Vegan Mushroom Bolognese Recipe - Pamela Salzman Skip to content

Vegan Mushroom Bolognese Recipe

Vegan Bolognese with Spaghetti Squash | Pamela Salzman
Photography by Erica Hampton

If you are not vegan, do not panic and think that I have abandoned all animal products.  I have always limited animal consumption and still do.  But since hubs became vegan, I have played around with new vegan recipes and taught some in cooking classes.  And you know what?  People love them!  Their families love them!  Like this vegan mushroom “Bolognese” sauce — huge hit this fall in my classes and with the hubs.  After posting it on Instagram, too many people asked for the recipe and I definitely wanted to oblige because this is a good one!

Vegan Bolognese | Pamela Salzman

I have never been one to hide food or trick anyone.  When I first made this recipe, my husband hadn’t turned vegan yet.  But I wasn’t trying to pull this sauce off as meat sauce, no matter how much it looks like meat.  Some of my students never said anything to their families and they all assumed it was meat sauce.  Mushrooms have a way of tasting very meaty and the texture is very hearty, too.  This has become key with my husband and vegan recipes.  He’s really not into big salads for dinner, unless it’s summertime.  And he likes food that is hearty.  And Italian.

Vegan Bolognese | Pamela Salzman

I originally tried the vegan Bolognese recipe from the America’s Test Kitchen “Vegan for Everybody” Cookbook and began to make a few tweaks here and there and landed on this recipe which I taught 16 times last fall.  16 times and I loved it every time.  I’ve also made it several times for my family and friends.  My husband loves pasta so he’ll eat this over pasta and that’s his meal.  I’ll usually make myself a little spaghetti squash  because pasta and I don’t get along well at night.  Basically, I’m most active in the morning and do better with a a small amount of complex carbohydrates at night, unless I’m taking a long walk after dinner.

Vegan Bolognese | Pamela Salzman

There are some ingredients here that you might not necessarily have on hand, like dried porcini mushrooms or raw cashew butter.  The porcini really does add an amazing depth of flavor.  I found them in the produce section of the supermarket in a small plastic bag.  If you can only find mixed dried mushrooms, you can use those too.  But porcini are better.  The raw cashew butter mixed with water is used in place of heavy cream which is usually added to Bolognese.  The ATK recipe calls for 3 Tablespoons of soy creamer which is definitely not something I would ever use (very processed.)  Raw cashew butter is my go-to for a creamy finish in dressings and sauces.  It’s definitely worth buying.

Vegan Bolognese with Spaghetti Squash | Pamela Salzman

Do not look past this recipe if you eat meat.  It is not meant for vegans and vegetarians only.  I’m not going to give my speech right now about why we could all benefit from eating a little less animal protein, especially the factory-farmed kind, but no one can argue the healthfulness of a vegetable sauce.  I take that back.  I am sure someone will try.  But there is no diet or eating plan out there that doesn’t encourage eating more vegetables.  Vegetables are the universal, across the board, best food group. And I can’t think of a better way to enjoy vegetables on a cold winter day than in a delicious sauce like this one.

I love seeing your creations on social media!  Please tag me if you make this recipe @pamelasalzman #pamelasalzman.  I can’t wait to see this one!

5.0 from 2 reviews
Vegan Mushroom Bolognese
Serves: 4 to 6
  • ½ ounce dried porcini mushrooms*, about ½ cup
  • 1 ½ tablespoons raw cashew butter (omit if you are allergic or add a some non-dairy milk like unsweetened hemp milk; ATK calls for soy milk)
  • 1 ½ tablespoons warm water
  • 2 pounds cremini mushrooms, trimmed and wiped clean with a damp paper towel (or buy them already cleaned and sliced)
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 28 ounces diced tomatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon shoyu or tamari (GF) or coconut aminos (gluten-free and grain-free)
  • 1 pound of cooked pasta of choice or 1 large spaghetti squash cooked and strands removed
  • Grated Parmesan or Pecorino-Romano cheese (not vegan, optional)
  1. Place the dried porcinis in a bowl and cover them with 1 cup boiling water. Set aside for 15 minutes. Scoop the mushrooms from the water with a slotted spoon, reserving the liquid. Pour the mushroom liquid through a coffee filter or paper towel, discarding the gritty solids. Measure ½ cup of mushroom liquid and set aside, you can discard the rest.
  2. Place the porcini and cremini mushrooms in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until everything is diced. Do this in batches if necessary.
  3. Whisk together raw cashew butter and water in small bowl and set aside.
  4. Heat ¼ cup olive oil in an extra-large sauté pan with a lid over medium heat. Add the carrots and onions and mushrooms and cook, covered, for 5 minutes. Uncover, and increase the heat to medium high and sauté until the vegetables caramelize, 10-15 minutes.
  5. Add the sliced garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté until fragrant, about 30 to 60 seconds. Add the tomato paste and ¾ teaspoon salt plus pepper to taste. Cook for 1 minute. Pour in the wine and simmer until almost all of it is evaporated, about 2 minutes.
  6. Stir in tomatoes, reserved mushroom soaking liquid, shoyu and bring to a boil. Add cashew butter-water mixture and simmer sauce until thickened, about 7 minutes. Taste for salt and add more if necessary.
  7. Toss pasta or spaghetti squash with Bolognese sauce and serve with grated cheese, if desired.
*Or sub any dried mushrooms if the porcini are unavailable or too expensive.
This sauce freezes well.


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  1. do you use the flat steel blade with holes on it or the spinning steel blade to chop the mushrooms?

    • when you say “the flat steel blade with the holes,” are you referring to the shredding disc? If so, no. I use the metal S blade for chopping and pureeing. Check out my Youtube video on using your food processor:

  2. What am I missing here…the first line says: “½ ounce dried porcini mushrooms*, about ½ cup”

    1/2 cup of the dried mushrooms? what’s the 1/2 ounce?? Sorry if it’s obvious and I’m missing it.

    Thanks in advance….

    • Sorry it’s confusing. The measurement for the porcini mushrooms is 1/2 ounce or 1/2 cup, depending how you measure them. It will give you the same amount of dried mushrooms. In some markets I notice that they are sold in 1/2 ounce bags, but in other markets, they are sold in random weights, so I put the half cup measurement there in case people don’t have a scale.

      • Thanks!

  3. Pamela…you are a genius! This recipe was so delicious and will be a staple in my home. Thank you for this incredible recipe.

    • Not sure about the genius part, but I’ll agree with “delicious!” Glad you enjoyed it!

  4. Hello,
    What can be substituted for Tamarai or soy sauce in this or other recipes?
    What are coconut amigos? And where would you purchase this item?
    Thank you

    • Coconut aminos is what you can use. It’s a coconut based condiment without any soy or gluten. It has a soy sauce-like flavor and viscosity. Coconut Secret is the brand I can find at Whole Foods.

  5. Can I use the Trader Joe’s frozen porcini chunks instead of dried ?

    • Sure! Just use a little more since they’re already rehydrated.

  6. I was lucky enough to attend this cooking class and this Bolognese sauce is decadent. It’s one of the best things I ever made and tasted. I made it for my whole family as well and they loved it too. I also had pasta and spaghetti squash as options to put the sauce on. It’s fantastic and worth every effort.

    • Awwww, thanks Monica! It was so nice to have you in the kitchen that day! 🙂

  7. Hi Pamela, I am a huge fan and have been introduced by a friend who takes some of your classes. I have 2 kids with severe peanut and treenut allergies and I was wondering if you have tried the vegan mushroom bolognese sauce with sunbutter or sunflower butter as a sub for the cashew butter? Not sure if it will taste too nutty or if there is something else I can use like flax milk to add the creamiest? Thanks so much!
    I’m obsessed with your chocolate oatmeal recipe. It’s my go-to when I’m not making smoothies in the am 🙂
    Happy cooking,

    • Hi Amanda! I would not sub sunbatter here since it would add a nutty flavor and that’s not what we’re going for with the cashew butter. You can omit the water + cashew butter altogether or you can add 3 Tbs. of a creamy nut-free milk for the water + cashew butter. Coconut milk would probably be fine, hemp milk and oat milk would also be fine. I haven’t seen the texture or flavor of flax milk. Heavy cream would also work. The idea is to take out the water and the nut butter though, not just the nut butter. 🙂

      • Thank you so much! I don’t tolerate dairy so I will definitely try my creamy unflavored coconut milk. I appreciate you taking the time to respond and can’t wait to give this recipe a try 🙂 I’m a big nut-free baker and have some great recipes I’m always playing with to get them to taste right but it’s not always the easiest! Have a great day 🙂

        • Sounds good! 3 Tbs. of coconut milk in place of the water and cashew butter should work out just fine! 🙂

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I come from a large Italian-American family with 28 first cousins (on one side of the family!) where sit-down holiday dinners for 85 people are the norm (how, you might ask – organization! But more on that later …).

Some of my fondest memories are of simple family gatherings, both large and small, with long tables of bowls and platters piled high, the laughter of my cousins echoing and the comfort of tradition warming my soul.

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