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sloppy joes

March 08 2009 by Kristin at The Kitchen Sink in Recipe,Sandwich,Turkey » 26 comments


Growing up, my mother really knew her way around a pound of ground beef.  And I mean that as high praise.  She could come home from work, bone tired, and unsheath a pound of ground beef (you know the packages—with the colored foam trays and snug-fitting plastic wrap) and have dinner on the table in no time flat.


Ground beef featured prominently in many of the kid-friendly recipes in my mom’s repertoire: chili, goulash, tater tot hot dish, spaghetti sauce, taco filling and, perhaps best of all, sloppy joes.  I suppose, then, it’s no surprise that one of the things that I remember learning in the kitchen was how to brown ground beef, seasoning it with salt and pepper and letting it sizzle away in a skillet.


I learned how to make my mom’s sloppy joes early on—and this recipe is a twist on it.  We all had our particular way of eating my mom’s sloppy joes.  I preferred them—oxymoronically—to be as neat as possible: a small dallop on a bun’s lower half, drizzled with yellow mustard and capped securely with the bun’s top half.  My sister—on the other hand—quite enjoyed the fun of the “sloppy” aspect of the sandwiches.  My mom liked to forego the bun, spooning a heap of the filling on her plate and scooping up her bites using rippled, Old Dutch potato chips.


When my mom married my stepdad (who brought many of his gourmet tendencies and recipes along with him, but—wonder of wonders—loved sloppy joes as much as the rest of us), he took his sloppy joes open faced, using the edge of his fork as a makeshift knife to section off mouthfuls.

Somewhere in my teens, in addition to developing a severe case of bratiness, contracting boy craziness and suffering through an unfortunate impromptu dye job (red, in honor of my hero of the moment, Clare Danes’ Angela Chase), I also swore off red meat.  Which meant the end of sloppy joes.


But, now I realize, it shouldn’t have.  Because they’re perfectly delicious with ground turkey.   And that’s what I’ve used in this recipe for sloppy joes.  I’ve since come back around to beef, but I usually use ground turkey or chicken over beef.  Maybe someday I’ll be known as the kind of lady who knows her way around a pound of ground poulty.With this recipe, I’m well on my way.

Turkey Sloppy Joes
Adapted from Everyday Food

Printable Recipe

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 carrots, coarsely grated (2 cups)
2 ribs of celery, finely chopped
1 medium onion, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
Coarse salt and ground pepper
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3/4 pound ground turkey (93% lean, dark meat)
1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons dark-brown sugar
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
4 good-quality hamburger rolls, split

In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium; add carrots, celery, onion, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 to 5 minutes.

Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add turkey; cook, breaking up meat with a spoon, until no longer pink, 4 to 5 minutes.

Add tomatoes, sugar, vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce. Cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 12 to 14 minutes. Serve on rolls.

26 comments so far. »
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  1. heather says on March 08 2009 at 7:02 pm:

    oh how i love [and miss] having sloppy joes! i have ground turkey in the freezer…



  2. Amy says on March 08 2009 at 7:20 pm:

    mm these look delicious! im in a really big turkey phase right now…i’ve been making turkey burgers like crazy, but i might have to interrupt for these messy little beauties! ill be posting my own turkey burger recipe soon…come check it out!
    -amy :)


  3. Ellen says on March 08 2009 at 7:23 pm:

    wow, it sounds like we have the same moms! haha. earlier this week i called my mom to ask what she put in “goulash” because i had a strange craving for the stuff.

  4. Whitney Merritt says on March 08 2009 at 8:04 pm:

    I love the term “hot dish”. I have a friend from MPLS and the first time he said it i was like “what the hell are you talking about.”

    Lovely pictures. I really like the look of those buns. Are they from anywhere special?

  5. Erin says on March 09 2009 at 5:54 am:

    Mmmm… I’ve made these too! I couldn’t believe how incredibly delicious a Sloppy Joe was!


  6. Dawna says on March 09 2009 at 6:08 am:

    Mmm! And ground turkey/chicken really does taste very similar when it’s covered in a sauce :)

  7. Jennifer says on March 09 2009 at 7:00 am:

    Incredible!! Its been quite a while since Ive had a sloppy joe! You make them look much less “sloppy” beautiful!

  8. Culinary Cory says on March 09 2009 at 7:05 am:

    My mom was just asking me the other day for a Sloppy Joe recipe. I’m going to have to forward yours to her. The photos look great.

  9. Robyn says on March 09 2009 at 8:56 am:

    I knew that you had to be from the midwest when you mentioned Old Dutch potato chips! This is the same sloppy joe recipe we use at home, except I throw in a dab of prepared mustard.

  10. Allison says on March 09 2009 at 9:06 am:

    I’ll take mine extra sloppy… Some things never change! And I’m right there with mom, strongly suggest dipping with your favorite chip. Looks awesome!

  11. Dawn in CA says on March 09 2009 at 9:29 am:

    Hmmmm… where I’m from, a hot dish is a good-looking woman. ;) Seriously, what exactly goes into a tater tot hot dish? That sounds like something my 7 year-old (oh, and my husband) would probably love.

  12. Ginny says on March 09 2009 at 10:51 am:

    I have been looking and looking for a solid sloppy joe recipe. This seems to be the one! Thanks for sharing.

  13. Karen says on March 09 2009 at 1:11 pm:

    Tater Tot Hotdish! Now that sounds like a winner and googling it seems to confirm your midwestern roots. Can you please share? The many recipes out there seem to include campbell’s cream of xxx soup plus ground beef and tater tots. Quick and easy, but maybe a lot of salt? What did your mom do?

  14. Treehouse Chef says on March 09 2009 at 1:58 pm:

    I love sloppy Joes. I have not had this since I was a kid. I can’t wait to try it.

  15. Dawn in CA says on March 09 2009 at 6:04 pm:

    p.s. – in case my email gets stuck in your spam folder… you were mentioned as a “Delicious Food Site” on PW.com!


    Nice! :)

  16. Kate says on March 09 2009 at 7:11 pm:

    These look great — you’ve got me craving sloppy joes. What kind of rolls did you use? (not whole wheat, I’d assume). They look like they’re sturdy enough to stand up to sloppy joes (hamburger buns tend to fall apart in my experience) I like to add a little shredded cabbage to my joes for some sweetness and crunch.

  17. Tracy says on March 10 2009 at 5:34 am:

    The recipe looks great on the buns. I would now like to see a picture of you eating these. Always fun!

  18. Kristin at The Kitchen Sink says on March 10 2009 at 7:29 am:

    Wow! I worried about how you all would receive the humble sloppy joes and it seems there are more fans of these sandwiches out there than I knew.

    For those that asked about the rolls, they are brioche rolls from our neighborhood market (Olivia’s, for those in Chicago). But I think any good-quality bun would do.

    For those who asked about tater tot hot dish, coming right up! It’s on the agenda for this weekend. (And, Karen, I giggled abou “Cream of XXX” soup. There really is a “cream of” just about everything in those little red and white cans!)

    Robyn: I like the idea of a adding prepared mustard. I saw a recipe recently that called for dried mustard and I think I’ll try that next time.

    Dawn: Ha! And, yes, I did see that on PW and was thrilled!

    Kate: The shredded cabbage is a great idea. Kind of borrowing from pulled pork sandwiches.

  19. Cathy - wheresmydamnanswer says on March 10 2009 at 8:56 am:

    This is one of my fav comfort food sandwiches – My recipe is very close to this and it is a hit every time!!

  20. Elizabeth says on March 10 2009 at 1:02 pm:

    When my girls got bigger, I kinda stopped making sloppy joes, even though I still really love them. What is that all about?? I know what you mean about mom knowing her way around a pound of ground beef. My mom use to make stew with it, I don’t know how she got the gravy part of it so tasty to this day!!

  21. Melissa says on March 10 2009 at 4:51 pm:

    Jared Leto was so cute back then. *Sigh*

    I need to make these, absolutely. How could I have forgotten about them? A simple, delicious meal and yours look fantastic. I’m with stepdad – open faced for me.

  22. Betsy says on March 10 2009 at 9:03 pm:

    Mmm – these look good! You weren’t alone in your love of Claire Danes. I used Clairol Glints to give my hair some red shimmer, though in the end it could only be seen on my brown hair directly under bright light :)

  23. KT says on March 11 2009 at 10:20 am:

    I usually think ground turkey is a little too bland (I might be imagining that anyway), but this is the perfect recipe to put it in. The sloppiness would cancel out any dry boring-ness right? :) I’ve also made a healthier version of my mom’s old school sloppy joes by sneaking in a some pinto or kidney beans. As long as you have a good sauce to trick your taste buds I think they won’t miss ground chuck I guess…

  24. Kevin says on March 15 2009 at 5:34 pm:

    Those sloppy joes look good. It has been too long since I last had them.

  25. casual comfort « Whitney in Chicago says on March 17 2010 at 3:35 pm:

    [...] Joes (printable recipe) Recipe adapted from The Kitchen Sink who adapted from Everyday [...]

  26. That’s Not Manwich! « Greek Yogurt & Apple Slices says on August 03 2010 at 5:46 pm:

    [...] For tonight’s dinner I tried a new recipe that I found on The Kitchen Sink’s blog for Turkey Sloopy Joes. [...]

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