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These turkey sloppy joes are a lightened up version of the classic family favorite! Ground turkey is simmered in a zesty homemade sauce and served on a toasted bun with shredded cheese. It's an easy 35-minute meal that everyone will love!
The key to homemade meals on busy weeknights is having an arsenal of easy recipes the whole family enjoys. This lightened up take on sloppy joes swaps ground beef for turkey for a delicious take on the classic.
The easy homemade tomato sauce uses familiar ingredients you're likely to have in your pantry. We spoon the delicious mixture over toasted brioche or hamburger buns, top with shredded cheese, and serve with plain chips for a little salty crunch.
It keeps really well in a freezer so save yourself some time and double or triple the recipe. They might be a little messy, but this kid-approved, one-pot meal is an all-around win!
Why you'll love them
- They're easy to make
- They're ready in just 35 minutes
- They use just one pot so clean up is a breeze
- They're kid-approved and everyone will love them!
Turkey sloppy joes ingredients
Here's everything you'll need to make sloppy joes with turkey:
- Olive oil
- Onion + garlic
- Red bell pepper
- Ground turkey – you can find ground turkey in the meat department of most grocery stores.
- Tomato sauce – plain tomato sauce in a jar or can will be the base of the zesty tomato sauce.
- Ketchup – this classic condiment adds sweetness and more tomato flavor to the sauce.
- Seasonings – worcestershire sauce, dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, and brown sugar add zest and lots of flavor.
- Chicken stock – we use chicken stock for the sauce, but you can also use water.
Here's what you'll need for serving:
- Brioche buns – we love the soft buttery texture of brioche buns but other types of buns like hamburger buns work perfectly well too.
- Shredded cheese – we like pepper jack cheese or cheddar cheese.
- Chips – optional for serving, but delicious.
How to make turkey sloppy joes
This turkey sloppy joe recipe is easy to make in a few simple steps:
- Start by heating the olive oil in a large skillet or pan. Sauté the onion until soft, then add the garlic and red bell peppers.
- Add the ground turkey and break up the meat as it cooks.
- Add the tomato sauce, ketchup, worchestershire sauce, dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, and brown sugar to the pan and simmer for a few minutes. Stir in the chicken stock or water, and cook for a few more minutes. It's ready when it's saucy, but not soupy.
- To serve, divide the sloppy joe meat between the buns and top with some cheese. That's it!
Why toasting the buns is optional (but not really)
Toasting the buns is optional, but not really. They taste so much better on a toasted bun that you really should do it. Butter or oil the cut sides of the buns then place them face-down in a pan on medium heat. In just a few minutes, you'll have deliciously toasted buns and the crunch is totally worth the extra effort.
How to make healthier sloppy joes
It's easy to turn these turkey sloppy joes into a healthier family meal by making a few ingredient swaps:
- Using ground turkey already lightens the calorie load. You can also use a lean ground turkey if it's available.
- Opt for a natural or no sugar ketchup. Some are sweetened with dates which would add a wonderful sweet taste.
- Add extra bell peppers, mushrooms, or other veggies to the mix for more nutrition and fiber.
- Swap the chips for a salad like our creamy kale salad with maple tahini vinaigrette or pumpkin spinach salad with maple pumpkin dressing.
Can I use ground chicken instead of ground turkey?
Yes! Ground chicken works equally well in this recipe.
Can I make sloppy joes in the slow cooker?
Definitely! This is a great recipe for a crockpot. Simply add the cooked ground turkey along with the sauce ingredients to the slow cooker. Cook on HIGH for 3 hours or LOW for 6 hours.
How long does it keep in the fridge?
When stored in an airtight container, the ground turkey mixture will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days.
Can I freeze it?
Absolutely! This is a great recipe to make ahead and store in your freezer. It will keep in a sealed container for up to 3 months!
What to serve with turkey sloppy joes
Turkey sloppy joes are a versatile weeknight meal that taste great with just about anything. Some nights we love the simple taste and crunch of potato chips, but they also taste great with homemade fries, vegetable side dishes, and salads.
Here are some of our favorite recipes to serve with turkey sloppy joes:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion (minced)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- ½ medium red pepper (diced small)
- 1 lb ground turkey (or ground chicken)
- ½ cup tomato sauce
- ¼ cup ketchup
- 1 tablespoon EACH: Worchestershire sauce, dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, and brown sugar
- ½ cup chicken stock (or water)
- 4 brioche buns (see notes)
- ½ cup shredded cheese (we like pepper jack or cheddar)
- chips on the side
- Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for 3 minutes, until it's soft. Add the garlic and red pepper to the pan and let them cook for 2 minutes.1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 small onion, 2 cloves garlic, ½ medium red pepper
- Add the ground turkey to the pan and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until it is no longer pink, about 10 minutes.1 lb ground turkey
- Add the tomato sauce, ketchup, Worchestershire sauce, dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, and brown sugar to the pot and let it cook for 5 minutes, until it becomes sweet-smelling. Stir the chicken stock or water into the pan and let it cook for another 5 minutes. You want it to be saucy but not soupy.½ cup tomato sauce, ¼ cup ketchup, 1 tablespoon EACH: Worchestershire sauce, dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, and brown sugar, ½ cup chicken stock
- Divide the sloppy joe meat between the buns and top with some pepper jack cheese.4 brioche buns, ½ cup shredded cheese, chips on the side
We have thoroughly tested this recipe for accuracy. However, individual results may vary. See our full recipe disclosure here.