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
4.99 from 69 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
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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
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  • 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.
4.99 from 69 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
Lentil sloppy joe mixture with writing
Lentil sloppy joes on a sesame seed bun with writing
Lentil sloppy joe with text
A lentil sloppy joe with writing.


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Holly Nilsson is the creator of Spend With Pennies, where she creates easy, comforting recipes made for real life. With a passion for nostalgic flavors and simplified techniques, Holly helps busy home cooks create delicious meals that always work. She is also the author of “Everyday Comfort,” which promises to inspire even more hearty, home-cooked meals.
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4.99 from 69 votes (48 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating


  1. This has become one of my favorites. I serve it over a baked sweet potato rather than on a roll. Flavor is spot on.5 stars

  2. I have to say I really enjoy this recipe. My 2nd time making this. Being vegetarian I made a few tweaks. I didn’t use the worchesshire sauce and used a bit of soy sauce and browning (for colour) instead. I also added smoked paprika for flavour. The browning makes it darker in colour. I also didn’t add any water since I used 1 can of lentils instead of the dry. Came out delicious and I used Brioche buns! Yummy. Thanks for the recipe! I wanted to add a picture but it didn’t give me an option.5 stars

    1. We would love to see how it turned out, Nioma! Be sure to tag us on instagram @spendpennies

  3. Delicious! I prepared the Slow Cooker version. Easy and quick to assemble — perfectly thick after four hours on high.5 stars

  4. I just made a double batch of this for dinner last night (planning for leftovers). It was a big hit with everyone — so much so that people went back for seconds later in the evening! The dish was a bit sweeter than I anticipated, but still really tasty. I made the mistake of not simmering the lentils uncovered, so there was a lot of additional liquid by the time the lentils were cooked. This recipe is going into the rotation!5 stars

  5. very very yummy!!! only recomendation is it took me closer to 30 minutes maybe a little longer to simmer down to a thickness consistency, otherwise delish!5 stars