Vegan Meat Sauce

Vegan Cauliflower Walnut Bolognese by Pasta-based. Detailed view of a forkful of cauliflower walnut bolognese sauce/vegan meat sauce with farfalle pasta.

This recipe for chunky, savory vegan meat sauce is one of those weeknight recipes we threw together that came out amazing on the first try. Inspired by a recipe we once made for cauliflower walnut taco meat. This is the Italian version of that.

It’s meaty texture is enough to fool any vegan skeptic. It reminds me of the same meat sauce my mom made growing up, except there’s no meat involved.

Overhead photo of vegan meat sauce in a white bowl.

The recipe calls for only a few ingredients. Cauliflower, walnuts, and marinara sauce are the stars here. A few additional spices bring the depth of flavor you’re looking for in a bolognese.

We think this recipe would go well on many different pasta types but if you want to be particular, farfalle are the perfect kind.

Cauliflower and walnut finely pulsed in a food processor and spread on a baking sheet ready to go into the oven.

Farfalle means “butterflies” in Italian, although a common name people call them are “bowties.” Choosing the right pasta to complement your sauce can sometimes make (or break) a dish.

Farfalle are a good shape to catch the “meaty” bits. Another good contender would be rigatoni. Also, this recipe would go extremely well in a vegetable lasagna.

A big scoop of cauliflower walnut bolognese poured on top of a bowl of pasta.

Already we’ve made this vegan meat sauce recipe a few times more. I know it will be on the list of rotating sauces for pasta night.

It’s packed with flavor and has that good chunkiness like a traditional bolognese. Topped with spicy red pepper flakes, fresh basil, and vegan parmesan cheese.

If you like this vegan meat sauce, try these other sauce recipes!

Vegan Lentil Bolognese: Similar to this recipe, only a TON more protein from one of the most amazing legumes out there – lentils!

Vegan Roasted Red Pepper Sauce: Roast up some red peppers in your oven or over an open flame for this tasty sauce recipe.

Nut-free basil pesto: We made this one for anyone that might have nut allergies, or anyone that just wants to try something new! Sunflowers are the star of this pesto sauce.

4.45 from 27 votes
Vegan Cauliflower Walnut Bolognese by Pasta-based. Detailed view of a forkful of cauliflower walnut bolognese sauce with farfalle pasta.
Vegan Meat Sauce (Cauliflower Walnut Bolognese)
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
30 mins

This vegan/vegetarian bolognese sauce is made with cauliflower, walnuts, and marinara sauce. It’s so easy to make, requires less than 10 ingredients and 30 minutes. Chunky, flavorful, “meaty,” healthy, and perfect for pasta night.

Course: Dinner, Pasta, Sauce
Cuisine: Italian, Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword: bolognese, cauliflower, italian, meat sauce, pasta, sauce, vegan
Servings: 4 servings
Calories per Serving: 218 kcal
Author: Matt + Steph from Pasta-based
  • 2 cups cauliflower florets (about 1/2 a medium cauliflower)
  • 3/4 cup raw walnuts
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 cups marinara sauce
  1. Preheat your oven to 400°F/200°C 

  2. In a food processor, add cauliflower florets*, raw walnuts, garlic powder, oregano, salt and pepper. Pulse until all ingredients are evenly ground (see picture).

  3. Pour the mixture onto a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through to prevent over-browning.

  4. Heat marinara sauce over medium-low heat in a pot. Add cauliflower walnut mixture and stir to combine. Serve warm on pasta.

Recipe Notes

*Make sure your cauliflower florets are chopped into small enough chunks so they’ll break up in the food processor.

Nutrition Facts
Vegan Meat Sauce (Cauliflower Walnut Bolognese)
Amount Per Serving (1 cup)
Calories 218 Calories from Fat 126
% Daily Value*
Fat 14g22%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Sodium 426mg19%
Potassium 1057mg30%
Carbohydrates 19g6%
Fiber 6g25%
Sugar 11g12%
Protein 7g14%
Vitamin A 1060IU21%
Vitamin C 41.5mg50%
Calcium 70mg7%
Iron 3.5mg19%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

February 12, 2018
March 20, 2018



  1. Reply


    February 19, 2018

    This looks really good! I’m going to have to give it a try. Thanks!

  2. Reply

    Sarah McMinn

    February 19, 2018

    5 stars
    I love the idea of cauliflower bolognese! I can’t wait to try this.

  3. Reply


    February 19, 2018

    5 stars
    Whoaaaa! You’re killing me with all of these amazing recipes. I tried your biscotti last week and fell in love. Adding this one to my list. I love me some good chunky pasta. 🙂

  4. Reply

    Amy Katz from Veggies Save The Day

    February 19, 2018

    I love the idea of using cauliflower and walnuts! Looks so delicious.

  5. Reply


    February 19, 2018

    5 stars
    This looks AMAZING!! I have yet to try a homemade vegan bolognese, definitely trying this!

  6. Reply

    Jasmin // VeeatCookBake

    February 20, 2018

    5 stars
    This looks like the perfect Bolognese sauce. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Reply


    February 22, 2018

    5 stars
    My sister made it today and it is amazing. Thank you for recepie. ?

    • Reply


      February 23, 2018

      Glad you liked it! <3

  8. Reply

    Adela C

    March 8, 2018

    Why so high in sodium? Salt?

    • Reply


      March 9, 2018

      Hi Adela, sorry about that. The marinara sauce sodium amount wasn’t right, I just updated it. Thank you for catching that.

  9. Reply


    April 18, 2018

    Made this tonight though replaced pasta with zucchini (zoodles). It is a scrumptious recipe, thanks for sharing!

    • Reply


      April 24, 2018

      So happy you liked it, Jacqui! I love zucchini noodles, too.

  10. Reply

    Simona Eastlake

    May 16, 2018

    5 stars
    I tried this recipe and it was amazing….I will definitely be using it again! 10/10!!

    • Reply


      May 16, 2018

      Thank you Simona! So happy you liked it.

  11. Reply


    June 10, 2018

    5 stars
    First off, this recipe is the greatest! A little background. My wife and I went vegan and gluten free a month ago for health reasons. After having spaghetti once a week for all my life I was at a loss till I found this. It is so good I have already made it twice! A little gluten free pasta and you are good to go. My 2 year old even likes it. I am definitely raving about this to everyone I know. Thanks for putting this out here. I can hardly wait to try the other recipes on your site.

    • Reply


      June 11, 2018

      Awesome! So glad you liked it 🙂

  12. Reply


    October 7, 2018

    5 stars
    All I can say is WOW! This recipe is fantastic. Easy to make and so delicious. I have been vegan for about two months and was missing a good old spaghetti and meat sauce dinner and here it is. Can’t wait to try some of your other recipes. Thanks so much for creating and sharing this.

    • Reply


      October 9, 2018

      Thanks, Susan! So glad you liked it ♡

  13. Reply


    November 15, 2018

    5 stars
    Hi — Just a note to say I made this recipe tonite and it was wonderful! This is a keeper for my file of go-to standards now. It’s absolutely delicious and mimics my mother’s old-style meat sauce. My only addition was some fresh basil — otherwise I made it exactly as written here. Thank you so much!

    • Reply


      December 14, 2018

      Thank you so much for the comment, it truly made my day! So glad you liked the sauce <3

  14. Reply

    Natia Adams

    September 23, 2019

    Do you cook the cauliflower first

    • Reply


      September 26, 2019


  15. Reply


    October 16, 2019

    5 stars
    I just made this and WOW. Where has this been all my life??! Growing up meat bolognese was my favorite dish. I tried recreating it with mock meats after I went vegan 5 years ago and it just was not the same and I didn’t like eating such a processed product. Your recipe brought me right back to my childhood favorite. Thank you!

    • Reply


      November 17, 2019

      So glad you liked it Allison!


Recipe Rating