This TVP spaghetti sauce (Bolognese) recipe is the perfect vegan alternative to traditional meat sauces. It’s hearty, satisfying, flavorful and incredibly easy to make.
I often make this recipe because it creates a fantastic meal that is versatile, nutritious and budget-friendly. Whether you’re preparing a cozy family dinner, entertaining friends or simple seeking a comforting meal, this TVP pasta sauce is the answer!
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Ingredients for TVP Bolognese Sauce
This recipe uses basic pantry ingredients to create a spectacular sauce. You’ll need:
- Olive oil: Adding fat content to the sauce, oil enhances the flavor of onions and garlic as they sauté. This creates a rich and delicious sauce.
- Onion and garlic: These ingredients provide an aromatic and ultra-flavorful base for the sauce. No vegan spaghetti sauce would be right without them!
- Textured vegetable protein (TVP): As the star ingredient, you’ll need some TVP which can be found in most grocery stores, bulk food stores or online. This plant-based protein source mimics the texture of ground meat and provides a hearty flavor and texture to the sauce.
- Vegan beef-flavored bouillon (plus water): This creates a rich, savory, meaty flavor that’s soaked up by the TVP to enhance the sauce’s flavor. If you don’t have access to this ingredient at your local store, you can buy it online or use a vegetable bouillon cube.
- Crushed tomatoes: Tomatoes form the bulk of the sauce and are the heart of any good pasta sauce!
- Nutritional yeast: This vegan pantry staple is known for its umami flavor. It adds a savory, cheesy note to the sauce. Please note nutritional yeast is not the same as baking yeast and the ingredients cannot be substituted.
- Balsamic vinegar: This adds a great depth of flavor to the sauce. It’s one of my favorite ingredients to enhance any tomato-based sauce.
- Sugar: Tomatoes are very acidic, and some sweetness helps balance that out. I use granulated sugar, but other types of sugars should work (although they may change the flavor of your sauce).
- Dry oregano and basil: Keeping this recipe simple and budget-friendly, I use dry herbs to add a fresh, robust flavor. You can use fresh oregano and/or basil if you have it, but it’s not needed for a tasty sauce.
- Salt and pepper: These balance and enhance all the flavors of this sauce, bringing out the natural taste of the other ingredients. Note that the bouillon cube adds a large amount of salt to the sauce, so give it a taste before adding extra salt.
You’ll also need some type of pasta to serve with your sauce. Spaghetti is the classic pasta choice, but any type or shape of pasta should work.
How to Make TVP Pasta Sauce
This recipe is very simple to make and doesn’t require much prep work beyond chopping the onion and garlic. It’s perfect for a quick meal prep or weeknight meal!
Step 1: Cook TVP Sauce Base
Start by chopping onion, mincing garlic and gathering the other ingredients.
Then warm some olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add your diced onion and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the onion starts to soften.
Add your minced garlic and cook for another 2-3 minutes, until the garlic becomes fragrant.
Next, add the star of the show – TVP! Add this along with the water and vegan beef-flavored bouillon cube. Cook this together, mixing in the bouillon cube well, until the TVP absorbs all your water. This takes about 3 minutes.
Step 2: Finish Preparing and Simmer Sauce
Now it’s time to infuse all the other flavors into your sauce. Add the remaining ingredients including crushed tomatoes, nutritional yeast, balsamic vinegar, sugar, dry oregano, dry basil and pepper.
Stir to combine, then simmer the sauce for 20 minutes over low heat, with a lid on the pot.
After simmering, taste and adjust the seasonings if needed. If you’re craving a stronger tomato flavor, or want a thicker sauce, simply add up to 2 tablespoons of tomato paste.
Step 3: Serve
While the sauce simmers, cook your favorite spaghetti pasta according to package directions. Really any pasta can work (but spaghetti is the classic choice).
Finally, serve the TVP sauce over your cooked spaghetti. To take your meal to the next level, consider adding chopped fresh herbs and/or vegan parmesan cheese!
How to Serve a Balanced Vegan Meal
This sauce offers plant-based protein from the TVP, along with nutrient-packed tomatoes for a nice boost of veggies. There’s a small amount of healthy fats in the olive oil, but this is a fairly low-fat recipe.
As for the carbs, they’re coming from whichever pasta you use!
This is a well-rounded meal on its own, but you can also serve it topped with some vegan parmesan which can add even more healthy fats and flavor.
Feel free to serve alongside some salad for more variety and nutrition as well. A Caesar salad or Italian-style salad go really well with this sauce. You can also serve this with a side of garlic bread or focaccia if you’re really looking to impress!
TVP Pasta Variations
This sauce is packed with flavor, but if you’re looking for something different, here are some fun variations to try:
- Veggie-packed sauce: Along with your onions, cook some extra chopped vegetables. Mushrooms, bell peppers and/ or zucchini are great choices. You can also toss spinach, kale or another leafy green into the sauce for a nutrition boost!
- Spice it up: If you like things spicy, consider adding crushed red chili pepper flakes either to the sauce or sprinkled on top of your portion before serving.
- Creamy rose: For a creamy twist, you can add some cashew cream to the sauce. Simply soak cashews (or sunflower seeds), drain the soaking water then blend with plant-based milk and some nutritional yeast. Stir this through the sauce for a new flavor experience.
If you want to explore other options, I have a recipe for lentil spaghetti sauce which contains another tasty protein that’s still budget-friendly!
How to Store Leftovers
Let leftover sauce cool to room temperature before transferring to an airtight container. You can refrigerate this recipe for up to a week or freeze in any freezer-safe container for a few months.
Reheat in a microwave or warm the sauce in a pot on the stove over medium heat until ready to serve.
It’s best to cook fresh pasta to serve with the sauce, but you can also refrigerate leftover pasta if needed.
If you make this recipe, please rate and comment below to help others benefit from your experience!
TVP Spaghetti Sauce (Bolognese)
TVP Spaghetti Sauce
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (30 milliliters)
- 1 cup onion , finely diced (130 grams)
- 5 cloves garlic , minced
- 2 cups textured vegetable protein (150 grams)
- 2 cups water
- 1 vegan beef-flavored bouillon cube *
- 4 cups crushed tomatoes (1 litre)
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast (20 grams)
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (30 milliliters)
- 1 teaspoon sugar (5 grams)**
- 1 ½ teaspoons dry oregano
- 1 ½ teaspoons dry basil
- salt (to taste)
- black pepper (to taste)
- 375-400 grams dry spaghetti pasta , cooked according to package directions
Step 1: Cook TVP Sauce Base
- In a large pot, warm your olive oil over medium heat. Add diced onion and cook for 5 minutes, until the onion starts to soften.2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 cup onion
- Then add minced garlic and cook for another 2-3 minutes.5 cloves garlic
- Add TVP, water and a bouillon cube.2 cups textured vegetable protein, 2 cups water, 1 vegan beef-flavored bouillon cube
- Mix well, breaking up the bouillon cube, and cook until all the liquid is absorbed (about 3 minutes).
Step 2: Finish Preparing and Simmer Sauce
- Add all remaining ingredients to the pot.4 cups crushed tomatoes, ¼ cup nutritional yeast, 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 ½ teaspoons dry oregano, 1 ½ teaspoons dry basil, salt, black pepper
- Stir to combine, then simmer the sauce for 20 minutes over low heat with a lid on the pot.
- Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning if needed. If you want additional tomato flavor, consider adding up to 2 tablespoons of tomato paste.
Step 3: Serve
- Serve the sauce over cooked and drained spaghetti pasta (any shape pasta can work fine).375-400 grams dry spaghetti pasta
- Optional to top with chopped fresh herbs and/or vegan parmesan cheese.
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About Nicole Stevens
Nicole is a vegan Registered Dietitian (RD) and founder of Lettuce Veg Out.
She helps people thrive on a vegan diet with balanced recipes and easy-to-understand nutrition science.