Red Lentil Bolognese - Cinnamon and Kale (2023)

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This flavoursome red lentil bolognese recipe is super adaptable. It's delicious served over spaghetti, soba noodles, or brown rice. But it's also perfect to make dishes such as lasagne or a red lentil shepherds pie. This recipe is vegan, easy to make, and great for meal prep as it reheats well.

Red Lentil Bolognese - Cinnamon and Kale (1)

What you'll love about the recipe

  • Suitable for all the family - vegan, gluten free and dairy free.
  • Made from store cupboard ingredients. Red lentil bolognese is perfect for the end of the week when you're running low on fresh ingredients.
  • A good base for lots of family favourites such as spaghetti bolognese, shepherd's pie and lasagne.
  • Budget friendly. You can make six servings of this bolognese sauce for just a couple of pounds.
  • Ideal for meal prep. The sauce can be made ahead and reheated. It also freezes well.
  • Healthy. This red lentil bolognese sauce is packed with fibre, vitamins and minerals.
Jump to:
  • What you'll love about the recipe
  • Ingredients
  • How to make red lentil bolognese sauce
  • Serving and storage tips
  • Frequently asked questions
  • Other healthy lentil recipes
  • Recipe


Red lentil bolognese is made mostly from pantry ingredients, plus a few veggies that you may already have in the bottom of the fridge. It's also budget friendly, and healthy and wholesome.

Red Lentil Bolognese - Cinnamon and Kale (2)
  • Lentils: You'll need red lentils for this recipe. Red lentils are perfect in dishes where you want them to soften and thicken the sauce. They don't need soaking, and they cook quickly, so it's best to use a pack of dried red lentils. Red lentils are a great source of fibre, folate, and a number of other vitamins and minerals. They are also an excellent source of plant protein. See here for further information about the health benefits of lentils
  • Onions, carrot and celery: These veggies make a great tasty base for a red lentil bolognese. I usually chop the veg for this recipe in the food processor, as it's good to have them finely and evenly chopped
  • Canned tomatoes and tomato puree: Doubling up with both canned tomatoes and puree adds extra depth of tomato-y flavour. Either whole or crushed tomatoes are fine
  • Flavourings: Red lentils have a relatively bland taste, so adding extra flavour is important. You can use either Marmite or Worcestershire sauce to add a savoury flavour, and fresh thyme adds a lovely herby taste. If you prefer to use dried thyme, reduce the quantity to 1 teaspoon, as it is more concentrated. You could also replace the thyme with a teaspoon of dried mixed herbs if that's what you have available. Finely chopped garlic adds more flavour. I don't add further seasoning, as the Marmite and stock provide plenty
  • Stock: You can use any veggie stock you have available - in this version I used a stock cube, but you can use fresh homemade stock if you have it. If you like, you could replace 100 ml of the stock with a small glass of red wine.
  • Olive oil, or you could use coconut oil if you prefer

How to make red lentil bolognese sauce

Use a pan with a well fitting lid to cook the sauce.

Saute the onion, celery and carrots for 10 minutes before adding the other ingredients. This will help the flavour of the finished dish. Add the garlic at the end of the 10 minutes as it burns easily.

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Add all the remaining ingredients, cover the pan and simmer gently for 30 minutes.

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Check towards the end of the cooking time to make sure that the sauce is not starting to catch on the bottom of the pan. If it is, add a splash more stock or water

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Serving and storage tips

  • Try topping your red lentil bolognese with grated cheese if serving with spaghetti or rice
  • If you want to make your bolognese sauce into a veggie lasagne, this easy white sauce recipe will speed the process up
  • Use sweet potatoes for a topping if you're making a veggie shepherds pie. The sweet potatoes will complement the flavour of the red lentils perfectly. See here for the full post on how to make a red lentil shepherd's pie.
  • This red lentil bolognese sauce will store well in the fridge for up to a week. You can easily reheat it on the stove in a pan. It also freezes extremely well. Pack into plastic bags or boxes and freeze for up to 3 months
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Frequently asked questions

Can I use lentils instead of mince in bolognese?

Yes, lentils make a fantastic bolognese sauce. Red lentils are ideal as they cook down quickly to a good texture. Replacing mince with lentils is good for your wallet, and good for your health.

Do you need to soak red lentils?

No, red lentils don't need to be soaked before cooking. If you look closely at a red lentil you can see that it has been split in half. That makes them very quick and easy to cook.

Are lentils healthy?

Yes, lentils are a very healthy ingredient. They are high in fibre, low in fat and a good source of vitamins and minerals. Lentils are also a good source of plant protein. They are beneficial for your digestive system, heart healthy and can help to improve blood sugar management.

Other healthy lentil recipes

Lentils are a really flexible and useful ingredient. They make fantastic burgers, pasties and you can add them to a salad.

  • Lentil Burgers
  • Spinach and Lentil Parcels
  • Balsamic lentil salad
  • Red Lentil Shepherd's Pie

Lentils are also great to add to a soup. They add protein, and naturally thicken the soup. Red lentils will break down completely in a soup, so fussy eaters won't even know they are there;)

  • Red Lentil and Butternut squash Soup
  • Tomato and Red Lentil Soup

Have you tried this recipe? Please leave a rating and/or comment at the bottom of the page. Your feedback and questions are much appreciated.
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Red Lentil Bolognese - Cinnamon and Kale (13)

Red Lentil Bolognese


Red lentil bolognese is easy to make. It's vegan, and great for meal prep.

Print Recipe Pin Recipe

Prep Time 15 mins

Cook Time 30 mins

Course Main Course

Cuisine Healthy

Servings 6

Calories 173 kcal


  • 1 onion peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 carrots finely chopped
  • 1 stick celery finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic peeled and very finely chopped
  • 400 g canned tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree
  • 1 teaspoon Marmite or use 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 200 g red lentils
  • 700 ml vegetable stock


  • Place a large lidded frying pan over a medium heat, and add the olive oil. When it's hot, add the onion, celery and carrot, and fry for 10 minutes until starting to colour slightly.

  • Add the garlic, tomatoes and puree, herbs and Marmite and stir to mix. Add the lentils and stock, cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes.

  • Towards the end of the cooking time, check that the bolognese is not starting to catch on the bottom of the pan - if it is, add a splash more stock or water.


  • If you like, replace 100 ml of the stock with a small glass of red wine.
  • Dried thyme can be used in place of fresh. Reduce the quantity to one teaspoon as it's more concentrated. You can also use other herbs such as basil or parsley if you prefer.

Keyword Meal Prep, Red lentils, Vegan

Red Lentil Bolognese - Cinnamon and Kale (14)

Please note nutritional information is for guidance only

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