Recipe: Best Ever Lentil Sloppy Joe’s

Have you ever had sloppy joe’s before?!

They’re everyone’s fave ultra messy meal typically made with ground beef, tomato sauces, spices, and then loaded on a delicious bun! Essentially like a deconstructed saucy hamburger (aka incredibly sloppy) but SO delicious!

In all honesty I can’t say I was ever a huge fan of these growing up – but this lentil version of the old time classic is the PERFECT take on it – and has everyone in my fam (including me) loving them!

This recipe is vegan, loaded with protein & fibre, and can easily be made gluten free if you use gluten free buns.

I love serving with a simple side salad (like the one pictured) or my famous creamy hemp kale caesar!

A Few Notes on the Recipe:

  • Be sure to use whole green lentils (as opposed to split ones)
  • Add more spice as needed – I kept the spices in this recipe pretty moderate but if you want some extra flavour, don’t be shy to add in a little extra of everything!
  • If you like the sounds of this, but want something a little lighter (or perhaps more seasonal if it’s summer time) try my ‘Sloppy Lentil Lettuce Wraps’ instead!
  • Lastly, make sure you love the buns you use! Buns are often a highly underrated part of a meal like this – but for me the perfect bun is a game changer! Don’t be afraid to splurge a little and find buns you love. The ones in the photos are ‘potato brioche buns’ from a local bakery – and absolutely heavenly!

Okay so now on to the Lentil Sloppy Joe Recipe of your dreams!!

Servings: approx. 4


– 1 cup whole green lentils 
– 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
– 1 medium sized white onion 
– 1 clove garlic, minced
– 1 large carrot, finely chopped into disks, then quarters (or eighths)
– 3 tsp. chilli powder (or more depending on spice preferences) 
– 2 tsp. cumin 
– 2 tsp. paprika
– 1 tsp. black pepper
– 1 tsp. sea salt
– 1 Tbsp. maple syrup 
– 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
– 2 tsp. tamari (gluten free soy sauce) 
– 3 Tbsp. tomato paste
– 1.5 cups tomato sauce (I prefer using plain tomato sauce with no other spices in it)
– Fresh sprouts (or another green of choice)
– Hamburger buns of choice (I love brioche, ciabatta, or a whole wheat bun!)
– Optional garnishes: cashew parmesan


– Cook lentils according to package directions. I use 2 cups water for 1 cup of lentils. Allow them to come to a boil, then simmer for 18-22 minutes. You will know the lentils are finished if they are slightly are fork tender. They shouldn’t be crunchy but you also don’t want to cook them to mush or begin splitting
– Heat a medium sized pan or wok (preferably cast iron) with the olive oil
– Add the onion and garlic to the pan
– Saute until onions are lightly browned (approx. 4-5 minutes)
– Next add the carrot and all spices and continue to saute for 3-4 minutes
– Now add the lemon juice, maple syrup, and Tamari, stirring throughout
– Next add the tomato paste and sauce to the pan allowing to simmer on low
– Once the lentils are finished cooking, strain and rinse them
– Add the strained lentils to the pot with the rest of the ingredients
– Allow mixture to simmer on low for at least 15 minutes. The longer you can simmer, the more the flavours will develop!
– Prepare your buns by cutting them in half and giving them a light toast
– Once the lentil/ tomato mixture has simmered, remove from heat. Add a large scoop to each individual bun
– Highly recommended you top with fresh sprouts and this cashew parmesan recipe!

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