Vegan Sloppy Joes

These Vegan Sloppy Joes are made with green lentils and a spice blend so good you’ll be licking the plate. You won't miss the meat! Great make-ahead or freezer meal, too.

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 8 sandwiches


  • 1 cup green lentils
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced small
  • 1 green pepper, diced small
  • 2 small carrots, diced small
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon mild chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Buns, for serving
  • Sliced red onion, for serving
  • Pickles, for serving


1 Cook the lentils: Rinse the lentils well and add them to a pot along with 4 cups of water and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a simmer, cover, and continue simmering over low heat until lentils are tender but not mushy, about 20 to 25 minutes. Drain lentils and set aside.

Green lentils in a colander for vegetarian sloppy joes

2 Make the sloppy joe filling: Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, green pepper, carrots, and garlic. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until vegetables soften, 5-6 minutes. Stir in spices, ketchup, tomato sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, 1/2 cup of water, and the reserved lentils. Stir well.

Cooked green lentils as main ingredient for vegan sloppy joes

3 Simmer the sloppy joe mixture: Simmer the mixture for a few minutes to combine flavors. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking. It will probably need a pinch of salt and pepper. Add an extra tablespoon of brown sugar to make it sweeter or a dash of apple cider vinegar to make it a bit more tart.

Cook lentils and tomatoes in a cast iron skillet for vegan vegetarian sloppy joes

4 Make the sandwiches: Toast your buns and add thinly sliced red onions to the bottom half of the bun. Top with 1/3 to 1/2 cup of the vegan sloppy joe filling. Add pickles and eat immediately.

Cooking lentils for vegan sloppy joes

LEFTOVERS: Leftover sloppy joe mixture will store well in the fridge for a few days or it can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Reheat sloppy joe mixture gently over the stove with a splash of water. Spoon it atop a baked sweet potato for lunch the next day if desired!

Vegetarian sloppy joes made with lentils