Vegan Lentil Sloppy Joes

January 24, 2014

Test Kitchen-Approved

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

Serves: 6
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 58 min

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown or green lentils, soaked for a few hours (or overnight) and rinsed
  • 2 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
  • 1 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 teaspoon 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
  • 1 dash Toppings of choice (Tabasco sauce, sriracha, pickles, onions, sauerkraut, coleslaw, avocado slices, etc.)
In This Recipe

Directions

  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, pepper, and broth. 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.

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Reviews (23) Questions (0)

23 Reviews

Trena H. July 19, 2018
I loved this recipe! I served the sloppy joes with buttermilk coleslaw and it was delicious. This one is a keeper!
 
Robin June 13, 2018
Made these tonight and they were delish!! Followed the recipe exactly and it came out great. I’m not a vegetarian and did not miss the meat!!
 
Cheryl April 1, 2017
We loved it! I used just a sprinkle of the smoked paprika and 1/2 tsp sweet Hungarian paprika. I cooked the lentils in homemade vegetable broth, not water and when cooked used the strained broth from lentils as my broth to add into the tomatoes, etc. No additional sugar or maple syrup needed; it was plenty sweet enough. My friend and I ate it on 1/2 a sprouted hamburger bun topped with coleslaw. For coleslaw, which calls for mayo and sour cream, I used a vegan home-made sour cream from a cashew base. Looking forward to leftovers! Thank you!
 
Christie D. February 10, 2017
This was so good! Added cumin when sautéing onions & peppers and some Worcestershire at the end- definitely added to rotation!
 
Judi N. September 30, 2016
Absolutely delicious! and...so easy to make. I added 1/2 jalapeno, chopped to the pepper, and 1 chopped date for the sweetener....look forward to making it again.
 
Meghan M. August 11, 2016
BEST sloppy joes ever! And so easy to make! I added some pickles + onions to mine and they were wonderful.
 
[email protected] April 27, 2016
Just made these again. So yummy!!! Even the boys liked them.
 
Meredith M. February 7, 2016
Made this last night and it was delicious! I don't agree that it was bland but I did put sriracha on top and some hot dill pickle chips. I am all about more spices, so I'd say you could safely almost double them (except for the salt) and it would be even more flavorful, but again, I thought it was delicious as it. Nice and heart for a meat-free meal.
 
Meredith M. February 7, 2016
*hearty
 
Lori A. November 9, 2015
Just about doubled the spices because it was bland as written but otherwise it was very, very good.. Even anti-vegan omnivore HH (Handsome Husband) loved it!<br /><br />Can anyone recommend tasty recipes that are just as easy? I'm all about quick/easy/tasty/healthy and/but my days of messing with a long list of ingredients and complicated methods are over. Thanks!!
 
Mary E. March 7, 2015
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.
 
Tara C. February 9, 2015
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
 
Erika June 19, 2014
Freezes great! Just made it for a big group of meat eaters, big hit. One child was convinced there was meat in it.
 
Jara June 17, 2014
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?
 
simplyrenee February 12, 2014
i also doubled the spices and it turned out well. great recipe even for a picky ten year old!
 
souptastic February 11, 2014
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.
 
Diane February 3, 2014
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! :)
 
ChristyBean February 2, 2014
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?
 
Donna February 6, 2014
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.
 
Hulaboola February 10, 2014
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.
 
CurioCook February 1, 2014
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?
 
Hulaboola February 10, 2014
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!
 
AMGenco January 30, 2014
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.