Healthy Sloppy Joes ready in 20 to 30 minutes using ingredients you likely already have on hand! Serve it up on your bun of choice with any toppings like cheese, pickled onions, coleslaw, and more.
Oh, the Sloppy Joe.
Are they a household favorite, an every once in a while treat, or a state of being?
Sloppy Joes are undoubtedly one of those dividing foods.
Some people love them, some people can’t stand them, and just like every story has three sides, the reality of whether or not a Sloppy Joe deserves praise is case dependent.
For me, these Healthy Sloppy Joes are everything you want in a mess of a sandwich. It’s an easy dinner that will surely become one of your family’s favorite recipes.
They’re saucy, meaty, amazing when contrasted with a toasted bun, are a beautiful display of every type of flavor, and pose plenty of opportunity for customization.
What is a Sloppy Joe?:
Sloppy Joes consist of browned ground beef with a delightful sweet and savory sauce, reminiscent of a cross between tomato based pasta sauce and barbecue sauce, served up on a toasted bun.
Legend has it, Classic Sloppy Joes cam from a café in Iowa, where the head cook who was named Joe used to mix up “loose meat” with tomato sauce and form loose meat sandwiches out of it.
The sweet and savory flavors get rave reviews from the sloppy joe fan, a true recipe for deliciousness.
Some folks serve Sloppy Joes with sliced cheese similar to a burger for some melted cheese action. Some add coleslaw, others add pickles.
There aren’t any hard and fast rules to the Sloppy Joe other than it needs to be sloppy (in other words: saucy).
Sloppy Joes Ingredients:
For the meat: Avocado oil (or olive oil), a pound of ground beef, onion, red bell pepper, and garlic.
I use grass-fed 90% lean ground beef to keep the fat content relatively low, but you can go with your favorite ground beef or ground turkey.
You can also use green bell pepper instead of red, add chili powder, red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper for some heat, onion powder, hot sauce, a little brown sugar, or garlic powder to this great recipe.
For the Sloppy Joe Sauce: Unsweetened ketchup, unsweetened BBQ sauce, Worcestershire sauce, yellow mustard, black pepper and sea salt. You can also add apple cider vinegar, rice vinegar, or soy sauce.
The key to keeping this meal on the health-conscious side of the spectrum is using ketchup and BBQ sauce without any added sugar. I use Primal Kitchen Unsweetened Ketchup and Primal Kitchen BBQ Sauce which is also unsweetened.
Both sauces have the perfect level of natural sweetness, plenty of bold flavor and tang to ensure you’re getting that iconic Sloppy Joes flavor, but feel free to go with your favorite bbq sauce and ketchup.
All of the sloppy joe filling ingredients cooked together results in that sweet, sour, tangy essence that makes a Sloppy Joe so irresistible.
To Serve: Buns! All you need are buns for serving this messy manwich. I use gluten-free buns, which I toast before loading them up.
That’s the rundown on the simple ingredients list. Now let’s make this easy Sloppy Joe recipe!
How to Make Sloppy Joes:
Add all of the ingredients for the sauce to a small bowl or measuring cup and stir until combined.
Heat the avocado oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add the onion. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until the onion has softened, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Stir in the bell pepper and garlic and continue cooking for another 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Scoot the vegetables off to the side and place the ground beef in the center of the skillet to allow it to brown for a few minutes before flipping. Again, allow the meat to brown before using a spatula to break it up into smaller pieces.
Pour the sauce into the skillet and stir well. Continue cooking until the sauce is very thick and the beef has cooked through.
Spoon the meat mixture on your choice of toasted bun with added condiments or extras such as cheese, pickles, coleslaw, etc.
Note: You can enhance the flavors of the best sloppy joes recipe by preparing it in your slow cooker.
What to Serve With Sloppy Joes:
Potato chips or a side salad are customary side dishes for Sloppy Joes, but here are some of my personal favorites.
- Mayo-Free Coleslaw
- Caramelized Cabbage With Bacon
- Italian Pasta Salad
- Mayo-Free Macaroni Salad
- Germany-Style Potato Salad with Caramelized Onions
- Crispy Sweet Potato Fries
Store any leftovers for these sloppy joe sandwiches in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.
And that’s it! I hope you put this easy homemade Sloppy Joe recipe on regular rotation!
Healthy Sloppy Joes
- 1 Tbsp avocado oil
- 1 small yellow onion finely chopped
- 1 red bell pepper chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 pound lean ground beef or ground turkey I use 90% ground beef
- ½ cup unsweetened ketchup
- ¼ cup unsweetened BBQ sauce
- 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp yellow mustard optional
- Sea salt and black pepper to taste
- Add all of the ingredients for the sauce to a small bowl or measuring cup and stir until combined.
- Heat the avocado oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the onion. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until the onion has softened, about 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the bell pepper and garlic and continue cooking for another 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Scoot the vegetables off to the side and place the ground beef in the center of the skillet to allow it to brown for a few minutes before flipping.
- Allow the meat to brown on the other side for a minute or two before using a spatula to break it up into smaller pieces.
- Pour the sauce into the skillet and stir well. Continue cooking until the sauce is very thick and the beef has cooked through.
- Serve Sloppy Joes on your choice of toasted bun with added condiments or extras such as cheese, pickles, coleslaw, etc.