Vegan Sloppy Joes with potato chips and salad

Vegan Lentil Sloppy Joes

Hello again, my chickpeas! Today’s recipe is a GREAT weeknight option for when you don’t want to spend your whole night in the kitchen. Say hello to my Vegan Lentil Sloppy Joes!

Vegan Lentil Sloppy Joes by Joyful Balance - Oil Free and Plant Based

Like many of my recipes, I was going for simple here! You pretty much saute some veggies, add in a bunch of other delicious ingredients, let it thicken, and enjoy. It also makes a decent amount, so if you have a small family like me plan on having leftovers!

Inspiration for Vegan Lentil Sloppy Joes

Lentil Sloppy Joe with spinach side salad

It’s been a VERY long time since meat was a regular part of my lifestyle, but I weirdly have a very specific memory of eating sloppy joes in my school cafeteria as a kid. So making this recipe was a little nostalgic for me! I had fun recreating a childhood memory with a more nutritious and veganized version that I can easily make at home!

Recently I’ve been making an effort to learn a bit more about the origins of the recipes that inspire me – so when I decided to start testing this recipe I researched where Sloppy Joes came from! It turns out that the origin of the Sloppy Joe seems to be a bit debated. However, the story that came up most often in my searches was that a man named Joe created this in Sioux City, Iowa in the 1920s. 

I also learned that depending on where you are in the country, the Sloppy Joe apparently has many names! The Sloppy Joes (or at least various versions of it) are also referred to as Sloppy Janes, Dynamites, and Slushburgers. Honestly, Slushburger might be the most appropriate one in my opinion.

My version takes the basic concept of a Sloppy Joe and gives it a Joyful Balance spin! A traditional Sloppy Joe is basically a mix of ground meat, onions, tomato sauce, and seasonings. Some versions also incorporate pineapple for a more tropical twist – a version that I personally love and incorporated into this recipe. We are using lentils in place of ground meat today, and we are adding in some extra veggies for an extra oomph of nutrients! 

Ingredients for Vegan Lentil Sloppy Joes

Plant Based Vegan Sloppy Joes with spinach salad and potato chips

Here at Joyful Balance we like to make food that is delicious, but also throw in extra nutrients when we can! This one honestly has a lot of good stuff packed in, so let’s talk about some of it!

  • Onion, bell pepper, mushrooms, and garlic – some of my very favorite veggies get to star in this dish! These add in some nutrients, various textures, and some yummy flavor. 
  • Tomato puree, vegan Worcestershire sauce, and other flavor boosters – a good sloppy joe has to be, well, sloppy! The tomato puree will give us that sloppy texture we are looking for. We want our base to be mostly savory, but with a hint of sweetness. To do this, we are combining it with Worcestershire sauce and some other great flavor boosters!
  • Lentils – taking place of the traditional ground meat, we are using lentils! Lentils are a great source of plant-based protein, and they work perfectly for this recipe.
  • Crushed pineapple – I LOVE adding crushed pineapple to this recipe. The pineapple is slightly sweet and slightly tangy, and I just think it combines with all of our other flavors so well. 

How to make Vegan Lentil Sloppy Joes

Lentil Sloppy Joe with bowl of potato chips

As always, keep scrolling for the full instructions. But here’s the basic idea: 

  1. Saute your veggies
  2. Add tomato puree and some other flavorful ingredients
  3. Add lentils and crushed pineapple
  4. Allow to cook
  5. Serve on burger buns and enjoy!

Tips & Tricks

Plant based Vegan Lentil Sloppy Joes with sides

Some of my ideas for this one: 

  • Unable to find canned crushed pineapple? I also tested this with cubed fresh pineapple, and it’ll do the trick if that’s what you have! The pineapple flavor wasn’t quite as strong, but it was still delicious. 
  • Looking for ideas on how to serve this? In my house we go simple and typically serve it on toasted burger buns. However, you can top this with whatever you want! Thin onion slices are a great simple option, or you could top with grilled pineapple if you’re feeling extra tropical. I even think that jackfruit could be a fun topping here if you want some extra protein and texture.
  • Be sure to find Worcestershire sauce that is labeled as vegan if you want this meal to be vegan! Many Worcestershire sauces use fish sauce, but there are more and more vegan versions out there these days – such as the WanJaShan brand. Check out the recipe notes for another option if you can’t find vegan Worcestershire sauce.
  • Any burger buns work here – but if you want to go for a sweeter vibe, Hawaiian sandwich buns pair with this very well! However, there aren’t a ton of Hawaiian sandwich bun brands out there that are vegan, so be sure to check the ingredients list to make sure the ones you buy match your needs! While testing these I found Sara Lee Hawaiian sandwich buns, which are completely vegan and are my new favorite option!
  • Looking for another recipe to use up those burger buns? Check out my black bean burgers next!


Vegan Lentil Sloppy Joes

Recipe by Delaney Romero – Joyful BalanceCourse: DinnerCuisine: American


From Start to Finish



These Vegan Lentil Sloppy Joes are simple to make and perfect for busy weeknights! They give the general vibe of a traditional sloppy joe, but with more nutrients and a vegan twist! The majority of the above time is due to the time it takes to cook your lentils – you could also cook the lentils ahead of time to make it a quicker meal. Serve on whatever burger buns you’d like and pair it with your favorite side!

*Note that “From Start to Finish” time includes 25 minutes to cook your lentils and chop your veggies while the lentils cook, and another 20 minutes to complete the steps in the recipe.


  • 3/4 cup white mushrooms, chopped

  • 1/2 medium bell pepper, chopped

  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 3/4 cup tomato puree

  • 1 Tbsp vegan worcestershire sauce*

  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup

  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika

  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • 3 cups cooked green lentils

  • 8 oz canned crushed pineapple with juice

  • For serving:
  • 6 burger buns of your choice


  • Bring a large pot to medium-high heat on the stovetop and add the mushrooms, bell pepper, onion, and just a bit of water to prevent sticking. Sauté for about 4 minutes while stirring occasionally, until the onion just starts to become translucent.
  • Add the garlic to the pot and sauté another 1-2 minutes.
  • Bring the temperature of the stovetop down to medium. Add the tomato puree, Worcestershire sauce, maple syrup, smoked paprika, and salt to the pot. Give everything a mix until evenly incorporated.
  • Add your cooked lentils and crushed pineapple to the pot. Mix to evenly incorporate. Allow to cook until everything is heated through, typically about 5-7 minutes.
  • Once the entire Sloppy Joe mixture is heated through, remove from heat. If the mixture is not as thick as you would like it, you may allow it to cook a few minutes more – just know that the lentils will eventually break down and become a mushier texture if they overcook for too long, so keep an eye on them and remove from heat if you start to notice this happening.
  • Serve as you’d like on burger buns of your choice! In my house we like to toast the buns first!


  • *Worcestershire sauce: Make sure your Worcestershire sauce is labeled as vegan if you want this meal to be vegan! I use the WanJaShan brand. If you are unable to find a vegan Worcestershire sauce, my next recommendation would be tamari. I used tamari in a very early version of this recipe and it was a decent replacement!

Happy cooking, friends! If you made this recipe don’t forget to tag me (@joyfulbalanceofficial) on facebook or instagram so I can cheer you on for your sloppy-joe-making ways.

Stay joyfully balanced!

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