The Best Vegetarian Sloppy Joes


I’ve never actually eaten a “real” Sloppy Joe. In the years before I stopped eating meat, they were never on our dinner table. I didn’t feel like I was missing anything because, honestly, their name and appearance kind of turned me off. But when a friend tells me that I absolutely have to try a recipe, I listen. And now I’m telling you, they may not look pretty but you absolutely have to try this recipe for Chickpea Sloppy Joes:
Squeaky Green Machine chickpea sloppy joe with tater tots

This vegan recipe comes by way of Lynne Rossetto Kasper of the Splendid Table, one of my favorite food celebrities who just happens to be local too! At first glance, it has a lot of ingredients, but most should be in the average pantry. And despite all of the ingredients, they’re ready in less than 30 minutes and are even better the second day. This filling is so good, I skipped the bun when I ate the leftovers which makes it gluten-free.

Here’s how I made them:


  • Two 15-ounce canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 medium red onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • One 15-ounce can unsalted, diced fire-roasted tomatoes, with liquid
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons tamari
  • 3 tablespoons sriracha
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Salt and black pepper to taste


  1. In a medium bowl, mash the chickpeas with a masher or fork into small chunks or shreds. Set aside.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large shallow saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until the onions are translucent and the garlic is fragrant. Add the bell pepper and mashed chickpeas; sauté about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, tamari, sriracha, maple syrup, oregano, cumin, paprika, thyme, salt, and pepper; simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes, until heated through and slightly thickened. If it sticks, add a little water to deglaze the pan and lower the heat a bit.
  3. Scoop the chickpea mixture onto buns, serve immediately.

Serves 6-8.

This recipe is originally from But I Could Never Go Vegan!: 125 Recipes That Prove You Can Live Without Cheese, It’s Not All Rabbit Food, and Your Friends Will Still Come Over Dinner by Kristy Turner.

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Heidi Van Heel

Heidi Van Heel

Writer, freelancer, and believer in magic living in Minneapolis. In my free time, I love reading, exploring the great outdoors, and experimenting in the kitchen.

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