Lentil Bolognese Recipe (Vegan + Gluten Free) (2024)

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This easy lentil bolognese recipe is a quick weeknight meal that just so happens to be vegan and gluten free. It's filled with flavor and a great way to switch up pasta, plus it comes together in under 30 minutes!

Lentil Bolognese Recipe (Vegan + Gluten Free) (1)

Turns out, I'm a huge fan of lentil bolognese! Ok so I already knew I was, and I already knew it was incredibly easy to prepare, but I really like it. The texture of the lentils does a great job at mimicking meat--and include protein--so it really is a complete meal.

Why you'll love this lentil bolognese

  • It's vegan AND gluten free, so anyone can enjoy it
  • It comes together in under 30 minutes, making it a quick weeknight dinner
  • The flavor is incredible and it's a great way to sneak protein into a vegetarian dish

Lentil Bolognese Recipe (Vegan + Gluten Free) (2)

Ingredient notes

  • Lentils: The recipe calls for green or brown lentils because those are going to provide the best texture in this dish. You should be able to find them in the Indian food aisle, or near the rice and beans.
  • Mushrooms: White or baby bella work best.
  • Diced tomatoes: I always prefer fire roasted diced tomatoes because they have more flavor, but you can use whatever is in your pantry.
  • Pasta sauce: Use your favorite kind! I used an arrabbiata sauce for a little extra heat, but any sauce will work.
  • Pasta: Again, use what you have. If you want to keep this recipe gluten free, opt for a gluten free pasta.

Step-by-step instructions

Step 1: Cook the pasta.This part is easy--just cook pasta over the stovetop as you normally would.

Step 2: Sauté the vegetables.Don't worry, this is easy too! Start by sautéing the onion, garlic, mushrooms, and spices until they're soft. The mushrooms help to add a little more texture and nutrition to this dish, so don't omit them! If you hate mushrooms, use shredded carrots instead.

Lentil Bolognese Recipe (Vegan + Gluten Free) (3)

Step 3: Make the sauce. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, lentils, and water and stir so that everything is mixed together. For the diced tomatoes, don't drain out any of the liquid; instead, pour the entire can into the skillet. Bring the bolognese to a simmer and simmer for approximately 25 minutes, stirring occasionally until the lentils are cooked. If it seems too thick, add an additional ¼ cup of water.

Make sure to do a taste test before serving! I used arrabbiata sauce (spicy tomato sauce) and the ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, which I thought was the perfect amount of flavor. If you use a more traditional sauce and want to add more spice, add more red pepper flakes. Or, omit the spice altogether and add some chopped fresh basil.

FAQs and Expert Tips

Can I substitute red lentils?

I wouldn't, and here's why. Though red lentils may seem quite similar to green and brown, they're actually going to provide an entirely different texture because they fall apart when cooked, therefore creating a mushier texture. The green or brown lentils will actually have a little bit of a bite to them--they'll be cooked of course, but certainly not mushy.

How should I store this?

Be sure to store any leftover pasta in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Can you freeze bolognese?

Yep! If you want to make this ahead and store it in the freezer, wait until it comes to room temperature, then transfer it to a plastic freezer-safe bag and freeze it for up to 3 months.

  • To reheat: invert the plastic bag and dump the bolognese into a large pot or dutch oven. Add ¾ cup water, then bring mixture to a simmer. Place a lid on top, and simmer it for 25-30 minutes until it's completely thawed.

Lentil Bolognese Recipe (Vegan + Gluten Free) (4)

More pasta recipes you'll love:

  • Vodka Rigatoni
  • Fresh Tomato Spaghetti Squash Pasta
  • Garlic Zucchini Noodle Pasta

If you made and enjoyed this recipe, please leave a comment and star rating below!

Lentil Bolognese Recipe (Vegan + Gluten Free) (5)

Lentil Bolognese Recipe (vegan + gluten free)

This easy lentil bolognese recipe is a quick weeknight meal that just so happens to be vegan and gluten free. It's filled with flavor and a great way to switch up pasta, plus it comes together in under 30 minutes!

4.99 from 53 votes

Print Pin Rate

Prep Time: 5 minutes minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes minutes

Servings: 4

Author: Erin


  • .75 lb. favorite gluten free pasta
  • ½ cup yellow onion diced
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 cup white mushrooms diced
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • 14 oz. fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 24 oz. favorite pasta sauce*
  • 1 cup lentils (green or brown) rinsed
  • 2 cups water or more (see notes)

US Customary - Metric


  • Cook the pasta over the stove as you normally would.

  • In a large skillet, add the onion, garlic, mushrooms, oregano, red pepper, salt and pepper, along with 1 tablespoon olive oil, and sauté for 3-5 minutes until the onion and mushrooms are soft.

  • Next, add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, lentils and water and stir to combine. Place a lid on the skillet, bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer it for 18-25 minutes, or until lentils are cooked, stirring occasionally.

  • Serve lentil bolognese over pasta, sprinkle with additional red pepper flakes (+ parmesan cheese if not vegan) and enjoy!



*I love using a spicy tomato sauce--like an arrabbiata sauce--for this! It gives it even more flavor.

*If the lentils still aren't cooked after 25 minutes and/or have absorbed all of the liquid, add an additional ½ cup water, stir everything together and cook for 5 more minutes. The amount of water you need largely depends on the size of the skillet you're using. I recommend a large skillet, as the lentils will cook faster and more easily.

Lentil substitution: I've found that using red lentils instead of green or brown results in an entirely different texture. The red lentils fall apart when cooked, resulting in a mushier texture. If you can, try to use green or brown lentils.

You CAN freeze this recipe! Simply make it, then wait for it to come to room temperature before scooping it into a plastic bag and storing it in the freezer for up to 3 months. To reheat: invert plastic bag and pour contents into a large pot or dutch oven. Add ¾ cup water, then simmer mixture with a lid on for 25-30 minutes, or until it's thawed.


Calories: 444kcal | Carbohydrates: 91g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1105mg | Potassium: 896mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 1208IU | Vitamin C: 17mg | Calcium: 83mg | Iron: 6mg

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About Erin

Erin is the recipe developer, writer and photographer behind the healthy food blog, The Almond Eater. She's been blogging since 2014 and loves to create food for many different diets, including vegan, gluten free and/or Whole30 recipes.

Reader Interactions


  1. Evelyn says

    Lentil Bolognese Recipe (Vegan + Gluten Free) (6)
    I made this dish last night and it was delicious. Super easy. My husband would have never eaten a lentil, but he had two helpings of this dish. It makes a lot, so we have leftovers and I will definitely make it again.


    • Erin says

      That's wonderful -- so glad this was husband-approved!


  2. Tatiana says

    Lentil Bolognese Recipe (Vegan + Gluten Free) (7)
    I never leave reviews but this recipe is amazing. It has protein, fiber, it’s hearty and not super complicated and so delicious. When I’m low on energy I just do canned lentils and add some garlic and onion powder instead of chopping onion and garlic. So very easy to modify if you are short on time and energy. It’s been a repeat meal for a while ❤️❤️


    • Erin says

      I really appreciate the review, and I'm so happy you like the bolognese!


  3. Michelle Warburton says

    Lentil Bolognese Recipe (Vegan + Gluten Free) (8)
    This is one of our family's favorites -- and tonight we are taking some over to friends who just welcomed home a new baby! This recipe is easy to share and easy to love!


  4. Stephanie P says

    Lentil Bolognese Recipe (Vegan + Gluten Free) (9)
    Absolutely delicious!! I put it over toasted spaghetti squash and we all loved it. Yum.


    • Erin says

      YUM that sounds delicious -- glad this was a hit!


  5. Jen says

    Lentil Bolognese Recipe (Vegan + Gluten Free) (10)
    This is a fabulous recipe. I coordinate a food pantry and the USDA sent us boxes and boxes of dried lentils. Here in the South, people don't really know lentils. I'm hinking of doing a food tasting for our patrons to show them new ways of cooking and enjoying legumes of all kinds. This recipe is at the top of my list.


    • Erin says

      This is such a great idea, Jen -- I hope everyone enjoys the bolognese!


  6. Lincoln says

    I'm trying to use up some lentils, and I only have 1/2 cup. Should I adjust the amount of water I use in the recipe to account for this? Or is the water not for the lentils? Thanks!


    • Erin says

      Yes definitely! You won't need as much water if you're using less lentils.


  7. Sue says

    In response to question from Christine... Yes lentils are not a complete protein as they are missing an amino acid. I learnt this in home economics back in the 8th grade. Google it!

    I serve my sauce over brown rice pasta in this instance or look at your entire days protein intake.


  8. Danielle says

    Hi there, I’m just curious to know if your nutritional chart is per serve or per meal? thank you 😁


    • Erin says

      It's an estimation but it's per serving


  9. leslie says

    can I use canned lentils?


    • Erin says

      Yes! Make sure to drain and rinse them first, and know that the cook time will be much less.


  10. Liz says

    Made it. I loved the heat from the crushed red peppers and tomatoes. I felt like there were too many lentils. Next time I'd use between 1/3cup or 1/2cup. Also the cook time on the lentils was way longer than the recipe called for. I think having less lentils would help lower the cook time too.


  11. Christine Whiteside says

    Do the lentils need to be paired with another food to make a complete protein? I read that they need to be paired with rice.


    • Erin says

      I've never heard that before, but you can absolutely serve this over rice if you'd like.


  12. Mars says

    I cooked the lentils for 35 min and they were still too hard? What am I doing wrong?


    • Erin says

      Though I've never needed to do this, you can certainly soak the lentils in a bowl of water ahead of time next time, which will help them cook more quickly.


  13. Stacy says

    I detest mushrooms. If I leave them out, how does this recipe fair? Or. Should I replace them with something else, if so, what would you suggest? Thanks


    • Erin says

      Great question! You could try substituting carrots instead. The flavor will be slightly different but still delicious! Either dice them up really small or shred the carrots.


  14. Jas says

    You can freeze the pasta as well as the sauce? How is the texture once it’s thawed?


    • Erin says

      I wouldn't freeze the pasta, just the bolognese sauce. The sauce texture should be just fine after you thaw it!


  15. Crystal says

    This is probably a silly question but, do I use uncooked lentils? I bought canned lentils for this recipe but based on the instructions it seems like it’s suppose to be uncooked.


    • Erin says

      Yes, they're supposed to be uncooked. However, you can totally use canned lentils -- you just won't have to simmer them for nearly as long since they're already cooked 🙂


  16. Lee S Morrell says

    Lentil Bolognese Recipe (Vegan + Gluten Free) (11)
    Flavors are great but you should advise starting the pasta later in the process.


  17. Paige says

    Lentil Bolognese Recipe (Vegan + Gluten Free) (12)
    Excellent dish for first time cooking with & eating lentils! Will definitely make again.


    • Erin says

      Thanks for the comment, Paige -- so happy you enjoyed the recipe!


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Lentil Bolognese Recipe (Vegan + Gluten Free) (2024)
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