These Vegan Sloppy Joes are the ultimate comfort food, with hearty vegan beef crumbles coated in a sweet yet savory BBQ sauce. The filling is served on soft buns with crunchy bread and butter pickles. This easy-to-make, nostalgic dish is perfect for a comforting weeknight meal!
Why You’ll Love ThEse Vegan Sloppy Joes with TVP
Like many families in the U.S. sloppy joes were a staple weeknight dinner. This recipe is adapted from my mom’s kitchen with the addition of my homemade vegan TVP beef! This is a great recipe because it is SO easy. If using store-bought vegan beef crumbles, you only need 7 ingredients to make the filling.
Here are a few reasons why my family loves this recipe and you will too!
- Hearty Homemade Feel: The vegan beef crumbles, whether homemade or store-bought, offer a satisfying, meaty texture that’s both comforting and filling. If you prefer a more whole foods take on this recipe, you can substitute in cooked green lentils!
- Easy Recipe: This vegan version of an American classic really couldn’t be easier! I love that this recipe uses pre-made BBQ sauce for the sloppy joe sauce and that the homemade vegan beef crumbles only take 15 minutes to make.
- Rich, Sweet & Savory Sauce: This recipe uses store-bought sweet and sticky BBQ sauce. The sauce covers the vegan crumbles, creating a rich flavor that delivers that classic sloppy joe taste.
- Perfectly Balanced Toppings: We love serving the filling on pillowy soft hamburger buns and topping everything with crunchy bread and butter pickles.
- Classic Vegan & Vegetarian Sloppy Joe Recipe: This is a family recipe made vegan but tastes just like traditional sloppy joes!
This recipe features a blend of simple, pantry-friendly ingredients that come together to create a flavor-packed dish. The key ingredients in this recipe are:
- Vegan Ground Beef: Forms the hearty base of the sloppy joes. Choose homemade TVP beef made with vegan beef broth, vegan Worcestershire sauce, and tomato paste for a custom touch or opt for convenient store-bought versions like Gardein or Beyond Meat.
- Yellow Onion, Celery and Green Bell Peppers: Aromatic vegetables add depth, sweetness, and a hint of crunch to the otherwise very sloppy filling.
- Garlic: Just a couple of cloves bring a warm, aromatic flavor that’s essential in any savory dish.
- BBQ Sauce: Select your favorite brand to add a sweet, tangy, and slightly smoky flavor. It serves as the base of the sauce, coating the vegan beef in deliciousness. We love Stubb’s Sticky Sweet BBQ Sauce in this recipe. It’s made with brown sugar for the perfect touch of rich sweetness.
- Olive Oil: To help cook the filling and add a touch of flavor.
- Water and Black Pepper: We use a bit of water to thin out the sauce (which helps it evenly coat the vegan ground beef) and a touch of black pepper for a bit of heat.
- Soft Burger Buns, Red Onions, and Bread and Butter Pickles: These are for serving the sandwiches!
Substitutions & Add Ins
If you need to switch things up a bit, here are some easy substitutions:
- Vegan Beef Alternatives: No time to make homemade TVP beef? Store-bought vegan beef crumbles like Gardein or Beyond Meat are excellent substitutes that save time without sacrificing flavor. You can also substitute in 2 cups of cooked green lentils, brown lentils or red lentils.
- Other Seasonings: Feel free to add in a bit of chili powder, hot sauce, or cayenne pepper for a kick of heat. You can also add a teaspoon or so of liquid smoke for a bolder flavor.
- Veggies: Feel free to use other veggies like red bell pepper or another type of green pepper. Poblano peppers would also be great in the filling for a little extra heat!
- BBQ Sauce Varieties: Feel free to experiment with different types of BBQ sauce to find your preferred balance of sweetness and tanginess. You could even make your own with tomato sauce.
- Large Skillet: For making the filling
- Cutting Board: For chopping the veggies
Step By Step Instructions
For exact ingredient quantities see the recipe card below!
STEP 1: Start by preparing your vegan ground beef. If using homemade, follow this recipe. You’ll want to rehydrate the TVP in a savory vegan beef broth (or veggie broth) and then cook it up to help it brown. For a frozen store-bought version, remove it from the freezer and let it come to room temperature.
STEP 2: In a heated skillet over medium heat with olive oil, cook the onions, celery, and bell peppers until they start to soften. Then, stir in the minced garlic.
STEP 3: Add the vegan beef to the skillet, combining it well with the veggies.
STEP 4: Pour in the BBQ sauce and water (this makes the sloppy joe sauce), stirring thoroughly to coat the vegan meat. Allow the mixture to simmer, stirring occasionally, until it becomes sticky and caramelized.
STEP 5: Adjust the sauce consistency as needed, then spoon the sloppy joe mixture onto soft hamburger buns and top with pickles and red onion.
The sloppy joe filling is great on either potato buns or sesame buns. If gluten-free, you can use your favorite GF bread.
These vegan sloppy joes are perfect for easy weeknight dinners, especially when paired with sides that complement their rich and tangy flavors, like:
- Crispy Onion Rings: A batch of golden, crunchy onion rings makes an excellent companion to the saucy, hearty filling of the sloppy joes.
- Homestyle Homefries: Serve these sloppy joes with a side of savory, perfectly seasoned homefries for the best comforting meal.
- Coleslaw: A fresh, tangy coleslaw can add a refreshing crunch and a lightness to balance the richness of the sandwich.
- Baked Potato: A simple baked potato with a bit of vegan butter makes a great side for this sandwich.
- Sweet Potato Fries: Switch things up with homemade or store-bought sweet potato fries!
- Garden Salad: A simple garden salad with a light dressing can provide a crisp, fresh element to the meal.
Keep any leftover vegan sloppy joe filling in an airtight container in the fridge, perfect for quick meals during the week. It will stay fresh for 4 days.
- For a spicier twist, consider adding a splash of hot sauce to the mixture.
- If gluten-free, opt for gluten-free buns or bread and make sure the BBQ sauce you choose is gluten-free.
- Add more BBQ sauce as needed! If you prefer your filling extra saucy, feel free to use more BBQ sauce to achieve your desired consistency.
Looking for more vegan comfort food recipes?
- Vegan Steak with Garlic Butter
- Meatless Baked Ziti
- Vegan Lasagna with Bechamel
- Vegan Philly Cheesesteaks