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Foodie Recipe: Vegan Sloppy Joes

Even carnivore cooks will like the no-fuss prep for this satisfying meatless twist on a childhood favorite.

Will Holmes Recipe: Vegan Sloppy Joes

(Editor’s note: Switch out half a cup of ketchup for part of the tomato sauce for tangier, more traditional sloppy joes, and add a little hot sauce for kick if you want. This recipe is just as welcome on a bowl of spaghetti or a baked potato as on a toasted bun.)


  • 1 ½ cups textured vegetable protein (TVP), available at Good Earth or at most major supermarkets
  • 1 ½ cup boiling water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large green pepper, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 2 ½ cups tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
  • Freshly ground black better (to taste)


  • Place TVP in a medium bowl and add boiling water. Mix lightly with a fork and let stand for at least 10 minutes while preparing other ingredients.
  • Heat olive oil in a large saucepan or wide sauté pan set over medium-high heat. Add onion and green pepper and a pinch of salt to the pan. Sauté until vegetables are translucent and just beginning to brown, 6-7 minutes. Add garlic, and cook for one minute.
  • Add remaining ingredients, including TVP, and stir to incorporate. Reduce heat and simmer for about twenty minutes or until desired consistency.
  • Serve warm on toasted hamburger buns and garnish with your favorite toppings, if desired.

A graduate of IU’s Master of Fine Arts program in creative writing, Terry Kirts hails from a town in Illinois so small it didn’t have a restaurant until he was in the 8th grade. Since 2000, he’s more than made up for the dearth of eateries in his childhood, logging hundreds of meals as the dining critic for WHERE Indianapolis, Indianapolis Woman, and NUVO before joining Indianapolis Monthly as a contributing editor in 2007. A senior lecturer in creative writing at IUPUI, Terry has published his poetry and creative nonfiction in a number of literary journals and anthologies, including Gastronomica, Alimentum, and Home Again: Essays and Memoirs from Indiana, and he’s the author of the poetry collection To the Refrigerator Gods, published by Seven Kitchens Press in 2011.