Now you Joe, and Joe-ing is half the battle

This ain’t no New Jersey sloppy joe.


This week we are getting messy with two different sloppy joe recipes. One is ground beef based and the second uses ground turkey. They’re both solid and the best part is that your ground meat choice is totally interchangeable if you want.

Robin’s turkey sloppy joe recipe is down below.

If you’ve never had a sloppy joe, it’s typically ground meat that is browned with chopped up veggies like onions or bell pepper and then cooked until everything comes together with a tomato based sauce and spices. Sloppy joes are typically served on a soft squishy white bread bun.

If you’re curious about where the sloppy joe comes from, chowhound.com has three theories. Theory one is that the origin point for sloppy joes could be Sloppy Joe’s bar in Havana, Cuba. Their second theory is that a bar called the Silver Slipper in Key West, Florida that was eventually renamed Sloppy Joe’s (based on Ernest Hemingway’s suggestion), could have been the root source of this particular sandwich. And the third suggestion is far away from Florida or Cuba, in Iowa, home of the loose meat sandwich (which is basically what a sloppy joe is, plus tomato sauces and spicing).

Most sloppy joe recipes I’ve seen (and the two you’ll see in this post) make a large number of sandwiches (8+). But the cool thing about sloppy joes is that they’re just as good the next day if they are properly warmed up. In some instances they might be better after the flavors have a chance to build and blend.

What most people think about when they think of sloppy joes. We’re making ours from scratch.

Warming up sloppy joes

It might be weird that we’re talking about heating up/warming up sloppy joes before we’re talking about making them, but I wanted to get this all out of the way. Unless you have a lot of potentially sloppy children, I think you’re going to have leftovers.

If you want to heat up a sloppy joe, there are two methods that I suggest:

  • Microwave: spoon out the amount that will fit in your bun/buns into a microwave safe bowl. For one sandwich I usually go 45 or 60 seconds. But your microwave will vary. You just want things to be hot (obviously).
  • Stove top: spoon out the amount that will fit into your buns into a small pot. For one sandwich you only need 3 or 4 minutes. You’ll need more time if you’re reheating a lot, but this is where you can just heat it up and taste or stick your finger in to judge the temperature.

I suggest the microwave technique for a single sandwich and if you’re warming up sloppy joe for multiple sandwiches, the stove top option might be easiest.

The soft squishy potato bun

These recently butter painted potato rolls were 85 grams each when shaped into buns (pre-baked weight).

All sloppy joes need a soft squishy bun and I’ve got a newish soft squishy bun recipe that I’ve been working on. If you read my blog regularly, you know I’m often using King Arthur Baking’s potato bun recipe. It’s a great recipe, but in the weights I’m using, it makes 9 or 10 buns and that’s just too many buns for most of my sandwich applications. The King Arthur recipe claims the recipe yield is 6 buns, but those would turn out to be huge buns. I weigh out around 85 or 90 grams and can easily get 9 buns from their recipe for that yield.

So I’ve scaled down the recipe a little and swapped the dry milk for regular milk (also works well with almond or alternate non-dairy milks). I’ve also tested this bun with potato flour or potato flakes and they seem to be somewhat interchangeable.

This bun recipe is great for sloppy joes, smash burgers and fried chicken sandwiches. Bookmark it to make for your next backyard cookout.

2 hours and 45 minutes
Super soft potato buns

Need six super soft perfectly sized burger buns? The kind of bun that is slightly smaller than your burger patty so that you get a solid burger to bun ratio? Try this recipe.

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Here’s a quick video tweet of another batch of my potato buns that I made for burgers recently.

The turkey joe

The setup for turkey recipe

My wife, Robin, has been tweaking this sloppy joe recipe for at least fifteen years. It’s a bit sweet and a tad spicy but it all comes together and is a tried and tested recipe we both enjoy frequently.

I’m aware that there are folks out there that for strange reasons adamantly despise anything to do with turkey (they tweet at me often) and if that’s you, I’m happy to say that both of the sloppy joe recipes I’m sharing in this blog post can be made with either ground turkey, ground beef or even your choice of a plant based alternative (read my thoughts on Impossible/Beyond meat alternatives).

Robin’s recipe uses red wine, red wine vinegar, brown sugar and jalapenos which are all common ingredients but alter slightly from typical sloppy joe recipes.

40 minutes
Robin's turkey sloppy joes

A sloppy joe recipe that is sweet and spicy just like Robin. She is going to be mad at me when she reads this but it is true.

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Turkey sloppy joe
Turkey sloppy joe with pickled red onions (recipe below).

And now lets try a another sloppy sandwich.

The beef joe

All we’re missing is the beef.

I said this at least twice already, but the ground meat option in both of these recipes can be swapped around. This recipe is just the way I typically make mine with ground beef.

My recipe is considerably different than Robin’s. It’s less sweet and I don’t really add much heat at all. This sloppy joe recipe is much more like an old school sloppy joe recipe (minus the beer). If you would like to add some spice or heat, I would suggest finely chopping a jalapeno and adding it when you add your diced red pepper.

Texture tip: If you prefer your sloppy joes to be less chunky, I like to use a potato masher and mash the ground beef while it’s cooking. This is a simple way to break up the meat into smaller pieces and provides a different texture to the final joe mixture.

40 minutes
Jonathan's sloppy joes

Looking for an old school sloppy joe recipe that will bring you back to the days of your youth when your back did not hurt? This one will do that and leave you with a big comforting hug.

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The beef sloppy joe setup with pickled red onions that give things a new layer of flavor. We also occasionally will put pickles on a sloppy joe as well. Pickled red onion recipe down below.
Beef with sharp cheddar melted on the bottom bun.

The rest of the sandwiches

Sometimes you add cheese.

If I’m planning to put cheese on a sloppy joe, I like to toast my buns under the broiler, add some sloppy joe mix and then put the cheese on top and slip it back under the broiler open faced for just a minute or so until things get melty.

Turkey sloppy joe and melted munster cheese on a toasted potato roll.

Add some pickled veggies

Sometimes you add pickled red onion or other pickles.

Pickled vegetables or in this case pickled red onions are an easy way to add zip and tang and crunch to any sandwich. We also have added dill pickles to sloppy joes, there are just no photos available to prove this fact. But it works and is a great way to change up your sloppy joe if you’re eating it a couple nights in a row.

5 minutes
Pickled red onions

Pickled red onions are a tangy and slightly sweet addition to a sandwich that will add texture and crunch. This is a super easy and quick recipe that will add a big flavor bang to your next sandwich.

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Beef sloppy joe and pickled red onions.

Biscuit Joes!

And sometimes you add biscuits.

I made these because I had leftover sloppy joe and someone told me September was National Biscuit Month. I try to follow the rules. Not sure if I ever would have thought about doing this, but it was actually really good. Sort of like small sloppy joe sliders but biscuit-y-er.

After enjoying these, I would also recommend just serving sloppy joe mixture spooned on top of open face, toasted biscuits, like biscuits and gravy.

Biscuit joes with melted extra sharp cheddar
Biscuit joes with melted swiss cheese.

Be more sloppy

Sloppy joes are great. They’re easy to make and fun to eat. If you’ve never made them before, give it a shot. Add something sloppy to your easy dinner rotation. If you know you have a busy week coming up, you can make a batch of these on Saturday or Sunday and enjoy a couple of nights of very quick dinners during the week.

Check back next week when I make a sandwich named after a military man who died before knowing he’d been immortalized as a sandwich.