Turkey Sloppy Joes: a healthy comfort food dinner made with pantry staples in under 20 minutes. These warm sandwiches are family-friendly and free of processed ingredients!
This recipe was originally published on May 20, 2020. It was updated on May 25, 2021.
These Turkey Sloppy Joes are easy to make, delicious, and ready in under 20 minutes! They also don’t have any processed ingredients and are easily made gluten-free. You will love these hot sandwiches because the family will gobble them up but they won’t take a lot of time or stress to make.
This recipe is also an amazing summer recipe because you don’t need to heat up the oven or kitchen to make them! Make these sloppy joes this week -- you’ll be so glad you did!
Sloppy joes are one of my favorite comfort foods. But, up until recently, I didn’t make them much because all the weird ingredients in the canned sloppy joe sauce, though super tasty, freaked me out.
I figure I ate enough of those weird ingredients with the premade sauced sloppy joes growing up that I’m better holding off on it for a bit.
This all changed last week, however. Hungry after spending what felt like the whole weekend outside, I grabbed a package of ground turkey out of the fridge and decided I would try my hand at a homemade, non-processed, and even processed sugar free sloppy joe sauce that I felt good about and craved!
I tinkered around with the recipe a few times (just ask Chris how many sloppy joes he’s eaten this past week) and came up with my new favorite go-to sloppy joe recipe.
Though the ingredient list might initially appear a bit long, please don’t be intimidated -- a lot of them are pantry staples that you’ll most likely be able to use in other recipes, and every single ingredient does its own amazing part in making this recipe so special.
I also recommend getting all your ingredients measured out before you turn on the stove top of electric skillet. Cooking will go fast and measuring the ingredients ahead of time will help it stay that way while not overcooking your food in any of the steps.
So, turn on your music, grab your spices and measuring spoons, and get ready for a delicious and easy dinner that will bring you all the comfort without any of the processed ingredients.
I know we sure love these joes (even after eating them almost nightly for a week) and I hope you love them just as much.
Table of contents
- These Turkey Sloppy Joes are…
- Ground turkey sloppy joes ingredients:
- Recipe adaptations or substitutions:
- How to make easy sloppy joes:
- Recipe pro-tips:
- Healthy Sloppy Joes FAQ:
- Dietary adaptations:
- Recipe variations:
- Serving suggestions:
- Additional ways to serve sloppy joes:
- Storage directions:
- Tools needed to make this recipe:
These Turkey Sloppy Joes are…
- Naturally sweet
- Warmly spiced
- Full of tomato goodness
There’s almost no reason not to make these juicy joes. No-fuss dinners are worth their weight in gold these days. Not to mention lean and nutritious dinners that are ready in under 20 minutes, family-friendly, and perfect for freezing and meal prep.
Ground turkey sloppy joes ingredients:
- Ground turkey - I recommend a mixture of breast and thigh meat, or about 93% lean turkey
- Sweet onions - yellow, white, or even red onion
- Minced garlic
- Tomato sauce -we’re talking the basic canned pureed tomato here, jarred pasta or seasoned tomato sauce
- Tomato paste
- Maple syrup - adds that classic sloppy joe sweetness without adding any processed sugar
- Distilled white vinegar
- Worcestershire sauce
- Dried spices - onion powder, yellow mustard powder, paprika, and chili powder
Recipe adaptations or substitutions:
- Ground meat or ground chicken - 1 lb of ground beef or ground chicken can work in place of the ground turkey. Also, see my notes below on how to make these sloppy joes vegetarian!
- Oil - you can also use avocado oil, grapeseed oil, or even refined coconut oil in this recipe.
- Garlic - if you don’t have fresh garlic, you can use the same amount of minced jarred garlic or ½ teaspoon dried garlic. If using the dried garlic, however, add it in with the rest of the spices at the later step.
- Sweetener - honey or agave syrup can easily substitute for the maple syrup
- Vinegar - apple cider works great in place of the distilled white vinegar
- Dried mustard powder - 1 ½ teaspoons bottled yellow mustard can work in place of the mustard powder
How to make easy sloppy joes:
Step 1: Heat a large sauté pan or electric skillet to medium or medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, onions, and ground meat and sauté until the meat is cooked through and the onions are starting to turn translucent.
Step 2: Add the minced garlic to the pan and sauté until fragrant.
Step 3: Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, maple syrup, vinegar, molasses, worcestershire sauce, and dried spices to the pan. Stir well.
Step 4: Cook the sloppy joes until the sauce has thickened up and started to turn a darker red.
Step 5: Remove the pan from the heat and serve on toasted buns (or your other favorite base-- see my notes below!) with shredded cheese or cheese slices on top!
- Prep all the ingredients: this recipe moves quick. You'll have the best success if you measure out all the ingredients before you turn on the stove.
- The best buns: a great bun makes a sloppy joe, am I right? I recommend kaiser buns or brioche buns but gluten-free buns are also delicious with this recipe.
- Bread toasting: make your sandwich warm, nutty, and crunchy with a toasted bun. I recommend popping the buns in the toaster oven or the oven preheated to 250 degrees with the
- Doubling or tripling this recipe: To make a large batch of this recipe, multiply the ingredients by the desired amount and follow the recipe steps as directed, sauteing the ground meat a few minutes longer until it’s cooked through, if needed.
Healthy Sloppy Joes FAQ:Can I make these sloppy joes with ground beef or ground chicken?
Yes, you certainly can make this recipe with ground beef or ground chicken. Just substitute 1 pound for the turkey and continue with the recipe as directed.Can you keep sloppy joes warm in a slow cooker?
Yes! This recipe is perfect for crock pot sloppy joes. Just make the recipe as directed and then keep the sloppy joes on the warm setting until serving or for up to 4 hours.
- Gluten-free: to make these sloppy joes gluten-free, double-check your Worcestershire ingredient list to make sure it doesn't have any wheat ingredients like malt vinegar or soy sauce. If it does, just omit this ingredient. Also, use gluten-free buns for gluten-free sloppy joes.
- Vegetarian: use canned beans (instead of turkey) to make this recipe vegetarian. Just drain and rinse two cans black beans, into beans, or navy beans thoroughly in a colander. Saute the onions in the oil for 4-5 minutes and then add in the beans with the garlic and saute for just 1 minute. From here, continue with the rest of the recipe as directed, but omit the Worcestershire sauce.
- Spicy: add some kick to your healthy sloppy joes by adding ¼ - ½ teaspoon cayenne (red pepper), 2 teaspoons sriracha, or 1-2 tablespoons diced pickled jalapenos in with the sauce ingredients
- Veggies: give your sandwiches extra nutrition by adding additional veggies! Finely chopped carrots, cabbage, sweet peppers, diced zucchini, and minced celery would all be delicious sautéed in with the onions.
These homemade sloppy joes are so versatile. They're delicious served with almost any favorite side dish, like mashed potatoes, air fryer green beans, roasted broccoli, waffle fries, 5 bean salad, rice, pilaf, corn on the cob, and more!
Additional ways to serve sloppy joes:
The most classic way to serve sloppy joes is on a toasted hamburger bun with shredded cheese on top-- like I’ve pictured here -- but I also like serving them the following ways:
- Baked potatoes or sweet potatoes
- Tater tots or fries
- Freshly baked cornbread
- Macaroni and cheese
- Bean and rice bowls
- Grilled cheese
- Refrigeration - store leftover sloppy joes covered in the refrigerator for 4-5 days
- Freezing - leftovers keep frozen in freezer-safe containers for up to 3 months.
- Reheating - reheat the sloppy joes on medium-high heat for 45 second -1 minute intervals, or until heated through.
Tools needed to make this recipe:
More healthy and quick dinner recipes:
- Instant Pot Turkey Chili
- Spicy Brown Sugar Salmon
- Sheet Pan Cuban Mojo Chicken
- Jamaican Jerk Turkey Burgers
- Instant Pot Chicken Tacos
- Healthy Orange Chicken
- Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas
Or, check out this round-up of the 100 Best 30-Minute Dinner Recipes!
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Thank you so much for your feedback and support of Mae's Menu!Prep Time: 5 minutesCook Time: 15 minutesTotal Time: 20 minutes
Get a healthy & quick dinner the whole family will love on the table tonight with these Turkey Sloppy Joes!
They are easy to make, delicious, and ready in under 20 minutes! They also don’t have any processed sugar, gluten, or other processed ingredients. You will love them because the family will gobble them up but it won’t take a lot of time or stress to make them.
- 1 ½ tablespoon olive oil
- ½ large sweet yellow or red onion, diced into ¼” pieces
- 1 lb ground turkey (preferably 93% lean)
- 2 minced garlic cloves
- 1, 15 oz. can tomato sauce
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup (or honey)
- 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
- 2 teaspoons molasses
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon yellow mustard powder
- ¾ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 6 hamburger buns, toasted
- ¾ cup shredded mozzarella cheese or 6 cheddar cheese slices (optional)
- Heat a large saute pan or electric skillet to medium or medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, onions, and ground meat and saute for 3 ½ -5 minutes, or until the meat is cooked through and the onions are starting to turn translucent.
- Add the minced garlic to the pan and saute, stirring every 10 seconds or so, for 1 minute, or until the garlic is just getting fragrant.
- Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, maple syrup, vinegar, molasses, Worcestershire sauce, dried spices, and salt to the pan. Stir the mixture thoroughly or until the spices and molasses dissolve into the tomato sauce.
- Cook the sloppy joes for 7-10 minutes, stirring every minute or so, or until the sauce has thickened up and started to turn a darker red. Note: if the sauce boils too hard or looks like it’s starting to burn around the edges as it cooks, turn the heat down to medium-low.
- Remove the pan from the heat and serve hot on toasted buns with shredded cheese or cheese slices on top!
- Leftover sloppy joes last in the fridge for 4-5 days in an airtight container. They also freeze in a freezer-safe container for 2-3 months.
- Use plain canned tomato sauce, not seasoned, crushed, or tomato pasta sauce.
- You can also serve these sloppy joes on baked white or sweet potatoes, on macaroni and cheese, over tater tots, or even on a bean and rice bowl.
- Toast hamburger buns on low in a toaster oven or in an oven preheated to 250 degrees wiht the inside of the buns facing up for 2-4 minutes or until the buns are lightly golden brown.
Amount Per Serving Calories 405Total Fat 20gSaturated Fat 5gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 13gCholesterol 87mgSodium 869mgCarbohydrates 31gFiber 3gSugar 13gProtein 26g
This nutrition breakdown is just an estimate of the nutritional value of this recipe and cannot be taken as facts. The owners of Mae's Menu are not nutritionists or dieticians and therefore cannot be held accountable for this nutrition estimate. Please contact your nutritionist or medical professional for a nutritional breakdown of this food. Furthermore, this food is not intended to prevent, diagnose, cure, or treat any disease.