Lean and lovely Sloppy Joes

A super easy, family-friendly meal!

I don’t know about you, but I’m really not a fan of ketchup, except with burgers, hot dogs or French fries. Its overly-sweet taste seems to overwhelm anything to which it’s added and in addition to all that sugar, I don’t love that it’s full of salt. Many Sloppy Joe recipes call for a whole lot of ketchup, but not mine. I also chose to swap out the ground beef for chicken or turkey and that proved to be a delicious change. I like to serve Sloppy Joes the traditional way, with the meat spooned over split, soft rolls (regular or gluten-free) but you can also serve the filling up on lettuce leaves, for a low-carb version. Make a double or triple batch and portion it out for the freezer so you’ll have some super-fast weekday meals already prepared the next time it’s one of THOSE days. You know the ones.

With way less sodium and sugar than many version, these Sloppy Joes - made with ground chicken, turkey or beef - are healthier yet full of flavour too!


  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) olive or canola oil
  • 1 pound (454 g) lean ground chicken or turkey
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) diced onion
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) diced green pepper
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) minced garlic
  • 1 cup (250 mL) water, divided
  • 1/3 cup (90 mL) tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons (60 mL) cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) Dijon
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) Worcestershire
  • 1/8 teaspoon (.6 mL) allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) molasses or maple syrup
  • 1/8 teaspoon (.6 mL) cayenne, or more, to taste


  • Place oil then ground chicken or turkey in a large skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until meat is beginning to brown (about 10 minutes). Use the back of a wooden spoon or spatula to break the meat up into small bits.
  • Add onion, green pepper and garlic; sauté until softened, 2 – 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup water and stir well, scraping up any cooked bits from the bottom and edges of pan.
  • Add tomato paste, vinegar, Dijon, Worcestershire, allspice, salt, pepper, molasses and cayenne. Stir to blend well.
  • Cook, uncovered, over low heat, for 20 minutes, stirring often. Add additional water, 2 tablespoons at a time, to keep mixture from drying it out. You want a good amount of sauce to coat the meat.
  • Taste and adjust seasonings to suit your preference. Spoon hot meat over buns to serve.
  • Can be refrigerated and reheated in a pot or in the microwave; freezes really well also.

Serves 4.

Author: Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. If you enjoy this space be sure to check out my Rogers TV Ottawa cooking show, Paula Roy's Favourite Foods, available on local cable, streaming and a dedicated playlist on Rogers TV's YouTube channel.

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