meatless lentil sloppy joe

Simple Meatless Lentil Sloppy Joe

meatless meals

Forget the Meat And Try My Version Of Lentil Sloppy Joe

No way, a meatless Lentil Sloppy Joe, impossible!

It’s true, and it’s delicious and it’s one of the simplest meatless recipes I’ve created.

We eat meatless meals in our diet simply because the body doesn’t need meat every single day so we opt for alternatives like lentils.

In our house, you will normally find red and green lentils that we typically pick up at Food Basics or our local Indian shop.

One of our favourite side dishes is simple red lentils and rice which we serve with fish as a Good Friday Meal.

When I came up with my version of the Sloppy Joe it quickly became a hit in our house and many of our fans enjoy it as well.

We were tired of spending money buying convenience spice packets or pre-made cans to make the everyday frugal comfort foods that most families enjoy.

When you read the ingredients on the packets it’s obvious to see that you too can easily create a recipe similar to the original if you use your imagination.

The Meatless Sloppy Lentil Joe is simply a switch-up using lentils instead of ground mince.

I used my original Sloppy Joe Recipe to create my Meatless Lentil Sloppy Joe recipe .

However, I found that I needed to add more spices, ketchup and vinegar to get the taste just right.

You may find you will adjust flavours as well. Sure you will miss the fat taste from the meat but the flavours and texture of the lentils compensate for that.

We served our Meatless Lentil Sloppy Joe on a homemade bap (bun) topped with plain yogurt (or sour cream) and old cheddar cheese with a side of tangy dill pickles.

Green Lentils
Dry Lentils

What Are Lentils?

A lentil is a pulse bean” an annual plant in the legume family that grows in pods with 2 lens-shaped seeds in each.

Friends of ours who originate from India eat plenty of lentils as they don’t eat meat and in fact, it’s a staple in their diet.

Nevertheless, lentils are a great source of protein but without the costs of meat.

Thinking back when I did the welfare food challenge in 2012 my friend Steve picked up a bag of lentils and I picked up black beans.

If I could go back I would have done the same as Steve as that was a cheap way of adding protein to the diet.

I grew up around Indian cuisine and had many friends who were of the Indian culture so I was exposed to lentils from an early age eating over at their homes for dinner.

As well, I also went on a holiday to India where Indian cuisine was brought to life through smell, flavour and textures.

I have a tendency to throw myself out there to learn about culture and cuisine when travelling because food is what brings people together.

Lentils come in various sizes and colours such as green, brown, red, black, yellow and many others which I have had the liberty of trying in various meals.

Lentil Nutrition

Lentils are used in cuisines all over the world and one thing we learned from our friend was that you can sprout lentils.

In fact, last time we were at her house she showed us her sprouts, amazing little things and we learned about black chickpeas.

She puts them in a container with a bit of water, covers them and lets them sprout as she said it changes the texture.

According to Wikipedia, it changes the nutritional content adding “essential amino acids” and “30% of their value comes from protein and have the third-highest value in protein next to the soybean and hemp“. 

I’m not a lentil pro so the research I’m doing today is not only educating myself but I hope that you learn something about the lentil and use it in your meals.

Lentils also contain “fibre, B1, folate and minerals” so you can’t go wrong when you choose lentils as part of your diet.

Indian Lentil Dal

It’s taken me some time to get the wife into lentils but now she can’t get enough of them and always so inquisitive asking for recipes from our friend.

When we visit our friend the smell of cumin and turmeric permeates the house and it’s just lovely, reminds me of real Indian cuisine.

Typically our friend will use the pressure cooker, slow cooker or Instant Pot. 

We thought that was a brilliant idea as we had never thought of it.

Since we have a slow-cooker we always use that to hydrate our lentils or in a pot.

Indeed the funny part is that we do have an Instant Pot which we won but haven’t opened yet. 

To start she will sautee cumin seeds in oil followed by onion, garlic, green chilli, coriander, turmeric, chopped tomato then adds in the lentils.

But she explained that this is the equivalent of a stew which they call Dal.

On the side, she serves homemade Naan bread or a flatbread she makes with flour and water.

I’ve made Dal on many occasions and tried different versions of Dal in India and the UK.

Our taste buds don’t prefer the hot chillies and we use cumin spice instead of seeds but it seems it is traditional.

We also make our own bread a simple tortilla recipe which is essentially the same thing or we serve it with Basmati rice.  

Next time I make the Dal I will post the recipe on the blog for all of you.

I’m sure you will love it if you like lentils.

Lentil Sloppy Joe

If you love meat but don’t always want to eat it or you are vegetarian and enjoy a messy sloppy joe try this meatless Lentil Sloppy Joe.

Meatless Lentil Sloppy Joe

Actually if you are looking for a great place to buy spices try looking at your local specialty stores.

For example, we get our spices at the local Indian store where they are very inexpensive. 

A printable version of this recipe is below. 

  • Feeds: 4-6 people

Meatless Lentil Sloppy Joe Ingredients

  • 2 cups of dry green lentils (I used green and tried red lentils just be careful as the red tend to soften quick)
  • 1 can tomato paste 60z
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1.5 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 4 tablespoons white distilled vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons of dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon dry oregano
  • 1 teaspoon of dry basil
  • 3/4 cup of  tomato Ketchup
  • 3/4 cup of water (add more if needed to make the mix consistent)
  • 2 yellow onions chopped
  • 1 large green or red pepper chopped
  • 6 cloves of garlic chopped fine
  • 5 tablespoons of brown sugar packed
  • 2 tablespoon of olive oil
Homemade Baps

How To Make Meatless Lentil Sloppy Joe

  • Add your green lentils to a medium pot filled with water and boil until just tender. Don’t over-cook them or they will be mushy. Drain them under cold water.
  • In a frying pan add the olive oil, onions, green pepper, garlic, and saute
  • Add in all the spices and stir – basil, salt, pepper, mustard, paprika, cumin, oregano
  • Start with adding the tomato paste and ketchup followed by the water, vinegar, Worcestershire Sauce and brown sugar then mix.
  • Add in cooked, drained lentils and gently stir
  • Let simmer for 15-20 minutes to let the flavours come together
  • Serve on hot fresh baps (buns)
  • Optional: top with plain yogurt, sour cream, cheddar cheese
Yield: 4-6

Simple Meatless Lentil Sloppy Joe

meatless meals

If you enjoy a Meatless Monday or are Vegetarian the spices and tastes in my Meatless Sloppy Joe recipe are for you. Save money as it's a simple sloppy joe recipe with everyday ingredients.

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes


  • 2 cups of dry green lentils
  • 1 can tomato paste 60z
  • 1.5 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 4 tablespoons white distilled vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons of dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon dry oregano
  • 1 teaspoon of dry basil
  • 3/4 cup of tomato Ketchup
  • 3/4 cup of water (add more if needed to make the mix consistent)
  • 2 yellow onions chopped
  • 1 large green or red pepper chopped
  • 6 cloves of garlic chopped fine
  • 5 tablespoons of brown sugar packed
  • 2 tablespoon of olive oil


    1. Add green lentils into a medium pot filled with water and boil on medium-high heat until just tender for 20 minutes. Don't over-cook the lentils or they will be mushy. Test as you go.
    2. Drain the lentils under cold water immediately.
    3. In a frying pan add olive oil, onions, green pepper, garlic, and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
    4. Pour in all the spices and stir - basil, salt, pepper, mustard, paprika, cumin, oregano
    5. Add in the tomato paste, ketchup, water, vinegar, Worcestershire Sauce and brown sugar and mix
    6. Add in your cooked, drained lentils and gently stir.
    7. Let simmer for 15-20 minutes to let the flavours come together.


Use your crockpot or Instantpot to make this recipe although the cooking times will change.

Serve on hot fresh baps (buns), rice or eat it as is.

Optional: top with plain yogurt, sour cream,
cheddar cheese

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

Discussion: What other ways do you enjoy serving your Meatless Lentil Sloppy Joe?

Leave me your comments below in the comment section and I’ll reply. 


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  1. Although I do love green lentils ….. give the brown lentils a try (love these) I have found they are a great meal substitue in anything.
    I’ve just got my hubby into black beans so I won’t push my luck just yet. I will make these for myself, no problem.
    Thank you so much for this and the lentil shepards pie recipes.

    1. I never thought to try brown lentils. I’m going to have a look for them or check the Indian store in town as they typically have everything. We love black beans and often make burgers with them too. You’re welcome!! Have a look at the Recipe Index and you will see a list of all the recipes we’ve made on CBB since 2012. 🙂

  2. These are the BEST sloppy joes I have ever eaten…they get rave reviews from family & friends – even the meat-eaters!! I always have to make a double batch…IF there is any leftover, I use as the base for a shepherd’s pie…these are SO good!!

    1. Thanks so much Jean-Marie for your lovely review and comment. We love them too and since we haven’t made them in a while I think we will make them next week in our menu plan. 🙂

  3. I love the sound of this recipe as I love Indian foods. Must try this out on my grands with autism, both will eat chili etc. My grandson thinks the larger beans are meatballs LOL.. Need frugal recipes when I suddenly have them for dinner, happens at least twice a week LOL.

  4. This looks delicious, Mr. CBB. Can’t wait to try it! The kids are still asking for Spinach and Ricotta Fettucine on a regular basis, by the way. :-). Also, you’ve inspired me to do a meatless post for my “Before and After” series. We’ll see what I can come up with!

  5. It’s my job to like Sloppy Joes. When something is named after you , you tend to feel the pressure. This recipe looks awesome.

    1. Bloody hell mate, that just made my morning!! It’s a great alternative to eating meat. We don’t need to eat as much as we do. Next is lentil Shepard’s pie…. your middle name isn’t shepherd is it? lol… Have a good one!

  6. These look delicious! We’re big fans of green lentils, but less so of red, and have been trying to figure out something to make with our remaining stockpile. This is it! I’ve already added it to the menu for April.

    I see you’re interested in a lentil shepherd’s pie…this has been on my to-make list, but I haven’t gotten around to it. I don’t think it’s technically vegetarian, but definitely meatless:

  7. Whenever I try to make my own ingredients, it never turns out right. Kind of like some people have an ear for music or some people can taste something and know how to make it. I don’t have either of those genes. That’s why I have good sites like CBB that can help me along the way!

  8. Oh yum! I love lentils but bf could take or leave them. He’d rather have meat. Maybe next time I’ll try these instead of the meat version and see if bf will tolerate them 😉

  9. Oh this looks so good!!! I’ll have to share with my daughter as she is mostly vegetarian,(since our grandson was born she will eat some chicken but that’s it) so I’m always looking for recipes to feed her when she is here….. Can you freeze cooked lentils??? I just had the thought of cooking a big batch in the slow cooker and scooping out some for a meal here and there…..
    I’m sure if I sat down and thought about it I could think of other recipes that could use lentils instead of meat and nobody here would be the wiser……

    1. I freeze lentil soup and my lentil hamburger casserole all the time and there’s no change in flavor or texture that I’ve noticed.

  10. I love lentils! My favourites are red and green, they make for a great hearty base to a meatless meal. I’m always looking for new and interesting ways to prepare them, so I’m going to bookmark this post and try this out later. Thanks for the recipe!

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