These easy to make Vegan Sloppy Joes are smoky, savory, and naturally sweetened to perfection. They take only 30 minutes to whip up from start to finish, making them a real quick and easy weeknight dinner! Treat yourself to this delicious vegan version of your favorite childhood sandwich. 

burger in the middle with lentils and onions

Oh, Sloppy Joes. Who else remembers being excited when they were listed on the menu at the cafeteria? While the days of cafeteria food may be behind me, that doesn’t mean I can’t indulge in my favorite childhood meals – only now, with incredible vegan ingredients!

Pair your Vegan Sloppy Joes with classic sides like Easy Air Fryer Fries or The Best Vegan Mac and Cheese.

For more childhood favorites made vegan, make sure to check out my Vegan Tater Tot Casserole, Vegan Chicken Noodle Soup, Vegan Chicken Nuggets and Rice Krispie Treats!

Why you should make these vegan sloppy joes ASAP

  • They’re oh so flavor packed! When I think of these sandwiches, the first word that comes to mind is “rich.” They’re rich with smoky, sweet, and savory flavors. That in depth flavor palate makes for one seriously satisfying bite! 
  • Hungry? These will hit the spot! The protein packed lentils sandwiched in between two buns ensure that you won’t leave the dinner table still hungry. These Sloppy Joes really fill you up.
  • This is a budget friendly recipe. Lentils are pretty affordable, and the rest of the ingredients are pantry staples that you likely already have on hand. This is a great dinner recipe to use if you’re cooking on a budget!

How to make vegan sloppy joes

Find the complete printable recipe with measurements below in the recipe card.

  1. First, cook the lentils: In a medium pot with a lid, add the lentils and water. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 18-20 minutes or until tender. Drain excess liquid and set aside.
  2. Sauté the onion, green bell pepper and garlic for a few minutes.
  3. Now add the chili powder and smoked paprika, and stir to coat the vegetables for about 1 minute.
  4. Next, add the tomato sauce, ketchup, mustard and maple syrup. Stir until well incorporated. Add in the cooked lentils and stir them in.
  5. Serve on burger buns with red onion slices or pickled red onions if desired and enjoy!
lentils being mixed into a tomato sauce in pan

Can I use vegan meat instead of lentils?

Yes! Since I first posted this recipe several years ago, Impossible and Beyond beef have really become more accessible. I often use a mixture of lentils, or simple all vegan “beef” if I’m in the mood.

To use it instead of lentils, simply cook it with the onion, garlic and green pepper, then continue with the rest of the recipe. 1 pound or block of vegan meat will substitute for the lentils here.

pan full of lentils and tomato sauce with white background

Frequently asked questions

  • How long will Vegan Sloppy Joes stay fresh? Any leftover Sloppy Joe filling you have will stay fresh in an airtight container in the fridge for about 3-4 days. 
  • Can I freeze Vegan Sloppy Joes? The sloppy joe mixture freezes well; simply fill freezer-friendly containers, leaving a little room for expansion and freeze. Let it defrost when you’re ready to use it, then add it to a pot and cook until warm. 
  • How should I serve Vegan Sloppy Joes? I sometimes like to top off my sandwiches with sliced pickles and onions. However, you can just slap this mixture between two buns and call it a day! 
bun with lentil vegan sloppy joes mixture and red onion

Want more tasty vegan burgers and sandwiches?

square image of a bun with lentils, green peppers and red onion, white background

Vegan Sloppy Joes

These easy to make Vegan Sloppy Joes are smoky, savory, and naturally sweetened to perfection. They take only 30 minutes to whip up from start to finish, making them a real quick and easy weeknight dinner!
4.91 stars (40 ratings)

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup uncooked green lentils
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped small
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • (1) 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup (or tomato paste)
  • 3 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoons salt, or to taste
  • burger buns, for serving

Instructions

  • First, cook the lentils: In a medium pot with a lid, add the lentils and water. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 18-20 minutes or until tender. Drain excess liquid and set aside. (Alternatively, use 3 cups canned lentils, drained and rinsed.)
  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the chopped onion, green bell pepper and garlic and sauté for 3-4 minutes.
  • Now add the chili powder and smoked paprika, and stir to coat the vegetables for about 1 minute. Add a little water if it’s too dry.
  • Next, add the tomato sauce, ketchup, mustard and maple syrup. Stir until well incorporated. Add in the cooked lentils and stir. Season with salt to taste.
  • Serve on burger buns with red onion slices if desired and enjoy! I also like to eat this open faced on bread, over a baked potato or even just out of a bowl, it's so good!

Notes

  1. To make this meal faster and easier, you may use canned or packaged already cooked lentils. You will need about 3 cups cooked lentils.
  2. Substitute Impossible or Beyond vegan beef for the lentils, if desired. Use 1 package (12 or 16 ounces). Or use a mix of lentils and “beef”.
  3. The sloppy joe mixture freezes well, simply fill freezer friendly containers, leaving a little room for expansion and freeze. Let defrost when ready to use, add to a pot and cook until warm. 
  4. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving, Calories: 224kcal, Carbohydrates: 43g, Protein: 12g, Fat: 2g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 815mg, Potassium: 869mg, Fiber: 15g, Sugar: 15g, Vitamin A: 2318IU, Vitamin C: 29mg, Calcium: 81mg, Iron: 5mg

*This recipe was first published in June 2018 and has been updated with improved writing and options.

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