Recipe | Sloppy Lentils

Sloppy Lentil Sandwiches
This morning I woke up in a complain-y mood. That happens when you get older. You get crotchety. You’re all, “Why do people post pictures of themselves in the car all the time? Why do people use hashtags in inappropriate ways? Why won’t these kids get off my lawn?” And then you go outside with a broom to chase those kids away. I didn’t know what to write about Sloppy Lentils, so I told Chris I was going to write a post to complain about things, to which he replied:

“Oh, yeah, that’s a great idea. People will love that.”

And then he called me Andy Rooney under his breath. But I think we all know that I have several years to go before my eyebrows reach that kind of plush luxuriousness.

Sloppy Lentils
Soooo, hey! Lentils! Lentils are something I have absolutely no complaints about. If I were Herbert Hoover, I would make sure there was a bag of lentils in every pot in this fine country. (Look at me, using my degree in history!) When I was a new and new-ish vegetarian, I was all about meat substitutes, but as I’ve gotten more comfortable with this whole vegetarian cooking thing, I’ve almost entirely ditched them in favor of whole foods like lentils. Lentils are cheap and easy (in a good way!), they’re tasty, and they are quick to make! Not as quick as popping some faux-nuggets or faux-wings in the microwave, but quicker than beans, which require advance soaking. Lentils don’t need soaking! Just throw them in a pot with some water or broth and about 20 minutes later, they’re done.

I posted a Veggie & Tempeh Sloppy Joes recipe last year, but I know not everyone is on board the tempeh train, so I wanted to make a lentil version. The sauce has molasses in it, which makes it kind of a cross between sloppy joes and baked beans. We had this in sandwiches one night and then we had the leftovers as a side dish. You can eat them either way! #delicious

Sloppy Lentils

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Yield: 4-6 servings

Sloppy Lentils

These Sloppy Lentils make a tasty vegetarian sandwich, but they're great as a side dish too!


  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 cup brown or green lentils, rinsed and picked over
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4-6 hamburger rolls (optional)


  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened and just beginning to brown, 5-7 minutes. Add the lentils and broth; bring to a boil, then partially cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 20 minutes, or until the lentils are tender enough to eat, but still firm enough to hold their shape (not mushy!).
  2. Stir in the tomato sauce, brown sugar, molasses, vinegar, tamari, tomato paste, garlic powder, mustard powder, and cayenne. Increase the heat to medium and bring to a boil. Continue to cook the lentils until the sauce has thickened, 10-15 minutes more, stirring frequently. Serve the lentils on the rolls if you're making sandwiches.
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Kiersten Frase

About Kiersten

Kiersten is the founder and editor of Oh My Veggies. She loves cooking, trashy reality shows, and Hello Kitty. Kiersten also blogs about blogging at   Read more from Kiersten →

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  1. Katie says

    Yum! Many thanks for this recipe…I made this last night for dinner and it was SCRUMPTIOUS! A great, easy hot meal for when it’s chilly outside. Can’t wait to have the leftovers for lunch today :)

  2. says

    This sounds really good! I didn’t think I would like lentils until my mom made me taste homemade lentil burgers (the real kind, not stuffed with weird stuff) and it was really good! Lentils deserve more praise and you did them well!

    • Kiersten Frase says

      Yeah, lentils don’t get a lot of love for some reason. I guess it’s because alone, they’re pretty meh. But you can use them in so many different ways!

  3. says

    I’m totally with you on the hashtag thing. I can’t understand what is so difficult about it. And for the longest time, people were hashtagging all over Facebook when it was only for Twitter. UGH! And now they accept it, but people just use it randomly – no rhyme or reason. Lol! Pretty sure my blood pressure just went up thinking about this! :) Oh! I just heard on the Today Show the other day that ‘hashtag’ is in the top 3 most disliked words of 2013!

    My kids LOVE both sloppy joes and baked beans – so I’m totally making this! Love your sauce recipe – and that everything is already in my pantry! Yay!!!

    • Kiersten Frase says

      YES! I knew someone who used to hashtag everything on Facebook before Facebook legitimized hashtags and I wanted to be like “GAH! STOP IT!” I get emails with hashtags, and it makes me want to scream. If you put hashtags in emails, you don’t understand hashtags! But I think this is the librarian/taxonimist in me–hashtags were originally for categorizing things and tracking topics, and now I think they’re often just used for emphasis, and that bothers me. Hmph.

  4. says

    IMO, people LOVE to read about complaints! Especially when they have the same ones! How else would you explain comment sections in news websites? lol

    :-) And, congratulations. You’ve made me hungry for lentils. And I don’t really like lentils.

  5. Rachel says

    I made these last night but served over spiralized zucchini “noodles” and it was absolutely delicious! I have tried and love your tempeh sloppy joes, but this is a delicious alternative :)

  6. says

    What’s wrong with chasing kids off your lawn with a broom? ;) This looks great! And easy. I despise faux nuggets (or maybe I was just offered an awful brand once), but I’m all behind lentils.

  7. says

    I made this last Saturday for lunch for my students taking a full day sugar class. They have come to expect great veggie meals from me and this was a huge hit. Sunday I had it over some pasta. Today? Maybe just on it’s own with a salad. I love your recipes.

  8. Leah says

    Made this item last night! It was DELICIOUS. I can’t wait to get home and have leftovers for dinner. Followed the recipe to the T.

  9. says

    I’ve been wanting to make a good version of sloppy joes with lentils! I tried doing an Indian version of sloppy joes with mixed vegetables once but it was just okay (kind of lacking in flavour). I like the sounds of this recipe though, it sounds like it would have lots of layers of flavour!

    • Kiersten Frase says

      Indian sloppy joes sound so good–you should tweak that recipe and make it better so you can post it on your blog! I made an Asian-inspired version a few months ago that was really tasty too. :)

  10. Teri says

    Yum, been dreaming about these since you posted it and just made it. I added a little more brown sugar, I like my Sloppy Lentils/Joes sweet. Oh and a little Heintz Chili Sauce. Great recipe. Thanks!

  11. says

    I was sold before you said a cross between sloppy joes and baked beans, but now I am so on board this train! Also, I am nearly 100% sure I use hashtags wrong, which I would also like to credit to my age. Oh to be young and cool again.. but alas I just sit here in my fleece PJs on the weekend and try to figure out how Facebook works, thinking about delicious lentil dishes I should make this week.

  12. says

    I came across this recipe on Pinterest. I’ve made it a couple times now, and oh my it’s so yummy! The only thing I do differently is add coconut sugar instead of brown sugar, and way more garlic powder and cayenne pepper than the recipe calls for.. I also add some squirts of siriarcha, because I love spicy! 5 stars from me!

  13. Sharaden says

    Just made these for my carnivore husband and he loved it! Yay! This is definitely going into our rotation on meatless Mondays! Thanks for the recipe!

  14. Regan says

    Forgot if I already commented on these! I loovvvee them. It’s very hard to make things that my husband appreciates as a non vegetarian. He gave these a thumbs up and would eat them again. Yay!! Thanks for sharing all your ideas :)

    • Kiersten Frase says

      I tried making this in my slow cooker and it didn’t work out–the lentils didn’t soften enough. If you did want to give it a try, I’d suggest cooking the lentils first, then combining them with the sauce ingredients and putting them in your crockpot. I haven’t tried it like that myself, but I can say for sure that using uncooked lentils will not work.

  15. says

    wow! i made this tonight and it was fantastic. my kids and husband all loved it! thanks for a great veggie alternative to sloppy joes!

  16. says

    I made this last night (with some alterations to make it sugar free) and it was so YUM! My husband and I both loved it! (we aren’t vegetarians either). Delicious!

  17. Katie says

    I made these for dinner tonight on homemade buns, and it was SO GOOD! One of the first wedding presents we received was a slow cooker. I saw that you recommended against using one, but I was just dying to use it. It was a smashing success! I omitted the olive oil and used a pinch of red pepper flakes instead of cayenne (spicy and I don’t get along well). I just tossed all of the ingredients into the slow cooker and cooked it on high for 3.5 hours, stirring occasionally. I also recently moved to Denver—maybe the elevation has something to do with cooking the lentils all the way? I’m not sure, I’m still figuring this high altitude stuff out.

    My (part-time vegetarian) husband said, “the TASTE is really good… but could you use the soy crumbles to make it closer to a ground beef texture?” I haven’t eaten ground beef in over 8 years, so *I* don’t have a beef (pun absolutely intended) with the texture, but we’ll see if your tempeh recipe is any closer to what he wants. :)

    Sorry for the long comment! I just wanted to fully express my thanks. This recipe is DEFINITELY a new favorite! Thank you, Kiersten! :D

    • Kiersten Frase says

      That is so weird! I really wanted it to work out in the slow cooker, but I tried it so many different ways and those lentils just would not get soft. Well, I’m glad to hear it worked out for you! :)

  18. Jessica says

    Made this tonight and holy moly, it is SO good! I added a couple dashes of Liquid Smoke and then I fell in love. It’s so good, I want to share it with the world, but at the same time, I’m so glad I live alone and don’t have to share it because it’s so good! :)

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