This is best Vegan Bolognese made with Portobello mushrooms and in a comfort of your slow cooker! The recipe packs a flavor punch and perfect for meat eaters in your family. They won't be able to tell it's vegan.
When transitioning to a Vegan/Plant-Based Diet I think the biggest challenge for meat-eaters is to find healthy recipes that somehow resemble familiar texture and flavor of their favorite non-vegan dishes.
After I gave up meat, it's been my mission to introduce my husband to a world of delicious vegan meals. Despite that he's not quite ready to change his diet, he eagerly tries my recipes.
One of the best vegan mushroom recipes that my husband loves and can't tell whether there is meat inside - is Slow Cooker Vegan Bolognese.
When I served it to him, he said "tastes like meat, but I know it's vegetable".
That's exactly what you want to hear from the meat-eaters in your family.
My hearty and delicious Portobello Mushroom Bolognese is impossible not to love. It's a pasta sauce with an amazing flavor.
Plus the texture definitely resembles ground meat. But wait, how do you make that "meaty" texture?
Easy and simple solution but you'll be glad you made that extra step to process mushrooms in a food processor instead of just chopping them.
Ground mushrooms absorb the seasoning much better than sliced and they make a perfect base for tacos, lasagna or rich tomato sauces like Bolognese.
Here's Why This Recipe Works
- easy. The beauty of this recipe is that you can do a minimal prep work, put the ingredients in your crokpot and go about your day. And when you return home, you delicious Mushroom Stroganoff will be waiting for you;
- texture. the mushrooms are ground into small pieces which helps them absorb the sauce better;
Aside from the fact that ground mushrooms contribute to a a better absorption of the spices, slow-cooking is another key for achieving a rich deep flavor that otherwise conventional stovetop might not achieve.
This Slow Cooker Mushroom Bolognese is Vegan and packs a lot of nutrients. It's a feel-good recipe that will keep you full and satisfied for hours.
Here's an overview of the specific ingredients for this recipe. For the exact ingredients and measurements, please scroll to the recipe card below.
- mushrooms. I recommend buying them at Costco because you get a big 24-oz box of Portobellos that will be enough to make few recipes. White or button mushrooms will work here as well. I haven't tried this recipe with other types of mushrooms, but if do, please let me know how it turned out;
- Worcestershire sauce. Make sure it says vegan, because a regular Worcestershire sauce has anchovies in the ingredients; You can buy it in regular grocery store in the Condiments aisle;
- crushed tomatoes. Make sure it's not diced tomatoes, since they usually contain more liquid and we don't need that;
- liquid smoke. We use just a tiny bit of it, but it really makes a difference in achievement a super flavorful Bolognese. You can buy liquid smoke in any grocery store in the Condiments aisle;
- Grind the mushrooms. Using a dump paper towel, wipe the mushrooms caps, cut a thin slice off the bottom of each stem and give mushrooms a rough chop. Add the mushrooms to a food processor and pulse for a few times until they resemble ground "meat". You might want to work in batches, because the less mushrooms you put in a blender, the better the grind will be.
- Sauté the mushrooms. Heat olive oil in a large skillet and over medium-high heat and sauté the mushrooms for 7-10 minutes or until liquid evaporates. Transfer mushrooms to a separate plate. Note: If your slow cooker has a "brown" mode (this is the slow cooker that I use), you can sauté your vegetables there.
- Brown the remaining vegetables. To the same pan add onion, carrot, celery and ¼ teaspoon of salt and cook until the onion is translucent, about 7 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 30 more seconds.
- Combine the ingredients in a slow cooker. Add the cooked ingredients in your slow cooker along with the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, Maple syrup, Italian seasoning, water or broth, salt and pepper. Give everything a good stir. Cover the lid and cook on low for 4 - 4 ½ hours or on high for 2 - 2 ½ hours.
- Adjust the seasoning and serve. This recipe uses only ¾ teaspoons of salt, but I don't recommend adding more in the beginning. You can always adjust the salt and pepper later on. Vegan Slow Cooker Mushroom Bolognese is ready to be served.
I always advice to brow the mushrooms as well as the onion, carrot and celery prior to slow cooking. This will help develop even more flavor.
In addition, mushrooms release lots of liquid during cooking and it's always best to let those liquids evaporate before adding the rest of the ingredients. That's why browning the mushrooms is essentials.
Frequently Asked Questions
Replace the liquid smoke in a recipe by using 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika.
Absolutely. You can double the recipe and have enough Bolognese sauce for 3-4 meals. Make sure not to refrigerate it longer than 3 days. All leftovers need to be frozen.
Yes. I recommend using a large skillet that will fit all the ingredients without overcrowding them. First, sauté the mushrooms, followed by the rest of the veggies. Add the remaining ingredients, cover with a lid and simmer for 20 minutes.
If you love deep umami flavors and if you have a chance, buy 1 sachet or bottle of dry Porcini mushrooms. Soak them for 30 minutes in the warm water and then use this water along with chopped soaked mushrooms in your recipe.
Porcini mushrooms are just like Truffles and they're the kings of flavor. They are capable of transforming any recipe into a restaurant-type meal.
Got more fresh veggies in your fridge? Eggplant, courgette will be a great accompaniment to mushrooms too.
In additions, you can make this gluten-free vegan Bolognese even heartier, by adding some plant-based protein, like Cannellini Beans, Pinto beans or lentils.
You can use rinsed and drained canned beans and throw them in the slow-cooker together with the other ingredient.
This best vegan Bolognese Recipe is a uniquely flavorful recipe that needs to be paired with a simple dish that compliments the mushrooms.
I recommend serving it over spaghetti (choose gluten-free if you need to), steamed rice or garlicky Mashed Potatoes. It is also a good idea to sprinkle the Bolognese with some fresh herbs like chopped basil or parsley.
When serving, you can also sprinkle the sauce with some nutritional yeast.
In addition, you can also put the Bolognese sauce in tacos or quesadilla. To round out your meal, here're my favorite salad suggestions:
Storing and Reheating
To ensure the safety and maximum freshness, this Vegan Crockpot Mushroom Bolognese should be stored in the airtight container for 2-3 days.
In addition, you can also freeze it. Divide the Bolognese sauce among the freezer-friendly bags and lay in one layer in the freezer. Properly stored, this Slow Cooker Vegan Bolognese will keep for up to 6 months in a freezer.
For best results when reheating, transfer Bolognese to a saucepan and reheat on medium heat until it's completely heated through.
If you make this recipe, please leave me a comment below and rate it. I always appreciate the feedback. Also, you can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest.
If you're looking for a quick overview of the recipe, please check out my Mushroom Bolognese web-story.
Vegan Mushroom Bolognese
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 13 oz Portobello or button mushrooms
- 1 medium onion finely minced
- 1 medium carrot diced
- 1 stalk celery diced
- 3 cloves garlic finely minced
- 1 can (14.4 oz) crushed tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ teaspoon liquid smoke
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ¼ c water or vegetable broth
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- Grind the mushrooms
- Using a dump paper towel, wipe the mushrooms caps, cut a thin slice off the bottom of each stem and give mushrooms a rough chop. Add the mushrooms to a food processor and pulse for a few times until mushrooms resemble ground "meat". You might want to work in batches, because the less mushrooms you put in a blender, the better the grind will be.
Sauté the mushrooms
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet and over medium-high heat and sauté the mushrooms for 7-10 minutes or until liquid evaporates. Transfer mushrooms to a separate plate. Note: If your slow cooker has a "brown" mode, you can sauté your mushrooms and vegetables there.
Brown the remaining vegetables
- To the same pan add onion, carrot, celery and ¼ teaspoon of salt and cook until the onion is translucent, about 7 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 30 more seconds.
Combine the ingredients in a slow cooker
- Add the cooked ingredients in your slow cooker along with the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, Maple syrup, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Give everything a good stir. Cover the lid and cook on low for 4 - 4 ½ hours or on high for 2 - 2 ½ hours.
Adjust the seasoning and serve
- This recipe uses only ¾ teaspoons of salt, but I don't recommend adding more in the beginning. You can always adjust the salt and pepper later on. Vegan Slow Cooker Mushroom Bolognese is ready to be served.
Iryna Bychkiv is the founder and writer of the culinary website Lavender & Macarons, where she shares clean, European-inspired recipes that are delicious, easy to prepare, and made with wholesome ingredients. Iryna loves creating meals that are simple yet healthy and unique, including vegan and vegetarian recipes.
Iryna is also a freelance writer for MSN and Associated Press Wire.