Lentil Sloppy Joes Recipe: a healthy, delicious take on an old favorite

Sweet and savory. Delicious and nutritious. Fiber-rich and protein-rich. And a bit of comfort too. You’re going to like these lentil sloppy joes!

Lentil Sloppy Joes on a bunWhen I found my cholesterol level creeping up, I knew I had to change something. But what? I already had a really good diet. Could I switch things up enough to fight my genetics? I did!

Though I’m still an omnivore, I eat lentils or beans most days of the week now. Legumes are really good for a healthy heart and blood sugar control.

I always make enough at dinner to have leftovers for lunch. This recipe makes a large pot of lentil sloppy joes. You’ll have plenty left for lunches during the week, or if that’s not your thing, cut the recipe in half or freeze leftovers in single serving pouches. Defrost one bag at a time to enjoy some healthy lentil sloppy joes any ole time.

Happily, I dropped my LDL-cholesterol (commonly called the bad cholesterol) about 12% in just a few months. It’s stayed down for a couple years now.

I did make one other change too. I’ve always treated myself to a very small nightly chocolate dessert – always about 150 calories. Yes, every single night! It’s small and I look forward to it, so it keeps me from digging into other treats during the day. I dumped typical candies and baked goods in favor of dark chocolate-covered almonds, fruit with chocolate or something similar – still about 150 calories.

I wasn’t sure what to expect since my diet was pretty darn good. Fortunately, eating more beans and lentils and choosing a dessert with benefits worked for me.

Lentil Sloppy Joes Recipe: a healthy, delicious take on an old favorite

I usually eat this open faced to save about 60 calories. And for my friends and clients with diabetes, leaving half the bun trims 15 grams of carbohydrate. If the length of this ingredients list gives you pause, take the very, very easy route. Simply mix prepared lentils with a can of your favorite sloppy joe sauce. It won't be the same, but it will allow you to try out this concept.
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Course: Lunch or dinner sandwich
Servings: 12
Calories: 235kcal
Author: Jill Weisenberger MS, RDN, CDE, FAND


  • 1 tablespoon canola or olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 large carrot, chopped (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1 orange bell pepper, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped or crushed
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 24.5- ounce box of strained tomatoes or (24-ounces canned tomato sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 cup green lentils, rinsed and sorted
  • 12 small whole-grain rolls, toasted (look for rolls about 120 calories)


  • In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Sauté the onions, carrots and bell pepper until softened, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the garlic, cumin, chili powder and tomato paste. Mix well.
  • Add the vegetable broth, strained tomatoes or tomato sauce, sriracha sauce, Dijon mustard and brown sugar. Mix well. Add the lentils.
  • Increase the heat to a boil. With the lid ajar, reduce the heat and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 45 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
  • Serve in a toasted bun.


I use a lot of tomato paste in my recipes because I really like the full-bodied, meaty flavor it provides. Look for it in a tube, so it lasts a long time in your refrigerator after opening. Feel free to substitute any other color bell pepper for the orange or red pepper specified.


Serving: 1/2 cup, 1 roll | Calories: 235kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 0.8g | Trans Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 0mg | Sodium: 470mg | Fiber: 7g

Healthy lentil sloppy joes

Want more lentil recipes? Try these:

Jill Weisenberger

I'm Jill, and I believe simple changes in your mindset and health habits can bring life-changing rewards. And I don't believe in willpower. It's waaaay overrated. As a food-loving registered dietitian nutritionist, certified diabetes care and education specialist and certified health and wellness coach, I've helped thousands of people solve their food and nutrition problems. If you're looking for a better way to master this whole healthy eating/healthy living thing or if you're trying to prevent or manage diabetes or heart problems, you'll find plenty of resources right here.

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  1. Patty Meyerson on July 17, 2018 at 1:41 pm

    I’m going to try this one tonight. Yum!

    • Jill Weisenberger on July 17, 2018 at 4:42 pm

      Hope you guys like it as much as we do. In our house, we call it sloppy Jill’s (so clever). I especially like it over a toasted slice of Dave’s Killer Bread.

  2. Regina on August 21, 2018 at 6:51 am

    I’m going to try this one tonight also!

    • Jill Weisenberger on August 21, 2018 at 9:29 am

      Yay! Hope you love it as much as I do.

  3. Jill's? Dobson on July 29, 2020 at 3:00 pm

    What lentils do you suggest for the sloppy jills?

    • Jill Weisenberger on July 29, 2020 at 3:34 pm

      I use green lentils. I’ve never tried the smaller French lentils, but I think they will work out too because they tend to hold their shape like the green ones.

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Jill Weisenberger

I believe simple changes in health habits can bring you life-changing rewards.

And I believe willpower is way overrated.

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