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Quick and Easy Homemade Sloppy Joes

Updated on October 24, 2019
StephanieBCrosby profile image

Stephanie Bradberry is an educator herbalist, naturopath, and energy healer. She loves being a freelance writer and whipping up recipes.

Sloppy Joe
Sloppy Joe | Source

Why buy pre-made sloppy joes or a sloppy joe seasoning mix when you can easily have a better tasting one made fresh? Following is a recipe that works for a traditional meat like beef. But the great part is the recipe is so simple that it works for low-fat and low-calorie meats. Back when I was still eating meat, I usually made sloppy joes with turkey meat. But I soon branched out into rabbit, lamb and bison.

Since some people are concerned about calories and the like, below (in parentheses) are the types of ingredients or possible substitutions I would recommend. The best way to know what is the best combination for you is to try out as many versions as possible!

The best thing about the sloppy joe recipe I created is that is it quick, easy, has very few ingredients, tastes great and is a crowd pleasure for the family. You can easily mix things up with the addition of fresh or dried herbs and different types of rolls or slices of bread.


  • 1 tsp oil (olive oil or canola)
  • 1 pound ground meat (turkey or buffalo)
  • 1 sweet onion (Vidalia or Spanish)
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • ¾ cup ketchup
  • 3 tsp brown sugar (Demerara)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Hamburger buns or bread (Gluten-free)


1. Heat oil in a frying pan on medium high heat.

2. Brown the meat.

3. If using a fatty meat, be sure to drain off extra oil so your final product is not too oily.

4. Chop and add the onion.

5. Add garlic powder, mustard, ketchup, brown sugar, salt and pepper.

6. Stir until well combined and the sauce thickens slightly.

7. Serve on hamburger buns or slices of bread.

8. Enjoy!

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Simple Sides

So now you have fabulous homemade sloppy joes that you and your family loves. Now it is time to turn our attention to the possible sides to complement your sloppy joes.

One of the first obvious choices, and an easy go-to, is chips. But before you scroll past this option, consider all the possibilities. If you have already made this a healthier meal by using an alternative meat or used a vegetarian or vegan option, then your chip choice might be different too. Yes, potatoes are considered vegetarian and vegan. However, not all chips are created equal. Some contain a lot of sodium, "bad" fats, and loads of sugar. So be sure to read the label before picking up your standard chip fare.

The other consideration for chips revolves around the actual type of chip. For example, you might not pick an actual potatoe based chip at all. Maybe you will change things up by picking popcorn or lentil chips. There are some many new and unique options available now. Try switching things up by going for pita chips, tortilla chips or even pretzels. The best part is you can even keep your sloppy joe meal gluten free, vegan, non-GMO and more by reading labels and seeking out the alternatives. You can easily make your side dish feel more elevated by choosing chips made with avocado oil or pink himalayan sea salt.

You can keep the homemade goodness going by making your own chips. I know I love making my own kale chips. What makes it more fun and appealing is that I can control the amount of salt and easily change up the flavor by chaning the spices used. You can even pop your own popcorn. There are quite a few varities out there and it literally only takes a few minutes to turn those little corn kernels into light and crunchy delights. If you are really adventurous, you can make your own potatoe chips. Or go the baked route with making sweet potatoe fries.

There are just as many, if not more, options for a side salad to go along with your sloppy joe as there are chip options. You can read about some of the simple ways I change up salad offerings by reading here!

Helpful Information and Tips

  • Turkey and buffalo do not have a high fat content, so they need some help getting a good sear. But the benefit is you do not have to drain any fat while cooking.
  • I would not recommend using extra virgin olive oil, as it has a lower smoke point and has a distinct, stronger flavor than the ones listed above.
  • While ground turkey is easy to find in major stores, ground buffalo meat can be found at stores like Wegmans and Whole Foods.
  • While powdered garlic is great, you can use fresh garlic as well. Now there are handy little cubes of frozen garlic in grocery stores. Or of course you can cut them up fresh yourself.
  • I like Vidalia onions because they are sweeter than other onions. My second choice is Spanish onions because they tend to become sweeter in taste as they cook down.
  • One tip I have is to use a measuring cup once you get to step 5. This keeps you from measuring over the pan (potentially adding too much that you can’t take back out) and ensures more even incorporation of ingredients by stirring with a spoon before adding to the pan. Also, it is easier to pour all the ingredients in at once with no mess.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2011 Stephanie Bradberry


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