Vegan Lentil Sloppy Joes

By • January 24, 2014 13 Comments

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Author Notes: Easy, filling, and inexpensive, this is the only vegan sloppy Joe recipe you'll ever need. Gena Hamshaw

Serves 6

  • 1 cup brown or green lentils, soaked for a few hours (or overnight) and rinsed
  • 2 to 3 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup white or yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 green or red bell pepper, chopped (about 3/4 to 1 cup)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder, dried
  • One 15-ounce can crushed, fire-roasted tomatoes (I like the Muir Glen brand)
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon organic brown sugar or maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoons sea salt (adjust according to taste; how much is needed will also depend on the tomatoes and tomato paste you use)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth (or more as needed)
  • 6 sprouted grain buns
  • Toppings of choice (Tabasco sauce, sriracha, pickles, onions, sauerkraut, coleslaw, avocado slices, etc.)
  1. Place lentils in a large pot, and cover with water (enough so that there's at least a full inch or two of water above the lentils). Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the lentils are chewable, but still have some firmness to them. Drain them and set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and pepper, and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the onion is soft and clear, stirring frequently. Add the garlic, chili, paprika, and mustard, and continue cooking for another minute or two, until the garlic is quite fragrant.
  3. Add the lentils, fire-roasted tomatoes, tomato paste, brown sugar or maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Add more broth as needed. Simmer until the mixture has thickened to your liking, about 15 to 20 minutes (I like thick sloppy joes, but if you like 'em sloppier, that's fine, too!).
  4. Remove mixture from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes. Divide sloppy joes onto the buns and top with toppings of choice, including some Tabasco or sriracha for heat, if desired. Serve.

More Great Recipes: Lentils|Pickles|Beans & Legumes|Entrees|Sandwiches

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Comments (13) Questions (0)


6 months ago Mary Ellen Finucane

I agree with AMGenco. This recipe is almost word for word verbatim out of Veganomicon. I didn't realize it until I checked and the sloppy joe was simmering away in the pot. I did a little doctoring. To my doubled recipe (An army is coming for dinner) I added canned a can of black beans, a can of black eyed peas, a few drops of vegetarian Worcestershire, a little more maple syrup, the whole can of tomato paste, 4 cloves of garlic, subbed smoked paprika with ancho chili spice, and added a splash more apple cider vinegar. I felt it needed more substance.


7 months ago Tara chamot

Was a little cautious as I've been striking out lately with new recipes and my kids, but get a gold star for this one! My 7 yo AND 4 yo both wolfed this down!!! One are it on a bun, the other just ate the mixture straight with a spoon. delicious, healthy, easy & satisfying. Great as leftovers too


about 1 year ago Erika

Freezes great! Just made it for a big group of meat eaters, big hit. One child was convinced there was meat in it.


about 1 year ago Jara

I had been meaning to make this for a while. Even the lentil haters loved it. They were a great sub for meat. Does anyone know if it freezes well?


over 1 year ago simplyrenee

i also doubled the spices and it turned out well. great recipe even for a picky ten year old!


over 1 year ago ascherl

I didn't pre-soak and cooked the lentils for 30 minutes in the first step, and they turned out great. I also didn't have veggie stock so I just used some of the drained lentil cooking water. A bit of soy sauce bumped up the umami and I found Tabasco a nice addition as well.


over 1 year ago Diane

These are wonderful! Though I don't eat anything with a face, I'll admit I've pined for the overly-salted, smoky, tomato-y sloppy joes that my mom used to feed us in the 70's. For this recipe, I nearly doubled the spices, added a good teaspoon of salt to the mixture, and drizzled a generous amount of sriracha on top. Viola! It was the sloppy joe from my childhood, and gosh-darn it I didn't miss the cow one bit. Moo! :)


over 1 year ago ChristyBean

If, unfortunately, we don't have access to canned fire-roasted tomatoes, if there a way to doctor up normal canned tomatoes? Or a way to add in that lovely flavor?


over 1 year ago Donna

Since you're cooking the onions and peppers as part of the recipe, you could char them both on a grill or grill pan, as if you were making a roasted pepper. I like to cut my onions in half, skewer them so they don't fall apart and then grill.


over 1 year ago Hulaboola

Personally I would add a bit of Mesquite liquid smoke. Start with a half teaspoon and increase to taste. Hope that works for you. Oh, there is also a hickory flavor if that works better for you. I just find the mesquite "smokier" and less like barbecue.


over 1 year ago CurioCook

Looks awesome! Could you suggest a time to boil the lentils if I don't have 2 hours to soak them? I'm guessing half cooking them would work so like 10 mins?


over 1 year ago Hulaboola

Usually a half hour to an hour will do the trick. Use Ann Burrel's "five bean trick". Taste five for doneness. If 5 are done, you are good to go!


over 1 year ago AMGenco

For years now, I have been making a recipe from a great cookbook, Veganomicon, called Snobby Joes that is very similar to this recipe (makes me wonder a little bit if the author didn't crib the concept). Regardless of sources, replacing beef with lentils in sloppy joes is a brilliant healthy swap that tastes truly delicious. We make Snobby Joes once every week or two.