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vegetarian bolognese in bowl sprinkled with parmesan cheese f
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4.96 from 41 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 sauce made with plant-based ground beef in an Instant Pot. No kidding - same rich flavor, 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 tablespoon 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 pound (0.34kg) plant-based ground beef (like Impossible Burger or Beyond Beef)
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped (about 3 teaspoons)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup (118ml) red wine
  • 3 cups (710ml) tomato or marinara sauce (use 3 1/2 cups if you like it saucier)
  • 1/2 cup (118ml) water


  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder, or more
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black 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 'GROUND BEEF': Add oil, then veggies. Saute, stirring occasionally for 3-4 minutes. Add plant based ground beef, 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 (including mustard if using). Close lid and set valve to 'SEALING', then set to HIGH 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 release of the pressure by turning valve to VENT. When button drops, you can open the lid.
  • FINISH VEGGIE 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.


No Instant Pot? Use this stovetop method: Heat oil in medium-large pot on stove to medium high. Add veggies. Saute 3-4 minutes. Lower heat to medium. Add plant based ground beef. 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 bolognese sauce is rich and thick. If not thick enough, uncover and cook another 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Variations and substitutes for the veggie bolognese sauce:
  • If you don't have tomato sauce, you can use a 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes or diced tomatoes and an extra 2 tablespoons of tomato paste. San Marzano tomatoes are excellent.
  • If you like a mellower or creamier sauce, add some milk or cream at the end.
  • Use a homemade tomato sauce if you prefer.
  • The veggie Bolognese sauce is quite thick, especially the next day. Feel free to add additional tomato sauce, broth or water to make it saucier.
  • Vary the heat with more chili powder or red pepper flakes.
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. Note - the nutrition calculator included regular ground beef instead of plant based which has no cholesterol, but similar protein and fat content. 
Calories: 201kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 42mg | Sodium: 1350mg | Potassium: 921mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 2916IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 62mg | Iron: 4mg