This classic messy sandwich gets a meatless makeover and a Mexican flavored twist. Top off these Healthy Sloppy Joes with guacamole and serve them with a side of chips. An easy weeknight meal the whole family will love!
It’s like my classic Vegan Sloppy Joes and my easy Vegan Burrito Bowls coming together in a saucy, sloppy sandwich. Or maybe it’s like my Sloppy Joe Casserole minus the cornbread crust and piled high on burger buns. Either way you look at it, you won’t be able to resist these delicious, flavorful, Mexican-inspired Sloppy Joe sandwiches. Grab a pitcher of margaritas and dig in!
Ingredients you need
Traditional homemade sloppy joe recipes are made with ground beef in a seasoned tomato sauce. This healthy sloppy joe recipe uses black beans and pinto beans for a plant based protein punch.
Bell peppers, jalapeño peppers, and corn bring flavor and texture and a delicious Mexican vibe, not to mention vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Substitutions / Adaptations
Protein ~ Any kind of bean will work, like white beans, kidney beans, or chickpeas. If you don’t have canned, you could cook your own from dried beans. You could also use diced bake tofu or crumbled tempeh.
Veggies ~ Any color of bell pepper will work. If you don’t like peppers, diced corn or zucchini would be good options.
Corn ~ Canned, frozen, or fresh will work. If you don’t like corn or can’t have it, feel free to leave it out or add other veggies instead.
Heat ~ Jalapeño peppers bring a medium heat. If you like things spicier, feel free to use a hotter pepper, like a hot chili pepper or a habanero. You could also go milder with a poblano or a can of diced green chiles.
Mexican BBQ sauce
Store bought canned sauce is popular, but not very healthy as it contains high fructose corn syrup and other questionable ingredients that aren’t stocked in most home pantries.
Homemade is always best and it allows us to add other flavors and make the recipe our own. For this version I use jarred salsa and southwest flavors to create a Mexican BBQ sauce that pairs perfectly with the beans, peppers, and corn in this recipe.
How to serve
These healthy Sloppy Joes are perfect with a big dollop of guacamole on top and a few extra slices of jalapeño. Tortilla chips on the side complete the meal.
If you like things cheesy, drizzle some vegan queso on top.
More sides to serve with these sandwiches: potato salad, corn salad, kale salad, or sweet potato fries.
Pro tips for success
~ Be sure drain the canned beans and rinse them well.
~ If you’re using canned corn, be sure to drain that well, also.
~ Use a salsa with lots of flavor and a bit of heat. After being mixed with all the ingredients, it will mellow out a bit, so start bold.
~ Speaking of heat, if you’re serving this to kids, be sure to take the ribs and seeds out of the jalapeño. They probably won’t enjoy biting in to one of those.
More Mexican-inspired vegan recipes
- Mexican Bean Dip
- Vegan Taco Salad
- Vegan Taco Chili
- Black Bean Enchiladas
- Tortilla Rollups
- Baked Vegan Tacos
I hope you love this recipe as much as we do! If you tried it, please use the rating system in the recipe card and leave a comment below with your feedback.
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For even more easy family recipes, be sure to check out my cookbook, The Meatless Monday Family Cookbook!
Healthy Sloppy Joes
Mexican BBQ Sauce
- 12 ounces salsa (or 1 ¼ cups), your favorite
- Juice of 2 limes
- ¼ cup coconut sugar or brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- Salt/pepper to taste
Healthy Sloppy Joes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ of a red onion diced
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- ¼ cup water divided, for sauteing
- 1 red bell pepper diced
- 1 jalapeño pepper ribs and seeds removed, diced
- 1 ½ cups cooked black beans or 1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 ½ cups cooked pinto beans or 1 15 oz can, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup corn kernels fresh, frozen, or canned
- 2-3 tablespoons chopped cilantro or to taste
- 6 burger buns gluten free if desired
- Extra jalapeño sliced
- Whisk all the ingredients for the Mexican BBQ Sauce in a medium bowl until well combined. Set aside.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and sauté the red onion for 3 to 4 min until softened. Add the garlic and sauté another minute.
- Add the red bell pepper and jalapeño and sauté 3 to 4 minutes.
- Pour the Mexican BBQ Sauce into the pan and simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Add the pinto beans, black beans, and corn and stir to combine. Simmer another 5 minutes to heat through.
- Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary or add salt/pepper to your liking.
- Add the chopped cilantro and stir.
- Serve hot on burger buns with guacamole and extra jalapeño slices, if desired.
Nutrition values are calculated using online calculators and are estimates only. Please verify using your own data.
The recipe arrived in my “inbox” at 5 am I had them made by 6 am. I took them to work and treated my co workers to lunch, they were yum yum YUMMY!!! I did not have pinto beans so substituted kidney beans. The salsa I used had mango thertfore I did not add the sugar. Served in a soft tortilla wrap with lettuce and guacamole instead of a slider bun. Served as a taco salad on bed of romaine for lunch the second day. Will definitely add this recipe to my lunch/dinner “rotation”
Jenn S. says
Wow, Mary, you are fast! I love it!! So glad you loved them and how lucky your coworkers are!! Love the idea of turning it into a taco salad too! Thanks so much for your feedback!
Sus roughmeasures says
Love this recipe, it’s been too long since I have had a good sloppy joe!
Jenn S. says
Thank you, Sus! It’s so comforting to have food that reminds me of my childhood from time to time. 🙂
Becca Amuse Your Bouche says
Sloppy Joes aren’t really a ‘thing’ in the UK but I would love these – I love the Mexican twist!