I have warm memories of eating these messy sandwiches as a kid. I’ve updated my mom’s version by using lower fat ground turkey (you can also make it vegetarian by using meatless crumbles or beans), adding some healthy veggies to the sauce, and serving them on whole grain rolls. The finer you dice the carrots and peppers, the less likely it is that your kids will be able to detect them, if that’s an issue in your house.

Tip: To avoid soggy bread, serve the Sloppy Joes with a slotted spoon so the excess juices stay behind. They’re a little less sloppy that way! (Some people like to eat Sloppy Joes in a taco shell instead of a bun.)

Serve with your choice of  zucchini fritters, cilantro slaw, Healthy Triple Berry Spinach Smoothie, or carrot sticks!

Recipe: Not My Mom’s Sloppy Joes

  • Prep Time: 30 min(s)
  • Servings: 8

Share this satisfying yet healthful comfort food for a family retro night. .


    • 1 lb. ground turkey, beef or vegetarian ground “meat”, or 28 – 30 oz. pinto beans, drained and rinsed
    • 1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
    • 1 red or yellow bell pepper, finely diced
    • 1 carrot, finely diced
    • 15 oz. tomato sauce
    • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
    • 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
    • 2 Tbsp. ketchup
    • 8 whole wheat buns (or use taco shells)


    In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the meat in its own juices until it is almost cooked through.  (If you are using vegetarian ground “meat” or the beans, add them after the tomato sauce instead).

    Drain off the excess liquid, if necessary, and add the diced vegetables to the skillet (if you are making a meatless version, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in the skillet before adding the vegetables).

    Sauté the mixture for 2 minutes and add all the remaining ingredients, except the buns.  Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat, cover the skillet, and simmer it for 15-20 minutes until the vegetables are tender.  (Meanwhile, make the zucchini fritters, if you are serving them.)  At this point you can refrigerate or freeze the mixture, or proceed to the next step.

    To serve the sandwiches, lightly toast the buns and fill each one with a large spoonful of the meat mixture.  If the mixture is liquidy, use a slotted spoon to scoop it into the buns.

    Slow Cooker Directions: Place all ingredients except the buns in the slow cooker.  (There's no need to brown the meat first).  Cook on low power for 8-10 hours or on high for 5-6 hours.

You Might Also Like

One Response to “Not My Mom’s Sloppy Joes”