Hearty and loaded with savory goodness, these healthy vegetarian sloppy joes provide a solid plant-based protein punch and deliver big time in the flavor department!
If you didn’t grow up vegetarian or vegan, you’ve probably eaten a few traditional sloppy joes in your past. There's something so enticing about the combination of spices cooked together with tomato sauce, bell peppers, and Worcestershire sauce that’s made Sloppy Joes a long-time favorite.
These Vegetarian Sloppy Joes are no exception. They bring all of those lip smacking, tasty elements to the table in a totally plants-only way. Lentils are one of the legume family’s highest protein members and they are the star of this delicious family recipe.
Toss some fresh, crunchy cabbage slaw on top of the mouthwatering filling and you have a fun, and nutritious meal on a bun, that everyone will enjoy.
Make plenty, because one Veggie Sloppy Joe for each person may not be enough for your hungry crew!
They'll love my Copycat recipe for Zupas Ultimate Grilled Cheese too!
Vegetarian Sloppy Joe Ingredient Spotlight
Most of the items on the ingredient list for this recipe are kitchen staples. Anything you don’t have on hand already will be easy to find at your favorite grocery store!
Lentils - Lentils are the rock star in this tasty dish. Start with already cooked lentils as you make this recipe. You can pre-cook them yourself (cooking time is short) or buy canned lentils for faster prep time.
Yellow Onion and Bell Pepper - These two fresh veggie ingredients help “make” the flavors of your Veggie Sloppy Joes really pop. They give the recipe a nice savory boost like nothing else can.
If you really can’t eat either of them, try chopped radish or carrot.
Tomato Sauce and Tomato Paste - All of your spices and savory elements come together in a base of tomato sauce, which is intensified by a little tomato paste.
Did you know you can buy tomato paste in a tube? Just squeeze out the small bit you need and put the lid back on.
Green and Purple Cabbage - For crunch and zestiness, raw cabbage can’t be beat. Using both green and purple cabbage adds color as well as vital nutrients.
If you don’t have both types of cabbage for your slaw, it’s fine to use just one or be brave and try something different like Napa Cabbage!
Step-by-Step Instructions for Vegetarian Sloppy Joes
Time needed: 20 minutes
Look how easy it is to make veggie sloppy joes!
- Step 1
In a large bowl, mix together the slaw ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Step 2
Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add in the peppers and onions. Cook for 3-4 minutes until starting to soften.
- Step 3
Add in the garlic and spices. Cook for another 30 seconds until fragrant.
- Step 4
Add in the tomato paste, tomato sauce, agave, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. Mix well then stir in the lentils. Simmer for 5 minutes.
- Step 5
To serve, divide the sloppy joe mixture between the buns and top with slaw.
You and your crew are going to absolutely love these flavor bomb Veggie Sloppy Joes!
- Protein rich from amazing lentils
- So fast to make
- Super budget friendly
- Bursting with great savory flavors
Cindy's Insider Pro Tips
Toast your buns
Toasting the buns before you pile on the fillings gives these sandwiches a little extra oomph and texture contrast. Just pop them into the oven, toaster oven or air fryer until they’re golden brown.
Check the ingredient list on the bun package to ensure they aren’t prepared with any animal ingredients.
Save your budget by shopping for your lentils in the bulk bins of your supermarket. If you have a Winco, you’re all set! You may even find a great deal on Amazon.
Lentils are such a versatile legume that it pays to keep a good supply on hand. You can store them in glass jars, plastic containers or even Ziploc bags.
Make filling ahead
For a super speedy to-the-table meal, make the lentil filling for these vegetarian sloppy joes a day or two ahead. It can be stored in your fridge for a few days.
When you’re ready to use it, just heat it up and assemble your sandwiches onto the toasted buns.
Vegetarian Sloppy Joes FAQs
Yes, it is. Manwich contains no animal products, but it does contain ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, sugar and “natural flavors.” If you’re trying to avoid unhealthy or questionable substances like these, you'll be much better off making your own sauce for sloppy joes.
An obvious answer here would be lentils. You might also try crumbled, baked tofu or tempeh. Commercial, vegan or vegetarian ground meat substitute options are also plentiful in grocery stores these days. They cost more than lentils and some are kind of high in fat, but they work very well.
The lentil filling can be stored for up to 5 or 6 days in an airtight container in your fridge. It also freezes well and can be kept in your freezer for 2-3 months.
The slaw will be fine in the fridge in an airtight container for 3-4 days. Don’t try to freeze it. The texture when it thaws out will be um, well, just gross.
Looking for more delicious Vegan Recipes?
Vegan Baked Beans
Vegan Street Corn Salad
Vegan Black Bean Burger
Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers
Black Bean Enchilada Casserole
Vegan Mac and Cheese
Lentil Shepherd's Pie
Vegan Mushroom Stroganoff
Vegan Scalloped Potatoes
Vegan Broccoli Mac and Cheese
Perfectly Prepared Tofu
And make sure to check out my ultimate plant based diet grocery list, so you'll always have what you need on hand.
Now that you know how to easy it is to make this vegetarian sloppy joe recipe, please give it a star rating below and comment letting me know how it turned out for you.
Vegetarian Sloppy Joes
- 2 Tablespoons vegan butter or olive oil
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic salt
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ green bell pepper small diced
- ½ large yellow onion small diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 cup unsweetened tomato sauce
- 3 Tablespoons agave nectar
- 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
- ½ teaspoon vegan Worcestershire sauce or tamari
- 2 ½ cups cooked lentils (about 1 cup uncooked)
- 4 buns
- 1 cup shredded purple cabbage
- 1 cup shredded green cabbage
- 2 Tablespoons vegan mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon agave
- 1 teaspoon vinegar (ACV, rice wine, or white all work well)
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a large bowl, mix together the slaw ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add in the peppers and onions. Cook for 3-4 minutes until starting to soften.
- Add in the garlic and spices. Cook another 30 seconds until fragrant.
- Add in the tomato paste, tomato sauce, agave, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. Mix well then stir in the lentils. Simmer for 5 minutes.
- To serve, divide the sloppy joe mixture between the buns and top with slaw.