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vegetarian bolognese in bowl sprinkled with parmesan cheese
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4.88 from 16 votes

Vegetarian Bolognese (Instant Pot or Stovetop)

I'm pretty sure you couldn't tell the difference between a traditional steaming bowl of pasta with meat sauce and our quicker Vegetarian Bolognese made with plant-based 'meat' in an Instant Pot. I'm not kidding - same taste, texture and deliciousness.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time38 mins
time to rise to pressure10 mins
Total Time53 mins
Course: Sauces
Cuisine: Italian, vegan, Vegetarian
Servings (change as needed): 5


  • 1 tbsp neutral olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced about 1 1/2 cups
  • 1 carrot, peeled, finely diced
  • 1 celery stalk, finely diced
  • 3/4 lb plant-based ground 'meat' (like Impossible Burger or Beyond Beef)
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped (about 3 tsp)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 3 cups tomato sauce (use 3 1/2 cups if you like it saucier)
  • 1/2 cup water


  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp chili powder, or more
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper or more
  • 2 bay leaves
  • optional: 1 tsp prepared mustard


  • PRESS SAUTE BUTTON ON INSTANT POT: to heat to "HOT". Chop veggies while heating. (See Note 1 for stove top version)
  • SAUTE VEGGIES AND 'MEAT': Add oil, then veggies. Saute, stirring occasionally for 3-4 minutes. Add plant based 'meat', break up with utensil and saute for 3-4 minutes until it turns brown. Stir in garlic and tomato paste. Add wine, and deglaze, stirring for 1 minute. Press CANCEL button on instant pot.
  • ADD LIQUID AND COOK: Stir in tomato sauce, water and all seasonings. Close lid and set valve to 'SEALING', then set PRESSURE OR MANUAL button on High for 20 minutes (use + or - buttons). The Instant Pot will take about 8-10 minutes to come to pressure depending on size of pot before it starts the 20 minute cooking process. When finished (it will beep), do quick pressure release by turning valve to VENT. When button drops, you can open the lid.
  • FINISH BOLOGNESE SAUCE: Change function to SAUTE and stir sauce for 2-3 minutes or until desired thickness. It will thicken more on standing or in the fridge. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve over pasta with Parmesan cheese if desired.


Stovetop Vegetarian Bolognese version: Heat oil in medium-large pot on stove to medium high. Add veggies. Saute 3-4 minutes. Lower heat to medium. Add plant based 'meat'. Saute another 3-4 minutes until brown, breaking up with a spoon. Stir in garlic and tomato paste. Add wine and deglaze for a minute until absorbed. Add tomato sauce, seasonings and water. Stir. Bring to boil, then lower heat and cover. Simmer for 50-60 minutes until sauce is rich and thick. If not thick enough, uncover and cook another 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings. 
Make Ahead: Cool sauce and store in fridge for 3-4 days or in freezer for 3 months. If too thick, add a bit of broth, water or more tomato sauce when reheating on stove or in microwave. 
Estimated Nutrition values do not include pasta. Only the sauce.
Calories: 258kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 0mg | Sodium: 1533mg | Potassium: 861mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 2908IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 50mg | Iron: 2mg