These lighter sloppy joes are made with lentils, rather than ground beef, but have all the comforting flavor you remember. This post is sponsored by Little Northern Bakehouse, but all opinions are my own.

Vegan Lentil Sloppy Joes on gluten free buns with red onion, arugula, and avocado slices sit on a wooden cutting board and parchment paper. A vegetarian and vegan lunch idea.

Vegan lentil sloppy joes have all the savory-sweet flavor of your messy childhood sandwich but are completely plant-based and gluten-free. To be honest, I’m not sure I ever liked sloppy joes as a kid, but these lentil sloppy joes, these I like! They are so easy to make in the slow cooker or Instant Pot, and are hearty and satisfying. You can learn all about the difference between vegetarian, vegan, and plant-based diets here

Lentil recipes are some of the most popular here, so I’m excited to share this new lentil sloppy joe recipe with you! We’ve already done Lentil “Meatloaf” and Lentil “Meatballs”. If you’re not confident with cooking with lentils yet, check out my post on How to Cook Lentils for even more inspiration. Lentils are a hearty, plant-based iron and protein-rich legume. They are a great stand-in for ground meat. I even use them to make Chili and Bolognese! I’ve taken the classic sloppy joe recipe and revamped it with lentils. The new version is cholesterol-free, lower fat, and higher in fiber. Let’s jump right into the process.

Onions and green bell pepper saute in a red cast iron skillet to start making vegan sloppy joes.

Step 1: Saute the onion and pepper.

Whenever using a slow cooker it’s a good idea to saute the onion first. It creates so much more flavor than tossing the onion in the slow cooker. If you’re using an Instant Pot, you can saute right in the pot, which is one of the reasons I use my Instant Pot much more often than my slow cooker these days.

The ingredients for vegan lentil sloppy joes in a slow cooker crockpot. Dried lentils, tomato sauce, onions and peppers, spices, ketchup and mustard.

Step 2: Add All the Sloppy Joe Ingredients to the Slow Cooker or Instant Pot

Once the onions have softened, they can go right on into the slow cooker along with the saucy ingredients. I’ve use a traditional sloppy joe sauce recipe here, which includes tomato sauce, ketchup, mustard, chili powder, Worcestershire sauce, and maple syrup. Worcestershire sauce is typically not vegan or gluten-free, so be sure to check the bottle for one that fits with your dietary requirements. 

Vegetable broth is added to the vegan lentil sloppy joes ingredients and ready to cook in the slow cooker.

Step 3: Slow Cook or Pressure Cook the Lentil Sloppy Joe Filling 

The slow cooker is great for cooking lentil sloppy joes as it’s completely fuss-free and the result is a warm filling ready when you are. Once you’ve added the box of veggie broth it may look like a lot of liquid, but the dried lentils need quite a bit to absorb. 

  • Slow cook on low for 8 hours
  • Slow cook on high for 4 hours 
  • Pressure cook on manual high pressure for 15 minutes, then naturally release the pressure for 10-15 minutes

Vegan lentil sloppy joes in the slow cooker with a ladle.

The lentil sloppy joe filling is ready when the lentils are tender and the sauce is thick. This may take slightly more or less time depending on your slow cooker and the size and age of the lentils. 

What Bread to Use for Vegan Lentil Sloppy Joes

Traditionally sloppy joes are served on hamburger buns, and they are great on Little Northern Bakehouse’s gluten-free plant-based hamburger or hotdog buns. I used Little Northern Bakehouse’s delicious buns with my Chickpea Salad Sandwiches too! Sometimes when I want to pile the sandwich high with the lentil sloppy joe filling I use sliced bread. I’m loving the sprouted varieties of Little Northern Bakehouse’s breads. Whichever bread you choose, I recommend toasting your bread or buns first to help hold up the lentil filling.

National Toast Day Contest 

Speaking of toast, February 23rd is National Toast Day! And there’s a giveaway! Here are the details:

To celebrate National Toast Day on February 23, Little Northern Bakehouse is offering YOU the chance to win brunch money for a year (worth $1,000!) The giveaway starts on Valentine’s Day (today!) and goes through February 22. Each day during the contest period, Little Northern Bakehouse will post a toast of the day image on Instagram. Follow the instructions on their page for your chance to win, and be sure to click the link in their bio for more chances. I’ll toast to that!

To enter, head over to @littlenorthernbakehouse and follow the instructions on their toast post. Good luck!

Vegan lentil sloppy joes in an Instant Pot pressure cooker with toppings on a cutting board including avocado, arugula, and red onion.

Lentil Sloppy Joe Toppings

Two vegan lentil sloppy joes with avocado and arugula on a cutting board for a delicious vegetarian vegan plant-based lunch.

Again, I’m veering off from Sloppy Joe tradition by adding any toppings, but sloppy joes needed some color and freshness. Crisp raw red onion, creamy avocado, and peppery arugula did the trick. My classic Vegan Coleslaw would be great too. 

Vegan lentil sloppy joes on gluten free hamburger buns topped with onion, arugula, and avocado. These lentil sloppy joes are vegan, vegetarian, and plant-based. Vegan sloppy joes are so easy to make in the slow cooker or Instant Pot for lunch or dinner.

Yield: About 6

Vegan Lentil Sloppy Joes

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 10 minutes

Easy vegan lentil Sloppy Joes made in the slow cooker or Instant Pot on gluten-free plant-based bread.

Vegan lentil sloppy joes on hamburger buns with onions and avocado.


Vegan Sloppy Joe Filling

  • 1 lb. green or brown lentils
  • 1 tablespoon olive or avocado oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (vegan, GF)
  • 1 quart vegetable broth



  1. Pick over the lentils and discard and stones or debris. Rinse and drain the lentils.
  2. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Saute the onion and bell pepper until softened. Add to the slow cooker or Instant Pot.
  3. Add the rinsed lentils, tomato sauce, ketchup, mustard, syrup, chili powder, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and vegetable broth to the slow cooker or Instant Pot.
  4. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours in the slow cooker.
  5. Or cook on high pressure in the Instant Pot for 15 minutes, with valve sealing, then let the pressure naturally release for 10-15 minutes.
  6. Lightly toast the bread. Serve the vegan lentil sloppy joe filling on the bread, with slices of onion, avocado, and greens.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 197Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 0mgCarbohydrates: 35gFiber: 8gSugar: 15gProtein: 9g

Nutrition information for this recipe includes filling only. Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your favorite calculator.