Healthy Sloppy Joes

These fast and easy healthy Sloppy Joes are tangy, sweet, and savory all at once! The saucy -two-bean filling is a hit with kids and adults alike.

Healthy sloppy joes

Looking for a healthy dinner recipe that’s lightening fast and seriously satisfying? These healthy Sloppy Joes are a dinnertime savior around here. And they’re a hit with kids, adults, carnivores, and plant-eaters alike! The two-bean saucy filling is savory, tangy, and a little sweet. The secret? Kidney beans and pinto beans, sauteed onions, ketchup, and a whole bunch of savory spices. Our son Larson cannot get enough of them! Here’s how to make this fast and easy dinner recipe.

Why make these Sloppy Joes?

First of all: why make these healthy Sloppy Joes? If you’re looking to eat more plant-based foods, it’s the perfect way to satisfy a craving for the meat-based version of this comfort food. You don’t have to be vegan or vegetarian to enjoy it: this recipe is a great for eaters of all kinds who want to eat less meat and more plants.

There’s more and more research out about the benefits to your body and the environment of eating less meat. This New York Times article shows the difference in emissions of eating beef versus vegetables (scroll to the info graphic). Check out the impact of beef versus beans. So this one is great for

How to make healthy Sloppy Joes: the basic steps

These two-bean vegan Sloppy Joes are easy to make and come together in just 20 minutes. It’s the perfect easy weeknight dinner. Here are the basic steps for how to make them:

  • Saute minced onion and celery in olive oil for about 5 minutes.
  • Add pinto beans, kidney beans, ketchup, tomato sauce, Worcestershire, vinegar, chili powder, garlic powder, oregano, salt and pepper. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes until thickened.
  • Serve on a bun and enjoy!
healthy Sloppy Joes

Make it a meal!

The texture of these healthy Sloppy Joes isn’t quite like the meat version: beans are much different than meat! So you’ll need to prepare your eaters that it’s a different kind of Sloppy Joes: but just as tasty! If you’re looking for a sandwich with more of a meaty texture, try our Vegan Sloppy Joes instead.

For serving with these healthy Sloppy Joes, we suggest whipping up a batch of our easy vinegar coleslaw (pictured) or our best creamy coleslaw recipe. Or, here’s a collection of recipes we think would be fantastic side dish recipes to serve alongside:

More vegan kid friendly recipes

This Sloppy Joes recipe always goes over well with kiddos: we always know it will be a hit. If you’re looking for more vegan kid friendly recipes, head to 10 Top Vegan Recipes for Kids. We share our top 10 vegan recipes for kids like our creamy tomato soup, vegan chocolate chip cookies, and more!

This healthy Sloppy Joes recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, and dairy free. For gluten-free, use a gluten-free bun.

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Healthy Sloppy Joes

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (31 votes, average: 4.03 out of 5)

  • Author: a Couple Cooks
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x


These fast and easy healthy Sloppy Joes are tangy, sweet, and savory all at once! The saucy -two-bean filling is a hit with kids and adults alike.


  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 celery rib or green onion
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 15-ounce can kidney beans
  • 1 15-ounce can pinto beans
  • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup organic ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons vegan Worcestershire sauce (or this substitute)
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • Dash hot sauce


  1. Finely chop the onion and celery. In a skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and celery and saute until soft, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  2. Drain the beans. Add the kidney beans, pinto beans, tomato sauce, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, apple cider vinegar, chili powder, garlic powder, oregano, kosher salt, and black pepper to the skillet, and simmer for about 5 to 10 minutes until thickened. Taste, and adjust seasoning as desired.
  3. Serve on a toasted bun, with vinegar coleslaw or creamy coleslaw if desired.
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Healthy Sloppy Joes, Vegan Sloppy Joes, Vegan Sandwich Recipe, Sandwich Recipes, Healthy Dinner Ideas

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.


  • Reply
    Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar
    March 26, 2012 at 5:27 am

    This sounds absolutely fantastic! Awesome idea!

  • Reply
    Lindsay @ Pinch of Yum
    March 26, 2012 at 8:47 am

    Welcome home, you guys! :) I’m excited to read about your trip!

  • Reply
    Lisa in Indy
    March 26, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    Oh, sounds yummy, Sonja and Alex ! Bless your hearts – what a trip but so rewarding. Yes, share pics and wonderful stories!!!

  • Reply
    March 26, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    will you be posting that slaw recipe too? :) looks amazing

  • Reply
    Heidi @ Food Doodles
    March 26, 2012 at 6:53 pm

    Mmmm, I love this idea! I have made lentil sloppy joes in the past, but my husband wont touch lentils, so I can’t wait to try a bean version!

    • Reply
      March 28, 2012 at 8:42 pm

      Ooo, lentils sound like a good idea too! We’ll have to try that.

    • Reply
      June 17, 2014 at 7:44 pm

      I have tried lentils too but this texture is much better.

  • Reply
    Sara {Home is Where the Cookies Are}
    March 26, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    This looks fantastic! I love bean based meals like this, and so nice to have a quick comfort food adaptation. Thanks!

  • Reply
    March 27, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    Worcester isn’t vegetarian (fyi). I don’t know if you were going for that, but I think vegetarian when I see meatless. I’m going to definitely try this, sans worcester sauce.

    • Reply
      March 27, 2012 at 2:25 pm

      I guess it depends on your definition of vegetarian — but, I agree that with anchovies, Worcestershire is definitely not vegan. We eat meatless meals mostly for health and environmental reasons, so we don’t mind a small amount of fish in our diet.

    • Reply
      Lisa Marie
      June 20, 2012 at 9:05 pm

      You actually can buy vegan Worcestershire sauce.

  • Reply
    March 27, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    Hi, y’all!
    Love the website — and how much inspiration you’re providing me as a vegetarian newly transported to the Indy area. A quick note, though: Worcestershire sauce isn’t vegetarian. It has anchovies in it (unless you buy a specifically marked vegetarian brand).

    • Reply
      March 28, 2012 at 8:47 pm

      This is true! Since you weren’t the first to note this, I’ve added a note to the recipe.

      We’re not strict vegetarians – we just eat mainly meatless meals for environmental and sustainability reasons. So, occasional fish and local meat is part of our diet!

      Glad you enjoy the website – and glad to meet a fellow Indy resident!

  • Reply
    April 2, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    this is delicious! we ate it for dinner tonight and loved it! :-)

  • Reply
    Courtney Jones
    April 4, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    What a great idea :) Looks incredibly delicious! A great quick meal for a busy weeknight. I’ll have to try this soon!

  • Reply
    Kare @ Kitchen Treaty
    April 4, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    Yum, yum, yum. I’ve been toying with the idea of vegetarian sloppy joes recently. Looks like this would fit the bill perfectly.

  • Reply
    Laura F
    April 18, 2012 at 8:14 am

    Hello to my fellow nap-town residents! I made this for dinner last night and it was very good! My husband grew up eating Manwich and said it wasn’t quite as sweet as that, so I may add a little brown sugar next time. I think you could present this recipe as a type of thick chili soup, as well. We both decided this is definitely a “make again” recipe, so thanks!

    P.S. for vegetarians: I subbed tamari (soy) sauce for the Worcestershire sauce and it worked out just fine.

  • Reply
    April 18, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    Hey there! I have made so many of your recipes and I thought it was time for me to pop in and say how much we (my hubby, my 1 year old daughter, and I) love your creations. This one in particular was a HUGE hit! I will definitely be making this again!

    • Reply
      May 6, 2012 at 8:25 pm

      Thanks for leaving us this comment! We love to hear what recipes people are really enjoying!

  • Reply
    May 6, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    I enjoy reading your recipes, have made a couple of them and liked them. Any way you could includ
    e nitritional information (calories, protein, etc?)

    • Reply
      May 6, 2012 at 8:24 pm

      I’m glad you’ve enjoyed the recipes! We don’t like to focus too much on nutritional information, we feel sometimes it can be distracting from our focus on homemade food. Any time you are interested in the facts about one of our recipes, you can just coy and paste the ingredient list and number of servings into the calculator on this website: Thanks for commenting!

  • Reply
    May 23, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    This is a great recipe! I will definitely be trying this soon. Quick question – any reason why fresh garlic isn’t included?

    • Reply
      May 23, 2012 at 2:41 pm

      I don’t think we left it out for any particular reason, probably just to keep the prep as easy possible. Let us know if you try it!

  • Reply
    Vanessa Ann
    July 28, 2012 at 12:27 am

    Hi! Just made this & it’s amazing!!! Love the blog! It’s awesome;)

  • Reply
    Amanda R
    August 26, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    Hi! My husband and I have been big fans of your blog for a while. We recently switched from vegetarian to vegan, and I was so glad to see this recipe. We just made it and LOVED it! We did buy vegan Worcestershire sauce (brand: Annie’s naturals, found in the condiment aisle at Whole Foods). It was great. It is a little pricey for a small bottle, so if there are other vegans out there wanting to make this, it might be worth it to make a homemade version. I found this recipe – from Martha Stewart, oddly enough – but haven’t tried it (

    Thank you so much for the tasty recipe! Keep doin’ what you do.


  • Reply
    October 23, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    I just made this for supper, and I’m so impressed! It was perfect comfort food for a wet fall day. I just made a couple minor adjustments. Left out the Worchestershire, as I’m vegetarian, added some barbecue sauce for a little sweetness, and used balsamic vinegar because I didn’t realize I was out of apple cider vinegar. We ate it on whole wheat ciabatta rolls. It was real hit, and I’ll definitely make it again.

    • Reply
      October 24, 2012 at 8:39 pm

      Sounds delicious – the adjustments sound great! Thanks for the reminder on this recipe; we’ll have to make it again too! :)

  • Reply
    May 1, 2013 at 7:51 pm

    Definately sub the worcestire sauce for either soy or barbeque sauce. I like to sub the worcestire sauce for soy sauce and still add a bit of bbq sauce. YUM

  • Reply
    May 26, 2013 at 7:33 pm

    This recipe is delicious! We are making it again this week :)

  • Reply
    June 17, 2014 at 7:33 pm

    I made these last week and they are so good. I am a pescatarian so I do use the Worcestershire but either way this is amazing. Best “sloppy Joe” I have had since I quit meat over 3 years ago. Thank you for sharing!

  • Reply
    Maureen Hosey
    May 30, 2019 at 2:55 pm

    Have you cooked with, or made, seitan? I trust your recipes and I would want to use one of your seitan recipes if you had one. Thanks.

  • Reply
    July 21, 2020 at 9:41 pm

    Amazing – fast, delicious, and satisfying! I thought it was great on its own, but could see some carrot coins being a nice cool accompaniment.

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