Everyone loves a classic sandwich, and these Vegan Sloppy Joes are where it’s at. This family meal comes together in 20 minutes and is totally foolproof!
I always loved sloppy joe night growing up. There’s just something about setting out fluffy hamburger buns and piling them high with a meaty filling. At its most basic, a sloppy joe is tomato sauce and ground meat. I turned to TVP (textured vegetable protein) for that perfect ground texture I was looking for, vegan style!
There is a lot of debate on if the humble sloppy joe is named after a cook named Joe, and if it even originated in America. It’s fun to look into food history and wonder which theory is correct. No matter what, I can guarantee that this vegan sloppy joe version is spot on for taste and texture! It’s perfect for serving to a large group as it just needs one pot and can sit and simmer while you chat.
Ingredients for Vegan Sloppy Joes
Almost everything required to make these meatless sloppy joes are pantry staples!
- Olive Oil: Olive oil will bring out the flavors in the veggies and help create beautiful fond in the pan (those are the caramelized bits!)
- Pepper and Onion: These provide major flavor to our sloppy joes. Just saute until soft!
- Tomato Sauce: You need quite a bit here for the TVP to rehydrate. It also brings that distinct sloppy joe flavor.
- Veggie Broth: This thins the sauce just a bit as well as adds flavor to the TVP.
- Seasonings: We’ve got spicy, sweet, and umami, all wrapped up together. You’ll need chili powder, mustard, soy sauce, brown sugar, vegan Worcestershire, salt, and pepper.
- Textured Vegetable Protein: This is the protein star of the pot! Grab it in the baking aisle or online here.
- Buns: Pick your favorite whether it’s seeds or plain, wheat or gluten-free.
What is Textured Vegetable Protein? TVP is a soy protein that is dehydrated and ranges from small flakes to larger chunks depending on what brand you buy. These little nuggets soak up all the flavor from a sauce so they make the perfect protein for any meal that would generally use ground meat.
How to make Vegan Sloppy Joes
This vegan sloppy joes recipe brings in the classic flavors of family meals from childhood. It’s a quick and easy meal that’s also affordable.
Step 1: Flavor Base
Heat oil in a large skillet. Then saute the pepper and onion until soft and the onion is translucent. This will build up allll those yummy flavors.
Step 2: Sauce
Add remaining ingredients except TVP. Bring this to a gentle simmer and then stir in the TVP.
Step 3: Cook
Cover and cook until the TVP has softened and the entire mixture has thickened. It should look like a basic ground beef sloppy joe by this point.
Step 4: Serve
Serve on your favorite hamburger buns or in wraps.
Tip Top Toppings: Feel free to add a slice of cheese (vegan or dairy) or some pickles to your sloppy joe before the top bun.
More Meat: Try a contrasting texture by adding crispy Tempeh Bacon to your sandwich.
Sassy and Saucy: Try using some barbecue sauce for part of the tomato sauce if you only have a smaller can on hand. You may need to stir that in and taste before adding any of the seasonings.
Lentil Sloppy Joes: Lentils lend themselves well to the taste and texture of sloppy joes. Feel free to cook some red or green lentils (according to the instructions on the package) and mix a bit into this sloppy joe TVP mixture for added bulk and nutrition!
Sloppy Joe Sides
When eating a warm and delicious sandwich, I love to find pairings that are the opposite. Think crispy and creamy versus the warm, soft bun piled with filling.
- Crispy Baked Sweet Potato Fries aren’t just great on the side – you could use them as a base for the sloppy joe! Think nachos, but with fries.
- Crispy Baked Avocado Fries are both crispy and creamy and great to throw in the oven while the joes simmer.
- Creamy Cucumber Salad is the perfect cooling contrast next to a warm sandwich.
- 2 Tbsp olive oil 30 mL
- 1 white onion about 1 cup, diced
- 1 green bell pepper diced
- 1 29-oz can tomato sauce 822 g
- 1 cup vegetable broth 226 mL
- 1 Tbsp chili powder
- 1 Tbsp mustard
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce can sub tamari for gluten-free, 15 mL
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce 5 mL
- Pinch each salt and pepper
- 1 ½ cups textured vegetable protein TVP, 150 g
- 6 hamburger buns
- Flavor Base: Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the diced onion and pepper, cooking until onion is a bit soft and translucent, about 3 minutes.
- Sauce: Stir in all ingredients except TVP. Bring to a gentle simmer, then add TVP.
- Cook: Cover and cook for 15 minutes, or until mixture is thick and TVP is soft.
- Serve: Spoon vegan sloppy joe mixture onto hamburger buns and serve!