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A homemade sloppy joe sandwich on a plate with salad.

Homemade Sloppy Joes

These homemade Sloppy Joes are packed with veggies and have complex flavor! You’ll never reach for the canned variety again.

Yield: 4 sandwiches 1x
Prep: 20 minutesCook: 15 minutesTotal: 35 minutes


  • 3 teaspoons olive oil or avocado oil, divided
  • 1 pound lean ground beef (sub: ground turkey or chicken)
  • 2 teaspoons all-natural steak seasoning (I like this one)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar (sub: coconut sugar or maple syrup)
  • 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 (this is my favorite brand)
  • 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 slider buns), toasted
  • Optional: cheddar cheese slices

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Make It Now:

  1. Brown the Beef: 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. Saute Veggies: 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. Simmer Meat Mixture: 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. (Note: This is a good time to toast the buns under the broiler. See Cooking Notes.)
  4. Serve: 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 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.

Prepare From Frozen: Thaw the meal using a safe thawing method. 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.
  • Substitute for steak seasoning: Use 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/8 teaspoon onion powder, 1/8 teaspoon paprika, and a pinch of red pepper flakes.
  • 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!
  • Gluten-free version: Use gluten-free buns or serve over baked potatoes (perhaps as part of a Baked Potato Bar).
  • Dairy-free version: Omit the optional cheese slice.
© Author: Rachel Tiemeyer
Cuisine: American Method: Stovetop