You'll be making this ragu on repeat! Perfectly rich and savory, this garlicky mushroom ragù is a hearty plant-based sauce to use over pasta, polenta, or as a topping over chicken or steak. This vegan ragù recipe uses readily available fresh mushrooms and is ready in 50 minutes or less.
Ragù is an Italian sauce made of chopped or ground meat (beef or pork) cooked long in a tomato sauce with wine, onions, carrots, and other aromatics. It is rich and deeply flavored in the best way!
If you’re thinking, That’s Bolognese sauce, isn’t it?, you’re not wrong! Bolognese is a type of ragù sauce. Ragù also shouldn’t be confused with ragout, which is a slow-cooked stew made with meat, fish, and/or vegetables.
For a vegetarian alternative, we’re going with a vegan mushroom ragù, which still delivers on flavor and comfort.
A quicker mushroom ragù you’ll love!
In this recipe, hearty mushrooms stand in for meat to create a vegetarian ragù that you can make in around 50 minutes (most ragu recipes take hours)! You’ll use three kinds of readily available fresh mushrooms in this sauce—no need for fancy dried mushrooms that require an extra step to rehydrate.
The base of this ragù recipe is made of tomato sauce and red wine with layers of flavor from garlic, onion, carrots, and herbs. The rich wine and tomato ragù sauce with all the mushroomy umami ticks all the boxes when I’m looking for a comforting vegetarian sauce that’s a bit heartier than my usual red pasta sauce. I like serving this vegan mushroom ragù over pasta, creamy polenta, or even fluffy pearl couscous!
And a word about the wine in the sauce. I do use 1 cup of red wine, but it will mostly evaporate, while adding richness and robustness to the sauce as it brings out the flavors in the remaining ingredients. So the sauce won’t taste boozy in the slightest – but you'll get a full-bodied sauce you'll love.
What mushrooms to use?
You don't need dried porcini mushrooms or fancy wild mushrooms for this quick ragù recipe. I keep it simple by using three easily available types of fresh mushrooms:
- Portabella mushrooms – Earthy and rather “meaty”, portobello mushrooms are an ideal way to add heft to vegan sauces. While they taste similar to cremini or button mushrooms, portobellos have more intense umami.
- Baby bella mushrooms – Baby bella mushrooms (also called cremini mushrooms) are, as the name suggests, younger portabella mushrooms. They are just as meaty, but are less rich with milder flavor.
- Shiitake mushrooms – Shiitake mushrooms also have delicious umami, but are mouthwateringly buttery to boot.
Ingredients: What you’ll need to make this simple mushroom ragù recipe
With some vegetables and flavor makers, you’ll have delicious vegan ragù sauce in no time. Here’s what you’ll need to make it:
- Mushrooms – As mentioned, I used portabella, baby bella, and shiitake mushrooms. If you like, you can stick with just one type of mushroom to make this vegan ragù even easier. The flavor might be slightly different, but will still be delicious.
- Extra virgin olive oil – Our Italian Nocellara EVOO, with its aromas of freshly picked tomatoes and vegetables, is an ideal choice.
- Yellow onion, carrots, and garlic – We build flavor and color from the very beginning with chopped onion and carrots, and minced garlic.
- Low-sodium vegetable broth – If you have homemade vegetable broth, you can use that, but a quality low-sodium store-bought option works just as well! (It’s what I used in this recipe.)
- Herbs: fresh thyme, fresh parsley, dried oregano – These herbs add an earthiness that complements the mushrooms, as well as bright citrusy flavor.
- Dry red wine – You’ll need a cup of red wine, but don’t worry – the alcohol cooks out completely. As I shared earlier, the red wine will simmer away and will adds richness to sauce by coaxing the flavor out of the remaining ingredients. If you don’t like wine in your cooking, you can use broth or red grape juice to add liquid, but you’ll need to make some adjustments (see the details below).
- 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce – A core ingredient in this red sauce, canned tomato sauce lends more umami and vivid color.
How to make mushroom ragù
Here is how to make this simple mushroom ragù recipe:
- Cook the vegetables. Heat 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat in a large pot or Dutch oven until shimmering. Add a large chopped yellow onion, 2 to 3 chopped carrots, and about 5 minced garlic cloves, and season well with kosher salt. Cook for a few minutes until the onions and carrots have softened.
- Add the mushrooms (6 ounces chopped portabella mushrooms, 6 ounces sliced shiitake mushrooms, and 8 ounces sliced baby bella mushrooms). Season the mushrooms with a little more kosher salt, and add a drizzle of EVOO and a splash of low-sodium vegetable broth. (You need a total of 1 cup of vegetable broth for this recipe, but just a splash of it here.) Cook for around 5 minutes so the mushrooms soften, release some moisture, and begin to shrink a little. Add ½ tablespoon thyme, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, and ½ cup chopped fresh parsley and a generous sprinkle of black pepper. Stir to combine, making sure to scrape anything that may be stuck to the bottom of the pot.
- Cook the sauce. Pour in a cup of dry red wine, 1 15-ounce can of tomato sauce, and the rest of the vegetable broth. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook for around 20 minutes. Then uncover and cook for 15 or 20 minutes more, until the sauce thickens considerably. It should be quite chunky, resembling a very thick stew and not a soup.
- Finish and serve the meatless ragù. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Stir in a little more fresh parsley for color. A couple tablespoons of chopped hazelnuts add just the right amount of crunch and texture, but is totally optional. Serve mushroom ragù over polenta, pasta, or pearl couscous.
Can you make ragù sauce without wine?
Yes, you can make ragù without wine! Two good one-to-one substitutes for wine in cooking are beef broth and red grape juice.
To keep this recipe vegan, you can use vegetable broth instead, but beef broth adds more flavor and color. To add acidity to replace the alcohol, a splash of white vinegar will do the trick. A teaspoon of white vinegar per cup of beef broth adds just the right amount of acidity.
The same applies to grape juice, which becomes slightly sharper and less sweet with a splash of white vinegar.
Note that red wine vinegar, despite sounding like the obvious choice for a substitute, is very acidic and does not work well in place of red wine. Broth or grape juice with some white vinegar are by far better options.
The thing about a ragù like this is that it’s even better the next day, as it will thicken and the flavors will have a chance to deepen over time. So, feel free to make it one or two nights ahead and use it as you need it.
You can also do some prep for the ragù with mushrooms and cook it later. Prepare and chop all your vegetables a night in advance. Clean and slice or chop the mushrooms and refrigerate them overnight in their own separate container in the fridge or wrapped in paper towels and stored in zip-top bags.
Delicious ways to use mushroom ragù sauce
One of my favorite things about this ragù recipe with mushrooms is how versatile it is. You can serve it over pasta, polenta, couscous, creamy mashed potatoes, or even a bed of rice. Or, for a quick vegan appetizer, serve it over rustic bread slices to sop up all the rich sauce.
I also like to use it as a chunky topping for other dishes; it’s particularly delicious over chicken or steak. And I’ve even used it as a topping for baked potato!
Can you freeze ragù?
Classic ragù with meat can be stored in the freezer for up to 6 months. Meatless mushroom ragù also freezes well for up to 6 months in a freezer-safe container or zip-top bag. (But I recommend eating it within 3 months.)
Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and reheat in a pot over medium heat until warmed through. You might need to add a little water or broth if the ragù has become too thick.
How to store vegan ragù
Classic or vegan mushroom ragù will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days in an airtight container. To reheat, spoon the ragù sauce into a pot over medium heat until warmed through. If it has become too thick, add a little more liquid (water or vegetable broth) to loosen it a little.
More vegan mushroom recipes
Easy Mushroom Ragù Recipe
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 2 to 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 4 to 5 garlic cloves, minced
- Kosher salt
- 6 ounces portabella mushrooms, chopped
- 6 ounces shiitake mushrooms, sliced
- 8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, sliced
- 1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
- ½ tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ cup chopped fresh parsley, more for later
- Black pepper
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 1 15- ounce can tomato sauce
- 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped hazelnuts, optional
- In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the onions, carrots, and garlic. Season with a big pinch of kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add the mushrooms and season with another dash of salt. Add a drizzle more of olive oil and a little bit of the broth. Cook the mushrooms for about 5 minutes until they begin to soften and cook down a little bit. Add the thyme, oregano, parsley, and a good dash of black pepper. Stir.
- Finally, add the red wine, tomato sauce, and the remainder of the broth. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook for 20 minutes or so covered, then uncover and allow the mushrooms to cook some more (about 15 to 20 minutes) until the mixture thickens to a ragu.
- To finish, taste and adjust salt to your liking. Stir in a bit more fresh parsley. If you like, add in the chopped hazelnuts (optional).
- Serve with your favorite pasta, polenta, or even pearl couscous as I do here. Enjoy!
- What mushrooms to use? I used three types of fresh mushrooms: portabella, baby bella, and shiitake. To make the recipe even easier, you can use just one type of mushroom.
- If you don't want to use wine: You can use a 1:1 ratio of beef broth or unsweetened red grape juice. Add about 1 teaspoon of white vinegar to add some acidity.
- Make-ahead tips: Prep and chop all vegetables a night ahead. Clean and slice/chop the mushrooms and store them in the fridge in an airtight container or wrapped in paper towels and stored in zip-top bags.
- How to serve mushroom ragù: You can serve ragù with mushrooms over pasta, polenta, couscous, creamy mashed potatoes, or even a bed of rice. Or, for a quick vegan mezze, serve it with some of your favorite rustic bread to sop up all the rich sauce. I also like to use it as a chunky topping for other dishes; it’s particularly delicious over chicken or steak. And I’ve used it as a topping for baked potato.
- How to store it: Ragù sauce will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. You can also freeze it for up to 6 months.
- Visit our shop to browse quality Mediterranean ingredients, including extra virgin olive oils and spices.