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Vegan Sloppy Joe

a close up of a sandwich on a plate


    • 2 cups water (I used half water, half vegetable broth)
    • 1 cup red lentils, well rinsed 
    • OR
    • 2 15oz cans precooked lentils, drained and rinsed

    • 2 Tbsp olive or grape seed oil
    • 1 shallot, minced (plus more for serving)
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced (2 cloves yield ~1 Tbsp)
    • 1/2 medium red or green bell pepper, diced
    • Sea salt and black pepper (to taste)
    • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce*
    • 1-2 Tbsp coconut sugar (plus more to taste)
    • 1-2 Tbsp vegan-friendly Worcestershire sauce* (like this brand // ensure gluten-free for GF eaters)
    • 1-2 tsp chili powder (plus more to taste)
    • 1 tsp ground cumin (plus more to taste)
    • 1 pinch smoked or regular paprika(optional)
  • FOR SERVING optional

    • Gluten-free or whole-wheat hamburger buns*
    • Pickles
  • If cooking your own lentils, Add red lentils to a small saucepan, add liquid (water and/or vegetable broth) and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, add rinsed red lentils and bring back to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 7-10 minutes, or until just tender. You want them to be cooked through but not mushy. Drain well and set aside. 

  • In the meantime, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add oil, onion, garlic, and bell pepper. Season with a pinch each salt and pepper and stir to combine.

  • Sautè for 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently, or until the peppers and onions are tender and slightly browned.

  • Next add tomato sauce, coconut sugar, vegan worcestershire sauce, chili powder, cumin, and paprika (optional). Stir to combine.

  • 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 5-10 minutes.

  • Taste and adjust flavor as needed, adding more chili powder and/or cumin for smokiness, salt for saltiness, coconut sugar for sweetness, or worcestershire for depth of flavor.

  • Serve the mixture on toasted buns with *Ume plum cucumbers and/or Ume plum cabbage. Best when fresh, though leftover sloppy joe mixture will keep in the refrigerator up to 4-5 days, or in the freezer. Reheat on the stovetop, adding water or vegetable broth if needed.

I like to double this recipe and freeze half.  

*Ume Plum Cucumbers/Cabbage: sliced cucumbers or shredded red cabbage soaked 30 minutes or more in 1:4 ratio of Ume plum vinegar and water.