Grab a couple cans of whatever beans you’ve got in the pantry, and whip up these easy and seriously tasty vegan sloppy Joes!
Some recipes are really tough to veganize. With others it can be done countless ways, and they all taste good. Sloppy Joes, for example. The sauce is the important part, and aside from that, all you need is some sloppy vegan food thing to put into your sauce. Cook it up, stuff it in a sandwich and relish in the deliciousness.
I guess that’s why there’s lots of vegan sloppy Joe recipes out there. I really wanted to make something special in creating my own version, and my first thought was pinto beans. I’ve never seen a pinto-bean based vegan sloppy Joe recipe. Pinto beans are awesome, and they don’t get nearly enough love in my own kitchen, and it seems like the kitchens of most other people as well.
What ended up happening though, is I got started on my pinto bean sloppy Joes with the intent of using two cans of beans, only to realize at the crucial moment that I only had one can on hand. Oops.
That’s when it came to me, and by it, I mean the fact that vegan sloppy Joes can be made of anything. They can! Well, not literally anything, but all kinds of beans can work, so why limit oneself? I had a can of brown lentils that seemed like they’d be perfect, and they were! But you can use just about any can of beans you’ve got hanging around, and since this is a two-can recipe, mix and match. Why not, it’s more fun that way?
The only thing I might be cautious with is giant beans, or super tiny beans that tend to turn to mush when you cook them. I could see something like butter beans or split red lentils getting seriously sloppy (but then again, maybe that’s the point). Black beans, kidney beans, navy beans, black-eyed peas, chickpeas, pintos, and/or brown lentils like I’ve got here would all be awesome choices.
You could also use leftover beans if you’ve got some pre-cooked. I’ve often got leftover lentils hanging around. Whatever you use, just be sure to go with two 14 or 15 ounce cans, or about 3 and 3/4 cups.
Tips for Making Awesome Vegan Sloppy Joes
- Adjust the seasonings to your taste! Not a fan of smoky flavor? Leave the liquid smoke out! Like a little heat? Add some cayenne pepper or hot sauce.
- The filling for these keeps well and can be made up to two days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.
- Don’t feel like regular old sloppy Joe sandwiches? Switch things up and stuff the filling into a sweet potato or use it to top some fries or a vegan hot dog (store bought, one of my homemade versions — found here and here).
I made the sloppy Joes for this video using brown lentils and chickpeas, and they were just as delicious as the brown lentil and pinto bean version!
Anything Goes Vegan Sloppy Joes
Grab a couple cans of whatever beans you've got in the pantry, and whip up these easy and seriously tasty vegan sloppy Joes!
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 bell pepper, any color, diced
- 1 medium carrot, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 (14 or 15 ounce) cans beans, drained and rinsed, OR 3 3/4 cups precooked beans, whatever variety you've got (see note!)
- 3/4 to 1 cup water
- 1/3 cup tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons vegan Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar or turbinado or coconut sugar
- 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 5 burger buns, toasted
- Onion slices, optional (I sautéed mine)
- Dill pickle slices, optional
Coat the bottom of a medium saucepan with oil and place it over medium heat.
Add the onion, pepper, carrot and garlic. Sauté 5 minutes, until the onions are very tender and translucent.
Stir in the beans, 3/4 cup water, tomato paste, vinegar, Worchestersire sauce, soy sauce, sugar, liquid smoke and chili powder.
Raise the heat and bring the liquid to a boil.
Lower the heat and allow the mixture to simmer, uncovered, until the sauce is very thick and the veggies are tender, 15 to 20 minutes, adding a bit more water if needed during cooking.
Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Stuff buns with bean mixture. Top with dill pickle slices and onion slices. Serve.
For the beans, use what you've got. Black beans, kindey beans, chickpeas, cannellini beans, great northern beans, pinto beans, navy beans, black-eyed peas and brown lentils are all great choices. Use two of the same thing, or mix it up!