If you're looking for a foolproof weeknight dinner idea that's packed with flavor and nutrients, you've come to the right place. These easy lentil sloppy Joes are just the right amount of tangy, sweet, and spicy to have you begging for seconds.
Are you ready for this?
Famous in lunch rooms and households around America, sloppy Joes are a classic many of us remember from our childhood. So, why are these so popular? Well, when you see how easy they come together, it's an obvious choice for a busy household.
What's more? A sandwich with "sloppy" in the name makes eating these messy sandwiches part of the fun. It's comforting knowing you don't have to feel bad about sauce dripping from your face (you're not alone). It just might not be the best dish to order on a first date.
We love creating easy meals, especially ones that can be doubled or tripled to make lunches for the week. And lately, we've been challenging ourselves to "veganize" traditionally meat-based meals. Not only are we having fun with this, but we're also finding even more ways to enjoy foods we already love (like lentils).
But, you might be wondering "is this even healthy?" Does 21g of protein and 100% of your daily fiber needs per serving sound okay? Pair that with all of your daily iron needs, and the answer is yes. This is indeed a healthy meal.
It's time to grab some napkins, and enjoy getting these sloppy Joes all over the place!
See you on the other side.
🍲 Key ingredients
- Brown lentils: these nuggets are high in fiber and complex carbs, yet low in fat and calories. Pair all that with high protein content, and it's game over for meat. In just a ½ cup of cooked lentils, there is 12g of protein. Can you believe that? These are seriously one of the most underrated superfoods out there. We try to cook with lentils as much as possible, and you should too!
- Tomatoes: we use both tomato paste and sauce in these lentil sloppy joes to give it the perfect texture (if you ain't makin' a mess eating this, you ain't doin' it right). And there's plenty of vitamin C in this recipe since just one tomato carries 28% of your daily needs.
- Chili powder: this is predominantly made in America by grinding chili peppers with other herbs and spices to take on a milder taste profile. But in a lot of places, this spice is simply ground hot red chilies, which is much hotter than the westernized counterpart. For this recipe, stick to American chili powder. Although chili peppers are rich in vitamins like C, B6, and K1, they don't contribute much to your micronutrient intake since they are eaten in small quantities.
- Apple cider vinegar: we love the balancing act of combining sweet, spicy, and sour to create perfect harmony in our meals. We use apple cider vinegar in this recipe to counteract the sweetness. We love apple cider vinegar because it's so diverse in its uses. From giving some tang to sloppy Joes to making buttermilk for pancakes. It's a one-size-fits-all ingredient!
To start off, you'll need to prepare some lentils. We usually cook them ahead of time in our Instant Pot. But, you can used canned if you're short on time or don't own a pressure cooker.
Once the lentils are done, start putting together the rest of the sloppy Joes by heating some oil in a large pot on medium. Add in your diced onions, and sauté for a few minutes. Next, add in the minced garlic and bell pepper, and cook for another minute or so.
Once your veggies are smelling nice and fragrant, it's time for the spices. Throw in garlic powder, cumin, chili powder, fresh oregano, smoked paprika, cayenne, and brown sugar. We use fresh oregano in this recipe since we have some in our herb garden, but dried oregano works great too! Just make sure to only use about 1-2 tsp of the dried variety.
Now it's time to get sloppy.
Pour in all the tomato sauce, tomato paste, ketchup, mustard, apple cider vinegar, and Frank's Red Hot sauce (you can omit the hot sauce if you don't want as much spice). Lastly, mix in your cooked brown lentils, put the lid on, and simmer on low-medium for about 15 minutes.
While your lentil sloppy Joes are cooking, prepare the buns by lightly brushing with some vegan butter or oil. Toast them in a toaster or on the stovetop in a pan.
Once the sloppy Joes are ready to go, serve them over your toasted buns with sliced green onions or avocado!
You know those meals that taste even better the next day? This is one of them. You can store the lentils separate from the bun (obviously) and get 4-5 days in the fridge. You can also freeze them for up to 6 months.
💭 Budget tips
We think everyone should be able to eat better for less, so here are a few tricks to make this recipe even more affordable:
- Skip the bell pepper all together
- Don't serve it on a bun to save money (and calories)
- Half the amount of tomato paste or make your own
🍴 Tasting notes
Don't feel bad about getting this meal all over your face (we totally get it). These lentil sloppy Joes are:
If you try this recipe for dinner, please rate it and leave us a comment below! Want to stay up-to-date with new recipes? Subscribe to our newsletter or connect with Broke Bank Vegan on social media. Happy eating!
Easy Lentil Sloppy Joes
- Pressure cooker
- Large pot
- 2 cups uncooked brown lentils ($1.02)
- 4 cups water ($0.00)
- 1 tbsp olive oil ($0.12)
- 1 whole white onion, diced ($0.24)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced ($0.12)
- 1 medium green bell pepper, diced ($0.82)
- 5 tbsp tomato paste ($0.40)
- 27 oz tomato sauce ($1.96)
- 3 tbsp yellow mustard ($0.15)
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar ($0.09)
- 3 tbsp ketchup ($0.15)
- 2 tbsp Frank's Red Hot sauce ($0.19)
Herbs & Spices
- ½ tbsp garlic powder ($0.04)
- 1 tbsp chili powder ($0.03)
- 1 ½ tsp smoked paprika ($0.08)
- ½ tbsp cumin ($0.02)
- ¼ tsp cayenne ($0.02)
- 1-2 tbsp fresh oregano, minced ($0.00)
- 2 tbsp brown sugar ($0.06)
- Sea salt & pepper to taste ($0.02)
For Serving optional
- 3-6 whole kaiser buns, toasted
- sliced green onions
- avocado slices
- To start, rinse the lentils. Add them to a pressure cooker with water, and cook on high for 8-10 minutes. We usually cook ours ahead of time in our Instant Pot, but you can use canned if you're short on time or don't own a pressure cooker.
- Once the lentils are almost done, heat olive oil in a large pot on medium. Add in diced onions, and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Next, add in minced garlic and diced bell pepper, and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
- Next, add in garlic powder, chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, cayenne, fresh oregano, and brown sugar. Stir to combine.
- Then, pour in both cans of tomato sauce, tomato paste, ketchup, yellow mustard, apple cider vinegar, and Frank's Red Hot sauce (you can omit the hot sauce if you don't want as much spice).
- When the lentils are done, drain any excess water off in a strainer. Mix them into the pot of sauce, put the lid on, and simmer on low-medium for 10 minutes.
- In the meantime, prepare the buns by slicing them and lightly brushing each half with some vegan butter or oil. Crisp them up in a toaster oven or in a stovetop pan on medium.
- Once buns are toasty brown, taste lentil sloppy joes and adjust seasoning as needed. Add apple cider vinegar or mustard for tang, brown sugar or ketchup for sweetness, and Frank's or cayenne for more heat.
- Season with salt & pepper to taste, and serve over toasted buns with sliced green onions and avocado on top!
- Optional ingredients are not reflected in the price of the recipe.
- Calories do not include the buns.
♻️ Similar recipes
For more tasty dish ideas, check out our:
- Crispy “chicken” tenders for some vegan style comfort food like the stuff you grew up with.
- Baked buffalo cauliflower wings if you want a spicy appetizer to share or dinner to eat all on your own.
- Vegan sweet potato chili for a warming meal perfect for meal prep to set you up for a successful week.
- Red lentil dahl if you're looking for high protein vegan food that tastes delicious.
Yes, you can absolutely use green onions instead of the brown variety. They both have a similar texture and taste. The only variety to avoid in this recipe is red lentils since they will be too mushy.
Yes, you can use any color of bell pepper you have on hand! We just prefer the taste of green bell pepper in this recipe.
This meal is actually completely free of gluten, except for the bun. As long as you serve it on a gluten-free bun, you will be good.