side view of a healthy sloppy joes sandwich in a bun on a gray plate

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Why I love this turkey sloppy joe recipe

Sloppy joes are childhood meal requirement – just like our homemade spaghettiOs – a weeknight dinner staple. I don’t think a single American kid grew up without tasting these slightly sweet and messy sandwiches.

I’ve given them a makeover by packing them with extra veggies and swapping the ground beef for some lean turkey so you can feel good about having serving them to your family any night of the week.

What side dishes go best with sloppy joes?

We love serving our sloppy joes with potato salad and easy green beans, but they’d also be really great with broccoli salad or a fruit salad, too.

Side view close up of turkey sloppy joes on a gray plate with a garnish

Here’s what you’ll need to make it

close up side view of turkey sloppy joes in between a bun

How to make ground turkey sloppy joes

Sauté the veggies. Heat your skillet to medium high. Add some olive oil and let it get hot before you add your veggies. Let them sauté, stirring as needed, until the onion is translucent and the veggies are soft.

Brown the turkey. Next, add your ground turkey and let it brown, breaking up the meat as it cooks with your spoon or spatula.

Make the sauce. When the meat is no longer pink, add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Then let the sauce simmer and thicken for about 10 more minutes.

Serve on hamburger buns.

Overhead view of filling for healthy sloppy joes in a skillet being stirred with a wooden spoon

FAQS and tips for making healthy sloppy joes

Why are they called Sloppy Joes?

Sloppy joes are named after their creator,

How do you cut sweetness in Sloppy Joes?

If you find these sloppy joes (or any sloppy joes) are too sweet you have a few choices. You can either leave out some of the sugar (if you haven’t already cooked them), or you can add salt or vinegar to balance the sugar.

Do you drain grease when making Sloppy Joes?

If you have excess grease in your pan (more than a tablespoon or two) after browning your meat for sloppy joes, you should drain the meat. If you’re using lean turkey meat that’s about 93% lean or higher, you won’t need to do this.

How do you thicken Sloppy Joes?

You can thicken sloppy joes by cooking them at a simmer for a longer period of time or by adding 1 – 2 teaspoons of cornstarch to the mixture. The cornstarch will need to be dissolved in a small amount of room temperature liquid before being stirred into the hot sloppy joe mixture.

close up side view of turkey sloppy joe sandwich on a sesame bun

More turkey recipes:

More sandwich recipes you’ll love:

side view of turkey sloppy joe on a blue plate on a countertop

Turkey Sloppy Joes

These turkey sloppy joes are perfect for an easy weeknight dinner or a big lunch to feed the family. Featuring a classic sweet sauce, they’re made a little healthier with lean ground turkey and veggies like green peppers, carrots, and onions so you can check vegetables off your list and go back for seconds!


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup onion
  • 1/2 cup carrot shredded
  • 1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 1/4 pounds ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/21 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup water


  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil, onion, carrot, bell peppers, and garlic. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until softened – about 5 minutes.
  2. Add ground turkey, and cook until no longer pink, breaking up the meat as it browns.
  3. Stir in ketchup, brown sugar, tomato paste, Dijon custard, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder and salt. Add water and stir until evenly mixed.
  4. Simmer for about 10 more minutes, or until the sauce has thickened.

Last Updated on November 12, 2021 by Melissa Belanger

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