You HAVE TO make these vegetarian Sloppy Joes tonight for dinner. They’re easy to make and the slaw adds a fresh and healthy crunch to the sandwich. A healthy twist on a game day or Friday night favorite that’s good for you and the planet.–Danny Seo


We get it, carrots aren’t everybody’s favorite orange vegetable. Danny Seo knows that too and suggests sweet potatoes and squash as great alternatives. Prepare them exactly the same way you would prepare the carrots and keep the cabbage for crunch.

A marble slab with 4 vegetarian sloppy Joe sliders.

Vegetarian Sloppy Joe Sliders

4 from 1 vote
When you make your own BBQ sauce—which is much easier than you might think—you can control the spice and sweetness level. Any leftover sauce can be stored in an airtight jar in the refrigerator to be used later.
David Leite
Servings12 sliders
Calories203 kcal
Prep Time25 minutes
Cook Time35 minutes
Total Time1 hour


For the carrot filling

  • 3 large (about 4 cups) carrots, peeled and spiralized or shredded
  • 1 (7 oz) yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 small (about 2 cups) purple cabbage, shredded
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

For the BBQ sauce

  • 1/4 cup store-bought or homemade tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup water

To serve


Make the carrot filling

  • Preheat oven to 450°F (230°C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Toss and massage each vegetable separately with salt and olive oil. Spread vegetables onto baking sheet, keeping them separate, and roast until beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Toss each section and cook until browned and reduced in volume, about 10 minutes more.

Make the BBQ sauce

  • In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine tomato paste, syrup, chipotle powder, garlic powder, vinegar, sea salt, and water.
  • Bring to a simmer and allow to gently bubble until thickened, 10 to 15 minutes.

Assemble the sliders

  • Split slider buns, then toast in the oven until lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Place roasted cabbage in a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine carrots and onions. Pour sauce over carrots and onions and toss until combined.
  • Place 1/4 cup carrot mixture on each bun and top with 1/4 cup roasted red cabbage. Serve warm.
Naturally, Delicious Dinners

Adapted From

Naturally, Delicious Dinners

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Serving: 1 servingCalories: 203 kcalCarbohydrates: 33 gProtein: 4 gFat: 6 gSaturated Fat: 1 gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1 gMonounsaturated Fat: 3 gSodium: 460 mgPotassium: 253 mgFiber: 4 gSugar: 11 gVitamin A: 3667 IUVitamin C: 29 mgCalcium: 71 mgIron: 2 mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2021 Danny Seo. Photo © 2021 Rikki Snyder. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Well, well, well… I must confess that I liked the idea of using veggies in a slider. I was pretty sure it wasn’t going to feel like BBQ but I had these freshly made lobster rolls that were just asking to be divided in two and made into slider buns.

As with any recipe that uses shredded veggies, there tends to be a volume versus weight discrepancy from cook to cook depending on the thickness of shredding and veggies used. This was true in this recipe. However, I didn’t find this impacted the taste or texture.

This BBQ sauce had all the expected flavours and was full of umami notes. There’s room for a bit more chipotle for those who prefer an extra bite of spice. The sauce with the sweetness of the carrots and the slight chewiness of the onions and cabbage really did have a “pulled veggie” feel. I used heirloom carrots in yellow, orange, and purple. Plain orange carrots are probably better for a more vibrant offering. I also advise against crowding the veggies during roasting for a more uniform roast and to prevent steaming. In my version, I mixed my bit of extra sauce in the cabbage. This provided a more glossy look without changing the texture or colour.

Well, there’s chipotle flavour, bbq sauce, pulled carrots texture, it’s a slider, and it’s sloppy…I’ll say, not only does it feel like bbq, it meets the expectations of its title, vegetarian sloppy Joe sliders!

These vegetarian sloppy Joe sliders were a fun vegetarian dinner idea but I felt the sauce needed more umami and smoky flavor that I was craving. I think adding mushrooms and some smoked paprika would help. Maybe cooking the BBQ sauce ahead of time and letting it sit might help the sauce to create more depth of flavor too.

About David Leite

David Leite has received three James Beard Awards for his writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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