Lentil Sloppy Joes are an easy vegan alternative to the sloppy joes you grew up eating! They're packed with protein, flavor and are perfect for lunch or dinner.
Are you ready for sweet and savory flavors paired with fiber and protein packed lentils? These sloppy joes taste just like childhood, minus the meat!
Sloppy joes are really easy to put together using inexpensive but flavorful pantry staples. This is the meal to make when you're looking for easy and healthy comfort food!
Why this recipe works
- Diet-friendly: vegan, vegetarian, soy-free and gluten-free optional
- Made in one pot in 30 minutes!
- Kid approved and healthy
- Uses inexpensive pantry staples
- Filling and satisfying
Check out my instant pot sloppy joes if you're looking for an Instant Pot version.
Ingredients and substitutions
Brown or green lentils: These lentils take about 15-20 minutes to cook. Don't use red or orange lentils as those will cook up much more quickly and get mushy.
BBQ sauce: I prefer a sweet BBQ sauce for sloppy joes because it is the most traditional flavor. That being said, this is a great place to make this recipe your own by using your favorite BBQ sauce!
Sloppy joe sauce: This is comprised of a few pantry staples like ketchup, Dijon mustard (I use whole grain mustard because I love the flavor best, but any mustard will do), chili powder, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce. Traditional Worcestershire sauce is not vegetarian or vegan, but many store-brand kinds are accidentally vegan.
Ketchup can be replaced with tomato sauce if needed.
Add-ins: I add diced onion and carrots for flavor and extra veggies. Bell pepper and celery would also go well. You can skip this step if you don't have any fresh produce on hand.
Step by step instructions
- Sauté veggies. Start by heating a medium sauce pot over medium-high heat. Once hot, add olive oil. Add diced onions and carrots to the hot oil. Sauté until translucent, about 6-8 minutes.
- Add all ingredients but the barbecue sauce. Stir to combine well.
- Bring the pot to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer.
- Cover with a lid and simmer until the liquid is fully absorbed, about 20-25 minutes.
- Just before serving stir in ½ cup of BBQ sauce. You can add more if you prefer saucier sloppy joes!
Recipe FAQ and expert tips
- I love serving these with pickles, lettuce and tomato on a whole wheat hamburger bun for a classic option. You can also serve open faced or use sandwich bread.
- These also work great as a taco filling with tahini coleslaw and pickled onions.
- Buy canned or pre-cooked lentils to make this recipe in just 15 minutes! You will need about 3 cups of cooked lentils.
- Try using meatless grounds (AKA vegan beef) in place of lentils for a more traditional sloppy joe.
Keep refrigerate in a closed container for 3-4 days. Reheat on the stove over medium heat or in the microwave in about 2 minutes.
Yes! Let cool to room temperature before transferring to a freezer safe container. Freeze for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.
Yes! Simply choose a gluten-free BBQ sauce and Worcestershire suace.
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Vegan Lentil Sloppy Joes
- 1 cup dry green or brown lentils rinsed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion diced
- ½ cup diced carrots
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- ¼ cup ketchup
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce vegan
- ½ teaspoon hot sauce optional
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 and ½ cups reduced sodium vegetable broth or water
- ½ cup barbecue sauce
- 5 burger buns
- optional toppings: lettuce, onion, pickles, avocado, tomato
- Heat a medium sauce pot over medium-high heat. Once hot, add olive oil. Add diced onion and diced carrot to the hot olive oil. Saute until onion is softened, about 6-8 minutes. Add minced garlic and saute a minute more, until garlic is golden.
- Add all ingredients except for the BBQ sauce: ketchup, mustard, brown sugar, chili powder, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, salt, vegetable broth. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, lower to a simmer over medium-low. Cover and let simmer until lentils are cooked through, about 15-20 minutes.
- Once lentils are cooked through, turn off the heat and stir in ½ cup barbecue sauce. Add additional sauce as desired.
- Serve on burger buns with optional toppings. Refrigerate in a closed container for up to 5-6 days.
- How to freeze: Add cooled (it should no longer be steaming) lentil sloppy joe filling to a freezer safe container (these are the kind that I use) and freeze for up to 3 months. Let thaw in the fridge before using or heat up in the microwave or stove for quick use.
- Storage and reheating: Keep refrigerate in a closed container for 3-4 days. Reheat on the stove over medium heat or in the microwave in about 2 minutes.