The same comforting homemade taste of regular Sloppy Joes, but with healthy lentils instead of meat. I like to serve lentil sloppy Joe's with a bun and pickles, and either coleslaw or French fries on the side.
Whether made in the Instant Pot or slow cooker, these lentil Sloppy Joes are especially good served a day or two after they're made. This is an easy, healthy make-ahead meal that's perfect for meal prep.
- 1 tablespoon oil (canola, sunflower or olive oil)
- 1 small onion, finely chopped (yellow or red onion)
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 3 ½ cups water
- 2 cups green or brown lentils
- 2 cups frozen sliced bell peppers, or 1 fresh bell pepper, chopped
- 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (see recipe notes below for vegan/vegetarian options)
- 1 1/4 teaspoons chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon regular paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard (or yellow mustard)
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon maple syrup or brown sugar
- 1 ¼ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
Some slow cooker recipes require sauteing the onion and garlic before adding them to the crock pot. This is because slow cookers don't always fully cook onion, and sauteing also helps boost the flavor of onion and garlic. You can do this if you like, but I find that simply microwaving the onion and garlic achieves nearly the same results and is quicker and easier.
- So, either saute the onion and garlic in oil for 5 to 7 minutes on the stovetop (to soften and lightly brown) OR combine the onion and garlic with oil in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 2 to 4 minutes, stopping to stir once or twice, until the onion is soft. Don’t microwave too long or the onion and garlic will dry out.
- In the slow cooker, combine the onion and garlic with all the remaining ingredients: Water, lentils, bell pepper, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, spices, mustard, maple syrup/brown sugar and salt.
- Secure the lid and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. The lentils are done after 6 hours, but will be a little more firm than if cooked for 8 hours.
- When done, stir the lentils and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt if needed. If you like a sweeter flavor, add more maple syrup or brown sugar.
- The lentils might be a little bit watery right when you open the slow cooker, but the longer they sit before serving the thicker the mixture will be.
- Press the Saute button. Add the oil to the Instant Pot.
- Saute the onion until lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add garlic and saute 30 seconds, then turn off the Saute function.
- Add all of the remaining ingredients: Water, lentils, bell pepper, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, spices, mustard, maple syrup/brown sugar. Mix well.
- Cook on high pressure - 12 minutes for slightly firm lentils, 15 minutes for softer lentils. When the cooking time is complete, let the Instant Pot release pressure naturally (this will take about 15 to 20 minutes).
- Stir the lentils and adjust seasonings, adding more salt if needed. If you like a sweeter flavor, add more maple syrup or brown sugar.
- The lentils might be a little bit watery right when you open the Instant Pot, but the longer they sit before serving the thicker the mixture will be.
Vegan Worcestershire sauce, like Annie's, can be found at some grocery stores. You can also use soy sauce instead of Worcestershire sauce, but it doesn't have quite the same flavor.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 to 6 hours
- Category: Slow Cooker
- Method: Slow Cooker or Instant Pot
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: lentils, lentil sloppy joes, vegan sloppy joes, vegetarian sloppy joes