Super Sloppy Joes

By Rachel Tiemeyer
April 6, 2020

This homemade veggie-rich Sloppy Joes recipe with a tangy-sweet tomato sauce is a family favorite. Double and freeze these healthy Sloppy Joes for later too!

Sloppy Joes in a bun on a plate with salad

After polling dozens of my friends and family, I learned that Sloppy Joes are quite the divisive meal. People either love them or hate them.

I counted myself as a hater until just a few years ago because I always envisioned the canned version from childhood. Yuck!

healthy sloppy joes mixture in a pan

However, I decided to give this poor man’s entree a try again, albeit the non-canned, non-processed, veggie-rich, grass-fed beef version.

Why? Simply, my husband loves them and my kids will eat them.

ingredients for sloppy joes recipe including red pepper, garlic, ground beef, tomato sauce

And I was won over by this particular recipe; the tangy-sweet tomato sauce surprised me in a good way. Plus, you know I love any recipe where I can sneak in more vegetables for my family.

Now these are the only Sloppy Joes my family (and Polly’s family) likes!

How to Make Healthy Sloppy Joes

Watch this 1 minute video tutorial to see just how easy it is to make sloppy joes from scratch…

How to Freeze Sloppy Joes for Later

healthy sloppy joes mixture in small freezer containers

A smart idea is to package up any of the leftovers into individual serving sizes and freeze them for easy lunches in the future. Or, of course, you can always double this recipe and freeze an entire batch for another family meal, another night.

How to Freeze for Later: To make sloppy joes into a freezer meal, fully cook an then let the sloppy joe mixture cool. Place in a freezer bag or freezer-safe container. Try to remove as much air as possible and seal tightly before freezing. Here are our favorite freezer containers.

How to Prepare From Frozen: Thaw the meal using one of these safe methods. Warm the meat mixture over medium-low heat on the stove or on Low in the slow cooker, gently stirring until heated through. (Tip: Add chicken or beef broth if it needs more liquid.) Serve as directed in the recipe.

Serving Suggestions for Super Sloppy Joes

We served our sloppy joe mixture on whole wheat hamburger buns. Tip: Toast the insides of the buns under the broiler for a minute, so they hold up well.

We like to serve them with Oven Steak Fries and a simple green salad with Honey Balsamic Dressing.

Two plates with forks and healthy sloppy joes, fries, and salad

Healthy Sloppy Joes Recipe

Full of veggies and flavor, you’ll love our freezer-friendly Super Sloppy Joes recipe…


Healthy Sloppy Joes

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Sandwich
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American


This homemade version of Sloppy Joes is packed with veggies and has such great flavor! Your family will never ask for the canned variety again.


  • 3 teaspoons olive oil or avocado oil, divided
  • 1 pound lean ground beef (preferably grass-fed; we get ours here)
  • 2 teaspoons all-natural steak seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped or grated
  • 1 red pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 (8 ounce) cans unsalted tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • Salt, to taste
  • 4 whole wheat hamburger buns (or 8 mini buns), toasted (Gluten-Free Option: Use GF buns.)
  • Optional: cheddar cheese slices (Omit this for the Dairy-Free Option.)


Make It Now:

  1. Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a large skillet over medium high heat, until shimmery. Add the ground beef* to the pan and begin to break it up while it browns. Sprinkle the brown sugar and steak seasoning evenly over the meat and continue to stir and break it up until it has browned completely. Remove the meat to a paper towel-lined plate to drain the oil.
  2. Wipe out the skillet and place it over medium heat. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil to the pan. When the oil is shimmery, add the carrot, onion, red peppers to the skillet. Cook until veggies are tender, about 4-5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, red wine vinegar, and Worcestershire during the last 30-60 seconds of cook time.
  3. Stir in the cooked meat, tomato sauce, tomato paste, and maple syrup to the veggies until combined. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook the Sloppy Joe mixture 5 minutes longer. Taste and season with salt, if needed. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  4. Using a large spoon or ice cream scoop, pile meat mixture onto toasted bun bottoms**. Add a slice of cheese, if desired, and top with bun.

Freeze For Later: Follow Steps 1-3 and let the Sloppy Joes mixture cool (see our tips for doing this quickly here). Place in a freezer bag or freezer-safe container. Try to remove as much air as possible and seal tightly before freezing.

Prepare From Frozen: Thaw the meal using one of these safe methods. Warm the meat mixture over medium-low heat on the stove or on Low in the slow cooker, gently stirring until heated through. (Tip: Add chicken or beef broth if it needs more liquid.) Follow Step 4.


*You can substitute ground turkey or ground chicken for the ground beef, if desired.

**To toast the hamburger buns, place them on a sheet pan with the insides facing up. Preheat the oven’s broiler to high and broil them on the top rack for about a minute or until golden brown. Watch closely so they don’t burn!

Looking for more ground beef recipes?

Check out our Top 10 Ground Beef Freezer Meals!

Ground Beef Freezer Meals

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22 replies
  1. Tonya says:

    I love these! I just searched for the recipe again. I have made these multiple times over the last year. I usually do a triple or quadruple batch and vacuum seal the leftovers for future dinners. My 5 year old son requests these on a regular basis. Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe!

    • Rachel says:

      Isn’t it great when you actually make a meal that your kids ask for and you know is healthy? That’s great to hear this one works for you all. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Jess says:

    With maple syrup and brown sugar are they not too sweet? Looking to make tonight but we’re not a fan of sweet more tangy.

  3. ashley says:

    Hi im new to freezer cooking. If I make these sloppy joes ahead of time and freeze them how do I heat them up? Do I thaw them out first or just put in crock pot in the morning?

    • Rachel says:

      Hi Ashley. Sloppy Joes are one of the easiest freezer meals. You can thaw/warm them several ways: 1) Defrost in the microwave on the defrost setting or in the fridge overnight and then warm on the stove. 2) Throw the frozen sloppy joes into a crock pot on low for a few hours. 3)Throw the frozen sloppy joes in a pot on the stove over low for about 30 minutes (stir and break it up occasionally). Let me know if you have any other questions. I remember having a million when I first started freezer cooking. I’m happy to help!

  4. Jill says:

    these were really yummy, we had a lot of meat leftover so I threw in a large can of crushed tomatoes, black beans and chili seasoning and it made an awesome slightly sweet chili. Thanks for all the yummy recipes!

  5. Anonymous says:

    My husband refuses to eat sloppy joes. But I think my kids would love them. I myself like them. So we are going to give these the ol' college try next week. We had the chicken tenders again tonight. I think we having been having them at least once every two weeks. Thanks for sharing another recipe!