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Tempeh Bolognese – ready in 15 minutes

This vegan Tempeh Bolognese can be made in 15 minutes! It’s quick, easy, and delicious! Sprinkle it with cashew parmesan.

Tempeh Bolognese over spaghetti

I’ve made tempeh bolognese at least 4 times during the last 2 weeks, to get it just right. And with this version, I couldn’t be happier!

Bolognese sauce is traditionally a meaty sauce, so we want to use a meaty substitute. In this case, tempeh is an excellent choice because it soaks up the flavors and the consistency is just on point. Tempeh gives the sauce not only a meaty look but also texture.

What I love about this Tempeh Bolognese:

  • It’s super quick. While the pasta is boiling, we can prepare the sauce. An amazing pasta dish in 15 minutes? Check.
  • It looks fancy. I don’t know but spaghetti always puts me in this deeply romantic and sophisticated mood. It’s grown-up food, after all. And then with the red sauce, the sprinkle of cashew parmesan, and fresh basil on top… it just looks very nice, which makes it also perfect for date-night!
  • It’s here to impress. If you’re making this dish for your friend(s), parents, etc. then some of them might not know what tempeh is because it’s not as well-known as tofu (which everyone hates anyway because they just eat a plain block of tofu and complain that it tastes like nothing). So you can explain what tempeh is, how it is made, how it’s used in cooking and it will be an amazing experience for them especially if they are eating tempeh for the very first time.
  • The sauce is versatile. You can serve it over pasta, you can also use it in lasagne or as a ‘meaty’ dipping sauce for nachos.

What is tempeh?

Tempeh is – like tofu – a soy product. Through culturing and fermentation, whole soybeans are molded into a block. Tempeh is even higher in protein, dietary fiber, and vitamins than tofu thanks to the fermentation and use of whole soybeans. You can get tempeh in Asian stores (look in the refrigerated or freezer section, $) or health-food stores ($$$).

Tempeh |

If you’re in the mood for more tempeh recipes, check out these ones:

Tempeh Bolognese over spaghetti

How to make Tempeh Bolognese

The ingredients

You will need:

  • egg-free spaghetti noodles
  • tempeh
  • liquid smoke – not necessary but adds a nice smoky flavor to the tempeh.
  • diced, canned tomatoes
  • oil
  • onion
  • garlic cloves
  • spices and herbs: paprika powder, salt, dried oregano, fresh basil. This is my recommendation. You can leave out, substitute, experiment with spices, of course!

The basic steps

pasta boiling in pot
Step 1: Boil the pasta.
onions and garlic in food processor
Step 2: Chop the onion and garlic cloves in a food processor.
tempeh in food processor
Step 3: Chop the tempeh in a food processor.
onions, garlic and tempeh in pan
Step 4: In a large pan, cook the onion and garlic until soft. Then add in the tempeh. Let’s add some flavor by adding paprika powder and liquid smoke.
onions, garlic and tempeh in pan
Step 5: Give it a stir and let it cook until crispy.
adding diced tomato to tempeh bolognese sauce
Step 6: Reduce the heat, add in the diced tomatoes, dried oregano and salt.
vegan tempeh bolognese sauce in pan
Step 7: Once everything is hot and combined, the sauce is ready to be served.
Tempeh Bolognese over spaghetti
Add the tempeh bolognese over the spaghetti, sprinkle it with homemade Cashew Parmesan and fresh basil. A leafy green salad is the perfect side dish!
Tempeh Bolognese over spaghetti
And enjoy :)

More delicious vegan pasta recipes

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I hope you enjoy this tempeh bolognese recipe as much as I do! Let me know if you give it a try!

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Cheers, Bianca

Tempeh Bolognese over spaghetti

Tempeh Bolognese

Bianca Haun | Elephantastic Vegan
This vegan Tempeh Bolognese can be made in 15 minutes! It’s quick, easy, and delicious! Sprinkle it with cashew parmesan.
4.80 from 5 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian, Vegan
Servings 2 people
Calories 459 kcal


  • 4 oz spaghetti noodles (egg-free)

Tempeh Bolognese

  • 1 onion
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil or any plant-based oil
  • 4 oz tempeh
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 14.5 oz diced, canned tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano



  • Boil the pasta. Meanwhile, we're making the sauce. 
  • Chop the onion and garlic cloves in a food processor and add them to a large pan with a bit of oil over medium to high heat. Let them cook until soft. Then scrape it to the side of the pan.
  • Chop the tempeh in the food processor and add it to the pan. Add 1/4 teaspoon of salt, paprika powder, and liquid smoke.
  • Once the tempeh gets a bit crispy, reduce the heat and add in the diced tomatoes. Season with the rest of the salt and dried oregano. Let it simmer on low heat until hot. You can add more salt or spices to taste.
  • By now the pasta should be done, drain it, divide the spaghetti onto plates, top with the vegan tempeh bolognese sauce, garnish with fresh basil and sprinkle with Cashew Parmesan. Enjoy!


Tips for making an amazing vegan tempeh bolognese sauce:
  • Don’t skip the spices. Tempeh is great at soaking up flavors, so you want to add some spices. I love liquid smoke for a smoky flavor and paprika powder.
  • Onions and garlic add more flavor to the sauce. But if you’re short on time, you could also use onion and garlic powder instead.
  • If you want to add veggies to the sauce, you can add grated carrots, mushrooms, etc. 


Calories: 459kcalCarbohydrates: 71gProtein: 23gFat: 12gSaturated Fat: 2gSodium: 868mgPotassium: 1075mgFiber: 7gSugar: 13gVitamin A: 565IUVitamin C: 24mgCalcium: 171mgIron: 6mg
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Recipe Rating


Monday 22nd of May 2023

This is really delicious and easy! I doubled the recipe. I added mushrooms because I love them. Enjoyed it over whole wheat pasta!