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February 16, 2021

by Alyssa

Slow Cooker Lentil Sloppy Joes

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This plant-based version of the all-American classic, these lentil sloppy joes have all the same flavor without any of the meat. And they're a cinch to whip up. Just toss everything in your slow cooker and let it do the work for you!

Vegan lentil sloppy joe sandwich on a hamburger bun with tortilla chips and vegetable slaw on a white plate with a stripped dishcloth

I got the idea for this recipe from my brother. He made my quinoa sloppy joes recently and was raving about them, and sent my sloppy joe craving into overdrive. But since I'm no longer eating meat, I had to come up with an alternative.

I've often used quinoa in things like vegetarian chilis and soups to lend somewhat of a meat texture, but I knew this recipe couldn't be 100% quinoa. Beans are the logical next step, but anything like chickpea or white bean would just throw the texture off. The best solution: lentils.

So today I'm going to show you how to make lentil sloppy joes in the slow cooker! This recipe is easy to make, packed with flavor, and has that perfect meaty texture – while being 100% vegan!

Overhead of a black slow cooker with chopped mushrooms and tomato sauce making sloppy joes

How to Make Lentil Sloppy Joes in the Slow Cooker

I wanted to make sure the recipe was as simple to make as possible, so I threw everything in the slow cooker and let it do its thing. And you also only need a few simple ingredients:

  • Carrots: the carrots add natural sweetness, as well as a chunky texture. You don't have to peel them either which is great!
  • Mushrooms: for that “meaty” texture these vegan sloppy joes need, part of the solution is mushrooms – they're soft, chewy and very meaty when they're cooked.
  • Onion + garlic: these are here mostly for flavor. If you wanted to spend the extra time sauteeing them beforehand, you'd add even more flavor.
  • Lentils: you'll want to use brown or green lentils for this recipe because they actually hold their texture. We'll talk more about this in a moment!
  • Quinoa: you know quinoa is my sneaky way to give a ground meat texture without using any meat. I've done it in my lentil + quinoa taco meat as well as my vegetarian chili!
  • Tomato sauce + ketchup: a classic combo in traditional sloppy joes, so we're using them here too – just be sure you're using canned tomato sauce not marinara sauce!
  • Maple syrup: traditional sloppy joes actually are fairly sweet, so we're adding in some maple syrup. If you're not a fan of sweet, feel free to leave it out.
  • Hot sauce: I also always find that sloppy joes are better with a bit of spice – I like to add Cholula or sriracha for mine.
  • Seasonings: and lastly, our spices! For these slow cooker lentil sloppy joes, we're using mustard, chili powder, smoked paprika, salt + pepper.

And that's all you need, friends! With that you're ready to dive into your sloppy joes!

Close up overhead of a vegan lentil sloppy joe sandwich with tortilla chips and rainbow vegetable slaw on a hamburger bun

What Kind of Lentils for Sloppy Joes?

Lentils have a surprisingly meaty feel to them when they're cooked. They have this interesting quality about them, where they kind of break down as they cook, but also keep their shape at the same time. And they ended up being the perfect plant-based solution for these vegan sloppy joes.

For this recipe you can use:

You can't use red lentils because they'll break down too much and turn into mush. You wouldn't get that ground beef texture!

Close up on vegan lentil sloppy joe filling on a hamburger bun with tortilla chips and carrot slaw on a white plate with a stripped dish towel

Make-Ahead Vegan Sloppy Joes

As you can tell, these lentil sloppy joes are seriously THE BEST.

I've now served them on three occasions and each time people can't believe they don't contain meat. They have that wonderful tomato-barbecue flavor, are perfectly sloppy, and make the greatest sandwiches!

You can also make them ahead! Here's how:

  • make your lentil sloppy joes in the slow cooker
  • allow them to cool completely
  • store in the fridge or freezer
  • reheat before serving

I serve them with hamburger buns, but you could also use your favorite gluten-free biscuit (my Quinoa Biscuits are great!), or you could even just serve them in lettuce cups or on a piece of toast.

Can't wait to hear what you think of the recipe. I have a feeling it's going to become a staple 🙂

overhead of vegan lentil sloppy joes on hamburger buns with veggie slaw and tortilla chops on a grey background with a striped dishcloth

More Vegan Slow Cooker Recipes:

Slow Cooker Vegan Sloppy Joes

These vegan sloppy joes are rich, hearty, spicy, and comforting. They have just as much flavor as traditional sloppy joes, but they're entirely plant-based!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 5 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 319kcal
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Vegan lentil sloppy joe sandwich on a hamburger bun with tortilla chips and vegetable slaw on a white plate with a stripped dishcloth
3.87 from 306 votes



  • Add everything into the slow cooker, starting with 3 cups of broth. Stir to combine, cover and set to high. Cook on high for 2 - 3 hours (or low for 4 - 6). Check and add more liquid as needed.
  • Serve warm with a bun, biscuit or in a spaghetti squash!



Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Reheat over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly, or in a microwave on 80% power in 30-second increments. 


Serving: 1serving (no bun) | Calories: 319kcal | Carbohydrates: 60g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 0.3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 573mg | Potassium: 931mg | Fiber: 19g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 4422IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 73mg | Iron: 5mg
Lentil Sloppy Joes....made in the SLOW COOKER! Even my meat-loving family adores this recipe!

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About Alyssa

Hey there, I’m Alyssa Rimmer, a certified Holistic Nutritionist, yoga-lover, dog mom, and founder of Simply Quinoa. It’s nice to meet you! I created SQ as a way to provide solutions for women just like me, who were struggling to find helpful information about how to live a healthy and fulfilled life. My hope is that you will find inspiration here on SQ – in my story, in my recipes, in the hundreds of wellness articles, and in our amazing community. Welcome!

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  1. I make this all the time and absolutely love it. Tastes even better later in the week. I am wondering if the recipe is meant to be made with prepared mustard or dry? I have been using prepared.

    • I haven’t tested it in an IP, sorry! I would say no more than 10 – 12 minutes on high though. If you try it let us know 🙂

  2. I plan on making this recipe this weekend. What can I use in place of the mushrooms? I saw a comment that someone used jackfruit instead but that won’t be possible for us. Any and all suggestions are appreciated! Thank you!

    • You could probably just leave the mushrooms out or substitute them with artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, or any kind of squash. We have only tried this recipe as it is written, but if you try any substitutions we would love to know how your recipe turns out!

  3. My mom made regular pulled pork, and I made this for a get together. It wasn’t a competition but everyone loved this recipe, even the meat eaters!

  4. This was sooo delicious and easy to make. I served it over cauliflower mash. absolutely loved it! I froze a quart. I can so see having this on a bun with some coleslaw Thanks, great recipe!

  5. I made this for my son and his girlfriend who both are vegetarian. It was very good and even my husband like it and he likes his meat.

  6. Made this recipe tonight and loves it. So flavorful and fully. Will definitely make again. I made one small change I used no sugar added BBQ sauce instead of ketchup.

  7. I can’t get the recipe to load. I was able to see it earlier and bought all the ingredients but now I can see the actual recipe for the slow cooker lentil sloppy joes. Can you please email it to me?

    • We were having some web issues the last few days, but it should be all set now 🙂 thank you for your understanding!

  8. […] Lentil Sloppy Joes from Simply Quinoa (294 Calories) […]

  9. […] Merely Quinoa/ Via simplyquinoa.com […]

  10. Have you tried this recipe quick cooked in a pot instead of a slow cooker? Just wondering if it works at all. Either way, looking forward to trying the recipe! Thanks!

  11. […] recipe is from Simply Quinoa, and it came up in my feeds today as I was wondering what I could do with some leftover cooked […]

  12. […] extra amusing than a nostalgic sloppy joe […]

  13. I found this recipe a few months ago and my vegan family loves it! It’s now become an added staple to the vegan lifestyle. We don’t care much for spicy so I eliminated the hot sauce and it’s perfect. Thanks!

  14. Hi Alyssa, I made this last night and I didn’t have any hot sauce so I used a table spoon of Jerk seasoning from the jar. It tastes really good, nice and spicy. I was wondering how much is in a serving?
    Thanks a lot for all your great recipes.

  15. I really wanted to love this, but I found the flavor insipid and overly sweet. I think part of the problem is the lack of fat in the recipe. I’m going to try sautéing the onions, garlic & spices in a glut of olive oil before adding to the slow cooker. Otherwise I don’t think there’s enough savory to stand up to the sweetness of carrot + tomato sauce+ ketchup + maple syrup, etc.

  16. Alyssa is the recipy spicy? i ask because of the 2Tbsp of hot sauce and the chili powder… Thank you 🙂

    • I would say if you’re sensitive to spice, that you leave it out and then add it at the end until you reach your level of tolerance 🙂

      • I used 1 tsp of hot sauce because i am sensitive to spice. Turned out just fine. I also subbed the maple syrup for 2 tsp of molasses because it’s what I had on hand. Delish!! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  17. Just found this recipe & made it today. I used sriracha instead of hot sauce & it was amazing! Love this recipe!

  18. […] 12) Lentil Sloppy Joes […]


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