Lentil Bolognese Recipe (2024)

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Naturally gluten free and vegan, this Lentil Bolognese recipe is a hearty, healthy lentil recipe that’s perfect for topping pasta or just about anything else!

Lentil Bolognese Recipe (1)

This is probably the hardest post that I’ve written. I’m not super comfortable talking about myself, so I tend to just talk about the food instead.

Having people criticize my recipes can be hard enough, but sharing extremely personal things like my struggle to lose weight is way (way, way) out of my comfort zone.

In September, I had my third little one. Since this was my third time, I figured I knew what to expect.

Except that this time hasn’t been like the last two time, and I have really been struggling to get my weight loss going this time. I definitely got off track while I was pregnant. I had hyperemesis during the beginning of my pregnancy. Once it was under control,I was hungry constantly, and so I ate.

After being so sick, I was beyond excited to be able to eat and to have food taste good again. At first, I craved healthy foods, and I ate lots of veggies and salads and good stuff. Towards the end, I craved more junk food, and that’s when the weight jumped on.

I gained about the same amount of weight during all three of my pregnancies. The last two times, it started to come off right away. I didn’t diet or do anything special to try to lose it, and it took me about a year both times to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight.

This time, though, the weight seems to be pretty happy hanging around. I certainly want to lose this baby weight, but more than that, I want to work on getting healthy again.

So, why am I telling you all of this? Well, the recipes that I share on here reflect what we’re eating. Everything that shows up on here was first tried out on my family and friends.

Even though I don’t talk much about my life, I do want to be honest with what I do share. So, I don’t want to pretend like I can eat a lots of cake, cookies, and other no-so-healthy food and lose weight because I can’t. The struggle is real, my friends. And with that, on to the food!

How To Make Lentil Bolognese

Growing up, my mom made this great dish of lentils and rice, and I loved it. It was one of my favorite dinners, and I still love all lentil recipes. This Lentil Bolognese is my healthier take on pastasauce. I’m not going to say that you’ll think you’re eating meat when you have this because you won’t.

Instead, this lentil bolognese is delicious in its own right. The sauce is packed with veggies and has lots of flavor. This sauce isincredibly hearty and super satisfying.Lentil Bolognese Recipe (2)

Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add onion, celery, and carrot. Cook until softened, about 5-10 minutes.

Stir in the garlic and then the tomato paste.

Lentil Bolognese Recipe (3)

Add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, seasonings, and baking soda. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Stir in the lentils and water. Simmer until the lentils have softened.


  • I’ve never had trouble with the lentils cooking in the recipe as-written. However, some people have reported that pre-cooking the lentils or partially cooking the lentils has worked better for them.
  • Since this sauce is so hearty, it’s great served over a sturdy pasta like a rigatoni (whole wheat, extra fiber, or just regular pasta all work).
  • You can also serve this sauce over cooked spaghetti squash for a lower-carb dinner.

Lentil Bolognese Recipe (4)More Vegetarian Dinner Recipes!

  • Vegetable Korma
  • Layered Vegetable Bake
  • Zucchini Frittata

If you’ve tried this lentil bolognese recipe, don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave me a comment below. I love to hear from people who’ve made my recipes!

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Lentil Bolognese Recipe (5)

Lentil Bolognese Recipe (6)

4.93 from 52 votes

Lentil Bolognese

Author Kate @ I Heart Eating

Course Main Course

Cuisine American

Prep Time 15 minutes minutes

Cook Time 30 minutes minutes

Total Time 45 minutes minutes

Hearty lentil bolognese makes an easy pasta sauce that's full of good-for-you ingredients.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion finely diced
  • 1 rib celery finely chopped
  • 3 large carrots peeled and chopped
  • 7 cloves garlic minced
  • 6 ounce can tomato paste
  • 15 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 2-14.5 ounce cans diced Italian tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons dried sweet basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups red lentils rinsed and picked over
  • 2 cups water


  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet.

  • Add onion, celery, and carrot.

  • Cook, stirring as needed, until softened, about 5-10 minutes.

  • Add garlic, and cook, stirring frequently, for 30 seconds.

  • Stir in tomato paste, and cook, stirring it in, for 1 minutes.

  • Add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes with juice, basil, oregano, baking soda, and salt and pepper to taste.

  • Stir in lentils and water.

  • Simmer, stirring regularly, until lentils have softened, about 20-30 minutes.


*Disclaimer: I'm not a nutritionist. Recipe nutrition facts are estimates.

**1 Weight Watchers Freestyle Point per serving.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 195kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 3g | Sodium: 414mg | Potassium: 782mg | Fiber: 13g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 3545IU | Vitamin C: 11.5mg | Calcium: 70mg | Iron: 4.6mg

Did You Make This Recipe?

Share it with me on Instagram @i_heart_eating and follow on Youtube @katedean and Pinterest @katedean for more!

Originally published 12/27/14. Updated with new photos and tips 12/31/19.

Created by Kate

Kate got her first cookbook when she was five years old, and she hasn't stopped cooking since then! Her delicious recipes have been featured on Food Network, MSN, Better Homes & Gardens, Buzzfeed, The Huffington Post, and more. When she's not cooking or baking, she can be found on her mini farm with her husband and her five kids.

Reader Interactions

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    Comments & Reviews

  1. Susana Richart Balbaneda says

    Lentil Bolognese Recipe (7)
    Really nice!! My boys love it!!!


    • Kate says

      Thank you!


  2. Charlotte Burton says

    Lentil Bolognese Recipe (8)
    I really would like to make this sauce however I’m supposed to be on a salt free diet so I would use salt free tomatoes etc. I am wondering about the baking soda is it a must for this recipe?
    Thanks so much!


    • Kate says

      Hi! The baking soda helps to cut some of the acidity in the sauce. There are two other ways to help cut down on the acidity. One – add sugar to the sauce, or two – grate a carrot or two into the sauce. Hope that helps!


      • Gaby says

        I have made this sauce many times and it is always delicious. Lately I have added about a half cup of red wine and it has been amazing. I also use it instead of my meat bolognese in lasagna and even my meat loving son said it was great. Thanks for a recipe that let’s me cook a bit healthier for mi family! I have some bubbling on the stove right now and the house smells heavenly.


        • Kate says

          Thanks for sharing that! I’ll have to try it with the red wine next time.

  3. Sharan says

    Lentil Bolognese Recipe (9)
    I made it slightly less, not quite as much tomato and the garlic cloves I had were really large, so only used 3 instead of 7, boiled up some angel hair and it’s really good. You’re right, satisfying without the meat. Just what I’ve been looking for. When I make it again, will probably used green or red peppers and less carrot.


    • Kate says

      Thank you! There is definitely some flexibility with the recipe, and I’m glad that you were able to tweak it to suit your tastes!


    • Gaby says

      Lentil Bolognese Recipe (10)
      I forgot to rate this recipe the last time. Made this again today and it is still amazing. I will be serving it tonight for my sister’s birthday dinner over gluten free pasta. She cannot eat glutten and is vegan. I am thrilled that I can make a meal that we can all share and love and it still meets her health needs. Thanks again!


  4. Esther says

    Lentil Bolognese Recipe (11)
    I made this recipe and it is delicious! I was wondering whether it can be cooked in the Instant Pot (thinking about saving time with two babies around!). Have you tried? Could you give any times or extra liquid that might be necessary? Thanks!


    • Kate says

      Hi! Thank you! I’ve tried it in the IP, but I have yet to come up with a version that I’m happy with. I tried it at 5 minutes manual high pressure with a 10 minute npr last time, and the lentils were mush. Also, I did add about 1/2 cup extra water to help thin the sauce. I hope that at least gives you a place to start!


  5. Natasha says

    Lentil Bolognese Recipe (12)
    Absolutely gorgeous take on it. My family loved it! I put chillies in mine because I love spice but will definitely be making it again!Thank you


  6. Kayleigh Littler says

    Can you make this in the crock pot?


    • Kate says

      Hi! I haven’t tried to make this in the crock pot. I’ve made it in a skillet and in an Instant Pot, but I haven’t tried the slow cooker. If you try it, I’d love to hear how it turns out!


  7. Loni says

    Hello! I am really excited about trying this for a lasagne recipe that calls for traditional bolognese sauce (which we love). I’m always trying to get my “meat and potato” loving son to eat more veg! I have a can of lentils- will that work or should I grab dried lentils for this recipe?


    • Kate says

      Hi! I haven’t tried using canned lentils in the recipe, but that would require other adjustments to the recipe. Without having tried canned lentils, I can’t say for certain all of the changes that you would need to make.


  8. Lois says

    This looks delicious! Do you know if this can be frozen?


    • Kate says

      Thank you! Since this makes such a large batch, I regularly freeze half of it for later. I let it cool to room temp, and then I put the sauce into a resealable freezer container. Hope that helps!


  9. Andrea says

    Hi, am reading this in the UK, and not quite sure what the cans of tomato paste and tomato sauce are in the UK? We have tomato purée (but only use very small amounts) and tinned tomato’s, which you also have in your recipe. What should we use? Thanks!


    • Kate says

      Hi! Tomato sauce is an unseasoned tomato puree. I believe it’s thinner than the tomato puree in the UK. Tomato paste is a thick concentrate that’s made from cooking down tomatoes. I hope that helps!


    • Jane Franklin says

      I’m in the U.K too, and what you need to buy is ‘passata’ – available in all our supermarkets.


  10. Liz says

    Lentil Bolognese Recipe (13)
    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this healthy bolognese! As a former weight watchers member I’m always on the hunt for great tasting, low points food. This is it! I added this one to my recipe box.


    • Kate says

      Thank you! I’m glad you liked it!


  11. KAKA says

    Does this recipe call for split lentils? And can i change to green or yellow lentils?


    • Kate says

      They’re split red lentils. I don’t know that I’ve ever found whole red lentils in the grocery store, so I use the split red lentils that are commonly found in the stores. With the textural and cooking time differences, I’m not sure what to advise without having tried it.


  12. Jennifer Mancuso says

    Loved this! Super easy, healthy and very filling!


    • Kate says

      Thank you so much! =)


    • Annie says

      Lentil Bolognese Recipe (14)
      Great recipe. I lightly precooked the lentils in some vegetable stock for 5/10 minutes while I was chopping the onion, celery and carrots. This helped save time with the cooking later but also added some extra flavour to the lentils


      • Cindy Lyon says

        Thank you for the recipe. Its bubbling away right now.
        Just curious…what is the purpose to the baking soda in the recipe?


        • Kate says

          The baking soda helps to neutralize some of the acid. Some recipes call for sugar in the sauce. Others call for a grated carrot or baking soda.

  13. Matt says

    Lentil Bolognese Recipe (15)
    This worked great in a meat-free lasagna. It actually made it hold together better too!


    • Kate says

      That’s fantastic! Thank you for sharing that!


  14. Rosemary L Bell says

    That sounds lovely, I tried making lentil bolognaise from guessing, well I can see from your recipe where I went wrong. Can you please tell me why you put baking soda in the recipe? Thank you in advance


    • Kate says

      Sure! The baking soda helps to reduce some of the acid in the sauce. I use a bit of baking soda rather than adding sugar to the sauce.


  15. Sam says

    Lentil Bolognese Recipe (16)
    So good! Have made this several times and it’s always amazing.


    • Kate says

      Thank you so much! =)


  16. Liliana Fleur says

    Lentil Bolognese Recipe (17)
    Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe. I was using this as sauce for Spaetzle, as almost all Spaetzle with Lentil recipes I found contain meat. I added a beautifully fragrant red pepper into it and it turned out wonderful. I made only half and it turned out to 4 generous servings with Spaetzle (kind of German / Austrian pasta which sponges up sauces). Lovely!


    • Kate says

      You are so welcome! I lived in Germany for a summer, and I ate a ton of Spaetzle. I bet it was fantastic with this sauce! =)


      • Dina Bicking says

        why the baking soda?


        • Kate says

          I use baking soda in place of sugar to help balance out the acid in the sauce.

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