Tangy chickpeas, slow-cooked until thick and full of flavor, then piled on a buttery bun – that’s what we have in these chickpea sloppy joes. Basically, these chickpea and lentil sloppy joes are what would happen if BBQ cuisine met Sloppy Joes met the vegetarian diet … and it is a very good meeting indeed.

A close up of a vegetarian sloppy Joe with lentils and chickpeas inside a golden bun.

Table of Contents

The Story Behind the Recipe

Stormy weather has hit Washington state. Wind, rain, and no sign of letting up – in fact, quite the opposite. Eek! I am a storm wimp. When I was a kid, storms were just adventures, but now they’re only about 10% fascinating and 90% scary. I guess the older you get, the more you see, and then you realize that bad things actually can and do happen. At least that’s my theory.

Or maybe I’ve just become a class-A weenie with age.

Fall came fast here in the Pacific Northwest, and this storm has pretty much sealed the deal. I’m in full-on cozy-making mode, obsessing over plaid throws and sweater rugs and Crock Pot meals. Segue to these Slow Cooker BBQ Chickpea Sloppy Joes!

A top view of chickpea sloppy joes on white plates on a white background with a beer

Why You’ll Love these Chickpea Sloppy Joes

Readers say …
“I NEVER leave reviews on recipes but this is one of my favorite vegan meals of all time. So easy to make and so delicious. Thank you!”

– Mary Pat

First of all, these vegetarian sloppy joes might just be the easiest around! Dump some stuff in the slow cooker, cook it all day, come home and toast up some buns and serve it up.

With chickpeas and a few red lentils thrown in, they’re super hearty and full of protein. Oh AND of course they cook up in the slow cooker, so you know. Awesomesauce and all that. (For what it’s worth, that’s the first and last time I will use “awesomesauce.”)

A side by side collage of bbq chickpea sloppy dies in a crock pot. The first shows the mixture being stirred and the second shows a spoonful of the mix.

Chickpeas add “meatiness” and stick-to-the-ribbishness while the red lentils help thicken things up enough to pile it on. And with what’s basically a BBQ sauce base, these chickpea sloppy joes are tangy and just a little different. In a good way, I think.

A bbq chickpea sloppy Joe on a plate with an orange and beige striped napkin.

Ingredient Info

  • Chickpeas – I use two cans, which equates to three cups.
  • Split red lentils – I love the added protein split red lentils add, plus they break down while cooking, making these chickpea sloppy joes nice and thick and perfect for serving inside buns.
  • Onion & garlic – gotta have these for flavor!
  • Tomato sauce – Tomatoes are key in sloppy joes AND barbecue sauce so a must in this hybrid recipe!
  • Apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, vegan Worcestershire, dry mustard, crushed red pepper flakes – all powerhouse ingredients that give that unmistakably BBQ flavor.
  • Hamburger buns – brush them with olive oil and get them toasty. You won’t regret it!

How to Make These Vegetarian Sloppy Joes

Well, let’s just say if you’re looking for a chickpea sloppy Joe recipe with lots of prep steps and time, you’ve come to the wrong place.

Because you literally pour all of the ingredients into your slow cooker, except for the buns. Once the filling has cooked, grab a potato masher and mash it a bit. Stir, cook a bit longer, toast up some buns, and serve. That’s it!

What to Serve with Chickpea Sloppy Joes

I love a nice hearty kale salad with sloppy joes, or some oven-roasted potatoes. Both great! Vegetable fries are great alongside too. I have ones made with sweet potatoes, butternut squash, carrots, green beans, or zucchini – take your pick!

Can You Freeze These Vegetarian Sloppy Joes?

Chickpea sloppy joes are a great freezer recipe! You can freeze the cooked filling in a freezer bag for up to three months. Reheat in the microwave, over the stovetop, or even in the slow cooker with a splash of water. I’ve also assembled the raw ingredients in a freezer bag for a future Crock Pot meal – my favorite way to meal prep! Just let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then add to the Crock Pot in the morning. Dinner’s ready that evening!

Slow Cooker BBQ Chickpea Sloppy Joes recipe
4.86 from 7 votes

Slow Cooker BBQ Chickpea Sloppy Joes

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 8 hours
Total: 8 hours 10 minutes
Author: Kare
Tangy, hearty, and easy! Chickpeas and red lentils cook up thick and rich in a tomato-BBQ base.


For the BBQ Chickpea Sloppy Joe filling:

  • 2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained
  • 1/2 cup uncooked split red lentils (rinsed)
  • 1 small onion (diced (about 1 cup))
  • 3 medium cloves garlic (diced (about 1 tablespoon))
  • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons vegan Worcestershire sauce (can use regular Worcestershire if not vegetarian or vegan)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon red crushed pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt + more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper + more to taste

For the buns:

  • 4 hamburger buns*
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil

Toppings (optional):

  • Sliced red onion
  • Dill pickles or sweet pickles


  • Add all ingredients to the slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 hours or on high 5-6 hours, until the lentils are cooked through and the mixture thickens. Open the slow cooker and, using a potato masher, mash about 1/3 of the filling. Give it a good stir, replace the lid, and let it cook for another 30 minutes or so until thickened.
  • Meanwhile, toast the buns. Brush insides with olive oil and place cut-side-up under the broiler in your oven. Broil 30 – 60 seconds until golden.
  • Place buns on plate and spoon filling over the top. Add toppings if desired. Serve.
  • Leftover filling keeps well in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.


Gluten-free option:

Use gluten-free buns or you can go the bunless route – the filling is also great over brown rice or spaghetti squash.

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