Are you ready to get sloppy in the best way ever? These lentil sloppy joes are easy to make, loaded with flavor, and a sure fire hit for the entire family.
I was never a huge sloppy joe fan. They reminded me of the school cafeteria meal that just grossed me out. But that was until I made my own and blew that old gross recipe out of the water!
Vegan Lentil Sloppy Joes
Lentils are a staple in our house. We love them and put them in everything! They are filled with protein and iron, both of which are needed in our vegan diet, along with tons of nutrients and fiber. If you want to read more check out my post all about how to cook lentils!
So I am pretty much trying to create alllll the things with lentils. Sloppy joes had to be done eventually, so here we have it.
Why are they called sloppy joes?
These types of sandwiches are actually the creation of a cook from the 1930's! I can't believe they are that old. Loose meat sandwiches were popular then and he added tomato sauce to his sandwiches. These became popular and the Sloppy Joe was born!
How do I substitute lentils for meat?
Lentils have a great meaty texture and flavor. They make even traditional meaty dishes taste incredible, like in my Vegan Shepherd’s Pie. You would substitute one cup of uncooked lentils for about one pound of ground beef, but it really depends on the recipe and other ingredients. One cook of uncooked lentils will become roughly 2 cups once cooked.
Can you make lentil sloppy joes ahead of time?
Yes! But you want to make sure you're using lentils that aren't going to get too mushy over time. Green and brown lentils are best because the cook soft enough to bind together a little but also hold their shape well.
You can make the filling and store it in an air tight container in the fridge. The filling will last about 5-7 days but is best with flavor and texture if you eat them within 3 days.
What kind of lentils to use
Green or brown lentils work best for this recipe. One of the best perks of sloppy joes is how easy it is to hide veggies in the mix!
How to add extra veggies
Adding veggie into this sloppy joe recipe is super easy! I started with the hidden veggies I wanted in it and turned to my tried and true zucchini, carrots, and onion, which I knew would pair well with the tomato and not overpower on taste.
But you really can add anything. Just be mindful of how strong the veggie flavor is. You could also do veggies on the side if you wanted more variety!
I also added more veggies into the toppings. Because I can't stand soggy bread, I put some pickles (patted them dry first) on the bottom piece of bread, then the lentils, then covered those with a cole slaw.
The combination of crunchy and soft was awesome and the layers protected the bread from getting tomato sauce soggy!
Perfect sides for serving
These vegan sloppy joes go great with loads of sides. Serve these up with any or all of these:
- Veggie tots
- Oven baked french fries
- Oven Baked Asparagus Fries
- Baked Vegan Eggplant Fries
- Mexican Coleslaw
How To Make Vegan Sloppy Joes
- Saute the veggies.
- Add remaining ingredients.
- Cook until thickened.
The toppings are where it's at! Always for me. LOL Here are some ideas that we loved top pile on!
- Mexican Coleslaw
- Spicy Cilantro Cream Sauce
- Vegan Ranch Dressing
- Green onions
- Vegan Sour Cream
Cooking in the crock pot
To cook these lentil sloppy joes in the crock pot, it's best to saute the peppers, onion and garlic first. Then put everything into a crock pot and cook on low for 6-7 hours or high for 3-5.
Cooking in the instant pot
If you have an instant pot with a saute setting, then follow the recipe and saute the peppers, onion and garlic. Then add the rest of the ingredients and do the following:
- Put on the top and move the valve to the sealing position.
- Cook on the manual setting for 6-7 minutes.
- Once done, allow the pressure to naturally release for about 10 minutes or so, then move the valve to the release position. Once released open and enjoy!
Ideas for serving
While traditional sloppy joes are served on buns, there are other ways to use these vegan sloppy joes! Here are some creative things we have done:
- Serve in a wrap with tortilla or flatbread.
- Put on pizza crust as part of a pizza.
- Bowl style with rice and potatoes, greens, etc.
- Over pasta.
- As a dip!
Vegan Lentil Sloppy Joes recipe
- pressure cooker (optional)
- slow cooker (optional)
- 1 cup chopped yellow or sweet onion
- 1 cup chopped green or red pepper , or a combo of both
- 2 garlic cloves , finely chopped
- Drizzle of oil or broth to sauté
- 2 cups broth (see note)
- 1 cup dried green or brown lentils
- 15 ounces tomato sauce (see note)
- 1 tablespoon Tamari/soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 ½ teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- Sea salt , if needed (see note)
- Burger buns
- Shredded cabbage or lettuce
- Baked oven fries
- Sauté onion, pepper and garlic with drizzle of oil or broth until softened.
- Add lentils and cook a few minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients.
- Cook for about 20-30 minutes, depending on texture preference.
- Serve with toppings of choice!
- You can sub water for the broth but the flavor won’t be as good.
- Tomato sauce differs between brands with ingredients. Some have only tomatoes, but some have salt and other herbs. If yours is salt fee, you may need extra salt. Just add and taste as you cook. The other herbs are fine if they are included.
- Nutrition facts are for sloppy joe mixture only.
Recipe by Veggies Don’t Bite, visit our site for more great plant-based recipes.
Nutrition and metric information should be considered an estimate.
Really excellent recipe!
I added a few things: celery, carrots, about 2 TBS of juice from my jar of pickled jalapenos, and some crushed up walnuts for a little bit more texture 🙂 it turned out great
I'm so happy you liked it Kristian!! Thanks for the great review!
I’m not sure how any one had luck cooking this on the stove. I’ve now been cooking the lentil for 50 minutes and they are still hard. The sauce is way too tomato-ey. I’ve had to add extra broth as the lentils have soaked it all up, don’t waste your time with this if you’re trying to make a quick and easy dinner bcus this takes more effort than the directions say.
Hi Kayla, sorry the flavor isn't what you were looking for. We all have different taste preferences. However if you have been adding a lot of broth you have diluted it so the flavor you are tasting isn't necessarily what this recipe ends up tasting like. There are many reasons why your lentils are not cooking. Lentils do not take that long to cook generally. However, if you have hard water or if your beans are old then they may end up never softening. As beans age the coating doesn't allow water into the bean so it doesn't soften even after a long time of cooking. Even if you just bought them they could have been on the shelf for a long time and therefore still not fresh. As you can see by the other reviews many have made this with success, maybe check to make sure your lentils are fresh!
Tastes great and easy to make! I tried it on both a whole wheat bun and toasted Ezekiel bread.
Awesome!! Thank you so much for the great review!
Turned out delicious. Had it twice so far (even added some to my taco for Cinco de Mayo). The first time I used some “self isolation” improvisation and used red lentils and a bit of tomato soup with added chopped tomatoes. Red lentils worked fine both times. Also added carrots and zucchini and layered multi grain bread with some baby spinach to prevent sogginess. Yummy! Thank you.
I'm so happy you liked it!! Thanks for the great review and for letting me know about the subs!
Looks yummy! Quick question - what is the serving size? Thanks!
Thanks Alice! This makes 8 Sloppy Joe's. The size of each is just about that of a burger bun.
This was so delicious and so easy to make! I love lentils and this recipe definitely hit the spot!
Ah! Thank you so much Lynda!! So appreciate the great review!
The Vegan 8
Hey girl I made these today, Olivia helped me! We both loved them! She ate them as a stew and I ate 2 sandwiches with pickled jalapenos on toasted pretzel buns. SO damn delicious! I loved the super spicy kick from the jalapenos. This will be a regular!
Yay! So happy you guys liked it! The jalapeños are a perfect touch!! I'm doing that next time! Thank you so much for trying!
Love this and the idea for adding pickles was the BEST!
Pickles are life!! So happy you liked them!
Thank You Sophia for your encouraging words and your AWESOME recipes! It ALL sure does help in times like these. 🙂
Hi Tina! I am so happy you are enjoying the recipes!! I am here for anything!
The Vegan 8
I'm SO making this and with this insane quarantine right now, I may or may not be doing a cartwheel over the fact I have EVERY ingredient! Can't wait to try these woman! The colors and everything has my mouth watering. And yes, pickles are totally a veggie, LOL.
My friend that makes this calls them “Sloppy Lennys”.
Hahahaha! Love it!!
Weirdest thing - I don’t see the actual recipe here...
Hi Terri! Yes, lol. I told Mary too that the card must have been deleted, but it's all fixed now!
Thank you! I’m assuming it’ll work the same with black lentils - right? Also, I tried using your “search” field and it doesn’t seem to be working on either one of my iPads.
Where is the recipe? Thank you!
Hi Mary!! LOL! I just saw that. Fixed now! My recipe card must have accidentally been deleted. But I just put it back!
The lentils were so good and easy to make! Everyone in my family ate them a little differently. We had them on crunchy toasted bread, on brown rice, and over pasta. And we have a bunch left over to freeze for another night.
So glad to hear Cristin! All those ways sound delish. Kind of neat that everyone had it their own way.