Healthy Sloppy Joes Recipe

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Looking for a healthy, 30-minute meal? These healthy sloppy joes get a meal on the table fast!

Sloppy Joe’s are the ultimate kid’s meal. But that doesn’t mean adults won’t enjoy them too. On the contrary! They are a classic, American family meal! But they aren’t always the healthiest option. So today, I’ll show you how to make them healthy, while still retaining all that delicious flavor. They are easy to make and a snap to clean up!

A single Healthy Turkey Sloppy Joe sits on two cutting boards with a white towel laying next to them.

Meal Prep

These are fantastic for make-ahead meal prep. Simply follow the freezing directions below, and then double the recipe so you have sandwiches in the coming month with a simple defrost in the microwave. (Or 24 hours in the fridge).

How Is This Sloppy Joe Recipe Healthier?

  1. It’s made from scratch (not canned), so it has less sodium than the stuff from the store.
  2. It uses lean, ground turkey instead of beef.
  3. It calls for ketchup that is much healthier than the average bottle at the store, so you won’t have all that hidden, unwanted sugar.

How To Eat A Sloppy Joe

The messy way! These sandwiches were made to be messy. So wash your hands and dig in! Make sure you load those buns up with plenty of sloppy joe filling and then eat them over a plate or other clean surface. Don’t forget the napkins!

A closeup of a Healthy Turkey Sloppy Joe sandwich sitting on a cutting board.

What To Serve With Healthy Sloppy Joes

The best sides for these delicious sandwiches are as follows:

  • Sweet potato fries
  • Homemade french fries
  • Carrots or any of your favorite veggies, raw or cooked.
  • A green salad
  • A bowl of soup

What Buns To Use For Healthy Sloppy Joes

The best or healthiest bun to use will always be a whole grain bun. I highly recommend the Alvarado Street Bakery brand (not paid to promote them), if you have some in your area.

If you need a gluten-free bun, feel free to use that!

A single Healthy Turkey Sloppy Joe sits on two cutting boards next to a white towel.

Optional Additions

  1. You can add one to two tablespoons of prepared, yellow mustard for a bit of tang and umami.
  2. There is a Worcestershire sauce on the market that is clean. It’s the Wizard’s brand. If you can find it, feel free to add it here for extra flavor and umami.
  3. If you like more tang, add a tablespoon or two of apple cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar
  4. For more umami, try adding some coconut aminos or soy sauce.

Recipe Tips

If your sauce is too thin, stir in a few tablespoons tomato paste (no sugar added). If it’s too thick, add a bit more tomato sauce. Make sure to taste at the end and adjust any spices as needed.

A single Healthy Turkey Sloppy Joe sits on two cutting boards next to a window,

Ingredients For The Best Homemade, Healthy Sloppy Joes

Oil – Any oil you prefer to use.

Ground turkey – This can be as lean as you prefer. If you just cannot stomach the idea of sloppy joes made with turkey, ground beef will work if you use a very lean ground beef. It’s not as healthy as turkey, but it’ll do in a pinch. You can also use ground chicken if you like.

Green bell pepper – You can use other colors if you don’t care for green peppers.

Red bell pepper – Chop the peppers small for the best overall texture.

Red Onions – Chopp them small. Yellow onions will work in a pinch.

Garlic powder – Or garlic granules. Just don’t use garlic salt. You can use 5-6 cloves garlic instead if you prefer the fresh stuff. I recommend sautéing it for one minute before adding the meat to the skillet.

Onion powder – Or onion granules.

Canned tomato sauce – No sugar added.

Clean ketchup – The OrganicVille brand and Primale Kitchen brand are clean (not paid to promote them) or make your own. Look for any brand with no added sugar or natural sugar such as honey.

Grated Cheese – Some folks like grated cheese on their sloppy joes. I’m dairy-free, so I have never used it. But if you like it, feel free to use your favorite in moderation to keep the fat content in check.

How To Make This Healthy Sloppy Joe Recipe

Chopped red and green peppers, as well as chopped, red onion laying on a cutting board.

Prep all the ingredients as indicated.

Adding oil to a cast iron skillet.

Put the oil in a large skillet and warm it.

Ground turkey in a cast iron skillet.
Adding garlic powder to Healthy Turkey Sloppy Joes filling.

Add the turkey meat, peppers, onions, and spices, and cook over medium-high heat. Stir frequently to scramble the meat and ensure even cooking.

Healthy Turkey Sloppy Joes ingredients in a cast iron skillet with a wooden spoon.

Once the meat is nearly cooked through, reduce the heat to a simmer.

Adding tomato sauce to Healthy Turkey Sloppy Joes filling in a skillet.
Adding ketchup to Healthy Turkey Sloppy Joes filling.

Add the tomato sauce and ketchup. Cook at a simmer and stir until well blended and cooked through. (About 5-10 more minutes)

Adding salt to a skillet full of Healthy Turkey Sloppy Joes filling.
Adding pepper to a skillet full of Healthy Turkey Sloppy Joes filling.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

A fully assembled Healthy Turkey Sloppy Joe sits on a cutting board.

Scoop about half a cup of filling onto a bun and enjoy!

Storing Healthy Sloppy Joes

Store the sloppy joe filling separately from the bread. Store it in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Freezing Healthy Sloppy Joes

Pack in a freezer-safe, airtight container and store it in the freezer for up to 4 months. Do not freeze with the bread.

Reheating Healthy Sloppy Joes

From Frozen – Thaw for a full 24 hours in the fridge first.

From Fridge – Reheat in the microwave for 1-3 minutes or reheat in a pot on the stovetop over low to medium heat.

Recommended Equipment

Cast iron skillet sold on Amazon. (Affiliate link)
Chef knife sold on Amazon. (Affiliate link)
Wood cutting board sold on Amazon. (Affiliate link)

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Healthy Sloppy Joes Recipe Card

Recipe updated: 4/18/23.

Copyright Information For The Gracious Pantry
A single Healthy Turkey Sloppy Joe sits on two cutting boards with a white towel laying next to them.

Healthy Turkey Sloppy Joes Recipe

For these sloppy joe’s,  I used the Alvarado Street Bakery brand burger buns. Fantastic flavor, and clean!
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate Add to Collection
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 11 servings
Calories: 123kcal
Author: The Gracious Pantry

Equipment

  • 1 Large Skillet

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp. oil
  • lbs. ground turkey
  • 2 cups green bell pepper (chopped small)
  • 2 cups red bell pepper (chopped small)
  • 1 cup red onion (chopped small)
  • 1 tbsp. onion powder
  • 1 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 15 oz. canned tomato sauce (no sugar added)
  • ½ cup clean ketchup (the OrganicVille brand is clean or make your own – see link above)

Instructions

  • Prep all the ingredients as indicated.
    Chopped red and green peppers, as well as chopped, red onion laying on a cutting board.
  • Put the oil in a large skillet and warm it.
    Adding oil to a cast iron skillet.
  • Add the turkey meat, peppers, onions, and spices, and cook over medium-high heat. Stir frequently to scramble the meat and ensure even cooking.
    Adding garlic powder to Healthy Turkey Sloppy Joes filling.
  • Once everything is cooked through, reduce the heat to a simmer.
    Healthy Turkey Sloppy Joes ingredients in a cast iron skillet with a wooden spoon.
  • Add the tomato sauce and ketchup. Cook at a simmer and stir until well blended and cooked through. (About 5-10 more minutes)
    Adding ketchup to Healthy Turkey Sloppy Joes filling.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
    Adding salt to a skillet full of Healthy Turkey Sloppy Joes filling.
  • Scoop about half a cup of filling onto a bun and enjoy!
    A fully assembled Healthy Turkey Sloppy Joe sits on a cutting board.

Notes

Please note that the nutrition data below is a ballpark figure. Exact data is not possible.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5cup of filling | Calories: 123kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 34mg | Sodium: 317mg | Potassium: 469mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 1188IU | Vitamin C: 61mg | Calcium: 20mg | Iron: 1mg

Recipe from the Gracious Pantry archives, originally posted on 5/27/11.

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110 Comments

  1. Made this last night and even the hubby loved it!!! I added some pinto beans in since I did not have enough ground turkey, and it was just right. I was skeptical with so few ingredients, I thought it would be bland but it was great!!! Can not believe I ever ate the unclean, canned version of this before – never again 🙂

  2. I have made this recipe twice and LOVE it (so does the family)!!! I am surprised how long the clean ketchup I made with your recipe has lasted without spoiling! It’s been 3 weeks and still smells fine.

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