Meat lovers’ pizza Sloppy Joes

An amazingly delicious mashup of two great dishes!

I grew up eating a LOT of Sloppy Joes. They were inexpensive and quick to prepare – two essential elements of feeding a family of eight. My mom served these open-faced sandwiches of saucy, seasoned ground beef on toasted hamburger buns and they were a real favourite. Many years later, I came up with a healthier version of Sloppy Joes that uses ground chicken or turkey and skips the salt-laden spice packet (don’t even get me started on canned Sloppy Joes or Manwich….) and my family loves it. But then I thought, why not combine my healthy recipe with the best elements of meat lovers’ pizza (Italian sausage, pepperoni, pizza sauce and mozzarella) for a whole new taste sensation? My husband swooned over this meal and I can’t wait to share it with others. It’s ideal for apres-ski gatherings, Superbowl parties or quick weeknight meals as it freezes beautifully.


  • 6 tablespoons (90 mL) olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound (454 g) mild or hot Italian sausages, meat removed from casing
  • 1 pound (454 g) ground chicken, turkey or beef
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) minced fresh garlic, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) each dried basil, oregano and smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) Tabasco sauce (or more, to taste)
  • Pinch baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon each (5 mL) kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) maple syrup or molasses
  • 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) sliced pepperoni, coarsely chopped
  • 1 2/3 cups (400 mL) pizza sauce
  • 2 cups (500 mL) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup (250 mL) chicken stock or water
  • White, whole wheat or gluten-free buns, split
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) butter
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) sliced fresh basil leaves


  • Set a large, heavy-duty pot (use a Dutch oven if you have one) over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of the olive oil. Let the oil heat for one minute then add the sausage meat, using a wooden spoon to break up the clumps. Cooke 5 – 7 minutes, until no longer pink.
  • Add the ground meat to the same pot and cook, stirring often and breaking up clumps, until no longer pink, about 5 – 7 minutes.
  • Add the onion, green pepper and 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of the minced garlic to the pot. Cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes. Stir in the basil, oregano, paprika, Worcestershire, Tabasco, baking soda, salt, pepper, cider vinegar and maple syrup.
  • Add the pepperoni, pizza sauce, crushed tomatoes and stock (or water). Increase heat so the mixture begins to simmer, then cover the pot and lower heat. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • After 30 minutes, set the lid so it is halfway on the pot and simmer for another 20 – 25 minutes, allowing mixture to thicken. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
  • Meanwhile, in a small pot, combine the remaining oil and minced garlic; add butter. Cook over very low heat to infuse the oil and soften the garlic slightly. Remove from heat and stir in parsley.
  • Place the buns, cut side up, on a baking sheet and brush the tops with the garlic butter (2 halves per person is a typical serving). Bake in a preheated 375°F oven until golden brown, about 3 – 5 minutes.
  • To serve, spoon the hot meat mixture over the toasted buns. Top with mozzarella and fresh basil. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Serves 6 – 8.

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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.