Slow Cooker Vegetarian Lentil Sloppy Joes ♥

Slow Cooker Vegetarian Lentil Sloppy Joes, made with lentils and pantry ingredients, just a littie bit spicy. #VeganDoneReal. For Weight Watchers, #PP3. #AVeggieVenture.
Today's easy veg(etari)an recipe for the slow cooker: Sloppy joes made with lentils instead of ground beef. Beautifully seasoned with pantry ingredients. Just a little bit spicy, easy to make it even spicier. Low carb. Weight Watchers 1.5/3 points. Not just vegetarian but vegan and not just vegan, "Vegan Done Real".

~recipe & photo updated 2014~
~more recently updated recipes~

I l-o-v-e food blogs. If truth be told, I follow hundreds a few posts at a sit-down, really reading, stopping to appreciate the photos, the stories, the curiosity and the expertise, the response of the community and yes, the recipes too. Following my fellow local St. Louis food bloggers is especially cool. I've met many face-to-face so catching the inside bits about special ingredients, shopping finds, neighborhood doings, life changes, it's like the best jigsaw puzzle. Our St. Louis food blogger Facebook page is less puzzle, more dutiful reporting of recent recipes. Most slip by but the idea of sloppy joes made with lentils instead of meat really caught my attention. Our friends Denise and Craig are omnivores but actively hunt out meatless main dishes. When Denise called her experiment with vegetarian sloppy joes "THE" best vegetarian dinner for a carnivore, I knew that sooner than later, I'd be turning hot lentils into buns.

Call me glad I did! Regular readers know that slow cookers, tastewise, often disappoint me. NOT HERE! The lentils and seasonings both stand up to the heat, the flavor is great, the texture is great, the combination is wonderful. And meaty brown lentils really do mimic the traditional texture of sloppy joes, you won't "fool" a carnivore but these are excellent.

Readers, do you follow food bloggers from your own city or state? It's really fun! More and more are organizing a bit, a Google search might well lead to lists like this one for the St. Louis Food Blogs. Give it a try!

Also just FYI I'm loving the regular slow cooker inspiration from Slow Cooker from Scratch, a collection of real-food recipes for slow cookers, the brilliant idea from Kalyn Denny of Kalyn's Kitchen. Check it out too!

"...-it smells mahvelous!!!!" Carmen~
"... it was delicious." ~ Marina
"Carnivorous hubby tried ... and LOVED it." ~ Mikelle
"... it was PERFECT" ~ Cramlyris


Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 3 - 8 hours
Makes 4 cups

1 cup (185g/6.5oz) dried brown or green lentils
1-1/2 cups (323g/12oz) vegetable broth
1 15-ounce (425g) can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon (75g/2.5oz) tomato paste
1 onion, chopped fine
1/2 red or green bell pepper, chopped fine
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1-1/2 teaspoons oregano
1-1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika (don't skip this)
2 teaspoons dried parsley (I used DIY Dried Herbs)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Cayenne pepper to taste (I used 1/16t)

Stir all ingredients together right in the slow cooker. There's no need for measuring cups, just eyeball or get out the kitchen scale for the lentils, broth and tomato paste! Cover and cook on high for 3 - 4 hours or on low for 7 - 8 hours. Check for consistency, it might be necessary to take the lid off for the last 30 minutes or so.

Serve in buns or as a side dish. Keeps for a week or more, easy to rewarm.

Don't be surprised if people begin to ask, "What smells so good? Is that dinner?"
No red lentils for this dish, they would cook to mush.
I cooked the lentils in a just-replaced slow cooker. On heat setting "4" of 5, the lentils were cooked in 2 hours but it took another hour to reach the right texture.
A poblano pepper would work too, adding a touch of underlying smoky heat.
Be sure to use lentils that have been in the pantry less than a year, here's why, Why Dried Beans Won't Cook.

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Still Hungry?


~ Oven-Cooked Lentil Soup ~
~ Summer Lentils ~
~ Julia Child's Lentil Salad ~
~ more recipes with beans & lentils ~
from A Veggie Venture

~ Simple Lentil Salad with Seasonal Vegetables ~
~ Lentil Soup Vincent ~
~ Two-Way Lentil Skillet ~
~ more lentil recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade, my food column

A Veggie Venture is home of 'veggie evangelist' Alanna Kellogg and the
famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.
© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2013, 2014

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. I LOVE food blogs too. And how I loved meeting you and some of the other STL food bloggers in person. Sadly, I've yet to find a food blog based in my new little town.

    I'll have to bookmark this recipe- looks wonderful.

  2. This looks great!! Do you have any recommendations for vegan restaurants in the STL area?

  3. This is cooking as I write and you were correct--it smells mahvelous!!!!

  4. Nupur ~ Hello friend! Maybe you can find some sort of food-obsessed group? And then one of them will start a food blog?! So nice to hear from you!

    Diane ~ Y'know, I don't. Anyone else?

    Carmen ~ Oooo, you are quick-quick! Doesn't it smell so so good?!

  5. I follow maybe a dozen food bloggers, but I hadn't thought of searching for local bloggers. I try eating local, so why not cook local too, so to speak? Thanks for the inspiration!
    As for slow cookers, try this:
    Anupy even has a VEGAN slow cooker book available. Her recipes are brilliant: lots of flavor, easy and real. Since you're in St. Louis you shouldn't have trouble finding some of the more exotic ingredients either.
    Thank you for the pictured serving suggestion; lentils with a sliced tomato and greens. A slice of sweet onion would also be welcome, I think.

  6. This is a great recipe! This has been on my (mile long!) "to make" list since I saw it on Denise's blog. Now that you're raving about it too, I really need to get busy and make it!

  7. This looks really good; I'm loving lentils lately. And thank you so much for the shout-out for Slow Cooker from Scratch!

  8. You are certainly your mother's daughter! She made a lentil sloppy joe recipe for my 8th grade slumber party, and I was horrified. Nobody liked them, and it was just too, too different for my "i-just-want-to-fit-in" feeling in junior high. This recipe looks great, though, and I'll be sure to try it!


  9. The photo alone of the lentil sloppy joe is enough to make my mouth water. I just discovered your blog and it's clear to see a lot of love and passion go into it. As a vegan I appreciate your classification of those recipes that are "vegan done real." thanks.

  10. I tried this and it was delicious. Just go easy on the chili powder. Was a little spicy for my taste. I might of gone a little heavy on the cayenne.

  11. This was a very good recipe but did not taste like the sloppy joes I remember from childhood. I do a lot of vegetarian adaptations so I try to replicate the original as closely as possible. I think the critical omission here would be dried mustard powder.

    I made this recipe as directed and it came out more as a Mediterranean lentil stew. Delicious, just not what I was expecting :) Thanks for posting!

  12. Are the pointplus plus per half cup? the nutrition lines at the end are a bit smooshed on my screen. so just wanted to clarify.

  13. Hi Randal ~ Yes, it's a half cup for the points. I'm also concerned/interested in what's happening with the "scrunchiness" -- what browser are you using on what platform? If you don't mind sharing, I'd love to know -- thanks!

  14. HoHo, can't wait to give this one a go!

  15. Great topped with a dollop of greek yogurt. Carnivorous hubby tried this the other day (slathered with some melty cheese, of course) and LOVED it.

  16. I like my joes a little sweeter, so I added a couple tbsp of ketchup and 1/4 cup of sugar and it was PERFECT

  17. I have made your recipe for Lentil Joe's, as I call them, dozens of times and often serve them to non-vegetarian guests. I have a question though. My mom loves them, but this makes a huge batch and she tires of them before she can eat the whole recipe. Do you know if they would freeze well? Thanks for always posting wonderful, healthy recipes.

  18. Rebecca ~ Sorry for the slow reply, your question came the very day we were leaving for a long “off the grid” vacation. So glad you love these and you’re right, it makes a big batch for one or two. I think the lentils would freeze just fine! If your or your mom have already tried this, let me know how it goes!

  19. Hi! I don't have a slow cooker- is it possible to make this in a big pot on the stove? How would I do it? Thanks!!

  20. Laura ~ Ha! I’m laughing because I “always” get the question, Can you make this in a slow cooker? Never does anyone ask the other way around! It’s especially funny (to me) since I’m no fan of slow cooker recipes (this one is an exception) and am a 100% fan of slow cooking in the oven. I’d cook this at 250F in the oven for about 5 hours.

    That said, you asked about making it on the stovetop and I think it would work fine, if it were me, I’d sauté the onions and peppers, add the spices and the tomatoes, then the stock, bring all that to a simmer and add the lentils. I’d simmer it on low for a long while, then add the vinegar at the end.

    Let me know how it goes!

  21. I entered this recipe into myfitnesspal and it came out to only 70 cals per serving (I said the recipe made 8 servings). Why is there such a difference between our calorie counts?

  22. Samantha ~ Hmm, I’m not sure. Did you by chance selected cooked lentils vs uncooked lentils? That’s the only thing I can think of. All nutrition stats use the same USDA database for their numbers so they should be close if not identical. That means that somewhere, the inputs are different. I just checked my numbers for this recipe, it looks clean. And I know from 13 years of doing nutrition analysis that a half cup of grains/starches adds up to about 100 calories so my results don’t seem out of order at a high level either. Good luck figuring it out, I’d love to know more about your experience with MyFitnessPal, so many folks love it!

  23. I am making this for a pot luck at work. Do you drain the tomatoes before or use the juice?

  24. Yvonne ~ Use the whole can, tomatoes and juice both! Good luck with your potluck, this’ll be a real hit!

  25. So good! Thank you.

  26. Hi, can this recipe be doubled? I love it and want to make enough for us and some friends thanks.

  27. Anonymous ~ Yes, I think so! What you don’t want to do is overfill your slow cooker, but I wouldn’t think that would be a problem with this recipe. You will probably want to stir every so often, to make sure that heat gets distributed throughout the greater volume, so it doesn’t burn. Or -- I’d definitely “slow cook” this in the oven without these worries, say several hours at 200F, very low heat, as high as 225F.

  28. I make something similar, but do use red lentils. I like how they disappear. Not tried with any other kind. I also make a red lentil bolognes sauce too. I think the disappearing part might be good for fussy children. I add mustard to mine too.


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna