Lentil Sloppy Joes Recipe photo by Taste of Home

How to Make Vegan Sloppy Joes with Lentils

Total Time
Prep: 30 min. Cook: 35 min.
These vegan sloppy joes are made with red lentils instead of ground beef. They are saucy, smoky and delightfully messy!

Updated: Dec. 20, 2023

If you grew up eating sloppy joes as a kid, chances are, they’re still a beloved comfort food. The messiness of eating with your hands, plus that irresistibly savory sauce… they’re hard not to love! This plant-based take on the classic calls for red lentils instead of ground beef. Turns out, vegan sloppy joes are every bit as satisfying as the original sloppy joes.

Vegan Sloppy Joes Ingredients

Lentil Sloppy Joes ingredients arranged on kitchen counter topTMB Studio

  • Olive oil
  • Sweet onion
  • Green pepper
  • Sweet red pepper
  • Carrot
  • Garlic cloves
  • Reduced-sodium vegetable broth
  • Dried red lentils
  • Plum tomatoes
  • Canned tomato sauce
  • Chili powder
  • Yellow mustard
  • Cider vinegar
  • Vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • Maple syrup
  • Tomato paste
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Whole wheat hamburger buns
  • Vegan coleslaw, optional

Directions

Step 1: Saute the vegetables

hands sautéing the vegetables for lentil sloppy joesTMB Studio
In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, peppers and carrot, and cook until crisp-tender, six to eight minutes. Then add the garlic and cook for one minute longer. These sauteed veggies will form the foundational flavor of the vegan sloppy joes.

Step 2: Add the lentils

simmer the mixture after adding the broth and lentilsTMB Studio

Add the broth and lentils, and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered until the lentils are tender, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Step 3: Simmer and serve

adding the chopped tomatoes into the vegan sloppy joes mixtureTMB Studio
Lastly, stir in the chopped tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili powder, mustard, vinegar, vegan Worcestershire sauce, syrup, tomato paste, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes more.

Divide the lentil mixture among buns and top with coleslaw, if desired. Serve immediately.

Vegan Sloppy Joes Tips

Which lentils should I use in vegan sloppy joes?

You’ll find several types of lentils on supermarket shelves and they all yield slightly different results. We prefer red lentils here because they cook the fastest and break down almost completely during cooking, which helps mimic that messy sloppy joe texture.

How do you store vegan sloppy joes?

Store leftover vegan sloppy joe filling in an airtight container for up to four days. Reheat on the stove or in the microwave before serving. For longer-term storage, freeze in an airtight container for up to three months. Thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating.

Vegan Sloppy Joes

Prep Time 30 min
Cook Time 35 min
Yield 14 servings.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 medium green pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 medium sweet red pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, shredded
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2-1/2 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup dried red lentils, rinsed
  • 5 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 4-1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 14 whole wheat hamburger buns, split and toasted
  • Vegan coleslaw, optional

Directions

  1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, peppers and carrot; cook and stir until vegetables crisp-tender, 6-8 minutes. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer.
  2. Add broth and lentils; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, until lentils are tender, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in chopped tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili powder, mustard, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, syrup, tomato paste, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes. Serve on buns. If desired, top with coleslaw.

Nutrition Facts

1 sandwich: 215 calories, 5g fat (1g saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 438mg sodium, 38g carbohydrate (8g sugars, 7g fiber), 8g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 2-1/2 starch, 1 fat.

When I experimented with making more vegetarian-friendly recipes, this was one of my biggest hits—we still eat it weekly! My preschooler will always eat every bite of these tangy lentil joes. —Christina Rock, Covington, Washington