These Vegan Sloppy Joes with Black Beans, Sweet Potatoes, and Green Lentils – are a scrumptious, wholesome, and effortless family meal that can be on your table in under an hour. These delightful plant-based sloppy joes offer a tasty alternative to traditional veggie or bean burgers.
Simply scoop the mouth-watering sloppy joes onto a warm bread bun and pair with crispy potato wedges and a refreshing side salad for a complete, satisfying meal. Ideal for those laid-back summer evenings or chilly evenings when you're craving a homemade burger but lack the time or energy to create one from scratch.
What is a Sloppy Joe?
A Sloppy Joe is a popular American comfort food consisting of a ground meat mixture cooked in a savory, tangy tomato-based sauce, typically served on a hamburger bun. The meat used is usually ground beef, although variations with ground turkey, chicken, or pork are also common.
In recent years, plant-based sloppy joe adaptations using lentils, beans, tofu, seitan, vegan Quorn, soy curls, veggie crumbles [mince] and textured vegetable protein [TVP] have become increasingly popular.
What do sloppy joes taste like?
The taste of a Sloppy Joe is characterized by its combination of flavors and textures. The meat mixture is tender and juicy, while the sauce is a blend of tangy, sweet, and slightly spicy flavors, often created with ingredients like ketchup, tomato sauce, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, and various seasonings like garlic, onion, and chili powder. The resulting flavor profile is a mix of savory, tangy, and subtly sweet elements that meld together.
When served on a soft hamburger bun, the Sloppy Joe offers a contrast of textures – the warm, saucy filling against the soft bread.
What is the origin of sloppy joes?
The origin of Sloppy Joes is somewhat uncertain, with various theories attributing its creation to different places and individuals. However, it is widely agreed upon that the Sloppy Joe originated in the United States during the early 20th century.
One popular theory credits a cook named Joe at Floyd Angell's café in Sioux City, Iowa, with inventing the dish in the 1930s. Joe is claimed to have mixed tomato sauce and ground meat [mince] together to create a new sloppy sandwich filling!
Another theory points to Havana, Cuba, where a bar called "Sloppy Joe's" was frequented by American tourists during the Prohibition era. The bar served a sandwich filled with a tomato-based ground beef mixture, which eventually made its way to the United States and became known as the Sloppy Joe.
Throughout the 1940s, Sloppy Joes gained widespread popularity, making their way onto the menus of numerous public eateries. As their fame grew, the term "Sloppy Joe" also came to describe informal fast-food establishments or 'greasy spoons,' known for their casual atmosphere and hearty, unpretentious fare.
The rise of the canned Manwich!
In 1969, the United States saw the introduction of a convenient, canned Sloppy Joe sauce called 'Manwich.' This ready-to-use sauce allowed home cooks to quickly and easily prepare Sloppy Joes by simply adding the sauce to cooked ground meat. With its catchy name and time-saving appeal, Manwich quickly gained popularity, further cementing the Sloppy Joe's status as a classic American comfort food.
Is canned Manwich vegan?
Absolutely! Since canned Manwich is essentially a seasoned tomato sauce meant to be combined with ground meat, it can be used with vegan protein sources as well, since it contains no animal products. So, if you have access to canned Manwich, you can effortlessly whip up a scrumptious vegan Manwich sandwich!
Sloppy Joes in the UK
When mentioning the term "Sloppy Joe" to someone from the UK, they might think you're talking about a loose-fitting, casual sweater or jumper rather than the iconic sandwich. Sloppy Joe jumpers are typically oversized and crafted from soft, cozy materials, perfect for a relaxed and comfortable fit. Often worn during colder months for warmth and snugness, the term "Sloppy Joe" in this context refers to the casual, laid-back style of the garment, not the saucy, meat-filled sandwich.
Can you buy cans of Manwich in the UK?
Yes! Tesco [UK] sells the Hunt's Manwich Tomato Sauce 425g cans.
Nonetheless, to save money and enjoy a homemade touch, simply follow our recipe for an easy and delectable plant-based Manwich or Sloppy Joe meal.
Recipe notes and frequently asked questions
Sloppy Joes can be safely stored in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days, or frozen for 3-4 months.
Reheating Sloppy Joes is simple and can be done using a few different methods:
- Microwave: Place the Sloppy Joe filling in a microwave-safe container, cover it with a microwave-safe lid or plastic wrap (leaving a small vent for steam to escape), and heat on medium power for 1-2 minutes, or until heated through. Be sure to stir the mixture halfway through to ensure even heating.
- Stovetop: Transfer the Sloppy Joe filling to a saucepan and reheat it over low to medium heat, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Cook until the filling is heated through, which should take about 5-10 minutes. You may need to add a splash of water or vegetable broth to maintain the desired consistency.
- Oven: Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C). Place the Sloppy Joe filling in an oven-safe dish and cover it with aluminum foil [kitchen foil]. Heat for 15-20 minutes, or until piping hot throughout. Make sure to stir the mixture halfway through to ensure even heating.
There are so many delicious side dishes that can complement vegan Sloppy Joes. Here are ten tasty ideas:
1. Crispy Potato Wedges or Sweet Potato Fries: Oven-baked or air-fried, these make a perfect pairing with the hearty Sloppy Joe filling.
2. Coleslaw: A tangy, crunchy coleslaw adds a refreshing contrast to the rich flavors of the Sloppy Joe. We especially love shredding red cabbage, red onion, and carrots and mixing with enough vegan mayonnaise to create a super quick delicious vegan coleslaw. Its so good!
3. Green Salad: A simple mixed green salad with a light dressing is a healthy and refreshing choice.
4. Pickles: Dill pickles or pickled vegetables like jalapeños can add a tangy and spicy kick to the meal.
5. Grilled or Roasted Vegetables: Seasonal veggies such as zucchini, bell peppers, or asparagus make a tasty and nutritious side.
6. Corn on the Cob: A classic summer favorite, grilled or boiled corn on the cob pairs well with Sloppy Joes.
7. Chips and Salsa or Guacamole: A side of tortilla chips with your choice of salsa or guacamole adds a fun, Tex-Mex twist.
8. Vegan Mac and Cheese: A creamy, plant-based mac and cheese can make for a comforting and indulgent side dish. Our extra quick take on mac and cheese this cheesy pasta recipe is a family favourite.
9. Baked Beans: A side of baked beans, either homemade or store-bought, contributes a sweet and savory flavor that complements the Sloppy Joes well. Try our home-made Baked Beans in a Tomato Sauce or our vegan adaptation of Traditional Boston Baked Beans.
10. Steamed or Sautéed Greens: Lightly seasoned steamed or sautéed greens like spinach, kale, or Swiss chard add a nutritious touch to the meal.
Feel free to mix and match these options to create a satisfying and well-rounded meal to enjoy alongside your vegan Sloppy Joes.
Below are 8 amazingly creative ideas for using leftover vegan Sloppy Joes.
It's so worth meal prepping double batches of Sloppy Joes just for the leftovers.
Do let us know if you give one of these ideas a try:
1. Sloppy Joe Toastie or Grilled Cheese Sandwich:
Add plant-based grated cheese to a bread roll or slice of bread.
Top with Sloppy Joe mix and place another slice of bread on top.
Toast, grill, or dry pan-fry until golden and melted. This makes a delightful lunch!
2. Mini Sloppy Joe Pies:
Add leftovers to small pie dishes.
Top with mashed potatoes and sprinkle with nutritional yeast for extra flavor.
Bake in the oven until piping hot and potatoes are browned.
3. Sloppy Joe Carrot Hotdogs:
Use leftover Sloppy Joes to top a carrot hotdog.
Follow a tasty carrot hotdog recipe, such as this one.
If you haven't tried a carrot hotdog yet, give it a go – they may surprise you!
4. Sloppy Joe Stuffed Bell Peppers:
Hollow out bell peppers and stuff them with the leftover Sloppy Joe mix.
Top with plant-based cheese and bake until the peppers are tender and cheese is melted.
5. Sloppy Joe Nachos:
Spread tortilla chips on a baking sheet or oven-safe dish.
Top with the leftover Sloppy Joe mix, plant-based cheese, and any other desired toppings.
Bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly, then garnish with fresh cilantro, salsa, and guacamole.
6. Sloppy Joe Tacos or Burritos:
Use the leftover Sloppy Joe mix as a filling for tacos or burritos.
Add your favorite toppings, such as lettuce, tomato, avocado, and plant-based cheese or sour cream.
7. Sloppy Joe Stuffed Baked Potatoes:
Bake or microwave potatoes until tender.
Cut open and fluff the insides, then top with the Sloppy Joe mix and plant-based cheese.
Return to the oven or microwave to heat the mixture and melt the cheese, then garnish with green onions or chives.
8. Sloppy Joe Casserole:
Layer cooked pasta, rice, or quinoa in a casserole dish.
Top with the leftover Sloppy Joe mix, followed by plant-based cheese.
Bake until heated through and the cheese is melted and bubbly.
More tasty vegan American family recipes
Vegan Black Bean, Sweet Potato and Green Lentil Sloppy Joes
- non-stick sauté pan/skillet
- potato masher [or cutlery fork]
- 200 gram onion [1 large]
- 4 whole garlic cloves [or 2 teaspoons garlic powder]
- 440 gram sweet potatoes [2-3 small-medium sized potatoes, Chopped into bitesize chunks/diced.]
- 115 gram celery [2-3 sticks, diced]
- 1 can green lentils [400g/14oz can, or 300g cooked lentils]
- 1 can black beans [400g/14oz can, drained, or 240g cooked beans]
- 250 gram passata [or 1 400gram/14 oz can chopped tomatoes]
- 1 tablespoon tomato puree [paste]
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon vegan Worcester sauce [alternatively use an extra tablespoon of soy sauce.]
- 2 teaspoon smoked paprika [or regular paprika]
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 2 tablespoon maple syrup [or soft brown sugar or your usual sugar]
- 3 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 500 millilitre vegetable stock [use extra if necessary]
- 5 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes
- 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
- 6 bread buns
- Add all ingredients to a pan, excluding the optional nutritional yeast and liquid smoke.200 gram onion, 4 whole garlic cloves, 440 gram sweet potatoes, 115 gram celery, 1 can green lentils, 1 can black beans, 250 gram passata, 1 tablespoon tomato puree, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon vegan Worcester sauce, 2 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon cumin powder, 2 tablespoon maple syrup, 3 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, 500 millilitre vegetable stock
- Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat.
- Simmer for 30-40 minutes until the mixture is thick and the vegetables are soft, stirring occasionally.If needed, add a splash of extra veggie stock to prevent sticking.
- Use a potato masher to mash the mixture slightly, but retain some texture.
- If using, stir in nutritional yeast flakes and liquid smoke.Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as needed.5 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes, 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
- Serve heaped onto bread rolls or buns. Garnish with your favourite burger toppings such as mustard, pickles, ketchup, mayonnaise, vegan sour cream, shredded vegan cheese, etc.6 bread buns
- Please note that the nutritional data provided is for guidance only and may not be exact due to variations in ingredients.
- To reduce the sodium content, use a low-sodium vegetable stock.
- Store leftover Sloppy Joes in a covered container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days, or in the freezer for 2-3 months.
- To reheat, place the mixture in a pan with a small amount of vegetable stock or water to loosen it up. Bring to a simmer and heat for 2-3 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
- For a gluten-free option, serve the Sloppy Joe mixture on gluten-free buns or bread, use Tamari which is a gluten-free soy sauce, and choose a gluten-free vegetable stock.
- Customize the dish by adding your favorite vegetables or vegan protein sources, such as mushrooms, chickpeas, or tempeh.
Thank you for trying out our vegan Sloppy Joes recipe! If you tried this recipe, please let us know in the comments below how it turned out for you, or if you made any modifications.
If you share your creations on social media, don't forget to tag us (@traditionalplantbasedcooking) and use the hashtag #traditionalplantbasedcooking, so we can see your delicious dishes!
Lastly, if you found this recipe helpful, please share it with your friends and family, so they can enjoy it too.
Thank you, and happy cooking!
Love, Jacq x