Sloppy Joes with Red Lentils

Sloppy Joes with red lentils

Apologies for the plain photo, but this is what real life looks like – W was hungry (OK, we all were), and to be honest I didn’t plan to share this until I got several requests on Instagram. People like sloppy lentils! It was a last minute, just-drove-home-from-Edmonton-and-rummaged-through-the-freezer dinner, with a small handful of red lentils thrown in to boost fibre and other good things. Dry split red lentils cook quickly and mask themselves perfectly, soaking up the sweet-vinegary flavours of sloppy Joe sauce – no one has a clue they’re there. (If you like, you could use canned brown lentils instead – they work just as well.)

You don’t need much to make a difference – a spoonful of lentils here and there adds up.

Sloppy Joes with Red Lentils


January 17, 2017


canola oil, for cooking

1 small onion, peeled and chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 - 1 1/2 lb. lean ground beef or bison

1-2 cups tomato sauce or diced tomatoes

1/3 cup ketchup

2 Tbsp. cider or red wine vinegar

2 Tbsp. brown sugar

1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup dry red lentils

Salt and pepper, to taste

4 soft buns, cheese buns, or biscuits


1Heat a drizzle of oil in a large pot set over medium-high heat and sauté the onion for 4-5 minutes, until soft. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the beef and cook for about 5 minutes, breaking it up as you cook, until the meat is no longer pink.

2Add the tomato sauce (more or less depending on how saucy you like it), ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the dry lentils and 1/4 cup of water, bring to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the lentils are soft and the sauce has thickened. Split the buns or biscuits in half and ladle the sloppy Joe mixture on top. Serves 4.


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8 comments on “Sloppy Joes with Red Lentils

  1. Mardi (eat. live. travel. write.)
    January 17, 2017 at 5:47 pm

    Hooray for unstyled “real life” food (though you certainly make it look pretty !). More of this type of thing, please!

    • Julie
      January 23, 2017 at 10:13 pm

      Will do Mardi! 🙂

  2. Linda
    January 18, 2017 at 6:37 am

    You just hit on a fabulous tip that I have used for many years. It is extremely easy to add lentils to any dish with hamburger – up the fiber and reduce the red meat. No one even notices them but the nutrition benefits are awesome with high soluble fiber and lower fat. Now I know why I like your site so much.

    • Julie
      January 23, 2017 at 10:14 pm

      Yess!! Related: I’ve turned into my dad.

  3. Karen
    January 26, 2017 at 6:35 pm

    Perfect dinner for hockey practice night! Cooked the meat and onions in the afternoon and mixed it all together in the slow cooker. After a few hours the lentils were mixed in nicely. First time I’ve used lentils like this and will definitely do it again. Everyone loved it!

    • Julie
      January 27, 2017 at 8:55 am

      That’s so great to hear!

  4. Melissa
    January 28, 2017 at 6:41 pm

    We made these and served them over the quick rise baguette. All I can say is YUM! This is the best thing I’ve eaten this year!

    I have had Sloppy Joe’s before and found them just okay. This recipe… wow, just WOW! My husband noticed the recipe over my shoulder and requested it, otherwise I would never have made it. It just became one of our favourites!

    Thanks so much!

    • Julie
      February 3, 2017 at 11:12 am

      That’s so great to hear! I do love the sweetness and vinegariness of it too!

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