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.
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.
- 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.
- Sauté the onion, green bell pepper and garlic for a few minutes.
- Now add the chili powder and smoked paprika, and stir to coat the vegetables for about 1 minute.
- Next, add the tomato sauce, ketchup, mustard and maple syrup. Stir until well incorporated. Add in the cooked lentils and stir them in.
- Serve on burger buns with red onion slices or pickled red onions if desired and enjoy!
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.
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!
Want more tasty vegan burgers and sandwiches?
- BBQ Tempeh Sandwich
- Tempeh Reuben
- Sweet Potato Black Bean Burger
- BBQ Jackfruit Pulled Pork
- The Best Veggie Burger
Vegan Sloppy Joes
- 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
- 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!
- To make this meal faster and easier, you may use canned or packaged already cooked lentils. You will need about 3 cups cooked lentils.
- 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”.
- 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.
- Leftovers will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days.
*This recipe was first published in June 2018 and has been updated with improved writing and options.
As a vegan who loved traditional sloppy joes all my life, thank you, Nora, for satisfying my long-held yen. This is deliciously reminiscent of Manwhich but healthy. I topped my SJ sandwhich with coleslaw. You are an amazing alchemist. I lost count of how many of your recipes I enjoy. Thank you.
Hi Debra. We all need some sloppy joes in our life! Thanks for sharing your fabulous feedback and review! I appreciate you using my recipes, and am thrilled you are loving them! Happy cooking!
I made this tonight for me (vegan) & told my family (not vegan/vegetarian) they could partake if they wish. I expected the same half-hearted response and lackluster feedback during dinner. We ate the entire pan of Sloppy Joes. Everyone had seconds. I am truly thankful for a great recipe. So many sloppy Joe recipes rely so heavily on ketchup & added salt. This recipe had more complex flavors and was just so delicious!! I’m thrilled I found a way to get another vegan dish into family meal time! Thank you!
It’s a win! Thanks for sharing your fun and wonderful feedback! I’m thrilled the sloppy joes were a hit!
Just discovered your recipes and made this tonight. It was delicious! Excited to try more. Thank you so much!
Hi Lauren. Welcome to Nora Cooks! I’m glad you loved the sloppy joes! Thanks for sharing your fabulous feedback and review! Enjoy your journey through my recipes! Please reach out with any questions!
Hi Nora! Thanks for all of the great recipes! I made this when you first published the recipe and loved it, but didn’t get around to making it again until recently. My husband loved them so much he asked me to make them weekly! I cut back on the spices as we aren’t fond of too much “heat” and also I was feeding a toddler, and they were perfect!
Love your recipes, was looking for a sloppy joe recipe and am going to try this one tonight.
I’m sure it’s going to be delicious.
Great recipe! My entire family liked this.
How wonderful! I’m really glad you guys loved the sloppy joes! Thank you for sharing your positive words!
Excellent recipe! Do you think leftovers can be frozen? I should have reduced the recipe as I’m only cooking for two. I love cooking with lentils!
Hi Judy. I’m thrilled you love the recipe! The sloppy Joe mixture does freeze well. Use freezer friendly containers, leaving a little room for expansion and freeze. Thank you for your wonderful feedback and review!
OMGosh! We just finished having this for dinner and it was excellent! So delicious. And my husband loved it too…wants me to double the recipe next time. Thanks for such a great recipe!
Hi Patti. I love it! Thank you for your wonderful feedback! I’m so glad your family loved the sloppy joes! This has always been such a fun meal to me! Wishing you happy cooking!
These are unbelievably delicious. They remind me of old school sloppy joe’s and the exact comfort food I’m looking for when I have a sloppy joe’s craving!
Thank you for sharing your great feedback, Kelly! I’m glad you loved the sloppy joes…total comfort food! Happy cooking!
This recipe was so good, my partner and I ate the leftovers for every meal besides breakfast until it was gone! We used beyond meat instead of lentils but followed the recipe exactly other that that. AMAZING!
Hi Ciara. I bet this was so good with beyond meat! I am thrilled that you guys loved the sloppy joes! Thanks for sharing your wonderful feedback!
Very good, but 3 Tbs of Chili must be a typo as it is unbearable hot. We added 1 ts and it was already hot. Also, it was a little too much liquid, so I added more cooked lentils. But this can possibly vary with the sauce and lentils that one uses.
It is a very yummy and easy recipe
Hi there! Yes, every once in a while I get a chili powder that is super spicy. So if that’s the case, add less, to taste. Usually I go for a mild chili powder and then it’s perfect. I’m glad you enjoyed it though anyhow.
These were really delicious! I had some skeptics in the house that as soon as I say “lentils,” they cringe and sigh. But they were won over by these sloppy joes! They were really delicious, not dry and not “beany” tasting. It was a really easy recipe to make and very tasty!
Hi Tricia. Yes, it’s amazing how delicious lentils can be! I’m glad the sloppy joes were a hit with the family! Thanks for sharing your feedback!
This is my go to recipe for weeknights and I eat the leftovers for a few days! Soooo delicious! I NEVER comment on recipes but I have to think 3 TBL of chili powder may be a typo. It was way too much. I scaled back to 1-1/2 TBL next time and it was amazing . I just don’t want someone to miss out on this great recipe!
These are delicious! A staple in my house.
We make a quick vegan cole slaw to go on top and it adds a great creamy and tangy element too!!!
Sounds like the perfect addition! Thank you for sharing your wonderful feedback!
Pretty good! My 3 yr old and I enjoyed this with whole wheat bread and chao vegan cheese. My chili powder blend is that spicy but I only added 2.5 tbsp and it wasn’t spicy at all. I also used 4 cloves of garlic, and added an extra tbsp or 2 of maple syrup, since I used tomato paste. I cooked the green pepper and onion down more so the park weren’t crunchy. We have lots of leftover to enjoy throughout the week
This combines my plant-based diet with my desire for comfort food. I will continue to use this recipe for lunch and dinner because it’s delicious. I made it without the maple syrup but put sweet pickle relish on top. Yum! Tastes great on a whole wheat bun. I love it.
Is tomato sauce and marinara sauce the same thing?
Marinara is not as heavy or flavorful as tomato sauce. The flavor and texture of the finished dish will be different.
Amazzzzing!!!! These are superior to any other vegan. Sloppy joes I’ve made. I made the potato wedges with them for dinner last night. We were stuffed full?
Your review and comments made my day! Thank you for sharing them! I’m glad you guys loved the Sloppy Joes, and everyone was full and content!
Came together so quickly and easily! Hearty, filling, and delicious. I followed the recipe as written. It was a perfect meal to warm me up on this snowy night. This will be one of my go to recipes in the future! ??
Snow!! Sloppy Joes do sound good on a cold, snowy night! I’m glad you enjoyed them! Thank you for sharing your fantastic review and comments! I’m thrilled these are going onto your meal rotation! Happy cooking!
I made this for dinner tonight. It was delicious. My family loved it.
Thanks so much for sharing your review and comments! I’m glad your family loved the sloppy joes!
I’ve made this recipe many many times, and I make it exactly as written. Delicious every time. Don’t be afraid of the 3 tablespoons of chili powder everyone, it’s not too much – my 7 year old loves these, and he’s quick to tell me when something is too spicy 🙂 He’s never complained about these. Great recipe.
Hi Sabrina. I’m so glad you guys love the sloppy joes! Thanks for taking your time to share your review and comments!