Baked (Vegetarian) Sloppy Joes

Baked (Vegetarian) Sloppy Joes (via There are certain foods that I will probably always love because they were childhood staples, like: hot dogs, sloppy joes, and fudgsicles. Probably quite a few other things too, but I just listed the first three that came to mind. Now we really didn’t eat sloppy joes all that often at home. It was more of a school cafeteria food for me. 

Baked (Vegetarian) Sloppy Joes (via are a baked vegetarian version. I know, I’m really breaking all the sloppy-joe-rules here, aren’t I? But this is how I like it. Plus, this version features one of my favorite party tricks for making a bunch of slider-sized sandwiches at once. These are seriously easy (and fast) to throw together.

How to make vegetarian sloppy joes Baked (Vegetarian) Sloppy Joes, serves 6-8 with a side.

8 oz. tempeh
1 bell pepper
1 small onion (I used a shallot because I had some on hand)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1-2 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon cumin
salt + pepper
12 Hawaiian sweet rolls (or other small rolls you prefer)
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon sesame seeds (optional)

Finely chop the onion and bell pepper. Use a cheese grater to grate the tempeh so it resembles ground beef (sort of, similar size anyway).

Sauté the onion in a little olive oil over medium/low heat until it begins to caramelize (turn light brown and smell sweet). Toss in the bell pepper and continue to cook until it begins to soften.

How to make vegetarian sloppy joesWhile all that cooks, in a small mixing bowl combine the ketchup, tomato paste, cayenne, cumin, and a generous sprinkle of salt + pepper. Stir to combine. Thin the mixture so it flows easily, but is still quite thick, with some water.

Now in the pot with the onions and peppers, add the grated tempeh and the ketchup mixture. Stir so everything gets coated in the sauce well.

Baked (Vegetarian) Sloppy Joes (via Remove the rolls from the package and slice through the centers (you can do this while all the rolls are still connected). On an oven sheet place the bottom half of the rolls. Spread the sloppy joe batter in an even layer. Place the top half of the rolls on top. 

Melt a little butter in a small bowl. Whisk in the brown sugar. Use a kitchen brush to spread this over the tops of the rolls. Top with sesame seeds if using. Bake at 350°F for 10-12 minutes.

Vegetarian Sloppy Joes for a crowd!If you like, you could also add some thin sliced or grated cheese to the top of the sloppy joes before baking. Up to you. Enjoy! xo. Emma

Credits // Author and Photography: Emma Chapman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

  • I swear, anything served on Kings Hawaiian Rolls and I’M IN! I like to do BBQ Crockpot Vegan JackFruit sliders on them too:

  • To be honest I usually hear the word vegetarian and immediately turn away from it – especially when it’s a dish that usually contains meat – but this actually looks amazing! I might even put it on our dinner menu for this week! Now I just need to find some perfect soft rolls to use – I think I’ve seen similar ones at the store!

    The White Corner Creative

  • I just made this tonight and it is SO good.
    I’ve been wanting to scale back on my meat consumption, slowly working my way to becoming a vegetarian, and I’ve also really wanted to try tempeh. This gave me the perfect excuse to! Thanks for the recipe, Emma!

  • Don’t think my comment went through either……

    You should make a vegetarian tag to make it easy to find vegetarian options 🙂
    Cant wait for my next happy mail to come in.

    & possibly making this tonight!! YAY

  • How can say no to Hawaiian King? They are my favorite buns growing up! I love this vegetarian sloppy joe version, it’s gonna be a big hit for my best get together! Mahalo!

    Juju Sprinkles

  • AWESOME. Going to try it tonight! Also a VEGETARIAN tag would be very helpful so I could go through vegetarian recipes without searching through all of them 🙂 Thanks y’all are awesome, can’t wait for my next happy mail to get here!

  • Tempeh sloppy joes are my favorite – will need to try your recipe. I really appreciate you making vegan/plant-based recipes, Emma! xx

  • Its pure vegetarian, This looks soo yummy that i need it right now..Its look soo awesome that i can’t wait.

  • So I didn’t see where the tempeh was added…. I’ve never used it. I have to cook it? I’m wondering if I can just sauté it since I don’t have an oven. Especially cuz I’m going camping with my vegetarian brother this week and would love to cook it on the campstove and serve!

  • Yum yum! If I hadn’t just had dinner, I would make these now!

  • Thanks for sharing this! I am going to make these with friends for our upcoming classic 80s movie night. Eating sloppy joes while watching Pretty in Pink just feels right.

    Quick question – we do not have Hawaiian sweet rolls in Australia – are they like brioche buns? Alternatively, do you think it would work still adding the sweet glaze to the buns if they are just plain old white bread buns?


  • These look so good! Definitely going to try them. If I’m feeling in a sloppy joe mood, we usually make them with mashed chickpeas! Another great vegetarian alternative 🙂


  • I’ve been hunting for a good vegetarian version of sloppy joes for absolutely ages and I think my search has just come to and end. These look and sound delicious, I can’t wait to make them.

  • Can’t wait to try these! Thank you Emma for sharing delicious vegetarian recipes!! Please write a cookbook!!

  • Ugh, I guess my comment didn’t go through the first time. Just wanted to say this looks delicious.My daughter is a vegetarian so now I have a new dish to teach her how to make. Thanks, Emma 🙂

  • I make my vegetarian sloppy joes similarly, except I use barbeque sauce instead of tomato sauce (maybe that’s a weird southern thing? who knows)and I pan fry the tempeh and the onion together, though.

  • Vegetarian sloppy joes?!!! Is this too good to be true…I have to test out this recipe asap!

    Happy Thursday 🙂

  • This looks really delicious and seems to be great like some sort of “finger-food”.

  • Hi Sanjay! The (vegetarian) meat mixture needs to be baked before eating. 🙂 -Jacki

  • Just curious, why do you need to bake them? The rolls are already cooked, right?

    Could they not be arranged in the sheet of rolls and then eaten right away?

  • Homygosh, those look insanely yummy! Love the veg comfort food recipe. 🙂

  • Oh yes,
    i am in the way of “bikini operation” ha ha, that means, loose some weight for summer ; )

  • Yum!! I am a veg and really like peppers, too! 😉
    This recipe looks delicious, I will make it for lunch today, and I think I might add avocado!

  • These look amazing! We love sloppy joes in our house, so I’m sure they would be a huge hit!


  • who knew it could be like this? a man’s mans dish ~ all veggie’d up. i’m sold. thanks for sharing!

  • Super hungry now! These look so so good! Personally, I’m not a vegetarian, but I’d love to try this someday!


  • Yum! I’m not a pepper fan so I think I’m going to swap the pepper for some sweet potato. I like mushy food! / Creative blog for the future obsessed.

  • its still my dream to have a sloppy joe like they did in it takes two!
    ahhh! sooo yummy (looking!)
    but this looks good too and now i want some!

    thanks, ill try this out!

  • Yum! This is such a great idea to use a sheet of Hawaiian sweet rolls! I’ve only seen that with those ham and swiss sandwiches, but this takes it to a whole new level. I’m not a vegetarian, but I’m not really a fan of red meat, so I often like veggie burgers at restaurants better, anyway, and these look like a winner. Just don’t judge me if I add that melty cheese layer too. 🙂

  • This is so fun! I’ll definitely share this with my vegetarian friends 🙂

    Warm Regards,

  • These look really tasty – can’t wait to try on a hot summer night!

  • This looks so yummy! I can’t have red meat so I usually miss out on burgers, but definitely trying this one!!

    Jacqui | Effloresscyon

  • My husband is a vegetarian and I always need to come up with new recipes! This one he will LOVE!!

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