Lentil Sloppy Joes

Vegan, Gluten-free lentil sloppy joes for an easy, wholesome weeknight dinner

A hearty, plant-based twist on a childhood favorite, these flavor packed sloppy Joes made with protein rich lentils are super filling and a breeze to make. The perfect weeknight dinner when the days are growing shorter and time is scarce.

comfort • main course • autumn

easy, gluten-free and vegan lentil sloppy joes

Remember sloppy Joes?

I’m sure my Mom made these throughout the year, but for some reason I especially remember them in the fall, crunching through the fallen leaves as I trudged home from school, a briskness in the air and a backpack filled with books and pencils and assignments waiting to be done.

Before I even got to the back door, I could smell them bubbling away on the stove — a sticky, sweet, tomatoey aroma that went straight to my stomach and made me immediately forget everything else that had happened that day. It was an aroma that said Come on in, you’re home. That’s all that matters now.

Even now, sandwich held between two hands, poised over my plate, I cannot help but feel a little surge of delight when I bite in and half the filling shoots out the back. It’s like being a kid again. It’s Friday night football games, sleepovers and soccer practice all over again.

easy lentil sloppy joes, vegan and gluten-free

I like to cook everything together all in one pot, as it makes for easier cleaning up at the end, but I think also infuses the lentils with even more deep, smoky flavor. It does take a fraction longer to cook them in the sauce rather than pre-cooking them in water ahead of time, but the wait is worth it. It takes just a few minutes to get everything going on the stove, and then you can more or less leave it alone until it cooks down to deeply sticky, tangy, smoky deliciousness that you pack between two buns and pile high with pickles (at least I do).

Easy, gluten-free and plant-based lentil sloppy joes

Lentil Sloppy Joes

Total time: 1 hour


Serves 6 - 8

For the filling:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil

  • small yellow onion, minced

  • 2 poblano peppers (or 1 large bell pepper), finely diced

  • 2 tsp smoked paprika

  • 1 tsp sweet paprika

  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander

  • 1 cup Puy lentils

  • 1 15 oz can tomato sauce

  • 3 tbsp maple syrup

  • 3 tbsp soy sauce

To assemble:

  • gluten free hamburger buns

  • dill pickles, thinly sliced


For the filling:

  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or frying pan over medium heat.

  • Once the oil is nice and hot, add the onion and sauté for about 5 minutes, until softened.

  • Add the poblano or bell pepper and spices and continue to cook the mixture for another few minutes.

  • Add the lentils and stir through to coat evenly with the spices, then add the tomato sauce, 4 cups of water, the maple syrup and soy sauce.

  • Reduce the heat to low, and cook until the lentils are tender and the sauce has completely reduced down and absorbed into the lentils, so there is no excess liquid in the pan. This should take about 40 minutes total. If the mixture is getting thick and the lentils are still not tender, just add an additional cup of water and continue to cook, adding more water as needed, until the lentils are soft.

to assemble:

  • Lightly toast the buns (I do this in a toaster oven, but you can also pop them under the broiler in your oven). Pile the mixture on top of the bottom buns, add a few slices of pickle and sandwich with the top bun. Enjoy!


  • Poblano peppers are a type of green chili with a very mild heat to them, which adds to the overall smokiness of the dish. If you can’t find them, you could add an ancho chili (which is a dried poblano) to your mix while it simmers to add that extra smoky kick.

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Smoked Paprika:

Greenpan non-stick skillet

Organic puy lentils