Easy Homemade Sloppy Joes Recipe

40 Reviews / 4.9 Average
I've loaded these Sloppy Joes with vegetables for a healthier version of an old classic dinner recipe. Paired with a whole-wheat bun, the whole family will enjoy these—mine sure did!
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Homemade Sloppy Joes from 100 Days of Real Food

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My poor daughter recently said to me, “Mom I keep reading all these books that talk about Sloppy Joes, and I’ve never had it before. Can you please make some so I can finally try it like everyone else??” Gosh, she is so deprived!

Seriously though, if that’s her biggest problem this week I will gladly take it. Not to mention it was a “problem” easily solved with this recipe below. And just for the record, both kids went back for seconds. I hope your family enjoys this dish as much as mine did! :)

Healthier Sloppy Joes made from Real Food Ingredients

I love making homemade, healthier versions of old recipes, and these Sloppy Joes are no exception because they are completely from scratch! Even if you aren’t into real food, these Sloppy Joes are honestly just delicious. Plus I love that it’s a guilt-free “fun” meal that both kids and adults will enjoy.

Recipe ingredients:

The main ingredient in Sloppy Joes is ground beef, and I recommend you opt for organic or at least grass-fed beef if available.

I also added carrot, celery, and onion to the mixture—the celery adds crunch and the carrot is great for sweetness. It also means we’re getting some veggies in each Sloppy Joe slider!

Plain canned tomato sauce, honey, and apple cider vinegar make up the sauce. Finally, you’ll need some garlic, chili powder, yellow mustard, salt, and pepper for the seasoning. I also added cinnamon to my Sloppy Joe recipe because it reminds me of how it used to taste when I was a child, but that’s optional depending on your preference.

Why aren’t these Sloppy Joes made with ketchup?

Have you seen the ingredients in ketchup? Each tablespoon has 4 grams of sugar, which usually comes from high fructose corn syrup. The tomato sauce in this Sloppy Joe recipe replaces the tomato sauce in the ketchup, and instead of refined sugar I used a small amount of honey and also carrots for natural sweetness.

Ketchup can also be expensive so this helps keep this recipe budget friendly, too.

Can you make Sloppy Joes with ground turkey instead of beef?

Absolutely! You can definitely substitute ground turkey for ground beef in this recipe. Since it’s cooked in such a flavorful sauce anyway you probably won’t even notice the difference, unlike other recipes.

Ground turkey tends to be a bit drier than ground beef, but there are a few ways you can deal with that.

The first is to add a bit more oil into your pan when you fry the meat and veggies. If you’re choosing ground turkey in Sloppy Joes because it’s leaner, though, that’s not a great option. In that case, try to keep as much of the juices in while you cook – keeping the lid on helps.

Second, you can quickly brown the meat in your pan (follow the recipe) and let the turkey finish cooking in the sauce. Adjust cooking time, if necessary.

Finally, if your turkey Sloppy Joes are still dry you can always increase the sauce!

How to make these homemade Sloppy Joes into a crock pot recipe

I didn’t make my Sloppy Joes recipe in a slow cooker, but I think a crock pot would be a great way to turn this into an even easier weeknight meal or as party food.

To adapt these Sloppy Joes for the crock pot, first fry the ground beef, garlic, and onion together in a skillet on the stove. Drain the fat, then add the cooked meat to your slow cooker. Then toss in all other recipe ingredients, including the diced carrots and celery, and mix it well.

Cook on high for 2-3 hours or low for 4-6 hours.

Tip: Try and stir a few times while it cooks. If you find the sauce is too thick, you can add ¼ cup of water or stock to thin it out.

What should I serve this recipe on?

We used whole wheat slider buns for our Sloppy Joes and it was delicious, but you can put them on any bread you have on hand—or make some homemade buns or rolls for a completely “from scratch” meal. You could also serve them with bibb lettuce so they can be eaten as lettuce wraps!

I recommend waiting to assemble the Sloppy Joes until just before you plan to eat, otherwise the sauce will make the bun soggy.

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Recipe Rating

  1. Hi! I’m wondering if the nutrition info includes the bun? Or would we figure that in separately? Thanks so much – this was delicious and enjoyed by both grownups and the kiddo!

  2. This is by far one my FAVORITE recipes. I like it so much that I make it about once per week. I will usually double the recipe and after dinner (I usually toast cheese like a nice smoked Gouda or extra sharp cheddar or a havarti etc) with sweet and spicy pickles on whole grain buns and just put the rest in a container. Then I eat the rest right out of the container, cold over the next couple of days. I have been following 100 Days of Real Food since the beginning, I think ….ever since I was a young mother and competitive body builder/fitness swimwear model. Now my girls are all grown up, I’m a grandmother, and while I no longer compete I still eat clean and am as active as I can be. I like to kayak and hike regularly and have a very active lifestyle. I am SO THANKFUL for this blog and all of the wonderful recipes, though honestly, I believe this is the first time I’ve acknowledged this publicly. Thank you so much Mrs Leake!!!

  3. This senior citizen grew up eating Sloppy Joes but my mother used both red & green diced peppers instead of other veggies. Oven fries & slaw was always served with this.

  4. 5 stars
    We love these. It’s a meal we make regularly because everyone in the family likes it. We’ve also brought it to family events when we need to share a dish, and people really like it.

  5. 5 stars
    I can not praise this simple recipe highly enough. It was uhMAYzing. I’ve been eating/cooking clean for 30 years now so I’m always on the hunt for recipes that do NOT include processed chemical-laden garbage. I confess that I did leave out the diced carrots because they just didn’t seem to belong in sloppy joe to me. (I made oven-roasted carrots sticks as an accompaniment.) Served this on toasted David’s whole grain hamburger buns with melted smoked provolone cheese and OMG = heaven. Also served it up the next am topped off with a sunnyside up egg and sweet/spicy pickles, also served on toasted Dave’s buns with melted smoked provolone cheese. Can you say LOVE?!?!

  6. 5 stars
    I followed directions exactly except had to purée veggies as some ppl think they don’t like them. Next time I will add puréed red or green pepper. I didn’t think we would like it much with the cinnamon but it was delicious, even my very picky brother liked it.

  7. 5 stars
    11/21/2020 — I will give this one five stars because my 65-year-old, picky-toddler of a husband ate it and said he “thoroughly enjoyed it.”

    He’s been struck with rheumatoid arthritis. His jaw, along with multiple other joints, have been aching very badly. It’s been EXTREMELY difficult to feed him his “slab o’ meat” for dinner because he can’t chew it! He suggested sloppy joes. I went on the hunt for a recipe that DID NOT include multiple cups of ketchup. Finding this recipe was a blessing.

    And there’s vegetables in it! To get this old fart to eat vegetables is … nigh unto impossible. This recipe does not include bell peppers or Worcestershire sauce, which is another thing that attracted my attention. They upset his stomach and/or give him heartburn.

    I was short a little ground beef. Had a 13 ounce package in the freezer. I added 3 ounces of prepared, canned beans. Had to puree them into the tomato sauce so he couldn’t see them.

    Yes, he IS a delicate flower. {rolling eyes so hard} Feeding him all these years has been a challenge.

    And there’s honey in it instead of sugar!

    On top of all that, it tastes good! Thank you so much!`

    1. I don’t think that I have EVER read a review that I enjoyed so thoroughly! LOL

      I loved this recipe as well (I have been eating/cooking clean for over 30 years now). Thanks for the suggestion of using beans as a supplement to the meat. I’m wondering if doing this will somehow fortify the taste if using ground chicken or beef?

  8. 5 stars
    We love these! But my family will not do chunks of veggies easily ;) so we puree cooked carrot or use one 4 oz container of baby food carrots and we add it when we add the tomato sauce. Just a tip in case anyone needs it ;)

  9. We’ve loved this recipe for a while, but I am gluten free now. Made it last night and served it over butternut squash ‘rice’ – it was delicious!

  10. Hey what’s all this new age talk about while grain and wheat not made for human consumption. I am that our digestive systems were not made to eat grains because we do not have 4 stomachs to digest it properly. Am I getting this confused. Please help me with some clarity on this issues. The reason I ask is because I see your an advocate of whole grain/ whole wheat buns and breads

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi there. Yes, Lisa’s family enjoys wheat and other 100% whole grains and sees no reason to avoid them unless you have a sensitivity or intolerance for them.

      1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

        Hi there. Lisa often buys buns from Great Harvest Bread Company. You can also find Ezeikial buns in the frozen breads section of most stores.