These vegan Sloppy Joes use plant-based Beyond Beef cooked in a sweet and tangy sauce topped with a vegan coleslaw. Ladle the Sloppy Joe sauce over a warm bun for easy weeknight dinners the whole family will love. Or cook up a batch for a game day crowd!
The sauce takes about 45 minutes to make from start to finish, so cook it ahead if you're too rushed during the week.Jump to Recipe
Want to make this recipe perfectly the first time? I want to help with that. So, check out this Table of Contents to see which sections of this post will help you the most.
We all have childhood favorite meals. All we need is a mention of the dish in conversation with a friend, or a wisp of its aroma. Suddenly we're whisked back to our childhood, legs swinging under the table, love and security wrapped around us like a soft blanket. This vegetarian hamburger helper is a dish like that for me, although I was older when hamburger helper came along. And Sloppy Joes.
I didn't have Sloppy Joe's at home, full confession. Don't laugh, but I had them in my school cafeteria. Sloppy Joe day was my favorite day, and I would have gone back for seconds if I could have.
So I had to make vegan Sloppy Joes when I changed my diet to a vegetarian.
🤷♀️ What are Sloppy Joes?
Traditional Sloppy Joes are an American classic. Hamburger buns are filled with a thick meaty tomato sauce that's a little sweet from ketchup and brown sugar, savory from mustard, and tangy from apple cider vinegar.
Vegetarian or vegan Sloppy Joes swap out the ground beef (or sirloin) for either brown lentils, green lentils, or as in this recipe, for a plant-based meat substitute such as Beyond Beef. Check this post out if you want to make lentil sloppy joes!
As a note, I've also seen vegan Sloppy Joes with red lentils, although the texture will be different.
❤️ Why you'll love this recipe
- Reminder of a great childhood favorite.
- Great make-ahead dinner! Cook the sauce up to one week ahead, and keep in the refrigerator in an airtight container, and warm it up when you're ready to serve it.
- Freezer-friendly. You can freeze it up to 6 months in a freezer-safe container.
- The entire family will love it.
- Perfect game day eats, or for any casual party.
🧅 Main Ingredients + Notes
The secret to faster and easier meals often lies in the ingredients. For example, store-bought items and ingredients you make ahead and store in the refrigerator (or freezer) can turn a 60-minute recipe into a 30-minutes meal or less.
You might be thinking this is a lot of ingredients, but none of them are unusual and you may have them all on hand. Most important, there's very little prepping involved!
For specific quantities and directions for this vegan Sloppy Joe recipe, go to the Recipe Card at the bottom of this post.
- Vegan ground beef - I use Beyond Meat, but any unseasoned plant-based meat substitute will work fine.
- Red bell pepper - the traditional version uses green bell peppers, so use whichever you prefer.
- Yellow onion - white onion or red onion work fine in this recipe if that's what you have on hand.
- Fresh garlic
- Tomato paste - this deepens the savory umami flavor of the dish, which is important when you eliminate the meat.
- Brown sugar - if you don't have any in your pantry, you can make your own brown sugar very easily.
- Yellow mustard - if you only have Dijon mustard, use that instead.
- Dried spices and herbs - I use chili powder, oregano, kosher salt, and ground black pepper.
- Vegan Worcestershire Sauce - Annie's makes a great one I can recommend.
- Vegan cole slaw (optional topping)
- Hamburger buns - or dinner rolls for sliders
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📝 Instructions Overview
Detailed instructions for making this vegan Sloppy Joes recipe are in the recipe card below, but here's an overview. There are only 4 steps to making this recipe.
Cook the ground Beyond Beef. Brown it in a large skillet with a little extra virgin olive oil. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Sauté. Sauté the onion, bell pepper and garlic until softened. Use the same skillet you used for cooking the Beyond Beef.
Stir. Stir in the tomato sauce until the veggies are coated, and cook for a minute. Add everything else and stir together. Stir in the Beyond Beef.
Simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes to meld the flavors and cook down the sauce a bit.
Serve. Ladle over warmed dinner rolls as pictured, hamburger buns, or serve as a lettuce wrap.
⏰ Tips to Simplify and Save Time
- While the Beyond Beef cooks, dice the pepper and onion, and measure all of the remaining ingredients. There's nothing more frustrating than not being able to open a new bottle of ketchup when you've got a bubbling pan waiting.
- The entire Sloppy Joe sauce can be made ahead, and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- While the Sloppy Joe filling simmers, make the Vegan Coleslaw if you plan to serve it on the sliders.
- Use a Sloppy Joe Season Mix, sold in 1.4 ounce packets to replace the red bell pepper, garlic, ketchup, brown sugar, yellow mustard, herbs and spices, and Worcestershire sauce. This is a huge simplification, obviously, and you won't end up with the same recipe that's here. But you can use the below recipe as your base recipe for this approach.
💡Ideas for Possible Variations
- As mentioned above, you can use green lentils, brown lentils or even red lentils in place of the Beyond Beef to make a vegan Sloppy Joe sauce. No other changes are needed.
- Add some minced Serrano pepper for a kick of heat.
- Serve as an open face sandwich and top with either vegan cole slaw or potato salad.
- Ladle over cornbread.
- Keep it simple and top with pickles instead of cole slaw.
- Serve in cabbage or lettuce leaves as a lettuce wrap.
🍽 Side Dish Ideas
- Use the vegan coleslaw as a side dish.
- Potato salad
- Air fryer potatoes
- Sweet potato fries
- Shoestring potatoes
📇 More Recipes with Beyond Meat and Impossible Beef
- Tamale Pie (Vegetarian)
- Spaghetti Squash Pasta with "Meaty" Sauce
- Beyond Beef Meat Balls (That Don't Fall Apart)
- Simple Vegan Chili
- Meatball Casserole (Vegetarian!)
Vegan Sloppy Joe Sliders
Vegan Sloppy Joe Sauce
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pound Beyond Beef
- 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
- 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- ¾ cup ketchup
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar, packed
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ¾ teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon Annie's Worcestershire sauce (vegan)
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, or ½ teaspoon table salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 12 dinner rolls
Sloppy Joe Sauce
- Warm the olive oil in large skillet over medium heat, and add the Beyond Beef to the skillet. Break the beef up into small pieces using a wooden spoon, and cook for 10 minutes without moving the pieces around. This will brown the 'beef' better than constantly moving it around the skilletTurn the pieces over, and continue to cook for another few minutes until cooked. Remove the 'beef' from the skillet, and set aside.
- Add the bell pepper and onion to the skillet. If the skillet is completely dry, add a little olive oil. Sauté until slightly softened, about 5 - 7 minutes. Add the garlic, and sauté for another minute.
- Stir in the tomato paste until it's completely mixed into the veggies.
- Add the ketchup, ½ cup water, brown sugar, mustard, chili powder, oregano, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Stir until well-combined and add the 'beef' back in.
- Reduce the heat and cook on a low simmer for 20 minutes. Add additional water if the Sloppy Joe sauce is too thick. Pro tip: Finish with a dash of hot sauce, if desired.
- Spoon over warmed rolls and top with Vegan Coleslaw.
Vegan Coleslaw (Optional)
- Combine the mayonnaise, sugar, vinegar, salt, celery salt and pepper in a small bowl. Spill the coleslaw mix into a medium bowl, and add enough mayonnaise mixture to your own taste. Toss well.