Classic vegan bolognese will soon become a Sunday dinner favorite. Learn how to easily make flavorful tofu bolognese in under a hour but still have that long-simmered flavor.
Are you ready for this? Learn how to make a vegan bolognese that will knock your socks off. Tofu is mixed up with all the umami-containing ingredients for a ground beef substitute you won’t believe. This makes a nice big pot so you can invite the whole family over.
This is a bit of a cheater sauce as we start with a jar of your favorite tomato sauce. I like doing that because you can get a new flavor each time you make this. As long as you have a nice big pot you can easily double this tofu bolognese to have plenty of leftovers (or serve the whole neighborhood).
“We finally made this and, wow, what a surprise! I couldn’t believe there wasn’t ground meat in it. I am not a vegetarian, but this is a recipe I will definitely be making again and again. As mentioned above, froze some for my daughter, who is vegetarian, and she LOVED it. Thank you!!” —CB
Ingredients for Vegan Bolognese
There’s nothing complicated about making tofu bolognese. We’re adding the perfect seasoning to make this tofu fit right into a classic meat sauce recipe.
- Firm Tofu: Tofu is a blank canvas and we are adding allllll the umami to replicate that meaty flavor! (Difference between firm and soft tofu? Answers here.)
- Tomato Sauce: Grab a jar of your favorite sauce at the store so you can doctor it up. Feeling adventurous? Make your own tomato sauce (it’s easy!)
- Soy Sauce: It’s not just for Asian-inspired meals! This is our salt in the recipe so don’t be afraid of using it in an Italian dish.
- Spices: Enhance this dish with a quick hit of spices – smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and chili powder!
- Pasta: Bolognese is typically served over a long cut like spaghetti, but feel free to use it however you’d like.
Nutritional Yeast is giving us a delicious flavor here in our sauce. People often think of it as cheesy tasting, so we are using it to flavor our tofu where Parmesan would normally go.
How to make Tofu Bolognese
There are six steps here but it’s all super simple and create a pasta sauce that is so delicious!
Step 1: Prep
Drain your tofu block well and pat dry. While the oven preheats, crumble the tofu into small pieces like you’d picture ground beef.
Step 2: Flavor
Season up the tofu! Give it a good stir to make sure everything is well coated. There’s no need to marinate/let sit. There’s just enough for it to soak it up.
Step 3: Bake
Spread the seasoned tofu out on a parchment-lined baking sheet, giving it plenty of room to help it brown. Bake until browned to your liking; it should start to crisp up as well.
Step 4: Bolognese
Heat your favorite tomato sauce in a large enough pot or microwave dish to stir in the browned tofu. Our tofu has tons of flavor so pick your favorite sauce to go with it.
Step 5: Pasta
While this is all going on, boil water and cook your desired pasta shape to al dente.
Step 6: Assemble
Next up, get ready to dig in! Either stir the pasta into the pot of sauce or mound it on top of each individual serving. I love a lot of extra sauce on my plate.
Firm It Up: Use firm tofu for this vegan bolognese sauce as it will crumble the best. Extra-firm is going to break into large chunks and anything softer will turn to mush.
Feeling Saucy: Select your favorite tomato/pasta sauce for the best flavor.
Leftovers: If you actually have any sauce left after licking your plate, I recommend storing it separately from your pasta so it doesn’t soak in and disappear.
Swap The Protein: While we love using tofu here, you could also try something different, like grated tempeh or this vegan ground beef (made with TVP!)
It’s Pasta Time!
This vegetarian bolognese will be the star of the evening, and it can feed a crowd. Make an entire Italian meal your nonna would be proud of with these dishes.
- Vegan Garlic Bread, because who doesn’t pair garlic bread with spaghetti??
- Vegetarian Caesar Salad, every pasta meal should start with a nice green salad.
- Vegan Panna Cotta, to round out our full Italian feast!
- 1 lb block firm tofu 453 g
- 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce 30 mL
- 1 Tbsp olive oil 15 mL
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp each garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder
- 24 oz jar tomato sauce 680 g
- ½ lb uncooked pasta* 226 g
- Prep: Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C). Drain tofu, then crumble it into small pieces.
- Flavor: Stir together crumbled tofu, nutritional yeast, soy sauce, oil, and spices.
- Bake: Spread tofu in a single layer onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, or until tofu is browned and a bit crispy at the edges.
- Bolognese: Heat tomato sauce (on the stove or in the microwave), then stir in cooked tofu.
- Pasta: Cook pasta according to instructions on package.
- Assemble: Combine cooked pasta and tofu bolognese and serve hot, garnished with fresh basil leaves.