This nostalgic sloppy joe recipe features a ground plant-based meat substitute cooked with chunky vegetables in a sweet and tangy tomato sauce flavored with lots of delicious spices!
I don't think I know anyone who did not enjoy sloppy joes growing up. They truly are an American classic and I have so many memories of enjoying sloppy joe sandwiches as a child and teenager.
Sloppy joes aren't a dish that many enjoy as an adult as the canned sauce and ground beef that traditional sloppy joes are made with aren't very healthy or nutritious. However, this dish can be turned into something so wholesome, nutritious and delicious with a few ingredient tweaks!
While my diet has evolved over the years, my cravings for sweet, tangy, meaty classics like Sloppy Joe have not! This recipe couldn't be easier so let's get to it.
How to Make These Sloppy Joes
Heat olive oil in a large, deep skillet or Dutch Oven over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion and bell pepper and cook until onion is translucent about 2-3 minutes.
Add garlic and cook for about another minute, until fragrant. Add in ground plant-based protein (I used Impossible Food Plant-Based Burger) and break up with a wooden spoon. Season with salt, black pepper, garlic powder, herbs de Provence, smoked paprika and tumeric.
Continue to cook meat until browned and almost cooked through. Add crushed tomatoes, liquid aminos or lite soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, liquid smoke, and brown sugar. Stir to combine all ingredients.
Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until sauce has thickened and reduced to your preferred consistency. I like mine pretty thick so I allow the sauce to simmer for about 15 minutes. Season with more salt + pepper to taste.
Remove meat mixture from heat. Toast four hamburger buns and top the bottom of each bun with a few spoonfuls of sloppy joe mixture. Add toppings if desired and enjoy!
Storing Homemade Sloppy Joes
You can store leftover sloppy joe in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. You can also freeze sloppy joe by storing it in a freezer bag and wrapping it in plastic wrap for up to a month.
You can double or even triple this recipe and freeze batches to thaw late for a quick, hearty, and nutritious dinner anytime! Just remove a bag of sloppy joe from the freezer and allow it to thaw in the fridge overnight.
You can either microwave sloppy joe to warm it on warm it in a saucepan on the stovetop when ready to serve. This is a go-to in our home and is perfect for kiddos and adults alike.
What Other Proteins Can I Substitute in Vegetarian Sloppy Joes?
These days there are a plethora of delicious meat substitutes available. Some of my favorites, in addition to Impossible Foods, are Beyond Meat, tempeh, jackfruit, lentils, tofu, and mushrooms.
If meat is your thing, just substitute your favorite ground meat, such as chicken, beef, or turkey!
All of these can be prepared and seasoned to replace meat in your favorite recipes, including these Vegetarian Sloppy Joes!
Watch the Video for Sweet and Tangy Vegetarian Sloppy Joes!
You Will Also Love these Vegetarian Cheesy Stuffed Shells!
Sweet and Tangy Vegetarian Sloppy Joes
- 2 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- ½ medium yellow onion diced
- ½ green or red bell pepper seeded and chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 lb plant-based meat substitute such as Impossible Foods or Beyond Meat*
- salt + cracked black pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon herbs de provence or Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon turmeric or ground mustard
- 1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon liquid aminos or lite soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- 1-2 teaspoons liquid smoke
- 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- hamburger buns for serving
- Heat olive oil in a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion and bell pepper and cook until onion is translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and cook about another minute until fragrant.
- Add meat and break apart with wooden spoon. Season with salt + pepper, garlic powder, herbs de provence, smoked paprika and turmeric. Cook until meat is browned and almost cooked through, stirring occasionally, about 3-5 minutes.
- Add crushed tomatoes, liquid aminos or lite soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, liquid smoke and brown sugar to meat mixture. Stir to combine all ingredients. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered until thickened and reduced, stirring occasionally, about 10-15 minutes depending on your desired consistency. Remove from heat.
- Toast four hamburger buns in the oven and top each bottom bun with a few spoonfuls of sloppy joe mixture. Add toppings if desired and enjoy!