Walnut Sauce

This super easy Walnut Sauce recipe is a great addition to any vegan or vegetarian meal rotation. Seasoned walnut crumbles replicate beef in a rich walnut bolognese to die for. It’s also perfect for eating on a budget.

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a bowl of pasta topped with walnut sauce.

This walnut pasta sauce is an inexpensive and healthy dinner idea! For starters, walnuts have a wide variety of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients. Awesome nutrition right there. More meat-free dinner ideas include this Vegetarian Lentil Chili and this Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese. Or try this creamy and tangy Tomato and Mascarpone Sauce from Two Cloves Kitchen.

IN THIS POST: Everything you need to make Walnut Sauce 

a bowl of pasta with walnut sauce.


  • walnuts
  • dried seasonings: rosemary, parsley, garlic powder, smoked paprika, fennel, and sea salt
  • plain tomato pasta sauce
a bag of walnuts.

Instructions to make this recipe

First, add the tomato pasta sauce to a saucepan to heat it up.

Tomato sauce being stirred in a saucepan

Meanwhile, add the walnuts to a food processor with the dried spices.

walnuts and seasonings in a food processor.

Pulse the walnuts into crumbles resembling ground beef. Be sure not to over blend or you will wind up with spicy walnut butter. A few pulses ought to do it. 

seasoned walnut crumbles in a food processor.

Stir the crumbled walnuts into the warmed sauce and stir.

seasoned walnut crumbles being stirred into pasta sauce.

This is some rich, delicious pasta sauce right here.

walnut sauce being stirred in a saucepan.

In the meantime, cook the pasta. Bring a large pot of water (generously salted) to a boil, cook, and drain.

This brand of brown rice pasta is a tried and true gluten-free option.

It has the perfect al dente consistency, as the Italians would say.

My favorite thing about brown rice pasta is how easily it digests. No stomach bloat or sluggishness like with bleached flour pasta. The key to perfectly cooked brown rice pasta is to not overcook it.

a package of brown rice noodles.

FAQs, Tips, + Substitutions

  • What is walnut sauce? The traditional Salsa di Noci is a cream-based sauce with walnuts, white bread without crusts, and lemon juice. Our version is a different flavor featuring tomato sauce. It has more of a bolognese taste and fewer calories
  • Use a high-powered blender instead of a food processor to make the seasoned walnut crumbles
  • Top your bowl with fresh pepper, a drizzle of olive oil, and a tablespoon of grated parmesan cheese
  • Store any leftovers in a sealed glass container in the fridge for up to 2 days

Want to try another delicious vegan sauce? This easy white wine sauce is super simple but packed with flavor.

a bowl of noodles topped with walnut sauce.

More meatless dinner recipes

*This recipe was originally posted on September 1, 2014, modified on June 21, 2019, and updated again on October 8, 2022, with recipe notes, writing, and new photos.**

If you’ve tried my Walnut Sauce, please rate the recipe and let me know how it turned out by leaving me a comment below. I’m always interested in feedback!

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a bowl of pasta with walnut bolognese sauce.

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a bowl of pasta topped with walnut sauce.

Walnut Sauce – Vegan + Budget-Friendly Recipe

Sharon Rhodes
This super easy Walnut Sauce recipe is a great addition to any vegan or vegetarian meal rotation. Seasoned walnut crumbles replicate beef in a rich walnut bolognese to die for. It's also perfect for eating on a budget.
5 from 17 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 235 kcal



  • In a medium sauce pot, set your sauce over medium heat.
  • Meanwhile, place walnuts and spices in your food processor and pulse until crumbled. Don’t over mix or it will turn to butter.
  • Add the crumbles to the sauce and stir well.
  • Cook 4 portions of your choice of pasta.
  • Serve warm sauce over pasta.



  • Use a high-powered blender instead of a food processor to make the seasoned walnut crumbles
  • Top your bowl with fresh pepper, a drizzle of olive oil, and a tablespoon of grated parmesan cheese
  • Store any leftovers in a sealed glass container in the fridge for up to 2 days


Calories: 235kcalCarbohydrates: 13gProtein: 6gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 963mgPotassium: 737mgFiber: 4gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 795IUVitamin C: 13.3mgCalcium: 53mgIron: 2.7mg
Keyword vegan bolognese sauce, walnut bolognese sauce, walnut pasta sauce, walnut sauce
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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  1. 5 stars
    Just made this and substituted pecans for walnuts, because of an allergy and it’s what was on hand.
    Oh! My! Gawd! So delish!!
    This will be in regular rotation!
    Thank you!

  2. 5 stars
    We just had Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Walnut Bolognese at Marche restaurant in Eugene, OR on a road trip from CA to WA State. I was apprehensive when the waiter told me it was one of his favorites. I was shocked at how much I LOVED it! And it’s gluten-free! Even better. I immediately set out to find a recipe online, and I found yours. I’ll be trying it after the holidays and our drive back to CA. Thank you!

    1. Wow, that’s such a cool story! I was shocked at how good it was too. 😉 Who would of thunk it! I hope you enjoy this version. Happy New Year, Lisa!

  3. 5 stars
    Made this last night and it was a big hit! The vegans of the house and the visiting non-vegans all enjoyed the walnut sauce.
    Thanks 🙂

  4. 5 stars
    Thanks for the great idea! I actually have an amazing bolognese recipe, but wanted to make it vegetarian for meatless Monday. I left out the meat and added nuts at the end. So yummy and satisfying!

  5. I just tried this recipe and while it tastes good there are a few bits I’m wondering about. The walnuts never quite softened up for that nice chewy texture you get from ground meat. Should I have soaked them first or do they just need to simmer for a long time in the sauce? I used a canned tomato sauce and by the time I finished the color of the sauce had changed from a bright red to more of a BBQ sauce brown. Is that because of the can or a reaction from the walnuts and spices? I’m curious if the leftovers will have impoved from the chill time so we’ll see. Overall, a nice dish that I’ll definitely be making again.

    1. 5 stars
      Hey Christy! I’m so glad you tried out the recipe. 🙂 Let me see if I can answer some of your questions.
      When I make this the walnuts do still have a tiny bit of crunch to them for texture but not soft per se. You could try toasting the nuts a bit first which would add even more flavour and texture.
      As for the tomato sauce, I would really try to avoid anything with tomatoes that is canned. Tomatoes are very acidic and there have been studies that show they will leach chemicals (BPA) from the lining of the cans. This ends up in your food and is not good to say the least. Look for the glass jarred tomato sauce to be on the safe side. It doesn’t take long to cook really. Just until it’s completely heated through. For me, it’s the time it takes to cook up my pasta. 😉
      I hope this helps, Christy!
      Let me know how the leftover turn out. I haven’t experimented with leftovers yet. It all ends up getting eaten same day. 😉

      1. Normally I do use glass jarred sauce but since I was out I had to raid the pantry lol. I did saute the walnuts with the seasoning in some oil before adding the sauce and it did help make them more aromatic. The leftovers are good and the walnuts did soften a little bit. I think next time I may try a 50/50 mix of the walnuts and ground crumbles so you still get some of that soft chewy texture in there. Great recipe though. Thanks for sharing!

  6. 5 stars
    I made this tonight, adding a dash of onion powder and nutritional yeast. Sharon, my eyes rolled into the back of my head, it was so good! I ended up doubling the walnut mixture because I couldn’t get enough. One of the best meals I’ve had in a long time.

    1. Right??!! I’m so glad you loved it. It’s like a new world has been opened. I can’t wait to experiment further using walnuts like this. Thanks for the positive feedback Meredith! I appreciate the kind comment. 🙂

    1. Thanks so much, Sandra! It is one of the nicest surprises I’ve had since starting this blog. I was so excited to share it. 🙂

  7. 5 stars
    I just cooked and it was amazing! I didn’t have fennel seeds, though 🙁 but I used some cumin and overall it was great (: I am happy to say that this new recipe has joined my (vegan) mom’s recipe collection ♥ thank you very much for sharing it ^^ greetings from Costa Rica (:

    1. Oooh! Costa Rica! My brother visited your beautiful country last year and absolutely loved it. His pictures were incredible!!

      Thanks so much for your lovely comment, Maria. This recipe is a personal favourite. I was blown away how great the walnuts were in this sauce. And cumin? Love it. Great substitute. 🙂

      1. I don’t have fennel but always have cumin in the house so I’m going to try that. Can hardly wait to try this TONIGHT!

  8. 5 stars
    I LOVE adding walnuts to my dishes to give it that little somethin’ somethin’ -especially pasta! I believe there’s nothing a walnut can’t make better. And pasta, be still my heart. This dish rocks! Perfect for the comfy cozy days of fall ahead. Yum 🙂

    1. Thanks so much Allison! I was absolutely blown away by how delicious this was. I’m super excited to see what else I can toss seasoned walnuts into. 🙂

  9. 5 stars
    This looks fantastic Sharon! I never thought to add walnuts as I always use mushrooms for a meaty taste and texture!

    1. I’ve seen it done the same way but as taco ‘meat’ with chilies/hot spices. I’m trying that next! This tasted so so good, I’m inspired to try other things!

  10. 5 stars
    This is an awesome recipe for a meat free bolognese.. I definitely will be making it for my vegetarian household. Thanks for the great idea!

  11. 5 stars
    So funny!! I saw a recipe in Veg News a few days ago using walnuts as taco “meat” and was wondering if it would work in spaghetti sauce!! Great spirits think alike 🙂 I will definitely try this!

    1. I can’t think of a better compliment than being a ‘great spirit’! Thanks so much Nathalie. 🙂 This is such a keeper recipe. Enjoy September!

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