Sloppy Joes, Veganized

January 30, 2014

Every other Thursday, Gena Hamshaw of the blog Choosing Raw shares satisfying, flavorful recipes that also happen to be vegan.

Today: For game day, feed your vegan friends these spicy, hearty, lentil-based sloppy Joes. Because they deserve something a little more special than chips and salsa. 

lentil sloppy joes

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We’ve all had veggie burgers. Heck, we’ve had many of them. A vegan spin on sloppy Joes, however? This may be your first. 

Confession: These were my first sloppy Joes, too. I’d tried vegan sloppy Joes at a restaurant once, made with tofu, and they were a little too sloppy. The memory persisted, and I avoided making my own as a result. Recently, though, I resolved to try my hand at a lentil version, and oh, what a difference that made!

Lentils are a perfect base for this meatless recipe: They’ve got protein and texture, they absorb flavor nicely, and they cook up fast. They’re a cheap, nutritious, and flavorful base for this classic comfort food. 

lentil sloppy joes

Needless to say, these Joes come just in time for game day. Serve them up on hearty, whole grain buns with whatever toppings you like -- my favorites include pickles, grilled onions, sauerkraut, avocado slices, and radishes. The recipe has plenty of flavor as it is, but a dash of Tabasco or sriracha will fire it up a little more.

Vegan Lentil Sloppy Joes

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 ?teaspoon sea salt, to taste
1/4 ?teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)
1/2 ?cup vegetable broth (or more as needed)
6 ?whole wheat buns
Toppings of choice (Tabasco sauce, sriracha, pickles, onions, sauerkraut, coleslaw, avocado slices, etc.) 

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by James Ransom. 

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Gena is a registered dietitian, recipe developer, and food blogger. She's the author of three cookbooks, including Power Plates (2017) and Food52 Vegan (2015). She enjoys cooking vegetables, making bread, and challenging herself with vegan baking projects.


Anne M. February 3, 2014
I made this exactly as written and found them to be a really fun adaption to the traditional sloppy joes I grew up with.The spice combination was perfect!
Katie K. February 3, 2014
I like the addition of the fire roasted tomatoes! Looks delicious.
arcane54 February 2, 2014
I'm going to try this! the spice mix sounds amazing. I've been making vegan sloppy joes with (locally made) tempeh (a cultured soy product). When crumbled it has the same texture as ground beef and eating sloppy joes takes me back to grade school. It was out monthly "hot lunch" option -- 50 cents, if I remember correctly!
M.McAwesome January 30, 2014
Thank you for this recipe! I will try it soon. Been wanting an vegetarian variation of this classic. New meatless Monday option :)
Marian B. January 30, 2014
I am obsessed with these. Thanks, Gena!
April B. January 30, 2014
I'm so appreciative of how thoughtful this blog is. Well done!
Gena H. January 30, 2014
Thank you, April!
Lia January 30, 2014
Sloppy Joes happen to be my all time favorite food! This is very exciting!
Gena H. January 30, 2014
Enjoy, Lia!
scarymonster January 30, 2014
Thanks for this. Will give it a try.