These Vegan Sloppy Joes are made with lentils, onions, red peppers, and a perfect balance of seasonings. Using pantry ingredients and taking less than 30 minutes to prepare, they’re flavorful, easy, and perfect for a weeknight meal!
As a busy working mom, I now understand why my mom made Sloppy Joes on the regular. They were fast and easy to pull together on a weeknight and a great alternative to burgers. All my mom needed was some buns, one of those classic Sloppy Joe cans, and some ground beef, and voilá dinner was done!
As I was menu planning this week, I was reminded of both my mom’s classic Sloppy Joes and a vegetarian version I had many years ago.
I simplified the restaurant version opting for green lentils and filling up with extra veggies. I also subbed out the cornbread for whole wheat buns, but you can easily use a gluten-free bun or serve this over rice for a gluten-free version. These Vegan Sloppy Joes are filling and a great vegan prep meal, because they can be used in so many different ways!
💗 Why You’ll Love this Recipe
- 30 Minute Meal
- Simple Pantry Ingredients
- Family Friendly
- Healthy and Hearty
- High in plant-based protein
- Chock full of veggies
- Flavorful and delicious
- Classic flavors
- Smoky, sweet, and tangy
- Omnivore and kid-approved!
🥣 Ingredients and Notes
Green Lentils: This is the protein source that we are using for this recipe. I like using green lentils in place of many meat sources, especially for this Sloppy Joe vegan version. I’ve seen others use meatless crumbles before but I find that these lentils bring a better texture and flavor, plus they are much healthier and not processed.
Water: Used to cook the lentils. You could also use vegetable broth if desired.
Red Bell Pepper: Traditional Sloppy Joe’s call for green bell peppers, but I find that using a red bell pepper brings a slight sweetness to the dish.
Sweet Onion: Onion is a traditional sloppy Joe ingredient and brings a lot of necessary flavors.
Garlic: I like mincing fresh garlic, however, you can use the minced garlic from the jar if in a pinch.
Organic Tomato Sauce: I like to use plain tomato sauce for this recipe. In traditional Sloppy Joe’s some people choose to use ketchup, but ketchup is full of sugar! Tomato sauce brings a richer flavor without the added sugar.
Coconut Sugar: A source of slight sweetness. You may also choose to use agave, honey, or maple syrup.
Spices: Chili powder, paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper.
Apple Cider Vinegar: Brings a slightly tangy flavor.
Vegan Worcestershire Sauce: Make sure that your Worcestershire sauce is certified vegan because regular Worcestershire sauce usually uses fish products.
Whole Wheat or Gluten-Free Buns: You can’t have a sloppy Joe sandwich without some buns! But if you’re not feeling the buns, go ahead and put this over rice!
📋 Step by Step Instructions
Step 1: Prepare Lentils- Thoroughly rinse lentils in a colander. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add lentils. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
Step 2: While lentils are cooking, dice yellow onion, and red pepper, and mince the garlic. Add ¼ cup of water and a tablespoon of soy sauce (optional) to the sauté pan over medium heat. Water is used as an alternative to olive oil. Add onions. Cook for 5 minutes or until translucent. Add minced garlic. Sauté for an additional minute. Add red pepper and cook for another minute.
Step 3: Add chili powder, paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.
Step 4: Add tomato sauce. Stir in coconut sugar, apple cider vinegar, and vegan Worcestershire sauce. When lentils are cooked drain any access liquid. Then add lentils to the sauce. Stir to combine.
Step 5: Toast burger buns and top with lentil mixture. Add your favorite toppings and serve!
Low in Fat and Calories-One serving is only 121 calories and less than 1 gram of fat. Depending on the size and type of bun you use you could add anywhere from 120 to 200 calories. That still gives you a hearty healthy meal in under 350 calories.
High in Fiber-One serving has 9 grams of fiber! That’s 32% of your recommended daily fiber in one sandwich!
High in Plant Protein-Lentils are legumes that are high in protein. One serving, about ½ cup has 7 grams of protein.
Rich in Vitamins and Nutrients-Lentils are an excellent source of B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc.
Find a good 100% whole wheat bun. If you can find fresh-baked buns from your local bakery that’s the way to go! You can find great whole wheat and gluten-free buns from Trader Joe’s, and Whole Foods if you have those retailers near you. I also love Dave’s Killer Bread whole grain buns.
👩🍳 Serving Suggestions
There are so many delicious toppings you can add to these Vegan Sloppy Joes! Why not load up on more veggies! Here are some of my favorite toppings…
- Pickles or Cucumbers
- Green Peppers
- Jalapeño Peppers
Store extra Lentl Sloppy Joe filling in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days. I recommend that you store the sloppy Joe mixture in the container and store your bread separately.
💭 Expert Tips
- You can use pre-cooked lentils for this recipe. I find prepared lentils in the refrigerated section of Trader Joe’s.
- If preparing your own lentils, be sure to rinse them before adding them to the water or broth.
- Check lentils at 15 minutes. Overcooked lentils become mushy.
- Use water or vegetable broth to prepare the lentils. The vegetable broth will add a bit more flavor to the lentils. Although in this recipe I don’t find it necessary as the sauce has a lot of flavors already!
- Use water or vegetable broth to sauté the onions and vegetables instead of oil for a whole food plant-based no-oil recipe.
😋 More Recipes Like This
Vegan Sloppy Joes
- 1 cup green lentils
- 3 cups water or vegetable broth
- 1 red pepper
- 1 sweet onion medium
- 2 cloves garlic
- 15 oz can tomato sauce
- 2 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoon paprika
- 1 tsp cumin
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 2 tablespoon coconut sugar
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp vegan Worcestershire Sauce
- 8 whole wheat or gluten-free buns
- Prepare lentils- Thoroughly rinse lentils in colander. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add lentils. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 20 minutes.
- Dice onion, red pepper, and mince garlic. Add ¼ cup of water to sauté pan. Add onions. Sauté for 5 minutes of until translucent. Add minced garlic. Sauté for an additional minute. Add red pepper cook another minute.
- Add chili powder, paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Add tomato sauce. Stir in coconut sugar, apple cider vinegar, and vegan Worcestershire sauce.
- When lentils are cooked drain any access liquid. Then add lentils to sauce. Stir to combine.
- Toast buns and top with lentils. Add your favorite toppings and serve!
- You can use pre-cooked lentils for this recipe. I find prepared lentils in the refrigerated section of Trader Joes.
- If preparing your own lentils, be sure to rinse before adding them to the water and broth.
- Check lentils at 15 minutes. Overcooked lentils become mushy.
- Use water or vegetable broth to prepare the lentils. Vegetable broth will add a bit more flavor to the lentils. Although in this recipe I don’t find it necessary as the sauce has a lot of flavor already!
- Use water or vegetable broth to sauté the onions and vegetables instead of oil.