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Lentil Sloppy Joes

Easy, filling, and inexpensive, these veggie Lentil Sloppy Joes make a quick meal that keeps you full for hours and reheats well for lunch the next day.

two lentil sloppy joes on whole wheat buns on plater

When I was a kid, my family ate a lot of sloppy joes for dinner. Of course, the traditional version called for ground beef, but these veggie sloppy joes are every bit as good and SO MUCH healthier.

open lentil sloppy joe sandwich topped with slaw and toasted bun in background

We love veggie sloppy Joes because they’re…

  • Super filling
  • Loaded with veggies
  • Wholesome
  • Smokey
  • Packed with nutrients
  • Can even be made in a crockpot
  • Simply delicious!
close up of lentil sloppy joe topped with slaw

What kind of lentils to use

There are a number of different types of lentils, and each is a little different. You will want to use green or brown lentils for this sloppy joe recipe because they have a nice firm meaty texture.

Other varieties like red lentils are best for stews because they break down more and get creamy which helps thicken the soup or stew up. They also cook much faster than other lentil variations.

How to make lentil sloppy joes

Begin by dicing up the veggies which include onion, celery, and red bell pepper. Other bell pepper varieties such as green and yellow can also be used if preferred.

diced onion, celery, celery on brown cutting board with knife

In a medium stockpot, saute the diced vegetables in about 5 tablespoons of the veggie broth or water for approximately 5 minutes. You want them to get slightly tender but don’t overcook them at this point. They will continue cooking with the lentils shortly.

sauteed onions, celery, and red bell pepper in large stockpot with red spatula

While the veggies are cooking, rinse the lentils under warm water. Lentils are pretty small, so you’ll need something that has smaller holes such as a rice washing bowl so they won’t fall through.

Add all of the ingredients–lentils, bulgur, fire-roasted tomatoes, veggie broth (or water), and spices— to your stockpot and increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.

large blue stockpot filled with lentils, tomatoes, vegetables, bulgur, and spices

In addition to the protein-packed lentils, this recipe also uses bulgur.

What is bulgur?

Bulgur is a whole wheat grain that is cooked exactly like rice in about 15 minutes. (Follow package directions).

I like to make a big batch of it and store in the freezer to use in recipes like tacos, stews, chili beans, etc. because bulgur adds a ground beef texture and soaks up flavors of dish you’re preparing.

Once boiling, turn the heat down to low and cook uncovered for approximately 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. The lentils should be cooked until tender but still keep their shape.

lentils, onions, red peppers, celery and spices cooking in stockpot with red spoon

Serve on a whole grain (or gluten-free) bun with your favorite condiments. I have a terrific homemade low-fat mayonnaise that is terrific with these. We also love to top our sloppy joes with a coleslaw that is really easy to make in minutes.

Overhead shot of sloppy joe sandwiches on plater with one open and other with top bun

Crockpot instructions

To make this recipe in a crockpot, simply add all ingredients to a large cooker and allow to cook on low for 3-4 hours.

You can saute the veggies before adding them to the crockpot, but I completely skip sauteing the onion, celery, and bell peppers because they have plenty of time to bring out their delicious flavors in the slow cooker.

cast iron skillet filled with seasoned lentils and wooden spoon

*Originally published May 2015.

What to serve with lentil sloppy joes

Sloppy joes make a great main dish and some great sides that go well with them include:

veggie lentil sloppy joe on white plate with bowl of lentils in background

Sloppy Joe tips and suggestions

To make this recipe gluten-free, leave out the bulgur wheat and reduce the veggie broth to 3.5 cup. Serve on a gluten-free bun.

Make sure lentils are cooked well but not overdone to become mushy.

This recipe does freeze well in a freezer-safe container

lentil sloppy joes on white plate

Other vegan burger recipes

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two lentil sloppy joes on whole wheat buns on plater

Lentil Sloppy Joes

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

Easy, filling, and inexpensive, these veggie Lentil Sloppy Joes are a quick meal that keeps you full for hours and reheats well for lunch the next day.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup lentils, I used red lentils but any will work fine
  • 1/2 cup dry bulgur wheat (optional but recommended)
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1/2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 15 oz can fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 4 cups veggie broth or water
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Hoisin sauce (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Begin by dicing up the veggies which include onion, celery, and red bell pepper. Other bell pepper varieties such as green and yellow can also be used if preferred.
  2. In a medium stockpot, saute the diced vegetables in about 5 tablespoons of the veggie broth for approximately 5 minutes. You want them to get slightly tender but don't overcook them at this point. They will continue cooking with the lentils shortly.
  3. While the veggies are cooking, rinse the lentils under warm water. Lentils are pretty small, so you'll need something that has smaller holes such as a rice washing bowl so they won't fall through.
  4. Add all of the ingredients--lentils, bulgur, fire-roasted tomatoes, veggie broth (or water), and spices-- to your stockpot and increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.
  5. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low and cook uncovered for approximately 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. The lentils should be cooked until tender but still keep their shape.
  6. Serve on a whole grain (or gluten-free) bun with your favorite condiments. I have a terrific homemade low-fat mayonnaise that is terrific with these. We also love to top our sloppy joes with a coleslaw that is really easy to make in minutes.


Crockpot Instructions:

  1. To make this recipe in a crockpot, simply add all ingredients to a large cooker and allow to cook on low for 3-4 hours.
  2. You can saute the veggies before adding them to the crockpot, but I completely skip sauteing the onion, celery, and bell peppers because they have plenty of time to bring out their delicious flavors in the slow cooker.

Notes

Detailed instructions, in-process photos, and my personal helpful tips can be found in the article above.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 203Total Fat: 2gCarbohydrates: 39gFiber: 13gSugar: 12gProtein: 12g

To obtain the most accurate representation of the nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information provided is accurate, complete, and useful.

Did you make this recipe?

Please rate and leave a comment because I love hearing from you. Remember SHARING IS CARING!

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Susanne

Saturday 1st of May 2021

Would almond flour be a good alternative to the bulgar wheat? I am sensitive to gluten.

Terri Edwards

Saturday 1st of May 2021

Hi Susanne- A great gluten-free substitute for the bulgur would be buckwheat groats. They both have a crumbly ground beef texture.

Mairby

Tuesday 24th of September 2019

Do you have any more suggestions for lentils?

Someone blessed me with 3 pkg so want to find some more recipes I can use them with.

Terri Edwards

Tuesday 24th of September 2019

Shepherds Pie is another delicious lentil recipe. It's great anytime and is especially popular around the holidays. Maybe give it a try, and I would love to know what you think about it. https://eatplant-based.com/lentil-shepherds-pie/

Mairby

Tuesday 24th of September 2019

I made this for my family, adding the BBQ sauce was the best. I had tried making some along time ago but didn't think to add the BBQ. This is so easy to put in the crockpot and I like the Hoisin Sauce too. Thank you for such an easy and quick meal.

Terri Edwards

Tuesday 24th of September 2019

Hi Mairby, I am so glad you like the lentil sloppy joes. They really are so easy to make, and I've found that even non-plant-based people enjoy them. Thanks so much for letting me know!

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