These vegan sloppy joes recipe is made with lentils and easy to make in just 30 minutes. This dish is sweet, tangy, spicy, hearty and savory, all the good things. You can’t beat them for quick, filling, healthy and delicious vegan dinner that’s high in fiber and protein.

Easy Lentil Vegan Sloppy Joes Recipe ready in 30 minutes - Running on Real Food

How to Make Vegan Sloppy Joes

The best part about vegan sloppy joes is they’re super easy to make. I love them for a lazy dinner. Basically, add a bunch of stuff to a pot, cook it for a bit and you’re done. The whole recipe takes just 30 minutes. Once they Sloppy Joe mixture is cooked, it’s just a matter of piling it onto a toasted bun and digging in.

To make a delicious, tangy and sweet sauce, I used tomato paste, tomato sauce, apple cider vinegar, chili powder, cumin, maple syrup and soy sauce. Easy. A lot of vegan Sloppy Joe recipes call for vegan-friendly Worcestershire sauce but I couldn’t be bothered to add any to mine since it’s not an ingredient I ever use. If you have some on hand and want to add 1-2 tbsp for more depth of flavor, you can use it instead of soy sauce.

What Kind of Lentils to Use

The best lentils for Sloppy Joe’s are green or brown lentils. Red lentils would come out mushy and while you could use French or black lentils, they’d be a little on the firm side. In a pinch, you can definitely use any kind of lentil, even canned lentils but I like these best with green ones. Green lentils are just right. They hold their shape through cooking but have a nice, tender bite to them once cooked.

Lentil Sloppy Joe Alternatives

I haven’t tried this recipe with anything other than lentils but since we’ll be cooking the lentils separately and then mixing them with the rest of the ingredients, you could try this with something like chickpeas, black beans, navy beans or even rice or quinoa. I think crumbled tempeh would be good too or a mix of any of these ingredients.

Sloppy Joe Sandwich Toppings

I kept my sandwich pretty simple and topped it off with a quick cabbage slaw. There are a lot of fun ways you can dress up your Sloppy Joe’s to make them a little more exciting than just lentils. Try toppings like:

  • sliced pickles
  • grated carrot
  • avocado
  • raw or cooked sliced onions
  • sliced cabbage or coleslaw
  • jalapeno
  • hot sauce

How to Make Vegan Sloppy Joes in 30 Minutes

Easy Lentil Sloppy Joe’s

Alight, let’s take a look at how you can get this done in 30 minutes. Start by rinsing the lentils then adding them to a pot with the water then bringing them to a boil stovetop. Once they’ve boiled, cover and reduce to a light simmer for about 20 minutes until tender. If there is any excess water leftover, drain it off.

While those are cooking, quickly chop the onion, garlic and bell pepper and then proceed with the rest of the recipe. The whole process should take 30 minutes. When the Sloppy Joe filling is just about finished, prep some buns by toasting them in the oven.

Once the buns are toasty and the Sloppy Joe mixture is nice and thick, pile it up on the buns and dig in! They’re a little messy but very good and the leftover lentil mixture only gets better the next day. Try using the leftovers as a baked potato topping, in tacos, for chili cheese fries or just on its own as lentil chili.

Quick Cabbage Slaw

To top off my Sloppy Joe’s I made a quick cabbage slaw by mixing a few cups of very thinly sliced cabbage with a few splashes of vinegar and 1 tsp of sugar. It’s the perfect crunchy, tangy topping for these. If you don’t’ feel like having a bun, a big pile of slaw with a scoop of lentils in a bowl is really good too.

More Easy Vegan Dinner Recipes

Loving these simple Sloppy Joe’s? Check out my list of easy vegan dinner recipes or try one of these:

Slow Cooker Vegan Red Lentil Chili // Curried Lentil Soup // Vegan Panang Curry with Tofu // Red Lentil Tomato Soup


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Easy Lentil Vegan Sloppy Joes Recipe ready in 30 minutes - Running on Real Food

Vegan Sloppy Joes

  • Author: Deryn Macey
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 25 mins
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: Entree
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Vegan, Gluten-Free
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Sweet, tangy, smoky and salty, you’ll love this lentil Sloppy Joe mixture served over toasted buns. Enjoy on it’s own or top with coleslaw, onions, avocado or any other desired toppings.


  • 1 cup green lentils
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 small white onion, diced (approx. 2 cups, 250 g)
  • 1 red pepper, diced (approx. 1 cups, 150 g)
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce or gluten-free tamari
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste or ketchup
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup (or 12 tbsp coconut sugar)
  • 12 tbsp apple cider vinegar (white vinegar also works)
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp regular or smoked paprika
  • sea salt and black pepper, to taste


  1. Give the dried lentils a good rinse to remove any dust or debris then add them to a pot with the 2 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for approximately 20 minutes until the lentils are tender. Drain off any excess water.
  2. When the lentils have about 10 minutes left, add the onion, peppers and garlic to a pot with a splash of water or vegetable broth. Cook over medium heat for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally until softened.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients, including the cooked lentils.
  4. Continue cooking and stirring until the mixture has thickened up. This should take about 10-15 minutes.
  5. Serve over toasted buns of choice, adding toppings of your choice such as sliced onions or coleslaw, if desired.


The leftover lentil mixture can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days. Try it in tacos or on its own, over a baked potato or as a lentil chili.


  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 269
  • Sugar: 16 g
  • Sodium: 237 mg
  • Fat: 1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 53 g
  • Fiber: 9 g
  • Protein: 15 g

Keywords: easy, quick, healthy