Lentil Sloppy Joes are a rich, filling, and inexpensive meal.

Tender lentils are simmered in a zesty homemade sloppy joe sauce and piled high on hamburger roll! They’re easy to make and use mainly pantry ingredients that you likely have on hand!

Lentil Sloppy Joes on sesame seed bun

Pantry Ingredients

No need to make a special trip to the grocery store, you likely have most of the ingredients for this recipe on hand!

This meatless main has all of the flavors found in a traditional sloppy joe recipe but replaces the ground beef with lentils. This dish happens to be vegetarian (with a couple simple swaps) but meat lovers rave over it just the same.

The sauce is zesty and delicious while the lentils make this hearty and filling and the whole thing comes together in no time at all!

Lentil Sloppy Joes ingredients


LENTILS This recipe calls for dried brown lentils but you can easily sub in whatever lentils you have on hand. While the texture may differ slightly they’ll all work just fine.

If using canned lentils, be sure to skip the boiling (and the broth) and to drain them well.

Canned vs Dry When replacing dried lentils with canned lentils, remember that 1 cup of dried lentils equals approximately 2 cups of canned or cooked lentils.

SAUCE This tangy sauce combines a handful of condiments you are likely to have in your fridge already.

Variations: If you’re running low on prepared mustard, try swapping in dijon or brown mustard. Out of ketchup? Tomato sauce makes a great replacement!

BUNS Serve on hamburger buns, dinner rolls, or even slices of bread if that is what you have on hand. It’s also great over cooked brown rice or pasta!

Lentil Sloppy Joes in a pan

How to Cook Lentil Sloppy Joes

Lentils cook faster than dried beans because they are smaller and softer. Always rinse and pick out any small stones or debris that might be in the bag with them.

  1. Saute onions and peppers until softened (per recipe below)
  2. Add lentils and broth and simmer until tender.
  3. Stir in sauce ingredients and cook a few minutes until thickened.

Scoop onto hamburger buns, top with sliced onions, tomatoes, or a dollop of sour cream and serve immediately!

Easy Variations

  • Add Meat: Add 1/2 pound of cooked ground beef and reduce broth and lentils by half.
  • Slow Cooker:  Combine all ingredients in the slow cooker (no need to precook lentils), increasing broth to 2 cups. Cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 8-10 hours. To thicken, allow to cook on high 30 minutes with lid removed if needed.
  • Seasonings:  Add taco seasoning or extra chili powder into the lentil mixture.

Serve With…

Add in a fresh side salad, classic coleslaw or creamy carrot salad!

Easy Lentil Recipes

Have you tried these Lentil Sloppy Joes?  Be sure to leave a rating and a comment below!

Lentil Sloppy Joes on a plate
4.98 from 46 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
Or to leave a comment, click here!

Lentil Sloppy Joes

This meatless meal is easy to make and easy on the budget.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 39 minutes
Total Time 54 minutes
Servings 8 sloppy joe


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 green bell pepper finely chopped
  • 1 small onion finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 cups water
  • 1 cup broth beef or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup brown lentils
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (use vegetarian Worcestershire sauce if desired)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 8 hamburger buns


  • Cook green pepper and onion in olive oil until softened, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, water, broth and lentils.
  • Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Cover and cook 25 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients (except buns) and simmer an additional 10-15 minutes or until thickened.
  • Spoon lentil mixture over hamburger buns and serve.


Slow Cooker Version: Combine all ingredients in the slow cooker increasing broth to 2 cups. Cook on high for 4-5 hours or on low for 8-10 hours.  To thicken, cook on high uncovered an additional 30 minutes if needed.
Canned Lentils: To replace dry lentils, drain canned lentils well and skip the boiling (and the broth). You will need 2 cups of canned lentils (or pre-cooked lentils).
Variations: Add 1/2 lb. of ground beef and half the lentils along with half the liquid. 
For extra flavor, spread garlic butter over the hamburger buns and lightly toast under the broiler.
4.98 from 46 votes

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1sloppy joe | Calories: 266 | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 632mg | Potassium: 531mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 464IU | Vitamin C: 19mg | Calcium: 103mg | Iron: 4mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Main Course
Cuisine American

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Lentil sloppy joe mixture with writing
Lentil sloppy joes on a sesame seed bun with writing
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A lentil sloppy joe with writing.


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About the author

Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!
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Recipe Rating


  1. Holly, thank you so much for posting this recipe. It is so tasty, quick to make, and budget-friendly, which is so important these days. This dish is now part of our regular meal rotation. Sometimes we have our Sloppy Joes with buns, but we also serve it on mashed potatoes, or over noodles. The ingredients are all ‘regular pantry items’ that we have on hand, which is great. We did try using brown lentils as listed in your recipe but have found that we prefer red lentils for their taste and texture. A very healthy, meatless, and delicious meal! Thanks Holly!!5 stars

  2. Absolutely delicious! This was my first time eating lentils. Per a review I read, I halved the lentils and added a pound of ground beef. This was a perfect mix. Found a recipe to use my random bag of lentils!5 stars

    1. This recipe uses 1 cup of water and 1 cup of broth and I have made it many times as written. I hope this helps!

  3. This is absolutely outstanding!!
    I have made this twice, and I think I could make this every weekend!!5 stars

  4. Hi Holly, I just made extra lentils when I made your “Easy Lentil Shepherd’s Pie” (DELICIOUS), and am wondering if I can use those already cooked and adjust the liquid somehow in this recipe?

    I’m also wondering what you think of serving this over brown rice, or some other grain, instead of buns?5 stars

    1. I think that would work! I would suggest softening the onion first. Reduce the broth to 1/4 cup and tomato sauce to ½ cup. Simmer for about 10 minutes or until thickened. I think it’d be great over brown rice.

  5. Hi there, I’ve made these before and I love them, but I’m curious if the mix could handle being frozen? I’m wanting to meal prep for my mother in law when she watches my kids while I go out of town in a couple of weeks. Thanks!5 stars

    1. Hi Lisa, we have never tried but I do think this recipe would freeze well. We would love to hear how they turn out!

  6. Ok, I was skeptical. I’m not vegan but I am a Weight Watcher and lentils are a ZERO POINT food so I gave it a go. It was pretty good, I was pleasantly surprised! I made a couple adjustments. First I doubled the sauce and browned a pan of ground beef bc there is no way I can get my hubby to eat lentils. I left out the ketchup and added a little extra tomato paste and broth. We like them a little spicy so I added a teaspoonish of ancho chili powder, a few shakes of Chipotle Tabasco sauce, splenda brown sugar blend instead of regular brown sugar,, and some sea salt. I ate mine opened faced on a gluten free bun from Trader Joe’s and it was a 9 point meal (mostly the bread). I’m satisfied, full and have lots of leftovers. We are having burgers later this week and this will be a side instead of the baked beans I was going to make! I will make again for sure!5 stars

  7. I love the flavor of the lentil sloppy Joe’s but it seems like I have to cook them forever to get them soft. Maybe next time I’ll cook them ahead or use canned, but overall, I like the flavor!4 stars

  8. Yummy, and easy to make substitutions depending on what’s in your fridge. Tastes junky but isn’t! I made it oil free, and it was fine :)5 stars

  9. Yummy!! I subbed the sugar for honey bc I haven’t bought sugar in over a year. Tasted great! The right amount of water and dried lentils, I used green bc that’s all I had. Served it with air fryer home sliced sweet potatoes fries.5 stars

  10. Amazing Sloppy Joe flavor, texture and visual. I needed to add 2 additional cups of water because my lentils were super hard. Once they became soft enough I removed the lid and cooked down a little to the desired consistency.5 stars

  11. Awesome!!! Really tasted like sloppy joes!!! Will make again!!! I think it’ll freeze well too!!! Thanks for recipe!!!5 stars

  12. Yummy!! My husband and daughter LOVED these Faux Sloppy Joes too! In fact, we like them better than beef sloppy joes that are too heavy and greasy. I found this recipe perfect for cleaning out my fridge– added some celerey that was wilted, wrinkled tomatoes, 1/8th of a jar of banana peppers and left over pizza sauce. Very budget friendly!! This recipe will sure to be a new family favorite.5 stars

  13. This is so good! Such great flavor! I’ve been vegetarian for years and haven’t thought of doing sloppy joes. I subbed the veggie broth for veggie beef style broth, added 1 tbsp maple syrup for more sweetness, and didn’t have Worcestershire sauce so subbed 1 tsp soy sauce and 1/2 tsp liquid smoke. Next time I may add a little more water as the lentils were a touch hard, but I am definitely adding this to the dinner rotation! So glad I stumbled upon this recipe! Thank you!!!!!5 stars

  14. i love marinara sauce, and i like how you make yours,…I am hoping to follow your recipes in the future ..so i will have you posted with sucess.thanks …querino

    1. Sorry, Norah we haven’t tried this recipe in an Instant Pot. Maybe another reader has and will be able to provide some guidance! In the meantime, we do have a delicious Instant Pot lentil soup you may be interested in!

  15. Hi, I made the lentil sloppy joe’s. They are absolutely DELICIOUS!!!!!!! My husband loved them too. Everyone needs to make this recipe. I’m making them again in a few days. YUMMY!!!!!