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This vegan tofu bolognese sauce is a non-traditional take on the Italian meat-based sauce yet it is so flavorful, quick and simple! All you need is 10 ingredients and 30 minutes to make this tofu spaghetti sauce. Serve over your favorite pasta with vegan parmesan cheese, fresh parsley and vegan cheesy garlic bread!

Bolognese served over pasta in a gray shallow bowl.

Tofu and pasta are two of my favorite ingredients to use when I don’t have a lot of time, but want something hearty that will keep me full for a long time.

Although authentic bolognese generally requires a long, slow cook with sautéing and braising finely chopped beef and pork until a thick sauce is achieved, we’ve used a few short cuts in this tofu pasta recipe to make it both vegan and under 30 minutes of cooking.

Perfect for when you want the flavors of an Italian bolognese on busy weeknights, quick lunches, and make ahead meals!

And if you’re in need of some additional easy tofu recipes, I recommend trying my Tofu Scrambled Eggs, Tofu Ricotta Cheese, Tofu Bánh Mì, Tofu Nuggets, and Sticky Vegan Orange Chicken!

Why This Recipe Works

  • Crumbled tofu is the perfect vegan meat substitute when replicating a minced beef texture.
  • Using pre-made marinara sauce helps make this tofu bolognese come together quickly and easily – prevents the need to simmer a homemade marinara sauce for hours.
  • Oat milk is very creamy and my favorite vegan substitute for whole dairy milk. It gives this tofu pasta sauce the perfect smoothness!

Ingredients and Substitutions

Bolognese ingredients measured into individual glass bowls and labeled.
  • extra firm tofu – After baking, tofu is similar to the texture of the ground beef you’d find in a more traditional ragù or bolognese.
  • carrots – adds a nice sweetness to balance the salt and spice.
  • celery – enhances umami flavor.
  • tamari and smoked paprika – replicates the smokiness and salt in ground beef
  • marinara – using pre-made, jarred marinara sauce instead of making your own cuts the time needed to make this tofu bolognese drastically.
  • oat milk – provides the best creaminess without the need of dairy. You can substitute any unsweetened plant-based milk, but oat milk is my favorite.

Step by Step Instructions

Preparing the Tofu

Step by step photos showing how to prepare the tofu to bake.
  1. Mix together the avocado oil, nutritional yeast, tamari, and smoked paprika in a large mixing bowl. Omit the oil as desired if oil free. The tofu will still get crispy on it’s own without the oil.
  1. Crumble the tofu block into the large bowl with your hands. No need to press liquid out of it before hand! We want that extra moisture to prevent the tofu from drying out too much in the oven.
  1. Add the finely diced celery and carrot to the mixing bowl.
  2. Mix together until the tofu, celery and carrot is evenly coated in nutritional yeast, tamari and smoked paprika mixture.
  3. Spread mixture on parchment lined (or silicone) baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden and crispy. You do not want the tofu to be soggy or your tofu bolognese as a whole will be soggy.

Preparing the bolognese sauce

Marinara and oat milk mixed together in blue cast iron skillet.
  1. While tofu mixture is baking, cook the pasta according to package instructions and warm the marinara and oat milk in a large skillet.
  1. Mix the baked tofu mixture into the marinara sauce, then serve the tofu bolognese sauce over pasta. Enjoy immediately!


Can I cook the tofu on the stovetop instead of the oven?

I tested this recipe by sautéing the tofu first instead of baking, but the baking method is preferred as it crisps the tofu mixture much better. When doing it on the stove top, the tofu steams more than it crisps and makes the bolognese soggy.

Does tofu bolognese sauce freeze well?

Yes! Once cooled, freeze the bolognese sauce in a freezer safe bag or container for up to 6 months. Thaw completely in the refrigerator before using.

Will tofu bolognese last for meal prep?

Yes, you can store this in the refrigerator for up to 5 days!

Can I leave the carrots and celery out?

Yes! If you’d like to make this tofu bolognese recipe even simpler or are out of celery and carrots, you can omit them. The carrots and celery do add a subtle flavor to the bolognese, similar to preparing a mirepoix, but it is not necessary and the flavor is just as good without.

Can I make the tofu in the air fryer?

Yes! This tofu mixture can be crisped up in the air fryer, instead of the oven if desired. I’d recommend doing batches to prevent overcrowding the air fryer basket. I’d recommend air frying at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, or until crispy.

Finished bolognese dish sprinkled with fresh parsley over pasta.

What to Serve this Tofu Pasta With

Tofu bolognese is a hearty dish, but I’d recommend pairing it with garlic bread, a light salad, and/or lighter sides. Here are a few ideas to inspire you:

Expert Tips

  • Dice the celery and carrot finely so it bakes all the way through!
  • Serve with tagliatelle pasta for a more authentic dish or serve with angel hair pasta when short on time – it cooks the fastest.
  • For the best crispiness, bake on a silicone baking mat!
  • Top with a generous amount of vegan parmesan cheese!

More Vegan Pasta Recipes to Try


Home-Cooked Roots Logo

Vegan Tofu Bolognese Sauce

5 from 6 votes

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Cost: $9.20 per recipe / $2.30 per serving
This vegan tofu bolognese sauce is so flavorful yet so quick and simple! All you need is 10 ingredients and 30 minutes.


  • 1 (16 ounce) block extra firm tofu ($3.38)
  • 1/3 cup carrot finely diced ($0.32)
  • 1/3 cup celery finely diced ($0.22)
  • 2 tablespoons oil ($0.38)
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast ($0.46)
  • 1 tablespoon tamari or coconut aminos ($0.13)
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika ($0.06)
  • 16 ounces pasta ($1.18)
  • 1 (25 ounce) jar marinara sauce ($2.70)
  • 1/2 cup oat milk ($0.30)
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste ($0.02)


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Mix together the avocado oil, nutritional yeast, tamari, and smoked paprika in a large mixing bowl.
  • Crumble the tofu block into the large bowl. No need to press it before hand.
  • Add in the finely diced celery and carrot and mix until tofu, celery and carrot is evenly coated in mixture.
  • Spread the tofu mixture on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until slightly golden.
  • While the tofu bakes, prepare the pasta according to package instructions.
  • Warm the marinara sauce and milk together in a large skillet.
  • Once tofu has cooked, add it to the marinara sauce. Stir until combined and serve immediately over pasta.


  • Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  • Freeze the bolognese separately in the freezer for up to 6 months. Do not freeze it with the pasta.


  • Pair this recipe with my Vegan Cheesy Garlic Bread (Pull Apart Bread!).
  • Serve angel hair pasta when short on time – it cooks the fastest.
  • Bake the tofu mixture on a silicone baking mat for the best crispiness!
  • Be sure to finely dice the carrots and celery so it cooks through in the oven. If you want extra soft carrots and celery, I recommend sautéing them on the stovetop as opposed to baking for 5-7 minutes before adding the marinara the sauce. 


Calories: 318kcal | Carbohydrates: 51g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 8g | Sodium: 35mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 7g

Disclaimer: The Nutritional Information provided for this recipe is only an estimate. The accuracy of the facts listed is not and cannot be guaranteed.

Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian/American

Did You Love This Recipe?

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5 from 6 votes
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  1. Hi, just a question on the oil used. What can i sub avocado oil with please?

    1. Any neutral oil will work! Extra virgin olive oil, refined coconut oil, and vegetable oil are all good options.

  2. 5 stars
    This was amazingly delicious. 😋All three of my little pickey eaters enjoyed it. Wow!! I’m amazed as to how delicious it is without meat. This recipe is a keeper. Thank you.

    1. I am so glad! It’s always the best stamp of approval when the picky eaters enjoy it. 🙂

  3. 5 stars
    I was skeptical that this would be satisfying, but I was proven wrong! Followed the procedure and most of the recipe flavorings for the tofu, except that I used Worcestershire sauce instead of liquid smoke and added sweet paprika to sprinkle over the tofu prior to baking. Threw in some diced mushrooms to the bottled pasta sauce. Stir carefully the baked tofu/veggie mixture into the sauce, pour over pasta and you get a hearty, soul-satisfying dinner! Thank you for this!

    1. Thank you, Tess! I am so glad you were pleasantly surprised! 🙂

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