These easy Vegan Sloppy Joes put a plant-based spin on a childhood classic! Ready in less than 30 minutes, both kids and adults can’t get enough of this meaty and comforting weeknight dinner.

Looking for more vegan family dinner ideas? Try my Vegan Baked Ziti, Cheesy Broccoli Rice Vegan Casserole, One Pot Vegan Pasta, and Vegan Broccoli Cheddar Soup

close up on two vegan sloppy joes served in hamburger buns.

Could you also not contain your excitement when you saw sloppy joes on the cafeteria menu at school? They were one of my all-time favorite childhood meals. Perfectly messy with crave-worthy flavors, I couldn’t get enough.

Craving this childhood classic led me to create these best-ever Vegan Sloppy Joes. Meaty, filling, and perfectly seasoned, they may be even better than the version I ate as a kid!

This lentil sloppy joe recipe is made with a hearty lentil and vegan ground beef filling that’s seasoned with simple smoky-savory spices, while a touch of maple syrup adds an irresistible sweetness. Bonus: They only take 30 minutes to put together, so I know you’ll love making them for simple family-friendly weeknight dinners!

Why you’ll love these vegan lentil sloppy joes

  • So nostalgic – Just because the days of cafeteria sloppy joes are behind us doesn’t mean we can’t indulge in this classic childhood meal. The homemade version is even better thanks to incredible vegan ingredients!
  • Ready in 30 minutes – They take only 30 minutes to whip up from start to finish, making this a quick and easy weeknight dinner.
  • Packed with protein – A can of lentils and a package of vegan ground beef jam pack these sandwiches with approximately 40 grams of plant-based protein. They always hit the spot!
  • Versatile – Depending on your preferences, you can use all lentils, all vegan beef, or even soy curls/mushrooms/walnuts!
close up on two vegan sloppy joes served in hamburger buns.

How to make vegan sloppy joes

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

Cook the vegan beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat until it’s browned. Add in the diced onion and cook until it’s soft and translucent. Next, add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.

Stir the lentils, chili powder, smoked paprika, tomato sauce, ketchup, mustard, vegan Worcestershire sauce, and maple syrup into the vegan beef mixture. Cook for a few minutes to let the flavors mingle and turn down the heat if it’s boiling too much.

making a vegan sloppy joe filling in a large skillet.

Taste the sloppy joe mixture and adjust the flavors as needed. Add salt to balance the flavors, add hot sauce for more heat, or maple syrup for a sweeter filling.

Serve the vegan sloppy joes in buns with or without toppings and enjoy!

stirring a vegan sloppy joe mixture with a wooden spoon in a skillet.

Frequently asked questions

What can I use instead of Beyond Meat?

You can replace the Beyond Meat with another store-bought vegan ground beef, like Impossible or Gardein. You can also use TVP or chopped soy curls rehydrated in vegetable broth or vegan chicken broth.

Want to skip the “meat” entirely? Make the sloppy joe mixture with 3 cans of lentils or cook 1 cup of dried green lentils and add them to the pan after sautéing the onion and garlic. A mixture of lentils, walnuts and mushrooms could work too.

Can I add anything to these sloppy joes?

Yes, you can sauté a diced green bell pepper, a red bell pepper, sliced mushrooms, or a jalapeno pepper with the onions and garlic to give the sandwiches a little more flavor and texture.

What do you serve with lentil sloppy joes?

This is a fuss-free dinner you can truly just scoop into huge hamburger buns or hoagie rolls and enjoy! But if you’re looking to take them up a notch, top the sloppy joes with tangy toppings, like a scoop of my Vegan Coleslaw, pickle slices and pickled red onions.

For a well-rounded and kid-friendly dinner, pair the sloppy joes with a side of vegan macaroni salad, potato salad, vegan mac and cheese, french fries, and broccoli salad.

How long do they last? Can you freeze sloppy joes?

The leftover sloppy joe mixture will last for 4 to 5 days when stored in an airtight container in the fridge. I recommend letting the mixture cool to room temperature before storing.

They also freeze very well! Pack the lentil and “beef” filling into freezer-friendly containers and freeze for up to 3 months. Let the leftovers thaw in the fridge overnight, then reheat in a pot on the stove or in the microwave until warmed through.

a womans hand grabbing a vegan sloppy joe.
close up on two vegan sloppy joes served in hamburger buns.
4.87 stars (52 ratings)

Vegan Sloppy Joes

These easy Vegan Sloppy Joes put a plant-based spin on a childhood classic! Ready in less than 30 minutes, both kids and adults can’t get enough of this meaty and comforting weeknight dinner.
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 6 servings


  • 12 ounces vegan ground beef I used Beyond
  • 1 small onion diced small
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 15 ounce can lentils drained and rinsed*
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 15 ounce canned tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 6 buns


  • In  a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, add the vegan beef and cook until brown, using a wooden spoon to break it up into small chunks.
  • Add the diced onion and cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Now add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
  • Add the lentils, chili powder, smoked paprika, tomato sauce, ketchup, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and maple syrup. Stir everything together well to combine. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Lower the heat if it's boiling too much.
  • Taste; add salt as desired, as well as hot sauce if you want it spicy, or more maple syrup for a sweeter sloppy joe mixture.
  • Serve on buns immediately.


  1. All lentils – If using all lentils, use either 3 cans, drained and rinsed, or cook 1 cup of green lentils, drain and add after you saute the onion and garlic.
  2. Other plant based meats – You can use TVP that has been soaked, soy curls chopped small, or any other plant based meat you like. A mixture of mushrooms, walnuts and lentils is good as well!
  3. Leftovers will keep for 4-5 days in the refrigerator. This also freezes very well.
  4. Nutritional information does not include buns or rolls, since they vary.


Serving: 1of 6 servings | Calories: 262kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Sodium: 839mg | Potassium: 744mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 1066IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 95mg | Iron: 6mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Author: Nora Taylor
Did you make this recipe?Mention @nora_cooks_vegan_ or tag #noracooks!

*This recipe was first published in June 2018 and has been updated in 2024 with a slightly changed recipe and improvements.

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  1. I use homemade grounds using tvp instead of lentils. I also add a little bit of nutritional yeast. This is now a weekly staple in our family. Toddler approved 👌

    1. You are welcome, Teresa! I’m so excited you love the sloppy joes! Thanks for your awesome review!

  2. Didn’t this used to contain bell peppers? Could’ve sworn those have been a component every time I’ve made your sloppy joes before
    (Love your work! Nora is a common household name for us lol)

    1. Yes, the older version had a green bell pepper as well. 🙂 You can absolutely add one, sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t. It’s a pretty flexible recipe. Thanks for loving my recipes!

  3. Hi Nora,
    I don’t like all the sodium in canned lentils. How can I make this recipe using dried lentils?

    1. No problem. You will just need to first cook your lentils, then add them to the dish as usual. If you are using all lentils and no vegan meat, you will need to cook 1 cup of dried lentils.

    1. There are 6 servings total (not including the buns). I’m not sure of the exact serving size, perhaps around 3/4 cup or so.

  4. Nora, what a fantastic recipe! The flavors that are combined are perfect! Love the amount of chili powder used. I made this exactly how you have it posted. I even took some to work the next day and ate it cold! Delicious! Thank you for all the fabulous recipes you post. I’m never disappointed in any Nora recipe I try.

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