Vegan lentil sloppy joes are sure to be a hit because they’re classic comfort food that everyone knows and loves! The flavorful tangy sauce has two secret ingredients that will make you want to lick every last drop of sauce off the plate. Vegan + dairy-free + gluten-free.
I don’t know what it is about sloppy joes. It’s a classic comfort food that everyone knows and loves.
Sloppy joes were never my favorite food or a meal that I requested by name, I don’t have fond memories of eating them for lunch at school or at a picnic table with my friends at summer camp. (Probably, because I never went to sleep away summer camp because my mom would threaten it like it was a punishment! I never wanted to leave my mom’s side so being “sent away” to camp was absolutely terrifying to me!)
My mom did make them for us for dinner when we were little and I can remember the feeling of the sauce dripping down my arm and the filling always falling out of the sandwich. I don’t think that I liked the mess factor, although I was well known for making mashed potato balls to chuck across the table at my brother.
Somehow, I now find myself craving sloppy joes as an adult. Hmm, it’s pretty strange how the brain works.
Vegan Lentil Sloppy Joes
Since I’ve cut out meat, I’ve been on a neverending quest to veganize classic recipes. There’s no reason to give up recipes just because they have meat or animal products in them, you just need to figure out a way to replace those ingredients with plant-based options. Next up, vegan lentil sloppy joes!
My go to plant-based substitutions for ground beef are lentils or crumbled tofu.
Crumbled tofu is perfect for tacos because it’s not the star of the show– there are lots of other toppings that go with it. I wanted something heartier for the vegan lentil sloppy joes because it’s the main filling. Lentils are meaty and hearty, perfect for a filling comfort food dinner.
The combination of the lentils, chunky sauteed bell peppers and onions is delicious and closely resembles the original sloppy joe. My omnivore hubby loves these vegan lentil sloppy joes!
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Vegan Lentil Sloppy Joes Sauce
Ahhhhhh the vegan lentil sloppy joes sauce is killer! It’s tomato-y, thick and tangy from the secret ingredients. It’s just thick enough to coat the lentils but not drip down your arm when you pick up the sandwich.
I’m not saying chunks of lentil goodness aren’t going to fall out of the sandwich– because they will, but at least you won’t be a total mess! That’s something to consider is you’re making this for little kiddos too.
Vegan Lentil Sloppy Joes Secret Ingredients
Surprisingly, the lentils are not the secret ingredient in this dish. It’s two ingredients in the sauce.
- Balsamic vinegar
- Pickle relish
The balsamic vinegar gives it the best tangy kick. It makes you want to smack your lips together and make that tsk tsk sound with your tongue. Yum! The flavor from the balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire sauce together is so so so tasty.
The pickle relish gives another layer of tang to the sauce. The vinegar taste in the relish is brighter and lighter than the balsamic but equally as delicious and important to the flavor profile of the sauce. I also really enjoy the chunks of pickles mixed into the sauce.
I could eat pickle relish by the spoonful, it was always my go-to hot dog topper (and ketchup) when I was little.
Sloppy Joe Side Dishes
Most recently, I served the vegan lentils sloppy joes with zesty cilantro lime quinoa which was delicious! The bright flavors in the quinoa went so deliciously well with the flavors in the sloppy joes. Super easy, super healthy and super delicious. Winner winner, lentil dinner? =)
I’ve also served these side dishes with sloppy joes:
- Noodles with beet pasta sauce
- Sweet potato fries
- Cashew cream broccoli salad
- Spicy Thai sweet potato noodle salad
- Lemon turmeric basil roasted veggies
- Keep it simple with chips and kiwi fruit salsa
- Kid-friendly veggie-loaded macaroni and cheese
- Ginger Asian coleslaw
- 2 cups uncooked green lentils
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium sweet onion, diced
- 2 bell peppers, diced
- 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 2 tbsp tomato paste (This is my favorite brand because it's in a glass jar, so there's no BPA and it's organic)
- 1 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tbsp pickle relish
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 cups ketchup
- 1 cup water
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
- Gluten-free burger buns
Cook lentils according to package instructions and set aside.
Saute the diced onion and bell peppers in olive oil for 5-8 minutes, over medium heat in a large pan.
Add garlic powder, chili powder, tomato paste, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine and let cook for 1 minute to let the flavors begin to meld together.
Add pickle relish, maple syrup, Worcestershire, balsamic vinegar, ketchup, water and cooked lentils. Stir everything together, cover, reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for 20 minutes.
Spoon filling into burger buns and enjoy!
If you make these vegan lentil sloppy joes, please share your picture on Instagram and tag @StaceyHomemaker so I can see your delicious creation!
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What side dish would you eat with these vegan lentil sloppy joes? Let me know in the comments!
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