Vegan Sloppy Joes with Lentils & Tempeh

A healthy and tasty vegan version of sloppy joes made with lentils and tempeh.

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Vegan Sloppy Joes

Does anyone remember that song “Lunchlady Land” by Adam Sandler? At one point in the song the chorus goes “Sloppy Joes, Slop, Sloppy Joes,” and I get that stuck in my head whenever I make Sloppy Joes now.

If you combine that information with the fact that I get Weird Al stuck in my head when I make lasagna, you will begin to realize that I spent my formative years listening to way too much parody music. Nerdy and proud, baby!

My geekiness aside, these sloppy joes are great! The base is a combination of tempeh and lentils – I’ve seen plenty of recipes for tempeh sloppy joes, and I’ve also seen lentil sloppy joes, but combining the two really improves the texture and taste of the whole thing (in my opinion, of course).

It’s also pretty easy – the lentils need to boil for about half an hour, and the tempeh can marinate for about half an hour, so it all times out nicely. The tempeh marinade is easy – just mix together some vinegar, salt, chili powder, onion, garlic, and a bottle of beer (you can also use water, but beer is fun. And the leftover beer is great with sloppy joes! Make sure to use gluten free beer if you are GF.)

Then while those are soaking and the lentils are boiling you can make your sloppy joe sauce – there’s several ingredients but most of them are basic pantry staples. Mix everything together and you’ll end up with a nice ketchup-y mixture (that you’ll note has no commercial ketchup or refined sugar in it! Yay!):

Once your lentils are soft and tempeh marinated, combine everything in a large skillet until it’s nice and warm. I like to serve them open faced on a toasted bun and eat them with a fork, but you could also do it burger style, whatever makes you happy.

This was such an easy and tasty weeknight dinner, and my husband was pretty psyched about them so I think they’ll be making it into the rotation.

Vegan Sloppy Joes

Vegan Sloppy Joes with Lentils & Tempeh

Vegan, Gluten Free if you use GF buns and beer, Low Fat, Refined Sugar Free You could get away with using just lentils or just tempeh, but I felt like the combo was better than either one alone.
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Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Author: Jessica Verma


For the tempeh marinade:

For the lentils:

  • 1 cup lentils rinsed
  • 4 cups water

For the sloppy joe sauce:

  • 1 8 oz can tomato paste
  • ½ cup tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • ½ c. water
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • Dash of tabasco optional
  • Pinch ground mustard optional
  • 2-4 hamburger buns or 4-8 slices of bread use GF if you don’t eat gluten


  • Combine all marinade ingredients except tempeh in a medium bowl. Crumble tempeh into 1/2 inch or so chunks and let sit in marinade for about half an hour or longer and then drain.
  • Add lentils and water to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil, then let simmer for 20 minutes until lentils are soft. Drain.
  • In a medium bowl, combine all sauce ingredients. Add lentils, tempeh, and sauce to a large skillet and heat over medium heat until everything is warm. Serve warm on lightly toasted hamburger buns or bread.
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3 thoughts on “Vegan Sloppy Joes with Lentils & Tempeh”

  1. Oh yum! I’ve never had tempeh before…

    I just made some bulked up lentil sloppy joes a few days ago and they were too die for! This reminds me I need to make them again and snap a photo!

  2. Ok, I absolutely love you! What an amazing recipe!!! Sloppy Joes are good, but yours are INCREDIBLE! 😀

  3. Haha! I love Adam Sandler’s parodies. I have a few of his CDs. =)

    The sloppy joes look great, too! I’ve been craving them lately, I need to get on that!