Savory Sloppy Joes: A Delicious Version Without Brown Sugar

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Craving a hearty, satisfying meal that the whole family will love? Look no further than the classic American staple – the sloppy joe! This recipe takes the nostalgic dish to a new level, ditching the brown sugar for a healthier, more nuanced flavor profile.

This guide will walk you through everything you need to know about creating the perfect homemade sloppy joe, from gathering ingredients to mastering the cooking technique.

The BEST Sloppy Joe Recipe - NatashasKitchen
The BEST Sloppy Joe Recipe – NatashasKitchen


(Serves 4-6)

1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 pound lean ground beef (90/10 or higher)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced (optional)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup ketchup (preferably sugar-free)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Hamburger buns

  • Instructions:

    1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat.
    2. Add the ground beef and cook until browned, breaking it up with a spoon as it cooks. Drain any excess fat.
    3. Add the onion and green pepper (if using) to the pan and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for another minute, until fragrant.
    4. Pour in the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, ketchup, water, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, oregano, smoked paprika, and chili powder (if using). Season with salt and pepper to taste.
    5. Bring the mixture to a simmer and reduce heat to low. Let the sloppy joe simmer for 15-20 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

    Nutrition Facts (Per Serving):

    (Without buns)

    Calories: 350

  • Fat: 15g
  • Saturated Fat: 5g
  • Cholesterol: 70mg
  • Sodium: 450mg (depending on sodium content of ingredients)
  • Carbohydrates: 25g
  • Fiber: 3g
  • Sugar: 5g (natural sugars from tomatoes and ketchup)
  • Protein: 30g

  • Note: These are approximate values and may vary depending on the specific ingredients you use.


    This homemade sloppy joe recipe offers a healthier and tastier alternative to traditional versions loaded with brown sugar. The combination of lean ground beef, fresh vegetables, and a tangy tomato sauce creates a delicious and satisfying meal that everyone will enjoy.

    Now that you have the perfect recipe in hand, get creative with toppings! Add a dollop of plain Greek yogurt for a creamy element, some chopped fresh onion and pickles for a classic touch, or experiment with different cheeses.


    1. Can I use ground turkey or chicken instead of ground beef?

    Absolutely! Lean ground turkey or chicken are excellent substitutes for ground beef in this recipe. They will cook slightly faster, so adjust the cooking time accordingly.

    2. How can I make this recipe even healthier?

    Use a leaner ground meat, such as 93/7 ground beef or ground turkey.

  • Drain any excess fat from the cooked ground meat before adding the vegetables.
  • Use low-sodium ingredients, such as diced tomatoes and ketchup, to reduce the sodium content.
  • Serve the sloppy joe on whole-wheat hamburger buns for added fiber.

  • 3. What can I serve with sloppy joes?

    Sloppy joes pair well with a variety of side dishes. Here are a few ideas:

    French fries or onion rings

  • Baked potato or sweet potato
  • Coleslaw
  • Side salad
  • Corn on the cob

  • 4. Can I make this recipe ahead of time?

    Yes! The sloppy joe mixture can be prepared ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat gently over low heat until warmed through.

    5. Can I freeze leftover sloppy joes?

    Leftover sloppy joe mixture can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.