Vegan lentil sloppy joes with slaw

These vegan sloppy joes are made with nutritious lentils in a flavorful sweet and savory sauce, served on toasted buns with creamy slaw.

Close up of a lentil vegan sloppy joe sandwich with cabbage slaw on a plate.

About the recipe

if you Classic sloppy joe cravingsThis vegan version made with lentils is a great way to enjoy a nutritious twist on the root.

This recipe is one Good source of plant-based protein and fiber, easy to make with minimal ingredients and preparation the timeAnd makes a great option for a family-friendly meal any night of the week.

The Sweet and savory lentils served on a warm, toasty bun with tangy and creamy slaw The perfect combo!

whether you Want to include vegetarian, vegan or just more plant-based foods On your diet, this healthy and delicious recipe may become a new favorite.

For more comfort food classics, Also check out my Lentil Shepherd’s Pie, Chickpea Meatloaf, Vegan Carbonara, and Vegan Stuffed Poblano Peppers!

Components and Substitutions

All the ingredients needed to make Vegan Sloppy Joe with Lentils and Tomato Sauce recipe.  Each element is labeled with text.

For vegan sloppy joes

  • Lentils: Green or brown lentils are used in this recipe. I would not recommend another variety.
  • Bay leaves: It is optional for cooking lentils.
  • the oil: Use oil of your choice to fry onions and chillies. For oil-free recipes, you can use cooking water or broth.
  • onion: White or yellow onion is suitable.
  • bell pepper: You will need 1 red bell pepper. You can substitute green bell pepper if needed.
  • garlic: Use whole garlic cloves, not garlic powder.
  • Chili Powder: Any mild chili powder works.
  • smoked paprika: Smoked paprika is best for flavor but you can use regular paprika in a pinch.
  • Tomato paste: Helps to thicken and adds more depth of flavor.
  • Tomato Sauce: You can use any plain tomato sauce or passata.
  • Dijon: Grainy Dijon mustard or regular Dijon mustard is fine.
  • Maple syrup: For sweetener you can use maple syrup, brown sugar or coconut sugar.
  • Worcestershire Sauce: Use vegan Worcestershire sauce. It is readily available at natural food stores or online. Some well-stocked conventional grocery stores carry it as well. If you can’t find this ingredient, you can use 2 tablespoons of soy sauce or tamari, 1 tablespoon of ketchup, and 1 tablespoon of vinegar instead.

For the creamy slaw

The slaw is optional, of course, but pairs really well with the lentils, either served on top or on the side.

  • Cabbage: You can use green cabbage, purple cabbage, green and purple cabbage, or a packaged coleslaw mix.
  • green onion: Use about 4-6 green onions, both green and white, thinly sliced.
  • mayo: Use vegan mayo of your choice.
  • Apple cider vinegar: You can substitute white vinegar here if needed.
  • Dijon: Any variety of Dijon mustard is suitable.

Step by step instructions

Step 1: Cook the lentils

add Place the lentils, water, salt and bay leaf in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 16-20 minutes until lentils are tender. After boiling, if excess water remains, drain it.

Quick Instructions: To use canned lentils, skip this step and start the sauce. Add about 2.5 cups of canned lentils when you add the cooked lentils to the sauce.

One pot green lentils cooked with bay leaves.

Step 2: Cook the Sloppy Joe Sauce

the heat Heat oil in a large pan then add onion and chilli Add a pinch of salt and pepper when hot. Cook for them 6-8 minutes until soft.

Quick Instructions: If you want to cook oil-free, use water or broth instead of oil to fry peppers and onions.

add Garlic, chili powder, smoked paprika and tomato paste and cook another 1-2 minutes, stirring often, to toast the spices.

add Tomato sauce, mustard, maple syrup, Worcestershire sauce and water or both and stir to combine.

add Season with cooked lentils and salt. Bring the mixture to a simmer then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the sauce reduces and thickens.

Season with more salt and pepper and more Worcestershire, if desired.

Vegan Lentil Sloppy Joe Sauce in a large saucepan with a wooden spoon.

Step 3: Make the creamy slaw

While the sloppy joe mixture is cooking, make the slaw. In a large bowl, combine Cabbage, green onions, mayo, vinegar and Dijon. Season with salt and pepper, then toss to combine.

Quick Instructions: Use a mandolin to slice the cabbage if you have one. If not, use a sharp knife and try to slice it as thinly as possible. Alternatively, use packaged coleslaw mix for a quick and easy alternative!

Step 4: Serve the sloppy joes

Spoon the lentil jhal jo mixture Toasted bun, top with slawHot sauce and any other toppings you may enjoy.

Scooping a lentil sloppy joe mixture onto a toasted bun on a plate.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use red lentils for this recipe?

I would not recommend it, no. They are very soft when cooked. This recipe is best with brown or green lentils. They hold their shape through cooking but once cooked they have a nice, tender bite. Perfect for Sloppy Joe!

Can I use canned lentils?

Sure! To use canned lentils, add about 2.5 cups to the sauce when you add the cooked lentils.

Can I use plant-based meat instead of lentils?

Yes! To use plant-based meat, use about 1 pound or package of vegan choice meat and brown it with onion and bell pepper before continuing with the recipe.

serving ideas

In addition to the creamy slaw, you can enjoy the other toppings listed below. The lentil mix is ​​also delicious served over baked potatoes or stir-fry, or even as a chili.

  • chopped pickles
  • Grated carrots
  • Avocado
  • Chopped onions raw or cooked
  • Rusty onion
  • jalapeño
  • Jhal Sauce
A lentil vegan sloppy joe sandwich with cabbage slaw drizzled with hot sauce on a plate.

to save

  • Cool before storing.
  • Transfer the lentil joe mixture to an airtight container or freezer-safe bag.
  • Store the lentil mixture in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
  • If frozen, thaw and refrigerate overnight.
  • Reheat in the microwave or in a saucepan on the stove until hot.
  • Cabbage slaw can be stored in a separate container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • Toast fresh buns as needed when you’re ready to serve.
Cook the lentils in a thick tomato sauce with chopped onion and pepper in a large pot.

Have you tried this recipe?
I’d love to hear about it! Click here to leave a review and be sure to tag me @runningonrealfood if you post it on social media.


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Sweet, tangy, and smoky, you’ll love this easy vegan sloppy joe, especially served with creamy cabbage slaw!

For lentils

For the sloppy joe sauce

For the creamy slaw

  1. Cook the lentils: In a medium bowl, add lentils, water, salt and bay leaf, if using. Bring to a boil on high. When it boils, reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook the lentils for 16-20 minutes, until tender, but not mushy. Drain the lentils, then set aside.
  2. to prepare: When lentils start, chop onion, garlic and pepper. You can collect the rest of the ingredients after you start the sauce. If you are not using the coleslaw mix to prepare the slaw, chop the cabbage after adding the lentils to the sauce.
  3. Make the Sloppy Joe Sauce: Meanwhile, in a large pan, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add onion and pepper. Season with salt and pepper. Cook 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender.
  4. Add garlic, chili powder, smoked paprika and tomato paste. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring often, until fragrant and toasted.
  5. Add tomato sauce, Dijon mustard, maple syrup or sugar, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, and 1/4 cup broth (or water). Stir to combine.
  6. Add cooked lentils. Season with salt. Bring to a simmer. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for 6-8 minutes, stirring often, until the sauce has reduced and thickened. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add more Worcestershire sauce if desired.
  7. Make the slaw: While the sloppy joe mixture is cooking, make the slaw. In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, green onion, mayo, vinegar and Dijon. Season with salt and pepper, then toss to combine.
  8. Toast Buns: Slice and toast buns in oven at 350 F or broil until lightly toasted and golden brown, watching closely.
  9. Serving: Spoon lentil sloppy joe mixture over toasted buns. Top with slaw and other desired toppings such as hot sauce and chopped onions. Top with buns and serve. Serve any leftover slaw alongside.


Leftover lentil mixture can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months.

Nutritional information is for lentil sloppy joe mix only and contains 1/2 teaspoon added salt.


  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 188
  • Sugar: 9 grams
  • Sodium: 300 mg
  • Fat: 3 grams
  • Sugars: 32 grams
  • Fiber: 5 grams
  • Protein: 9 grams

Keywords: Vegan sloppy joes, lentil sloppy joes

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