Vegetarian Lentil Sloppy Joe Lettuce Wraps

Vegetarian Lentil Sloppy Joe Lettuce wraps - simple, healthy, and delicious! |

While it seems like all I’ve posted for the last month is chicken recipes, I actually try to eat vegetarian dinners at least one or two nights a week. It’s healthy and cheap – the double whammy. Lentils, beans and eggs are huge staples for these vegetarian nights.

The best lentil dish I’ve ever tasted is “Lentils Like Baked Beans” from The Art of Living According to Joe Beef: A Cookbook of Sorts, a souvenir I brought back from Montreal last summer. Eating at Joe Beef was an experience – we ate so many unique and delicious things, including eel nuggets, a sweetbread and lobster dish, and a dessert that was supposed to look like a baked potato but was really a combination of crunchy meringue and melted chocolate.

Joe Beef in Montreal |
When I got home from Montreal and made that lentil dish at home, I fell in love. I knew I could adapt the recipe in endless ways, and that’s what I’ve done here. While the original Joe Beef recipe has a bit of bacon in it, these Lentil Sloppy Joes are 99% vegetarian (omit the Worcestershire for strict vegetarians), 100% simple, and are satisfying and filling, even for those who typically prefer meat.


Vegetarian Lentil Sloppy Joe Lettuce wraps - simple, healthy, and delicious! |

The lentils are simmered until they are tender, all the while being flavored with sweetness from brown sugar and tomato sauce, acidity from apple cider vinegar, saltiness from Worcestershire sauce, and a bit of kick from cayenne pepper and yellow mustard. Serve the lentils in crisp, cool lettuce leaves, on their own, or topped with a poached egg.

Vegetarian Lentil Sloppy Joe Lettuce wraps - simple, healthy, and delicious! |

Vegetarian Lentil Sloppy Joe Lettuce Wraps

Yield: 4 servings


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 red or green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup red lentils, rinsed and picked through
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 8 large iceburg lettuce leaves


  1. In a Dutch oven or large saucepot with lid, heat oil over medium heat. Add bell pepper; cook 4 to 5 minutes or until softened, stirring frequently. Add garlic, shallot and tomato paste; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  2. Stir in remaining ingredients, except lettuce. Heat to boiling over medium-high heat. Cover with lid, reduce heat to low and simmer 30 to 35 minutes or until lentils are tender, stirring occasionally. Remove bay leaf.
  3. Serve lentils wrapped in lettuce leaves.

Adapted from “Lentils Like Baked Beans” recipe in The Art of Living According to Joe Beef: A Cookbook of Sorts.

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  1. These look amazing! The almost look like buffalo chicken wraps, but they’re not, but I love that you used cayenne pepper to give it that spicyness still!


  2. These really sound good, I love the idea of using lettuce cups. You could feed an army for almost nothing. Really nice recipe.

  3. I love it! Fantastic and elegant, I cannot wait to serve these up :). I might make a double batch, I bet the leftovers are delicious, the spices would age well overnight.


    • Yes Meredith – they only get better the following day! I always make a big batch, and re-heat it throughout the week for lunches. It even works for breakfast with a fried egg on top 🙂

  4. These look wonderful. Can’t wait to try them.

  5. Thanks Tricia, I really hope you enjoy them!

  6. This looks delicious but Worcestershire sauce is not vegetarian. It has anchovies in it.

  7. i made this i followed the recipe for the most part , i add carrots and kate to boost the nutrition ,it was real good

  8. So glad you liked it, D! Love the additions of carrots and kale!

  9. hi,

    thanks for advocating Vegan recipes.  They are easy, cheap, healthy, yummy & nice.  Why wouldn’t people just do that instead of eating animals?  Anyway, does it have to be red lentils?  i have every other color.

    i had to look up shallot… & i actually have green onions right now!!  & i have Worcestershire, but didn’t know it had animals in it, so thanks for telling us!!!  i did find Martha Stewart has a homemade Vegan recipe and they sell it also at Trader Joes or the WWW.

    looking forward to these as we are Vegan and i was soooo surprised and SAD that Manwich has hydrogenated corn syrup in it, i do not buy garbage, so i was looking for a recipe.  because we all loved Manwich.

    • Hi Rhonda – Any kind of lentils work here. Enjoy! Hope these satisfy any sloppy joe cravings you might have 🙂

      • great dinner.  i used brown.  we try not to use oil or sugar.  i used 1 t brwn sugar & 1 tsp chili powder bcuz i was afraid it would be too spicy.  No oil, just sauteed in water.   (No bay leaf bcuz i didn’t have it.)

        i had them with tortilla chips & as a sandwich.  Very full.

        now putting leftovers away, they smell just like manwich…  so maybe make a day ahead?  Definetly double batch next time.

        Thanks Lori, for figuring this out & for writing this down for us!


  10. & i will def do kale & sweet potatoes dice in it next time.  i hear swt pots are a lot healthier than carrots.

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