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Lentil Sloppy Joes

Updated: May 30, 2022

I've made this a few times for social gatherings and it's always scarfed down quickly by guests! I like to buy mini buns for parties to make bite-size lentil sloppy joe sandwiches. You can add chopped onion, radish, lettuce, or other garnishes to it or keep it simple with just the bun and lentils. The photo above is a super-indulgent version with a pretzel bun (pretty tasty, but I don't recommend doing this often since it's made with inflammatory white flour), grilled mushroom on top of lentil sloppy joes and a slice of vegan cheese that my husband added to what we call our "Sunday night splurge dinner." Normally, I'd opt for cheeseless and a whole-grain bun—either way, it's delicious! We added an extra side of sloppy joe for more fiber and deliciousness.


  • 2 cups water (or half water and half vegetable broth)

  • 1 cup green or brown lentils, well rinsed

Sloppy Joes

  • 2 Tbsp avocado oil

  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped (plus more for serving)

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 Tbsp)

  • 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped

  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

  • 1/2 tsp turmeric

  • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce

  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup

  • 2 Tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 Tbsp tamari

  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

  • 2 tsp chipotle chili powder OR 1 Tbsp regular chili powder if you don't like spice

  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin

  • 1/2 tsp onion powder

  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika

For Serving

Whole-grain buns

Chopped onion, red cabbage, radish, cilantro

How to make

  1. To a small saucepan, add water and/or vegetable broth and rinsed lentils and heat over medium-high heat.

  2. Bring to a low boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for about 20 minutes, or until tender. Drain off any excess liquid and set aside.

  3. In the meantime, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add oil, onion, garlic, and bell pepper.

  4. Sautè for 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently, or until the peppers and onions are tender. Add the turmeric, salt and pepper. Stir to combine.

  5. Next add tomato sauce, maple syrup, vegan Worcestershire sauce, tamari, apple cider vinegar, chili powder, cumin, onion powder, and paprika.

  6. Stir to combine.

  7. Add the cooked lentils to the skillet as well, and stir to combine. Continue cooking the mixture over medium-low heat until thick, stirring occasionally — about 5-10 minutes.

  8. Taste and adjust flavor as needed, adding more salt for saltiness, maple for sweetness, or Worcestershire sauce for depth of flavor.

  9. Serve the mixture on toasted buns with onion, cabbage, radish and/or cilantro.

By the way, the sloppy joe's are also delicious without the bun!

Recipe inspired by Minimalist Baker.

Delicious and nutritious additions: Layer the sandwich with greens (arugula, spinach or red leaf lettuce), raw purple cabbage, kraut, pickled vegetables (see Banh Mi recipe)

Nutrition Information

Per serving* (4 servings): 289 calories, 47 grams carbohydrates (38 grams net carbohydrates), 9 grams fiber, 14 grams protein, 9 grams fat, 776 milligrams sodium

Good source of vitamin B3, vitamin B5, vitamin K, magnesium

Excellent source of vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, copper, iron, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, zinc

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