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FODMAP friendly vegan bolognese

In my pre-vegetarian, pre-FODMAP days, I was particularly partial to a good mince bolognese. So much so that I was always willing to be the person to painstakingly crush the mince into little pieces. I couldn’t allow someone else to cook/ruin my beloved mince, the only form of meat I would eat. These days, however, crushing mince is a thing of the past. Because, my friends, this FODMAP friendly bolognese is vegan, and it’s made with tofu.

FODMAP friendly vegan bolognese

This bolognese is gluten free, vegetarian and vegan, nut free and grain free without pasta. It is made using tofu which can be torn into chunks or frozen and defrosted for an extra meat like texture. Both ways work really well to create a vegan bolognese without gluten or meat.

Before you say ‘don’t tell me tofu is a decent replacement for mince’ – allow me to explain your newest tofu trick. Freezing tofu. Freezing tofu dramatically alters the texture of the tofu when you allow it to drain. No longer is it a solid block, but more of a textural, crumbly form of protein. Somewhat like, I dunno, mince.

This FODMAP friendly bolognese is very easy to make. A simple, easy, gluten free, FODMAP friendly and vegan weeknight dinner. It is made without onion or garlic and uses gluten free pasta to complete the package.

An aerial view of a white speckled ceramic plate topped with vegan spaghetti bolognese. A fork sticks into the bolognese from the bottom right of the image

FODMAP friendly vegan bolognese recipe notes

Firstly, you need to ensure that the tofu you are freezing is firm tofu. No silken (which is not FODMAP friendly) and no semi firm. The firmest you can find. I haven’t frozen the former varieties, but I can’t imagine it would transform their texture in the same way firm tofu is transformed.

I love using frozen tofu for the meaty, chewy and springy texture. However, you can also use non-frozen tofu if you are in a rush. As above, ensure it’s firm. Squeeze most of the liquid out and tear into small, mince meat sized pieces before use.

Fennel was originally used in place of the onion, to replace the texture that onion generally provides, and to provide flavour. Fennel is considered FODMAP friendly in 1/2 cup (or 48g) servings. Because only one fennel bulb was used, this is totally acceptable. However, I’ve subbed carrot in for a more accessible alternative.

In terms of most other ingredients, it’s smooth sailing. None of them should be a bother, although make sure you use gluten free Tamari and gluten free pasta, if you need to.

Monash updated the advice on tomatoes recently. 100g of tinned plain tomatoes is a FODMAP friendly serve. To make this bolognese fit those parameters, it needs to serve 8. This means bulking it out with extra vegetables and using it alongside pasta. If you prefer, you could use 1 – 1 1/2 tins of tomatoes and add a little water. You might need to add an extra tablespoon of tomato paste to give the sauce extra richness. 

Alternatively, use my low FODMAP Nomato sauce recipe to replace one or both cans of tinned tomato.

You can add extra vegetables to this bolognese to bulk it out and make it go further. I would recommend zucchini, pumpkin, extra tomatoes and maybe a bit of spinach if you don’t mind the green flecks.

An aerial image of vegan bolognese on rigatoni pasta. The central plate of pasta sits atop a white speckled ceramic plate and has a sliced of buttered gluten free sourdough sitting at the top of the plate. The plate sits atop a purple linen tablecloth and is surrounded by extra bowls of bolognese.

How to freeze tofu for a meat like texture

I’ve discussed a little bit about making crispy tofu before. My research for writing that article was catalyst to me discovering the method of freezing tofu. Freezing tofu, the internet tells us, rids it of excess moisture and changes it’s structure, so it basically becomes meat like. It is textural, chewy, and perfect for mince. In addition, it is better able to absorb flavours, because of it’s lower water content. A win win.

A lot of websites will tell you to unpack the tofu, blot it, slice and it and then freeze it. Which is obviously an efficient way to do things. However, I find shredding tofu a lot easier when I can simply pull apart a block with my hands, so I freeze mine whole.

I have tested a number of different methods of defrosting the tofu. Firstly, I let it sit in a sieve. Secondly, I put in a saucepan over a low heat, and tipped the moisture out in regular-ish intervals. Thirdly, I boiled it in super salty water, which is supposed to help flavour it and make it crispy. I also refroze some torn up tofu because I ran out of time, so there’s another option.

All of the above worked, but I don’t think I would boil it in salty water again. It seemed to defeat the purpose of freezing it to expel moisture. As for the superior texture, I think I preferred the double freeze, but it’s a lot of faff for the sake of chewy tofu mince.

Frozen tofu: a quick timeline

  1. The night before: put the tofu in the freezer. It can be whole or sliced, and it can be drained or not drained.
  2. The next morning: remove the tofu from the freezer and allow to thaw. You can leave it in a sieve over the sink or put it in the fridge. If you put it in the fridge, you can cook it over a low heat to expel the remaining moisture when you’re ready to use it.
  3. To cook, simply use as you would regular mince. You can be even more relaxed with it, because tofu can be eaten raw.
An aerial image of a vegan tofu bolognese in a black skillet atop a mottled blue backdrop.

Is it necessary to freeze the tofu?

Absolutely not! While it does help create a chewy meat like texture, it is not necessary if you don’t have time. What is necessary, however, is using a firm tofu for this recipe. Not only is firm tofu more FODMAP friendly, it’s firmness is critical to our vegan bolognese being undetectably vegan.

I have also discovered a new method for improving the texture of tofu recently. That is: boiling it. I find boiling the whole block of tofu creates a really nice bouncy and spring texture.

Is tofu low FODMAP?

According to Monash, firm tofu is FODMAP friendly in 170g serves per person. That means that 500g of tofu only needs to serve three people. There are other factors at play in this vegan bolognese (such as the tinned tomatoes) but tofu is definitely a FODMAP friendly vegan protein source.

How to add extra flavour to a FODMAP friendly vegan bolognese

I have recently revamped this recipe to make it a little more streamlined. As a result, I’ve been playing around with some flavour boosters for the vegan bolognese, and there are some doozies. I learnt a lot about creating a faux meat flavour within the confines of the FODMAP diet when I made my vegan sausages recently, and I wanted to elevate this recipe with that knowledge.

Dried sage powder. Honestly, I’d say this is my number 1 suggestion for creating a meaty depth of flavour. It might be that it’s just a flavour we associate with meat, but dried sage powder has a deeply savoury flavour that goes such a long way in creating an authentic tasting bolognese.

Truffle oil. Just a teaspoon or so of truffle oil adds a really funky meaty taste to this bolognese. 10/10 would recommend.

Sundried tomatoes. These are an easy umami booster that really just blend into the bolognese once it’s cooked. I always find I have an almost empty jar lurking at the back of my freezer, so it’s a conveniently tasty way to clear out the fridge.

Porcini powder. A little more niche, but this is a quick and easy way to inject some umami into your vegan bolognese. Porcini have a FODMAP limit, but it doesn’t take much of the powder to make a difference.

FODMAP friendly bolognese (that's vegan!) from

How many people does this bolognese serve?

If you’re eating the mince alone, with no pasta or other options, it will serve around 4 people. This depends on how hungry people are, too.

If you’re eating the mince with pasta, I would say it could serve around 6-8. Again, this depends on appetites, but also on how much mince your guests like on their pasta.

Sometimes I like to serve this bolognese atop a big bowl of roasted vegetables. For this purpose, it’s more about saucing up the vegetables than it is totally smothering them. You could get around 8 serves of the bolognese this way.

Monash updated the advice on tomatoes recently. 100g of tinned plain tomatoes is a FODMAP friendly serve. To make this bolognese fit those parameters, it needs to serve 8. This means bulking it out with extra vegetables and using it alongside pasta. If you prefer, you could use 1 – 1 1/2 tins of tomatoes and add a little water. You might need to add an extra tablespoon of tomato paste to give the sauce extra richness.

If you like, you can use my low FODMAP Nomato sauce to lower the FODMAP content. It is tomato free and a lower histamine way to enjoy low FODMAP vegan bolognese.

An aerial image of vegan bolognese on rigatoni pasta. The central plate is a white ceramic speckled plate that sits atop a white marble table. It is surrounded by other plates and a blue pot filled with more bolognese.

More FODMAP friendly vegan recipes

An aerial view of four plates of FODMAP friendly vegan bolognese on dark blue ceramic plates against a dark blue steel backdrop

FODMAP Friendly Vegan Bolognese

Gluten free, grain free, vegan, FODMAP friendly
*Cups and measures are in Australian cups and measures. Use gram weights for international accuracy.
*1 Australian tablespoon = 4 Canadian, US and New Zealand teaspoons or 3 1/2 British teaspoons
5 from 5
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Food Intolerance Friendly
Servings 6 people


  • 60ml (3 tablespoons)* olive oil
  • 2-3 large carrots, finely cubed or grated
  • 1 bunch spring onion greens, chopped
  • 20ml (1 tablespoon)* balsamic vinegar
  • 40m (2 tablespoons)* tamari
  • 1 tablespoon* miso paste make sure it’s gluten free
  • 2 tablespoons* tomato paste make sure it’s not flavoured
  • 2 tablespoons* light brown sugar or maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon* dried sage powder (for a meaty taste)
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups (250-375ml) red wine you could probably substitute water, although the sauce won’t be as rich
  • Generous freshly cracked pepper
  • 1-2 X 400g tins (800g) unflavoured tomatoes see notes
  • 450-500g Frozen and defrosted tofu
  • Water, as necessary

Optional flavour boosters

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg powder (less if you grate it freshly)
  • 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, drained and finely chopped (for a meaty umami hit)
  • 1-2 teaspoons truffle oil (for meaty funk)
  • Chilli powder, to taste (I like Aleppo pepper because it has a smokey flavour


  • Get your ingredients ready. This can become a fast moving recipe, so it's easier to have everything organised in advance. Chop the carrots and place them in a large bowl. Have the tofu defrosted and torn into little mince meat sized chunks before you begin.
  • Add the olive oil to a large heavy bottomed saucepan or pot over a medium heat. Once warmed, add the chopped carrot (you could also use fennel) and cook for about 5-10 minutes, or until it begins to shrivel and is starting to brown. Add water at any time if it begins to burn. Add the spring onion greens if you're using them and cook until soft.
  • While the carrot is cooking, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, Tamari, miso paste, tomato paste, brown sugar and sage powder. Add any flavour boosters you're using, except the truffle oil (it's added at the end so as not to cook out the flavour).
  • Add the tofu chunks to the pan and stir to combine. Add the balsamic mixture to the pan and stir again. It should sizzle up and thicken quite quickly.
  • Deglaze the pan with the red wine. Take a bit of time to coat everything in the sauce and the wine – this is what colours the tofu and makes the bolognese look so 'realistic'.
  • Add the tinned tomatoes, and stir thoroughly. Season with generous freshly cracked pepper.
  • Adjust the seasonings if necessary, and continue cooking for 10-15 minutes, adding water to thin the sauce out if you need to.
  • You can serve as is, or on a bowl of gluten free pasta. To keep it vegan, sprinkle nutritional yeast or vegan parmesan on top. Personally, I like mine with some freshly grated dairy parmesan.
  • This bolognese stores really well in the fridge for a couple of days and can be frozen, too.


  • Monash updated the advice on tomatoes recently. 100g of tinned plain tomatoes is a FODMAP friendly serve. To make this bolognese fit those parameters, it needs to serve 8. This means bulking it out with extra vegetables and using it alongside pasta. If you prefer, you could use 1 – 1 1/2 tins of tomatoes and add a little water. You might need to add an extra tablespoon of tomato paste to give the sauce extra richness. 
  • Alternatively, use my low FODMAP Nomato sauce recipe to recipe one or both cans of tinned tomato. 
  • Tomato paste is FODMAP friendly in 2 tablespoon serves per person, so you don’t need to worry about adding a little extra here. 
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
FODMAP friendly vegan bolognese from
FODMAP friendly bolognese (that's vegan!) from


  1. 5 stars
    Made this last eve with gf noodles. It was a HIT! So tasty, I havn’t had this kind of “mom used to make” pasta sauce in years and it was pure January comfort food. Thanks for sharing this recipe.

    1. The Monash app says it’s FODMAP friendly in 1/2 cup serves or 48g. 1 bulb divided between 6ish portions of bolognese is well within that parameter 🙂

  2. 5 stars
    this recipe was easy and absolutely delicious, i look forward to adding in more veggies and experimenting with different things.

    1. Hi Joanne, unfortunately I haven’t used anything to substitute for vinegar, it’s pretty integral to the taste and there’s not really anything that replicates the taste except for other sorts of vinegar (which I’m assuming you don’t use either). You could perhaps try coconut aminos but it definitely won’t quite the same taste

    1. Hi Emma! I use chopped but it really doesn’t matter at all. If you use whole just mush them up a little as you cook the bolognese 🙂

  3. 5 stars
    I made a double recipe of this and I got more than 12 serves from it (served with gf pasta). This was the first recipe I made after having to eat low fodmap that really made me feel glad about food again 🙂 thanks!

  4. Looks like a great recipe and I’d love to try it (I’ve only recently heard about freezing tofu!!)
    However, in one of your articles (that linked to this recipe), you say that you recommend the ‘boiling in salt water method’ to defrost the tofu. But then here you say not to bother as you didn’t like it ???
    I’m confused as to whether or not you decided the boiling in salt water method was a good or bad idea?
    Your article –

    1. Hi Kelsie, I love freezing and boiling tofu generally but in bolognese I find it too springy. It has a very light and airy spongy texture (compared to frozen and defrosted tofu but also tofu straight from the packet) that is too bouncy for bolognese in my opinion. It’s not bad at all, I just prefer unboiled here.

      My favourite place to use it is in any recipe that cubes and fries or bakes tofu. You get the nice spongy insides and crispy outsides. Hopefully that helps!

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