Lentil Sloppy Joes

Mmmm. Do you remember the flavor from traditional Sloppy Joe’s? If you do, you won’t miss a beat. If you don’t (I’m sorry), and I guarantee you’ll love this hearty, meaty and filling recipe! It’s also pretty easy to throw together for a big group gathering and you can make this a day or two ahead of time….always better that way!

Prep time: 10 minutes

Total cook time: 40-50 minutes

Makes about 4 cups


  • 1-1/2 cups brown lentils, rinsed and picked over 
  • 1 yellow onion, diced (about 2 1/2 cups) 
  • 1 red and green bell pepper, seeded and diced (about 1 1/2 cups) 
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder 
  • 2 teaspoons paprika 
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin 
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional) 
  • 1 (6-ounce) can no-salt-added tomato paste 
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar 
  • 1-12 oz. dark beer
  • 1 cup water
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 1/4 dried apricots, chopped 
  • 1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added crushed tomatoes
  • 8 mini whole grain (or GF) buns


  1. Place lentils in a small pot. Cover with 2 inches of water. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook until lentils are tender, about 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and bell pepper. Cook, stirring frequently until onion is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add chili powder, paprika, cumin, cayenne and tomato paste. Cook, stirring constantly until spices and tomato paste are fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add vinegar and then use a wooden spoon to scrape up any bits from the bottom of the pan.
  3. Add 1 cup water, beer, garlic, apricots and crushed tomatoes. Reduce heat to medium-low and let sauce simmer until it thickens, about 20 minutes. 
  4. When lentils are cooked, drain off excess cooking liquid.  Add lentils to the pan with sauce; stir well to combine. Mash some or all of the lentils using a wooden spoon. Toast hamburger buns in the oven, if desired. Ladle 1/2 cup of the lentil mixture on each toasted bun and serve with a big slice of dill pickle, and plenty of napkins!