Messy, crave-worthy, healthy sloppy joes sandwiches that are packed with vegetables but taste even better than the ones you remember as a kid?! Oh yes; keep reading.
Sloppy joe, slop, sloppy joe / Sloppy joe, slop, sloppy joe
Healthy sloppy joes: time for a make-over
Until a few months ago, I hadn’t eaten a sloppy joes sandwich since the time Adam Sandler debuted his Lunch Lady Land song on Saturday Night Live. Back then, my sloppy joes were most likely of the Manwich variety. Not any more. These healthy sloppy joes are just as messy as the ones from my childhood, but oh so much more delicious and nutritious. I adapted the recipe from my good friend Kelley’s version. Kelley smokes her own bacon and makes ramen from scratch, so I knew her Joe was going to be good. I used lean, grass-fed ground beef, minimal oil and a hearty dose of vegetables, making this version much more nutritious than the stuff I ate as a kid. I also streamlined the prep process by using my food processor to do the chopping for me, which not only cuts back on prep time, but also makes the cooking time faster since the vegetables are so finely chopped (it’s a trick I talk about in my cookbook, and it’s a game-changer on busy nights). While the sloppy joes are awesome straight out of the skillet, they’re even better if you’re able to make the mixture a few hours or even a day in advance.
Mid-week savior (don’t forget the napkins)
I like to serve the sloppy joes in squishy buns (gluten-free for me) with a side of classic coleslaw (also from my book). They’ve become a Tuesday night favorite in our house since Ella has a late ballet class that night. I make the sloppy joes ahead of time so that they’re ready the minute we get home. If you’ve never seen a pink ballerina in a tutu down two sloppy joe sandwiches without pause, let me tell you, it’s a sight to behold. (And yes; thank god for stain remover.)
Get the recipe!
Healthy Sloppy Joes: even better than you remember!
- 1 medium onion , coarsely chopped
- 1 red bell pepper , seeded and coarsely chopped
- 1 medium carrot , trimmed and coarsely chopped
- 2 large garlic cloves , peeled and smashed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil , divided
- 1 pound lean ground beef , preferably grass-fed
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 cup canned tomato puree
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon sriracha , or more to taste
- ½ cup water
- Buns for serving (regular or gluten-free)
- Place the onion, red pepper, carrot and garlic in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped, scraping the sides occasionally, about 12-14 pulses.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the ground beef, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until the meat is browned and cooked through. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to a plate. Discard any fat in the pan.
- Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in the same skillet over medium heat. Scrape in the vegetables from the food processor. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.
- Add the chili powder, ground cumin, garlic powder and tomato paste. Cook, stirring, 1-2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the cooked beef, tomato puree, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, sriracha (if you like it spicy, feel free to add a few more teaspoons), and water. Season with salt and pepper.
- Place the pan back over medium heat, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook 10 minutes. If needed, add a few more splashes of water to thin. Taste and season with additional salt, pepper, and/or sriracha as desired (don’t be shy with the seasonings). Serve warm on soft buns. Do Ahead: The sloppy joes can be refrigerated for up to 4 days—thin with a few splashes of water, if needed. It gets even better with time.