Add canned coconut milk instead of plant milk or Vegan Heavy Cream.
- Make it spicy: Add red pepper flakes!
- Make it gluten-free: This dish is naturally gluten-free. Serve over your favorite gluten-free pasta- I love lentil pasta.
- Add herbs: I added 1 teaspoon of Italian Seasoning but feel free to add more or add fresh herbs!
- Topping Ideas: Sprinkle of vegan parmesan cheese, nutritional yeast and fresh basil or parsley.
Storage & Reheating
Storage: Store leftover bolognese sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. I recommend keeping the noodles and the sauce separate.
Reheating: Simply heat the sauce on the stove top until warmed through and serve over pasta.
Freezing: Cool leftovers completely in the fridge then place in the freezer for up to 6 months. Thaw in the fridge before reheating.
Frequently Asked Questions
Store-bought beefless crumbles will work in replace of the tofu. If you want a vegetable option, try finely diced mushrooms and add them to the sauce when you add in the carrots and onions.
You might be able to get away with serving this sauce at 30 minutes but it might be on the liquidy side so you can add a cornstarch slurry to thicken it or turn the heat up to help reduce the sauce faster but honestly, I don't recommend it. I developed this recipe to be a slow simmering sauce because I think it tastes best that way.
More Pasta Recipes You’ll Love
Vegan Tofu Bolognese Sauce
- 1 Batch Tofu Ground Beef
- 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
- 1 Yellow Onion finely diced
- 1 Large Carrot finely diced
- 1 Rib of Celery finely diced
- 3-5 Garlic Cloves finely minced
- 6oz can Tomato Paste
- 28oz can Crushed Tomatoes
- 2 cups Vegetable Broth
- 1 cup Unsweetened Plant Milk
- 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning Blend optional
- ¼ teaspoon Salt more to taste
- ¼ teaspoon Black Pepper more to taste
- Pinch of Sugar optional
- 1 pound Spaghetti or favorite pasta
- Make Tofu Ground Beef. The tofu ground beef recipe takes 45 minutes. Start that first and then come back here when the tofu is in the oven and continue the bolognese sauce. Once the tofu is done, toss in to the sauce and continue simmering.
- Dice the onions, carrots and celery then mince the garlic. Set aside.
- Add the olive oil to a large pot on medium-high heat then cook the onions until soft, about 5-7 minutes. Then, add in the carrots and celery and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Toss in the tomato paste and garlic and cook for 2 more minutes.
- Stir in the crushed tomatoes, vegetable broth, plant milk, salt, black pepper and Italian seasonings (if using). If the tofu crumbles are done, toss them in as well. If not, start simmering the sauce and add later.
- Bring the bolognese sauce to a simmer and cover. Simmer for 1-3 hours on low heat.
- Taste and adjust the salt and pepper. If the tomatoes are too acidic for your liking, add a small sprinkle of sugar to taste.
- Serve over spaghetti noodles and garnish with parsley. Enjoy!