Nothing quite screams comfort food like these Vegan Sloppy Joes. An ideal plant-based weeknight dinner that comes together in less than 25 minutes!

vegan sloppy joes

When someone asks me how they can eat a more plant-based diet, I always suggest starting by veganizing familiar foods you love. That way the flavors and integrity of the food you already love eating maintains in tact, but you’re enjoying a meatless version instead. I think this allows for an easier, more realistic transition. 

Which brings me to these Vegan Sloppy Joes. I don’t know about you, but sloppy joes were definitely a mainstay for dinner as I was growing up! That’s why when I transitioned to a plant-based lifestyle, they were one of the first things I attempted to veganize. 

Instead of ground beef which is in traditional sloppy joes, we use red lentils. Not only are these Vegan Sloppy Joes equally as tasty, they’re also rich in fiber, protein and nutrients making for a fantastic well rounded main.

Why You’ll Love These Sloppy Joes

  • They’re Quick & Easy: These sloppy joes literally take less than 25 minutes start to finish and only require one dirty pot (score)
  • They’re Healthy: Like almost all PlantYou recipes, these vegan sloppy joes are plant-based, oil-free and can easily be made gluten free as well (just swap the bun out for your gluten free favorite). These are also packed with red lentils, which are an excellent source of vegan fiber and protein 
  • They Taste Amazing: Using a mix of aromatics like garlic and paprika to create a delicious broth, along with a high quality BBQ sauce, these Sloppy Joes are ridiculously delicious, so much so that you’ll be going in for seconds
  • They’re Kid Friendly: These sloppy joes are fun and a little bit messy, and I have no doubt your kid will take joy in digging in. 

Why BBQ Sauce?

BBQ sauce is the secret ingredient that make these sloppy joes extra saucy!

The BBQ sauce also provides an amazing smoky/tomatoey flavor melded with the lentils that you won’t be able to get enough of. 

For this recipe, I was lucky to have Good Food For Good BBQ sauce sponsor the Instagram video I did of this recipe, and their sauces are truly unmatched in terms of quality and taste. All of their sauces are organic, contain no added sugar, and for every single bottle purchased, a meal is donated to someone in need. For this particular recipe, I used half a cup of their classic BBQ sauce, and half a cup of their sweet and spicy BBQ sauce (which in my opinion made the perfect delicious combo)!

You can learn more about their sauces and make a purchase here. Use code PLANTYOU15 for 15% off your purchase.

vegan sloppy joes

How To Make Vegan Sloppy Joes With Lentils

Making this vegan sloppy joe recipe could truly not be easier. You are going to start by sauteing garlic and onion in a pan over medium heat, with a touch of water. You can use oil if you would prefer.

Then add your spices including garlic powder, paprika and sea salt, along with the red lentils and water. Bring to a boil, then simmer for approximately 20 minutes until the lentils have cooked and thickened.

Now add in a cup of BBQ sauce and stir until thoroughly mixed. Give the lentil mixture a taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Serve in a big whole wheat bun!


What To Serve Vegan Sloppy Joes With

One of the best part about vegan sloppy joes? They go with just about anything! Here are some of our best side recommendations to accompany these.

If you’re searching for more simple, delicious and healthy oil-free plant-based recipes, we have an entire database of over 100 meal plans that you can sign up for right here, right now. Join the Plant Ahead program here. 

vegan sloppy joes

The Recipe: Vegan Sloppy Joes

A Vegan Sloppy Joe recipe using whole food, plant-based ingredients like red lentils, onion, garlic and and paprika.
4.84 from 12 ratings


  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 Garlic (Cloves), minced
  • ½ tbsp paprika
  • ½ tbsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce
  • 4 whole wheat hamburger buns


  • In a pot over medium heat, saute the garlic and onion with a tablespoon of water until softened, for approximately 3 minutes.
  • Add the garlic powder, paprika and salt to the pot and stir. Next add the water and red lentils. Bring the mixture to a boil, then cover and simmer until the lentils have cooked and the mixture is thick, for approximately 15 minutes.
  • Add the BBQ sauce to the lentils and stir until thoroughly mixed. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve over hamburger buns as desired.