Seriously Sloppy Joes

I don’t think I’ve ever had an actual American sloppy joe, but they’ve always looked so appealing. Who doesn’t love ground beef slathered in sweet, ketchupy sauce, sandwiched in a nice, soft bun. Sounds pretty heavenly to me, minus the beef part.

While I did a little research into this recipe, I discovered that the real, classic American original uses just ketchup for the sauce. Ew. I couldn’t. So I developed a recipe that builds on a base of leftover pasta sauce, but with a sweet, complex flavour that will leave you seriously addicted. I also used this sandwich as an opportunity to hide lots of veggies where I wouldn’t taste them.

So, tie on your bibs and make sure you have plenty of napkins, because things are about to get real sloppy up in here.

The Recipe

  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 rib celery, diced
  • 1 small green pepper, diced
  • 1 package Yves original ground, or 1 package tempeh, or one can brown lentils, or protein of your choice. Ground beef substitute works best.
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce, or more soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 cup leftover pasta sauce (preferably homemade but I guess you can use the jarred variety at your own risk)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne (omit if you can’t handle spice)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • wilted spinach, optional
  • shredded dairy-free cheese, optional
  • 4 soft buns



  1. Heat a large skillet or cast iron Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, and the onion and carrot, with a pinch of salt, and sautéuntil onion is translucent, about 7 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic, celery, and green pepper and sauté for about 5 more minutes.
  3. Push the vegetables to the side, clearing a space to add the ground protein, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, red wine vinegar, and brown sugar. Sauté the protein in the sauces until sugar is dissolved and everything is well combined, about 2 minutes. Mix in to the vegetables.
  4. Pour in the mustard, ketchup, and pasta sauce and stir well to combine.
  5. Sprinkle in parsley, oregano, chili powder and cayenne and stir well to combine. Taste for seasoning and add more as needed.
  6. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook, covered for 10 minutes for flavours to meld together.
  7. Transfer Sloppy joe mixture to buns and top with shredded cheese and/or wilted spinach if desired.
  8. Enjoy! And don’t be afraid to get it all over your face and hands — they’re supposed to be sloppy. Though I don’t recommend making these on date night…

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