Vegetarian Sloppy Joes

Back in the olden days of being a vegetarian not only did we have to walk uphill both ways to hippy school but we didn’t have things like Morningstar Farms or Amy’s. Being a vegetarian wasn’t about convenience! It was about combining beans and rice for every meal so your muscles didn’t atrophy. If you wanted a hamburger you had to make one out of tofu. These were tough times, people. Tough times.

But not anymore! Want a hamburger? There are like 30 vegetarian options to choose from! How about a breakfast sausage? There are 30 of those, too. Is this good? Well, I don’t know. It’s surely highly processed but for the occasional craving, I give in. For the day to day, I make my own seitan and am pretty adept at working tofu into something delicious. Moderation. It is key.

Enter Sloppy Joe — one of my favorites as a kid and Smart Ground makes it devilishly easy to whip up a batch without much fuss at all.

I once tried to mix canned sloppy joe sauce and fake burger crumbles together and HOLY SALT LICK! Woo-boy. That did not work. Did you ever try that? Makes me thirsty just thinking about it.

This recipe is a little bit grown up, but not so much so to be unrecognizable to the original. A little white wine, some Worcestershire sauce, a healthy amount of Cajun seasoning — they add a little something something without making it too fancy.

For Joe’s introduction to you, dear readers, I madeĀ  whole wheat buns. They look lovely. They tasted great. They were considerably more dense than expected, which is pretty much the story of all my whole wheat bread experiments. For a laugh, check out what they were supposed to look like: be in awe of the fluff. Yeah. Mine were not like that. Not at all. Need a door stop?

But the good news, they were kinda perfect for the hearty sloppy joe. They didn’t crush to nothing under the weight of the sauce. Add in a few slices of really sharp cheddar cheese and you’re all set.

I could write a whole post on whole wheat baking but that should probably wait until I have at least one light-as-air success to point to. That said, if you’ve mastered it and would like to pass along any tips that would make me (and my whole wheat flour) very happy.

Vegetarian Sloppy Joes


1 (12 oz) package of any brand veggie burger crumbles
1 cup diced onion (about 1 small-medium onion)
1 cup diced green pepper (about 1 pepper)
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup ketchup
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1/4 c. white wine
1-2 teaspoons vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
1 teaspoon dried oregano
a few pinches of black pepper


Heat olive oil in a medium to large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and green pepper. Cook about 3-5 minutes until softened, but not brown. Add in veggie crumbles. Cook together about 2 minutes. Mix will be dry.

Add in ketchup, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, Cajun seasoning and oregano. Mix together and cook until simmering. Create a space for the white wine to meet the pan (I moved the sloppy joe mix to the edges and created a “hole” in the middle). Add the white wine. It should start to boil quickly, once that happens, stir into the rest of the mix. This gets the alcohol out and leaves just the flavor.

Taste test! Add black pepper to taste. Perhaps more salt but it probably won’t need any. You can mess with the ketchup and tomato sauce ratio if you want it reeeeeally sloppy. Simmer for a few minutes to incorporate flavors. Then it’s ready to serve! I like it on a whole wheat bun with a slice of cheddar cheese.

This is a very adaptable recipe, add what you have on hand! I’ve added in carrots and other veggies with the peppers and onions with good results.


  1. Posted September 13, 2010 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    I LOVE sloppy joes. And I don’t understand why my husband isn’t dazzled by them as I am. These look great.

  2. altrooheather
    Posted September 14, 2010 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    Your husband clearly lacks the advanced palate needed to appreciate this delicacy.

  3. Posted September 13, 2010 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    I have been considering experimenting with vegetarian sloppy joes too(although being from Australia I have never actually eaten a real one :) !! add to the challenge somewhat! Your recipe looks and sounds so tasty and you made your own buns!! Way to go!!

  4. altrooheather
    Posted September 14, 2010 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    Please report back with your first tasting of a sloppy joe! Curious to know what folks think who didn’t grow up eating this stuff!

  5. Posted September 15, 2010 at 6:38 am | Permalink

    Man oh man I wish I lived where you live. I just very recently turned vegetarian and am having the hardest job finding even basic ingredients (I live in a medium sized city in New Zealand). We have one health food shop in town – they stock spicy tofu (only one flavour) and it is so expensive I am shocked. I haven’t found anywhere that stocks seitan yet. The supermarkets stock plain tofu only in the ‘foreign and exotic’ section. Our biggest supermarket stocks one brand of vegetarian patties. And the list goes on.

    However, my horizon has just brightened, because I love the look of those sloppy joes (I’ve never had any before – vegetarian or otherwise) AND I can get hold of all the ingredients. Yay. Sloppy Joes for tea tomorrow night.

  6. altrooheather
    Posted September 15, 2010 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    Hey Lynne! I hope you like these! Us Americans, especially ones raised in the Midwest, think they are delicious!

    Making seitan is kind of easy providing you can find vital wheat gluten flour. Maybe see if your health food shop stocks it or can order it? For tofu, if you happen upon some you can stock up – it freezes well! Freezing it changes the texture some but most people agree that it’s for the better.

    Let me know how you like the sloppy joes!

  7. Posted September 22, 2010 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    I love that smart burger but I have spent so much time not eating ground beef that I can’t remember what to make with it. Thanks for the reminder, so far I have only used it for tacos. I love sloppy joes, too bad my kids never liked them.

  8. altrooheather
    Posted September 22, 2010 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    I was the same way — kinda forget what people use the meaty stuff for. That’s good I think!

  9. Posted November 18, 2010 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    I tried this last night and we both loved the results. It’s a super easy recipe (good for me) and delivered all the Sloppy Joes goodness we’ve come to expect. Or, as Brangien would say “Sloppy Joes are neat!”

  10. altrooheather
    Posted November 20, 2010 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    That’s sooooo awesome! Hey, I heard Brangien telling the most wonderful story on NPR. It had me standing completely still in my hallway listening intently for the ending — which was wonderful. I became an instant fan. What a cool gal! Please pass along my adoration! She rocks! (As do you!)

    (and P.S. Sorry for the slow reply, I was sick and then started a new project. Whirlwind! I’m behind on everything!)

Post a Comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *