Healthy Sloppy Joe Recipe

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This healthy sloppy joe recipe is the perfect meal that is super easy to make and your family will love it. And it is perfect for busy weeknights.

It’s also a great way to add in extra veggies and skip the refined / processed ingredients.

whole wheat bun topped with sloppy Joe meat and pickle slices with onions

How to make these homemade sloppy joes

Sloppy Joe’s are one of the ultimate nostalgic meals for many of us. Growing up, they were practically a staple in my home. And even today, they are a favorite of my children and husband too!

But, when I make ours, I like to make it a bit healthier by adding in some extra veggies and skipping the canned sauces. Instead, I make my own sauce that doesn’t include processed sugars, high fructose corn syrup, or other bad for you ingredients.

Top them off with slices of pickles, and pickled or caramelized onions for extra delicious flavor! The whole family will love this recipe – even the pickiest of kids will enjoy it!

white plates of healthy sloppy joes and pickles in a small pinch bowl


Skip the canned sauce, and use this much healthier option instead! Sure, you’ll have to measure out a few more ingredients than just opening up a can.

But the ingredients are so much cleaner and healthier than what you’ll find in a canned version at the grocery store!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • olive oil 
  • lean ground beef 
  • yellow onion, chopped
  • green bell pepper, chopped
  • carrots, finely chopped 
  • garlic cloves, minced 

for the sauce:

  • ketchup (choose a clean and unsweetened option)
  • tomato paste
  • chili powder
  • yellow mustard
  • dijon mustard
  • honey
  • coconut aminos – I prefer instead of soy sauce (you can use soy sauce if you prefer but may need to adjust the salt levels to taste)
  • Worcestershire sauce 
  • apple cider vinegar
  • salt

You can find a lot of these condiments with clean ingredients at Thrive Market.

ingredients prepared and in little pinch bowls


This recipe is super quick and easy to make, you’ll be able to have a healthy meal on the table in under 30 minutes!

Begin by chopping up the onions & bell pepper. Chop up the carrots into a smaller dice to help them cook quicker.

chopped veggies in a large cast iron skillet
sautéed vegetables in the cast iron skillet with the meat in a bowl to the side
adding the ground beef to the sautéed vegetables inside of the cast iron skillet

Next you’ll preheat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped onions, carrots and diced bell pepper.  Add a lid to the top of the pan, and sauté until carrots are slightly tender, and onions & bell peppers are tender. Next, add in the garlic and stir until fragrant. 

Then you’ll cook the ground beef in the pan with vegetables.

the cooked meat and veggies in a large cast iron skillet
sauce added to the pan with the other ingredients
whole wheat bun with sloppy Joe on bottom half with slice of cheese and pickles on top

Stir in the dijon mustard, yellow mustard, ketchup, honey, coconut aminos, salt, pepper, tomato paste, chili powder, Worcestershire sauce and apple cider vinegar until well combined. Simmer for a few minutes until warmed through.

Serve on top of your favorite hamburger buns.

🍔 Recipe Serving & Pairing Ideas

This recipe does well on it’s own. But here are just a few more ideas to elevate it even more!

  • Add a slice of cheese to the bottom half of the bun, top with caramelized onions and pickle slices
  • Serve with sweet potato fries or potato wedges
  • Add a bit of hot sauce for a little kick
  • Top off with pickled onions and a little extra mustard
  • Serve with a homemade probiotic – rich sauerkraut (or other ferment) on the side
sloppy joes on whole wheat buns with sweet potato fries beside them on a white plate

How to store leftovers

If you have leftovers, they will store well in the fridge in an airtight container for a few days. They can keep in the refrigerator for up to one week. To reheat, add to a saucepan and simmer over medium heat until warmed through.

FAQ (frequently asked questions)

Is Sloppy Joe meat healthy?

Typically, they are not healthy on their own. Using the canned sauce in the stores are full of sugar and other unwanted ingredients. Making your own sauce will give you better control of the ingredients that you add to the the sauce. Also, if you use a leaner ground beef that aids in making them healthier. You could also substitute the meat with ground chicken or ground turkey if you prefer.

Can this recipe be stored in the freezer?

Yes, this recipe can be made ahead of time and stored in the freezer for up to 6 months. Be sure to use a freezer safe, airtight container and write the date on the package for best freshness. Defrost and heat in a saucepan until warmed through.

want more recipes?

Check out the recipe index where you can discover more homemade recipes from my homestead!

sloppy joes on whole wheat grain bread with sweet potato fries on the side

Healthy Sloppy Joes

Looking for a healthier alternative to the traditional sloppy joe recipe? This version is easy to make and doesn’t have any bad for you ingredients, like refined sugars or processed ingredients.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Author Mary Woita
Servings 6
Calories: 284kcal



  • Preheat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil to coat the pan.
  • Add onions, carrots and bell pepper to the warmed up cast iron skillet.  Place a lid over the pan, and sauté until carrots are slightly tender, and the onions & bell peppers are tender. Be sure to stir occasionally. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, about 10-20 seconds. 
  • Add ground beef to the pan with the veggies. Stir around the pan until beef is cooked through, about 5-10 minutes. Drain any excess grease.
  • Add dijon mustard, yellow mustard, ketchup, honey, coconut aminos, salt, pepper, tomato paste, chili powder, worstershire sauce and apple cider vinegar. Stir to combine all ingredients well. And simmer for just about 5 minutes.
  • Top your favorite hamburger buns with the meat mixture. Add cheese, pickles, extra mustard, and caramelized onions if desired. Serve & enjoy!


 If you want the sloppy joes to be more saucey,  simply add additional ketchup and tomato paste.  If so, adjust any salt or pepper, as desired. 
Soy sauce can be substituted for the coconut aminos – but you may need to adjust the salt amount so it’s not too salty.

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