Hearty and nourishing lentil sloppy joes are flavourful, filling, and delicious. This wholesome dish is so simple to prepare, and comes together quickly in your hands off Instant Pot, or make it on the stovetop. Healthy ingredients have never tasted this good!
This recipe was originally published in October 2018. It has been updated for content, photos. and video.
This comforting meal is a fantastic choice in cooler months, but equally delicious, all year round.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Great recipe! My wife had it as a soup but I went for the sloppy sandwich. Will make again. – Jerry
Here’s why you’re going to LOVE these
- Actually healthy! Plenty of recipes claim to be healthy, and I suppose the term healthy is quite subjective and always depends on what you’re comparing. But these incredible lentil sloppy joes are truly nutritious and packed with fiber, protein, and iron.
- Low calories: Like all the recipes on my blog, I aim to make each low in calories. Lentils are a powerhouse for nutrition, delivering a ton of nutrients in so few calories. Don’t worry, we’re not sacrificing flavour! 😉
- Low fat: Lentils are naturally low in fat and since this dish is oil-free, this keeps the fat content to virtually zero. Perfect for anyone following a WFPB (whole-food-plant-based) diet.
- Allergen friendly: No common allergens found here. This dish is free from eggs, dairy, gluten (just make sure to use gluten-free buns), and nuts. Plus a simple swap can make these soy-free too if needed. It’s perfect for vegans, vegetarians, and all sorts of eaters!
- Hearty and filling: Two kinds of lentils make these vegan sloppy joes hearty and whether or not you opt for a bun, you will fill up.
- Budget-friendly: Lentils are very inexpensive, and using them as the base for this dish makes it a super affordable one.
- Versatile: Adjust the seasoning to your preference, and dig into a messy sandwich (just get those napkins ready). Or make it a soup, which is my preferred way to enjoy these. 🙂
- Kid-friendly: My kids love this dish and request it often! This is a fantastic dish you can feel great about serving little ones.
- EASY: These lentil sloppy joes are so simple to make. They use basic pantry ingredients and don’t need any babysitting. 😉 Just set it and forget it in your hands off Instant Pot and let the magic happen.
- Onion + pepper: I like to start with these veggies for added flavour. I like white or yellow onion and red pepper, but you may use any colours you like.
- Lentils: I use green or brown lentils for nice hearty chunks, and the split red lentils are great for soaking up excess moisture and thickening the sloppy joe mixture.
- Tomato sauce + paste: The sauce adds moisture, flavour, and of course, saucy-ness, and the paste helps thicken the sauce.
- Spices: I’m using ground cumin, smoked paprika, and Tamari/soy sauce for added flavour, but feel free to experiment and add other spices, if you wish.
(This is a summary with step by step photos, full recipe measurements and instructions are in the recipe card below.)
Add the chopped onion and pepper to your Instant Pot with some water for sautéeing. (photo 1)
Once the veggies are sautéed, add all remaining ingredients to your pot. (photo 2)
Give everything a stir and close the lid. Make sure to set the valve in the sealing position. (photo 3)
Pressure cook the lentil sloppy joes, quick release, and then remove the lid when safe to do so. (photo 4)
NOTE: For stovetop directions, see the recipe card below.
Give your cooked lentil sloppy joes a good stir before serving.
Then serve with hamburger buns of your choice, pickles, coleslaw, and toppings of your choice.
Or serve in bowls and enjoy as a soup! See the recipe card below for notes on transforming these delicious lentil sloppy joes into an incredible sloppy joe soup.
I use a 6-quart Instant Pot and have no trouble fitting everything inside. In fact, I’ve also doubled this recipe in a 6-quart pot with no trouble.
You may easily make this in an 8-quart as well for a single or double batch.
Leftovers keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days in a sealed container. You may reheat it on the stovetop and enjoy.
NOTE: As the leftovers sit, the lentils will absorb more and more of the sauce. If it gets too thick, just add a splash of water, broth, or sauce when reheating.
This lentil sloppy joe recipe freezes amazingly well! (Without the bun of course.)
I like to freeze individual portions into small freezer-safe airtight containers for easy meals on busy weeknights. Make sure to leave a little room for expansion.
You may keep frozen for up to 3 months.
Substitutions + Variations
- Make it a soup: If you’re not really into licking your fingers, or if you’re avoiding bread, you may skip the bun and enjoy these lentil sloppy joes as a soup. To make vegan sloppy joe soup, add an additional cup of tomato sauce and two additional cups of veggie broth to your pot.
- For soy free: Omit the Tamari and use coconut aminos instead with similar results. Or omit, and add a little salt, to your taste.
- If you can’t find split red lentils, split yellow or green peas are great alternatives. Or, you may use more green or brown lentils, but the sauce won’t be quite as thick.
- For added nutrients, add more chopped veggies like celery, diced potato, mushrooms, peas, and/or carrots.
- For added flavour, add a few cloves of freshly minced garlic to the sauté pot and/or add more spices like chili powder, and black pepper. Or, add a dash of yellow mustard, vegan Worcestershire sauce, or bbq sauce.
- Do not add salt. Omitting salt in the recipe was not an oversight. If you’re using Tamari or soy sauce, you shouldn’t need extra salt. The broth and the soy sauce add enough flavour. Once cooked, taste it and add more only if you feel it needs extra.
- Use SPLIT red lentils, not whole red lentils. Split lentils absorb more broth and sauce and make the dish thick so that a sandwich will hold nicely. If you don’t have split red lentils, split yellow or green peas also do a good job of this.
- Adjust the seasoning: Don’t be afraid to spice these up to amp up the flavour. I keep these mildly spiced to keep them kid-friendly, but if you want heat, add some cayenne pepper or a dash or two of hot sauce.
More fun lentil recipes for kids
In this healthy kitchen, we eat lentils for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. 😉
And yes! That includes the kids!
This versatile ingredient can be used in a variety of ways. Here are some other delicious kid-friendly lentil recipes to try.
More delicious Instant Pot recipes
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- 1 yellow onion diced
- 1 red bell pepper diced
- 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth *see notes
- 1 cup brown or green lentils
- 1 cup split red lentils
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons Tamari or soy sauce if not avoiding gluten
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 cup tomato sauce or tomato puree *see notes
Instant Pot Directions
- Select sauté on your Instant Pot, and add the onions and peppers with a tablespoon or two of water and sauté for 2-3 minutes until softened. Then add all remaining ingredients, close the lid and turn the valve to the sealing position. Set to high pressure for 6 minutes. (It will take 10-15 minutes to build pressure before counting down.) When the timer is complete, quick release the steam valve.
- Serve with buns and toppings or enjoy as a soup.
Stove Top Directions
- In a large sauce pan over medium heat, add the onions and peppers with a tablespoon or two of water and sauté for 2-3 minutes until softened
- Add all the remaining ingredients to the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, lower the heat to medium low and let simmer for 25-30 minutes, or until lentils are cooked and the liquids are mostly absorbed.
- Serve with buns and toppings or enjoy as a soup.