These absolutely delicious ground turkey sloppy joes are a healthier version of the classic, made in one skillet and ready in less than 30 minutes! Homemade yet easy to make, this is a family-friendly dinner that you can even make ahead of time.
This Turkey Sloppy Joes recipe is a healthier twist on a classic that my family really loves. We enjoy recipes with simple ingredients, and sandwich recipes are always a winner… like my Cheese Steaks and Ultimate Grilled Cheese! This is one of my Sandwich Recipes I know you’ll want to keep on hand!
Turkey sloppy joes recipe
I’ve always been a fan of classic sloppy joes. There’s something so innately satisfying about the sweet and savory combination and messiness of it all! And I know you all love them too, since my original sloppy joes have been incredibly popular over the years 🙂
But I wanted to give you one that was specifically developed to be made with turkey.
This sloppy joe recipe is sweet, tangy, zesty and savory, with the perfect texture and consistency. Of course, we all have different tastes, so I’ve detailed in the “variations” section of the post how you can make substitutions, but we love this turkey sloppy joe recipe.
Technically, these should be called a sloppy jane. I hadn’t heard of such a thing until I was doing keyword research for this blog post and googled what it was. Apparently a sloppy jane is simply a sloppy joe recipe, but made with ground turkey instead!
So whichever name you call them, I hope you give them a try and love them as much as we do.
How to make the best turkey sloppy joes
- Cook meat. To a skillet, add the turkey, onion and bell pepper and cook over MED HIGH heat, crumbling the turkey as it cooks, until cooked through and vegetables are softened. Drain.
- Add sauce. Add all remaining ingredients and stir well.
- Simmer. Cook over MED/MED LOW for 10-15 minutes, until sloppy joes are thickened to your liking, making sure to stir frequently.
- Serve. Serve hot on toasted buns.
Additional cooking tips
- Toast the buns – Before you get started with making the sloppy joe mixture, toast your buns. Toasting the bun makes ALL the difference, and only takes a few minutes. Just crank up the heat under the skillet to MED HIGH/HIGH, and add a drizzle of vegetable oil. When the oil is hot, add the buns, cook just 30 seconds to a minute or until they’re golden brown, then place the buns cut side up on a cooling rack after they’ve been toasted.
- Consistency – Watch the sauce so that it doesn’t reduce too much. When too much of the sauce reduces, it gives you a dry sloppy joe mixture. Everyone likes theirs a little differently, but for me, I cook it down so that I can see the bits of meat, and when I drag my spoon through the sauce, it leaves a trail where the sauce is parted. If the sauce immediately flows back into that trail, it’s too liquid-y. I want a few seconds before the sauce covers the trail, which gives me a saucy consistency that’s not too liquid.
- Bun type – Choose your favorite type of bun. I usually go for either a pretzel bun (like I did in these Beer and Chorizo Sloppy Joes!), or a brioche bun like I’ve done here.
Variations of this recipe
- Chicken – this recipe is delicious with ground chicken as well.
- Beef – and of course, you can use the original meat used in sloppy joes, ground beef.
- Veggies – feel free to add any additional veggies to this recipe. Some finely grated carrot (grated on the small holes of a box grater), are great to add because no one will even know they’re there!
- Spicy – if you’re a fan of the heat, try substituting a jalapeno for the green bell pepper, and adding some cayenne pepper and/or hot sauce.
- Texture – some people aren’t big fans of the actual pieces of veggies in their sloppy joes. You can add the onion and bell pepper to a food processor and pulse until very finely minced, almost like a paste.
- Molasses – for some depth of flavor, try adding a spoonful of molasses!
- Broth – for even MORE flavor, try using chicken broth instead
- Sugar – brown sugar can be substituted, or you can omit the sugar entirely. It’s all up to you 🙂
What to do with sloppy joe meat?
Number one, slap some on a toasted bun!! After that, here are some of my favorite things to do:
- Spoon some over some crispy waffle fries. Bonus points if you also melt some cheese over the fries before adding the sloppy joe meat!
- Add some to a grilled cheese.
- Roll up in crescent roll dough and bake at 375 F degrees for about 12-15 minutes. Cheese makes a great addition to these as well!
- Add some on top of a burger.
Making turkey sloppy joes ahead of time
Even though this recipe comes together in less than 30 minutes, there are some nights that even that might take too long. We’ve all had them!
The good news is, sloppy joes are great to make ahead of time. Just follow the recipe, but leave the mixture a little “wetter” than you normally would.
This way when you reheat the sloppy joes, they won’t dry out.
Leftover sloppy joe mixture should be refrigerated in an airtight container and consumed within 4-5 days.
The next time you’re making sloppy joes, make a double batch and freeze half of it for the next time!
Just cool the sloppy joes completely, then add to freezer containers and freeze for up to 4 months.
Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and reheat before serving.
Shop the recipe
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- Skillet – I like to use either stainless steel or cast iron for this, as they both give a great sear!
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- 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 lb ground turkey (I like the flavor of 93/7)
- 1/2 large yellow onion minced
- 1/3 large green bell pepper minced
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1 Tbsp spicy brown mustard (regular mustard can be substituted)
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1/3 cup barbecue sauce
- 3 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1 Tbsp granulated sugar more or less, to taste
- 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 cup water
- Heat a large skillet over MED HIGH/HIGH heat. Add a drizzle of vegetable oil, and once hot, add buns, cut side down. Cook for 30 seconds to a minute (this time will vary), or until golden brown on the bottoms.
- Remove to a wire cooling rack, cut sides up.
Cook Meat and Vegetables
- Heat oil in large skillet over MED-HIGH heat. Add turkey, onion and bell pepper and cook, breaking apart into crumbles as it cooks, about 5 minutes, or until turkey is cooked through and vegetables are beginning to soften. Transfer to colander to drain.
- Add chili powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, mustard, ketchup, barbecue sauce, tomato paste, sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and water and stir well to combine.
Simmer and Serve
- Reduce heat to MED/MED LOW and cook for 10-15 minutes, until mixture has thickened to your liking, stirring often. Remove from heat and serve over toasted buns.
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- Calorie count (which is an estimate) does not include buns, as these will vary from person to person.
- Toast the buns - Before you get started with making the sloppy joe mixture, toast your buns. Toasting the bun makes ALL the difference, and only takes a few minutes. Just crank up the heat under the skillet to MED HIGH/HIGH, and add a drizzle of vegetable oil. When the oil is hot, add the buns, cook just 30 seconds to a minute or until they're golden brown, then place the buns cut side up on a cooling rack after they've been toasted.
- Consistency - Watch the sauce so that it doesn’t reduce too much. When too much of the sauce reduces, it gives you a dry sloppy joe mixture. Everyone likes theirs a little differently, but for me, I cook it down so that I can see the bits of meat, and when I drag my spoon through the sauce, it leaves a trail where the sauce is parted. If the sauce immediately flows back into that trail, it’s too liquid-y. I want a few seconds before the sauce covers the trail, which gives me a saucy consistency that’s not too liquid.
Any nutritional information shared is an estimate, and is automatically calculated through a program. If calorie count is important to you, I recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.
The Chunky Chef is not a nutritionist and doesn’t provide full nutritional information for recipes as there is a potential for error and we wouldn’t want to potentially and/or unknowingly pass along incorrect information.