This 20 Minute Lentil Bolognese is incredibly simple to make! It is comforting and absolutely packed full of flavour. Made in one pot in under 20 minutes for roughly £1.30 per person, this gluten free and vegan veggie bolognese is guaranteed to be a hit in your household!
Recipe Difficulty – Easy!
Why this recipe works
Veg packed hearty sauce with pasta…. what’s not to love? It’s the perfect family friendly recipe using lentils which are great plant-based source of protein and help to create a meaty texture and flavour twist to an all time classic.
I love a hearty meal, especially during these colder months. However, sometimes being meat-free it can be difficult to find the flavours of the ‘real-deal’ which is why I was inspired to create this recipe, plus I didn’t want anyone to be slaving over the hob for hours on end! If quick, hearty and tasty meals are what you are after, then you have to also check out my Gluten Free & Vegan Lasagne or my Mushroom Stroganoff Pasta Bake! I have also posted a Lentil Shepherd’s Pie recipe showing how you can make a couple tweaks to this bolognese sauce to turn it into an amazing vegan Shepherd’s Pie.
Ingredients to make 20 Minute Lentil Bolognese
- Onion – I’ve used a white onion here, however you could use a red onion if you preferred.
- Garlic – adding garlic offers a gentle spice and adds flavour to the lentil bolognese.
- Mushrooms: I used chestnut mushrooms for their size, color, and flavour, but you could also use baby bellas, sliced portobellos, or button mushrooms.
- Carrot – Frying carrot and onion together partially creates a ‘soffitto’ which is essentially the base of the recipe. A soffritto sweetens and deepens the flavours of the dish.
- Dried basil – dried basil has a stronger, more concentrated flavour than fresh leaves.
- Dried oregano – this herb pairs well with the tomatoes and often balances the acidity from the tomatoes.
- Chopped tomatoes – these provide the base of the recipe and the perfect amount of liquid and acidity.
- Lentils – these are a great source of plant-based protein and add a ‘meaty’ texture. If you have any cans spare then try making my Awesome Aubergine Bake recipe.
- Vegetable stock cube/pot – this adds concentrated flavour and really enhances the lentil bolognese.
- Pasta – Keep this homemade bolognese gluten-free by using brown rice pasta or chickpea pasta! I found that rotini works best so that the sauce can seep into every curve of the noodle, ensuring a burst of bolognese flavour in each and every bite.
See recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
- Lentils – I have used tinned green lentils in this recipe, however you could always substitute this for a bean such as kidney beans instead. If you added some chilli powder into this recipe you could turn it into a chilli with kidney beans! Alternatively, if you aren’t vegetarian or vegan you can swap the lentils for beef mince.
- Herbs – If you don’t have access to one of the herbs listed in the ingredients or don’t like one of them, you can always exclude this from the recipe. Although the taste would be exactly the same, there are lots of juicy flavours from the other ingredients that will still make this Quick Lentil Bolognese taste delicious.
- Onion – I have used a red onion in this recipe, but a white onion would work just as well.
- Kid Friendly – this is a great family-friendly recipe that I am sure the children will enjoy! If you have children, you should check out my No-Meat Balls recipe. It is another great recipe to get the children involved in cooking!
- Deluxe – This vegan bolognese is the perfect recipe to make if you have dinner guests! It goes perfectly with pasta, I really love using brown rice spaghetti as it’s naturally gluten free but it also works really well with gluten free penne or even brown rice/quinoa. Served with some freshly chopped basil and a slice of gluten free garlic bread, I can guarantee this will be a hit! Why not top it off with a Gooey Nut Butter Choc Pot to really impress your guests!
- Spicy – this recipe is mild for all to enjoy. However you could add some chilli powder, cayenne pepper or freshly chopped chillis and turn this recipe into this Chili Sin Carne (meaning chilli without meat in Spanish) recipe! If spice if you vice, then definitely check out my 10 Minute Spicy Pasta recipe.
How to make 20 Minute Lentil Bolognese
Step 1: Firstly, finely dice the onion, crush the garlic, slice the mushrooms and chop the carrot.
Step 2: Place a large pot/pan on a medium heat adding the olive oil, garlic, onion, carrot, mushrooms, and herbs and fry together for a couple of minutes until they soften.
Step 3: Then add the tinned tomatoes, lentils and vegetable stock cube/pot, tomato puree and mix together. Place a lid on top and cook on a medium/high heat for 15 minutes until the bolognese starts to thicken making sure to stir it every 5 minutes.
Step 4: Meanwhile cook your pasta as per packet instructions.
When making recipes like this lentil bolognese, it’s always a good idea to make extra to either use for healthy meal prep lunches or freeze it down to have as a quick healthy dinner for an evening where you don’t have time. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. If you are freezing the recipe, allow to fully defrost before re-heating on a low heat until piping hot! You could also use leftover sauce to make my Awesome Aubergine Bake.
Yes, absolutely! This is a tasty recipe can be frozen ahead for a healthy meal at another time. Simply allow to cool, store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 months. Allow to fully defrost before gently re-heating on a low heat until piping hot!
If you aren’t vegan or vegetarian, feel free to add beef mince instead of the lentils to the Bolognese.
I have used tinned green lentils in this recipe, however you could always substitute this for a bean such as kidney beans instead. Alternatively, if you aren’t vegetarian or vegan you can swap the lentils for beef mince.
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20 Minute Lentil Bolognese
- Chopping Board
- large pot
- Medium sized saucepan
- Colander to drain pasta
- Olive oil
- 1 large onion finely diced
- 4 garlic cloves crushed
- 200 g mushrooms sliced
- 1 large carrot finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 2 400g tinned chopped tomatoes
- 2 400g tins of lentils
- 1 veg stock cube/pot
- 2 tablespoon tomato puree
- Firstly, finely dice the onion, crush the garlic, slice the mushrooms and chop the carrot
- Place a large pot on a medium heat adding the olive oil, garlic, onion, carrot, mushrooms and herbs and fry together for a couple of minutes until they soften
- Then add the tinned tomatoes, lentils and vegetable stock cube/pot, tomato puree and mix together. Place a lid of top and cook on a medium/high heat for 15 minutes until the bolognese starts to thicken making sure to stir it every 5 minutes
- Meanwhile cook your pasta as per packet instructions. Simply serve the bolognese sauce on top or mix into your pasta, however you prefer.
Please note that Nutrition information is a rough estimate