Vegan Puttanesca Without Anchovies Recipe

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by Maggie Turansky

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If you’re looking for an easy and flavourful pasta sauce that comes together in the amount of time it takes your pasta to cook, then you’re sure to love this vegan puttanesca sauce without anchovies.

Hailing from the Campania region of Southern Italy, this sauce usually involves cooking a few anchovies in a tomato sauce with plenty of garlic, capers and black olives. However, if you’re looking for an excellent vegan version, then this recipe is for you!

In fact, it’s so true to my typical method of making it (where I put in several anchovy fillets) that neither my partner nor I could tell the difference!

So if you love the bold, briny flavours of this Southern Italian pasta dish but would like to have a vegan version, then this is the recipe for you.

Vegan Puttenesca Without Anchovies
Vegan Puttanesca Without Anchovies

How to Make Puttanesca Sauce Without Anchovies

Because this sauce comes together in just about the time it takes to cook the pasta (much like my lemon pasta or even my fettuccine alfredo), it can be a good idea to get all of your ingredients prepped before starting to cook. Fortunately, there aren’t many so this shouldn’t take more than about 5 minutes.

Ingredients for this puttanesca recipe
Ingredients for this puttanesca recipe

All you need to do is roughly chop (or thinly slice) a few cloves of garlic. You don’t want to chop the garlic into too small of pieces because it will burn more easily – similarly to what I do in my Greek shrimp recipe. This is one of the few times I recommend against using a garlic press or rasp-style grater!

Next, rinse some capers in brine and roughly chop them up, as well. Then chop a few high-quality pitted black olives – I like to use kalamata olives as I think their flavour to the dish is best.

Chopping the olives, capes, garlic and parsley
Chopping the olives, capers, garlic and parsley

Now, in a small bowl, crush some whole peeled tomatoes with your hands. I think the consistency and flavour is better when you hand-crush tomatoes rather than purchasing a can of crushed tomatoes. I do the same in my pasta all’amatriciana recipe and in my creamy tomato pasta recipe.

And finally, finely chop some fresh parsley. Now we’re ready to get cooking.

Crushing the whole tomatoes
Crushing the whole tomatoes

Put a large pot of heavily salted water over high heat and bring to a rolling boil. Add your pasta and cook it for about two minutes less than the package suggests (the pasta will finish cooking in the sauce).

I call for spaghetti in the recipe, but you can really use any pasta shape you’d like. Bucatini is a great option, for instance, but you could even use something like rigatoni if you’d like.

Adding chili and garlic to the pan
Adding chili flakes and garlic to the pan

While your pasta is cooking, add some olive oil, your chopped garlic and some chili flakes to a large skillet. Set over medium-high heat and cook for a few minutes until the garlic begins to toast and turns a light golden brown.

This is the time to add your olives, capers and, a surprise ingredient, some miso paste.

Adding the olives, capers and miso paste
Adding the olives, capers and miso paste

Miso paste is the perfect substitute for anchovies in puttanesca as it’s funky, salty and adds a great umami to the sauce. Stir this to combine and begin dissolving the miso paste.

Then, pour in your tomatoes and bring the sauce to a gentle simmer.

Adding the tomatoes to the pan
Adding the tomatoes to the pan

When your pasta is finished cooking, use tongs to transfer it to the skillet and toss to coat in the sauce.

Continue tossing and cooking the pasta until it’s al dente, about 2 minutes longer. Then, add your parsley and toss to combine.

Tossing the pasta in the sauce
Tossing the pasta in the sauce

Taste to adjust for seasoning and add salt and pepper where needed. Then, serve immediately and dig in! And if you’re looking for something sweet to finish it off, then make sure to check out my tiramisu recipe!

Vegan Puttenesca Without Anchovies

Vegan Puttanesca Without Anchovies

Tradtionlly made with briney anchovies, this vegan spin on a southern Italian favourite leaves absolutely nothing to be desired and comes together in under fifteen minutes!
4.8 from 4 votes
Servings 4
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes


  • 500 g (1 lb) spaghetti (see note 1)
  • 6-8 cloves garlic roughly chopped
  • ½ tsp chili flakes
  • 2 tsp white miso paste
  • 100 g (¾ cup) pitted black olives roughly chopped (see note 2)
  • 3 tbsp capers rinsed and chopped
  • 2 (400g/14oz) cans (2 cans) whole peeled tomatoes crushed with hands
  • 2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley chopped


  • Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, add your pasta and cook for 2 minutes less than the package instructions
  • While the pasta is cooking, add 30ml (2 tablespoons) of olive oil to a skillet. Add the garlic and chili flakes and set over medium heat. Cook until the garlic begins to turn golden brown, about 3-4 minutes.
    Adding chili and garlic to the pan
  • Add the miso paste, olives and capers to the skillet. Cook for a minute or two to begin dissolving the miso paste.
    Adding the olives, capers and miso paste
  • Add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer, stirring to completely dissolve the miso paste.
    Adding the tomatoes to the pan
  • Using tongs, transfer the cooked pasta from the pot to the skillet. Toss to combine in the sauce and cook, tossing frequently, until the sauce is coating the noodles and the pasta is al dente, another two minutes or so. Add some pasta cooking water, a little at a time, to loosen the sauce if needed.
    Tossing the pasta in the sauce
  • Turn off the heat and add the parsley, toss to combine. Taste to adjust for seasoning, adding salt and black pepper where needed.
    Vegan Puttenesca Without Anchovies



  1. Spaghetti is traditional, but you can be creative with the pasta shape you decide to use. I like bucatini, personally.
  2. Use a high-quality black olive, like kalamata, for the best flavour.


Calories: 550kcal | Carbohydrates: 105g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 975mg | Potassium: 718mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 593IU | Vitamin C: 23mg | Calcium: 119mg | Iron: 4mg

Disclaimer: Nutritional information is automatically generated and provided as guidance only. Accuracy is not guaranteed.

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Making vegan puttanesca sauce without anchovies is easy and the results are just as flavourful and complex as the original version!

Are you wondering how to make a vegan version of puttanesca? Have any questions about this recipe? Let me know in the comments!

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Maggie is the creator behind No Frills Kitchen. She is a world traveller, home cook and recipe developer who loves to experiment with new cuisines and techniques at every chance she gets. No stranger to improvising and making do with the equipment and ingredients she has available, she is passionate about sharing her knowledge with others. Read More

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