In partnership withCalifornia Walnuts

Recipe: Walnut and Cauliflower Sloppy Joes

published Feb 3, 2020
Walnut and Cauliflower Sloppy Joes
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Credit: Creative Studio

When you think of vegetarian dinners, you probably don’t think of sloppy joes. But this recipe features a great stand-in for ground meat that packs plenty of protein: a mixture of savory California walnuts and chopped cauliflower. Simmered together in the signature thick, sweet sloppy joe sauce, it’s ready to be spooned into soft hamburger buns and topped with some pickle slices in just a few short minutes for lunch or dinner.

Walnut and Cauliflower Sloppy Joes

To mimic the texture of ground beef, start by finely chopping up some California walnuts and then coarsely chopping some cauliflower. As the walnuts and cauliflower cook together, they soften a bit and get a slightly chewy texture while absorbing all of that tasty sauce.

Credit: Creative Studio

Skip the Canned Sloppy Joe Sauce

If you have a well-stocked pantry, you can make sloppy joe sauce that’s better than anything that comes in a can. All you have to remember is that it’s a balance of flavors: vegan Worcestershire, ground mustard, and garlic powder for some savory notes; tomato sauce and ketchup for zingy flavors and a saucy texture; and brown sugar for sweetness. Making it is truly as easy as raiding the pantry and refrigerator.

Credit: Creative Studio

Walnut and Cauliflower Sloppy Joes

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 12 minutes to 16 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info


  • 1

    small yellow onion

  • 1/2

    medium red bell pepper

  • 1 cup

    California walnut halves (4 ounces)

  • 1/2 head

    cauliflower (about 1 pound)

  • 1 teaspoon

    vegetable oil

  • 1 teaspoon

    ground mustard

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    garlic powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1 (15-ounce) can

    tomato sauce

  • 1/4 cup


  • 2 tablespoons

    packed dark or light brown sugar

  • 1 teaspoon

    vegan Worcestershire sauce

  • 4

    hamburger buns

  • 12

    dill pickle slices


  1. Finely chop 1 small onion and 1/2 medium red bell pepper, and place together in a bowl. Finely chop 1 cup walnut halves. Coarsely chop 1/2 head cauliflower (about 1 pound) until it resembles cooked and crumbled ground beef, but not so fine as riced cauliflower.

  2. Heat 1 teaspoon vegetable oil in a Dutch oven or large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook until soft and beginning to brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the cauliflower and cook until tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in 1 teaspoon ground mustard, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1 can tomato sauce, 1/4 cup ketchup, 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar, 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, and the walnuts. Cook until the sauce is slightly thickened and bubbling, 4 to 6 minutes.

  3. Divide the sloppy joes between 4 hamburger buns and top each sandwich with 3 dill pickle slices.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days.