Vegan Lentil Sloppy Joes

These Vegan Lentil Sloppy Joes are a hearty, flavorful meal that is high in plant-based protein. They require simple ingredients, and come together in no time!

Vegan Lentil Sloppy Joes

My grandma made sloppy joes all the time when I was a kid. This recipe brings me straight back to those memories of eating messy sloppy joes for Sunday dinner after swimming all afternoon. This vegan recipe really does make you feel like you’re eating the real thing, my meat-loving husband even approves (same goes for this vegan taco salad).

Of course, there is nothing wrong with using ground meat in this recipe, but I’m telling you, just try it with the lentils. It is a really fun change-up from the original version, and it’s never a bad idea to add a few extra plant proteins to your diet!

Vegan Lentil Sloppy Joes

I love that this recipe only requires a few simple ingredients, and I bet you have most of them in your fridge or pantry already. It comes together quickly, and can definitely feed a crowd, which is always a bonus!

note: I like to use Udi’s gluten-free hamburger buns for these. They have a really great texture, aren’t too dense, and you can find them at most grocery stores. Just toast them up in the toaster, or stick them under the broiler for a couple minutes in the oven. You NEED that toasty texture.

How to Build The Perfect Vegan Sloppy Joe

You can get creative with what you want to put on top of your sloppy joe mixture. I know many people have strong opinions about this, so YOU DO YOU. But here are some suggestions…

  • thinly sliced onions
  • pickles
  • cabbage slaw
  • green leaf lettuce
  • shredded carrots
  • avocados
  • extra mustard

My personal favorite is some type of slaw for that crunch factor, but if I don’t have slaw, then I always need pickles. You are going to love this delicious vegan sloppy joe recipe, smoky, savory, slightly sweet, and will bring you straight back to those childhood sloppy joe flavors!

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Vegan Lentil Sloppy Joes


  • 1 cup uncooked green lentils
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 medium yellow onion , finely chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper , finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic , finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 (15oz) can tomato sauce
  • 2 tbsp ketchup
  • 2 tbsp yellow mustard
  • 1-2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • pinch of salt and pepper to taste
  • for serving: gluten-free hamburger buns

Optional Toppings

  • cabbage slaw
  • pickles
  • shredded carrots
  • thinly sliced onions
  • green leaf lettuce
  • avocado


  • Prepare the lentils: start by rinsing the lentils with cold water in a mesh strainer. Then combine the lentils with the water in a saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to medium-low and let it simmer for 20-25 minutes. Then drain the lentils and set aside.
  • While the lentils are cooking, prepare the base for the sloppy joes. Start by heating a large skillet (I prefer cast iron) over medium heat. Add the olive oil, onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Use a wooden spoon to stir frequently for about 4-5 minutes, until the vegetables start to soften and turn slightly brown. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Next, add the chili powder, paprika, tomato sauce, ketchup, mustard, and maple syrup. Stir to combine, turn the heat down to medium- low, and let it simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the cooked lentils and stir to combine. Let the mixture simmer for 5-10 minutes to develop the flavor.
  • Serve the mixture on toasted buns with your favorite accompaniments.

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