Instant Pot Vegan Bolognese

If you love homemade Italian cuisine, you must try this Instant Pot vegan bolognese recipe. This meat-free version is made with red lentils and mushrooms, pressure cooked in a gorgeous, rich tomato sauce. You’ll be surprised by how satiating and hearty this dish is, making it a worthy rival to its traditional meaty cousin.


If you love a good bolognese, which is traditionally made with ground beef and pork (in various ratios) but you’re vegan or vegetarian,  avoiding meat for health reasons or simply incorporating more plant-based dishes in your diet, then this recipe is a must-try.

After trying a few different versions of vegetarian-friendly ragu sauce and experimenting with ingredients and seasonings, we have finally perfected our Instant Pot vegan bolognese.


  • It’s a great way to incorporate more nutritious lentils and veggies in your diet.
  • It’s perfect for #meatfreemondays, or any time you want to eat a plant-based meal.
  • It’s high in protein and fibre, and when served over pasta, rice or other grains, you’ll be getting in the complete profile of amino acids. 
  • It’s ridiculously delicious and very satiating and many of our recipe testers prefer this version to the meat one.
  • It’s quick and easy to make in the Instant Pot! 
  • You can make a gluten-free version of this dish by using wheat-free Tamari sauce instead of soy sauce.
Instant Pot Vegan Bolognese


Let’s break down the ingredients you will need to make this dish. As with many sauces, the trio of onions, celery and carrots is the base of the recipe. Sauteed in olive oil, these veggies will caramelise slightly and lovely sweetness and flavours to the final dish.

Onions, celery and carrots for Bolognese

The star ingredients that will give the bulk to our sauce are red lentils (pre-soaked in water for 15-20 minutes) and finely diced mushrooms. You can use any type of lentils and any type of mushrooms. We used a food processor to chop the mushrooms but you can also do this by hand.

Lentil bolognese with mushrooms

Other (all accessible) ingredients that give this sauce sweetness, acidity, saltiness and umami flavours: garlic, vegetable stock cube, paprika, a couple of dates, black olives, chili, crushed tomatoes (or tomato passata), balsamic vinegar and soy sauce. 

Vegan bolognese ingredients


You will find the full list of ingredients, instructions and nutritional info in the recipe card below. Here is a video to guide you along.


Allow the sauce to cool completely and divide between Ziploc freezer bags or containers. Freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost in the fridge or microwave, reheat well and serve. In the fridge, the bolognese sauce will last for 3-4 days.

Freezing Bolognese


You can serve this vegan bolognese sauce with any kind of pasta but it’s particularly good with spaghetti, fettuccine and tagliatelle. Gluten-free pasta also works well. Other options are rice, quinoa, polenta, mashed potatoes, zucchini noodles or cauliflower rice for a low-carb version. 

We like to sprinkle it with a few chili flakes and fresh parsley, and some nutritional yeast flakes for that cheesy, umami addition. If you eat cheese or have a dairy-free version, that also goes well on top.

Instant Pot Lentil Bolognese (vegan)


IMPORTANT NOTE on BURN ERROR: A few folks with newer Instant Pot models have reported the burn ERROR using our original recipe. This is due to those models being very sensitive to ingredients like tomato sauce getting thickened and stuck to the bottom of the pot. We’ve revised the instructions to help you avoid the burn notice! This means that the video above will have a slightly different order of ingredients going in. Please use the instructions in the recipe below!

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Instant Pot Vegan Bolognese

Instant Pot Vegan Bolognese

  • Author: Instant Pot Eats
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 1x
  • Category: Main
  • Method: Instant Pot
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Vegan


This hearty and delicious Instant Pot vegan bolognese recipe is made with lentils and mushrooms in a rich sauce. Perfect for a plant-based dinner, it can be served over pasta, rice, quinoa, polenta ot veggie noodles. Can be gluten-free with one small adjustment.


  • 1 cup dry red lentils, soaked for 1520 minutes
  • 200 g / 7 oz. button mushrooms, diced into mince
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 large carrot finely diced
  • 1 large celery rib, finely diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 10 black or green olives, diced roughly
  • 2 dates, roughly diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
  • 1 teaspoon brown or white miso (optional)
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups tomato passata or crushed tinned tomatoes

After cooking: 1 tablespoon tomato paste (optional, makes it a bit more tomato-y)


  • Pre-soak the lentils for 15-20 minutes and rinse and set aside.
  • Dice the mushrooms very finely, ideally using a food processor. Set aside.
  • Turn the Instant Pot on and press the Sauté button. Add the olive oil, onions, carrot, celery and salt and cook for 7-8 minutes, stirring a couple of times. Make sure not to burn the mixture.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients, except for water and crushed tomatoes. Stir really well and then add the water. With the water in, stir the mixture really well making sure to scrape any bits that are stuck to the bottom to prevent the Burn notice. Press Cancel to stop the sauteeing.
  • Add tomato passata/crussehd tomatoes and stir through.
  • Pop and lock the lid and press Manual/Pressure Cook button, HIGH pressure, adjust to 12 minutes. Cook your preferred side (pasta, rice, polenta) in the meantime.
  • Once the timer finishes, follow with natural pressure release.
  • Open the lid, add the tomato paste if using, and stir through. Optional: if you like a slightly smoother sauce, you can use an emersion blender to puree SOME of the sauce.
  • Serving over pasta, rice, polenta or quinoa.


IMPORTANT NOTE on BURN ERROR: A few folk with newer Instant Pot models have reported the burn ERROR using our original recipe. This is because those models are very sensitive to ingredients like tomato sauce getting thickened and stuck to the bottom of the pot. We’ve revised the instructions to help you avoid the burn notice!

You can serve this sauce over pasta or any other side with a few chili flakes and parsley on top. We like to sprinkle some nutritional yeast flakes or you can also grate some vegan-friendly cheese.


  • Serving Size: 1 cup sauce
  • Calories: 288
  • Sugar: 14.2 g
  • Sodium: 807.8 mg
  • Fat: 7.8 g
  • Saturated Fat: 1.1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 46.4 g
  • Fiber: 8.3 g
  • Protein: 12.4 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

Keywords: Vegan, Gluten-Free, Lentils, Mushrooms, Lentil Bolognese, Instant Pot Vegan Recipes, Mushroom Bolognese



Instant Pot Vegan Bolognese
Instant Pot Recipes
By Instant Pot Eats

About us: We are a team of Instant Pot enthusiasts, who love good food and cooking. Our blog is dedicated to delicious Instant Pot recipes you can make using your trusted pressure cooker.
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  1. I made this and followed all the directions but I still got the burn signal so what I decided to try was to put the pressure on low for 12 min and it turned out wonderful . Also I replaced the water with organic vegetable broth and I added the tomato paste and some hot sauce , some garlic & onion powder and Italian spices . It tastes absolutely delicious!!! I will definitely be making this recipe again .

    1. Thank you, Irene. Yes, the Burn notice can be really annoying with anything tomato-based and it’s such a great idea to use Low pressure. I will add it to our cooking notes in case someone runs into the same issue. Glad you enjoyed this dish!

  2. Not a fan of these flavors. Had to douse it with balsamic vinegar to cover something up. I added everything in the recipe and something wasn’t to my liking but I don’t know what; dates? miso? soy sauce? At least the tomatoes didn’t burn, as usual with tomatoes in the instant pot. Yay! The texture was fine and I’ll make bolognese again but with caution as to what I include in the pot.

    1. Was the lid set to Sealing? Did you pre-soak the lentils? Not sure what else could have caused it to be honest. It should pressurize just fine with the amount of liquid suggested but you can always try adding more next time.

    2. Mine failed to pressurize as well. However, despite the msg that it wasn’t under pressure, it still was still cooked when I opened the lid to check it. I wasn’t expecting the lentils to be soft, but they were – and it was delicious!

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