Perfect vegan sloppy joes for an easy delicious dinner! Packed with meaty flavour for that nostalgic comfort food vibe!
I'm so reluctant to share my vegan sloppy joes recipe - partly because obvs the name is one of the grossest names for such a delicious dinner. But also because I feel like this has been my secret dinner for forever. Allow me to explain.
So, sloppy joes aren't really a thing here in the UK - weird, I know! But somehow I've been making them for a long time! Back when I was vegetarian (the pre-vegan years) it was surprisingly difficult to find a decent meat-free burger (I know, feels like a million years ago). So I used to make vegan sloppy joes instead, using TVP mince (aka ground), without even really knowing it!
🍔 What are vegan sloppy joes?
If you've got the time, it's really worth reading about the origins of sloppy joes - I love that sort of stuff and I always go down such a rabbit hole when it comes to food history! Food nerds - assemble!!
Put simply though, a traditional sloppy joe is a sandwich filled with ground beef, cooked onions and a sauce which usually includes tomato ketchup. It's almost like a very loose hamburger - and honestly, they're delicious. My super easy vegan sloppy joes are made using vegan mince (aka ground) or a blend of lentils and shiitake mushrooms - depending on whichever you have access to!
🍞 What are vegan sloppy joes made from?
OK, to make this recipe you're gonna need:
- Vegan butter
- Onion (peeled and finely chopped)
- Garlic (peeled and finely minced)
- Vegan mince (aka vegan ground OR sub for 400g can beluga lentils, drained plus 50g shiitake mushrooms finely chopped)
- Dark soy sauce
- Marmite (or any other yeast extract)
- Green bell pepper
- Tomato puree (aka tomato paste)
- Light brown sugar
- English mustard
- Vegan Worcestershire sauce (I use Henderson's relish)
- Fine seal salt
- Ground black pepper
- Hot sauce
- Vegan gravy granules (I use vegan Bisto)
- Vegan burger buns
As always, don't worry, this is not the recipe: see the recipe card at the bottom of the page for quantities.
🫕 How do I make vegan sloppy joes?
Look! Four gorgeous pictures illustrating how to make the perfect sloppy joes (ugh that name still gets me). Obviously this in't the actual recipe - that's at the bottom of the page. These are just your visual aids to make sure you can make this recipe without PESTERING MOMMY ON INSTAGRAM! Just kidding, contact me any time (except for wine o'clock am I right moms!??)
1. Cook off the onions, mince and peppers! This is kind of just a two step recipe - no big deal. Cook off your onions until soft then get your vegan mince nicely browned. Green peppers add a bit of crunch and some extra flavour!
2. Add the wet ingredients! This is where the majority of your flavour comes from! I'm always tempted to add a can of tomatoes to my vegan sloppy joes, but THEY DON'T BELONG HERE! Stick to ketchup, otherwise you'll have bolognese.
3. Toast your buns! I do this in a dry frying pan after spreading them with a little extra vegan butter. Don't let them burn though. If your buns are a little dry, add half a teaspoon of water to the pan and cover with a lid, once your buns are toasted. This will steam them making them taste fresh!
4. Assemble the sandwiches! It's up to you how much filling you put in each bun really, but I like em quite packed! I want that filling to blob out onto the plate when I bite, so I have something to scoop up with a spare bun at the end! Just my personal pref - don't cancel me!
Hint: If you'd like to dodge the vegan meat, you can make a simple swap. Just head to the substitutions section below to find out the best replacement.
🔄 Subs and swaps
I'm only going to make one suggestion for subs and swaps this time, and it's this! If you're not into using vegan meat make this replacement instead:
- 1 x 400g tin brown or green lentils - just drain them and mash them roughly in a bowl.
- 50g shiitake mushrooms - thats 50g fresh (which is around 20g of dried). Just chop finely (once rehydrated if using dried) and mix into the lentils
- 2 tablespoon dark soy sauce
Mix everything together and you've got a great vegan mince/ground replacement. This replacement also works well in my vegan lasagna!
🔪 Equipment for Vegan Sloppy Joes
You're gonna laugh when you see this extensive list of things you need to make vegan sloppy joes. Are you ready?
- 1 Large Frying Pan
Obvs you'll also need a knife and chopping board etc, but I'm assuming you're here because you already own that stuff!
🤓 Bonus Tip!
Sloppy joes filling mixture chills AND freezes REALLY well! Just make sure it's stored in an airtight container and defrost full before reheating. You could even divide into individual portions before freezing so it's easier to defrost in CASE OF EMERGENCY VEGAN SLOPPY JOES!
Vegan Sloppy Joes FAQs
A: Vegan sloppy joes are made from all the same ingredients as regular sloppy joes but usually with a meat replacement. Alternatively you can use lentils and shiitake mushrooms (see subs section above)
A: Some people call sloppy joes a "manwich" but most people do not eat sloppy joes in the UK. It's a US dish with a disputed origin story.
Vegan Sloppy Joes
- 1 Large Frying Pan
- 20 g vegan butter
- ½ onion (peeled and finely chopped)
- 3 cloves of garlic (peeled and finely minced)
- 450 g vegan mince (aka vegan ground OR sub for 400g can beluga lentils, drained plus 50g shiitake mushrooms finely chopped)
- 3 tablespoon dark soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon marmite (or any other yeast extract)
- ½ green bell pepper
- 1 tablespoon tomato puree (aka tomato paste)
- 150 ml ketchup
- 200 ml water
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon English mustard
- ½ teaspoon vegan Worcestershire sauce (I use Henderson's relish)
- ½ teaspoon fine seal salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce
- 1 tablespoon vegan gravy granules (I use vegan Bisto)
- 4 vegan burger buns
- pickles or vegan coleslaw (for serving)
- Place a large frying pan over medium heat and add the vegan butter. Once melted, add the onion and garlic and fry for 3-5 minutes or until starting to brown.20 g vegan butter, ½ onion, 3 cloves of garlic
- Add the vegan mince and use a spatula to break it up in the frying pan. Fry for 2 minutes or until starting to brown then add the dark soy sauce, the marmite and the green pepper. Fry for a further minute or so, to soften the pepper.450 g vegan mince, 3 tablespoon dark soy sauce, 1 teaspoon marmite, ½ green bell pepper
- Add the remaining ingredients except for the burger buns and stir to combine. Cover with a lid and leave to simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure it’s not catching to the bottom of the pan.1 tablespoon tomato puree, 150 ml ketchup, 200 ml water, 1 tablespoon light brown sugar, 1 teaspoon English mustard, ½ teaspoon vegan Worcestershire sauce, ½ teaspoon fine seal salt, ½ teaspoon ground black pepper, 1 teaspoon hot sauce, 1 tablespoon vegan gravy granules
- Just before serving, slice the burger buns and spread with a little vegan butter then toast in a dry frying pan until golden brown.4 vegan burger buns
- Divide the filling between the buns and serve with pickles and vegan coleslaw.pickles or vegan coleslaw
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