Make Meatless Monday fun with my vegan sloppy joes, packed with plant protein, fibre, and hidden veggies that you won't even notice!
Warm summer evenings call for family dinners in our backyard, complete with comfort food and ice cream to finish. In my opinion, there's nothing more comforting than my vegan sloppy joes. It's a warm, hearty sandwich packed with goodness to make both your mind and body happy.
Plant-based friends, you deserve a delicious sloppy joe too!
Why This Dietitian Loves This Recipe
Let me put you ON to this vegan sloppy joes.
- Ease into plant-based eating. I know that a lot of people want the benefits of a plant-based diet but don't enjoy many plant foods. Let me tell you, a plant-based meal does NOT have to be boring salad greens and plain tofu. These vegan sloppy joes resemble the texture of meat and are packed with umami flavour to satisfy that need.
- High in fibre and plant protein. The great thing about many plant-based proteins like beans and legumes is that they're PACKED with fibre. One sloppy joe has 17g of fibre and 20g of protein!
- Sneaky veggies. If I didn't tell you, I bet you'd barely notice that there's some hidden veggies in these sloppy joes for extra nutrition.
- Olive oil
- Bell pepper
- Salt and pepper
- Brown sugar
- Tomato sauce
- Barbecue sauce
- Balsamic vinegar
- Cooked lentils
- Whole wheat hamburger buns
- Vegan cheese
Cook lentils according to package instructions or rinse and drain lentils if using canned.
While lentils are cooking, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add oil, onion, garlic, bell pepper and carrot. Season with salt and pepper and stir. Saute for 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently.
Next add brown sugar (if using), cumin, chili powder and paprika. Stir in tomato sauce, barbeque sauce and balsamic vinegar.
Once the lentils are cooked, add them to the skillet as well, and stir to combine.
Continue cooking the mixture over medium-low heat until completely warmed through and thick, stirring occasionally - 10 minutes. Adjust seasonings to desired taste.
Serve with hamburger buns and dairy-free cheese.
Substitutions and Variations
To make gluten-free: This recipe is naturally gluten-free if served with gluten-free buns. Note that you may need to look for certified gluten-free lentils if you have Celiac disease.
To make vegan: This recipe is naturally vegan.
To make nut-free: This recipe is naturally nut-free.
For my veggie lovers: Looking to sneak in even more veg? Try adding in shredded zucchini as well!
For my meat lovers and flexitarians: If you're not quite ready to go fully meatless, you can sub out half the lentils with 1 package of lean ground beef. Cook the beef first, then add in the other ingredients. Please note that you will need to add additional barbecue sauce, spices and tomato sauce.
Missing an ingredient? Try these:
- Balsamic vinegar: Swap for tamari or Worcestershire sauce. Note that Worcestershire sauce is not vegan.
- Brown sugar: Omit or swap for coconut sugar. I like adding a little for some additional sweetness like the classic sloppy joes we grew up with. However, depending on the sweetness of your bbq sauce this may not be needed!
- Barbecue sauce: Use whatever barbecue sauce you prefer. My favourite lower sugar one is by Stubbs
- Spices and seasonings: Everyone's taste palettes are different, so adjust the seasoning to your taste. Keep in mind that every spice has a flavor profile- smoky (chili and cumin), salty, sugar (sweet), balsamic vinegar (acid).
The lentil mixture can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 4 days. If storing leftover sloppy Joes, I recommend storing the buns and lentils separate and assembling as needed to ensure the bread does not get soggy.
For the most 'meat-like' texture, use the back of a spatula to mash the lentils as you stir them into the sauce.
Frequently Asked Questions
Nope, but I like adding them because it's an easy way to add more nutrients and fibre for a satisfying, filling meal. However, if you want to leave them out they can be replaced with an additional 1 cup of lentils.
From coleslaws to salads to side veggies, I have a whole post with ALL of my favourite sides to serve with these vegan sloppy joes!
I used brown lentil, but yellow lentils also work. I would avoid red lentils because they tend to get mushy quite fast.
Rinse the lentils well and boil for 20-30 minutes until tender. You can find full instructions here!
My personal favourite is Violife they have both slices as well as shredded options that work great in this recipe!
More Vegan Dinner Recipes
I love adding plant-based dinners into my meal rotation!
PS. I love seeing my recipes in action! If you decide to make these vegan sloppy joes, don't forget to snap a photo and tag me on Instagram- @nourishedbynic or leave a comment and rating below letting me know how you liked it!
Vegan Sloppy Joes
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ medium onion minced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 medium red or green bell pepper diced
- 1 cup carrots shredded
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar optional
- 1 + ¼ cup tomato sauce
- ⅓ cup lower sugar barbecue sauce
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 3 cups cooked lentils
- 4 whole wheat hamburger buns
- 4 slices of vegan cheese
- Cook lentils according to package instructions or rinse and drain lentils if using canned.
- While lentils are cooking, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add oil, onion, garlic, bell pepper and carrot. Season with salt and pepper and stir. Saute for 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Next add brown sugar (if using), cumin, chili powder and paprika. Stir in tomato sauce, barbecue sauce and balsamic vinegar. Once the lentils are cooked, add them to the skillet as well, and stir to combine.
- Continue cooking the mixture over medium-low heat until completely warmed through and thick, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Adjust seasonings to desired taste.
- Serve with hamburger buns and dairy free cheese.