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Sloppy joe sandwich on a plate with pickles

Healthy Sloppy Joes

These Healthy Sloppy Joes are made with lean ground beef and hidden veggies. This is a healthy and flavorful take on the classic sandwich. 
Course dinner
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 6 (or 4 large servings)
Calories 188kcal


  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • ¾ cup finely chopped carrots
  • ½ cup finely chopped celery
  • ½ cup finely chopped green bell pepper
  • ½ cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • ½ cup finely chopped yellow or red onion
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 teaspoons red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 ¼ cups tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • ½ cup low sodium beef broth (preferred) or water
  • buns or baked potatoes (optional) for serving


  • In a large saucepan or skillet, saute ground beef in 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat, breaking it up as it cooks. Once the meat has browned, add the carrots, celery, bell peppers, onion, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are beginning to soften, about 5-8 minutes. If the mixture seems dry at any point you can add another drizzle of olive oil.
  • Add the minced garlic and cook for another minute or two, stirring occasionally.
  • Add brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, tomato sauce, ketchup, and beef broth to the meat and vegetable mixture. Stir to combine. Simmer over medium-low heat, partially covered, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender. If the sauce gets too thick you can add another splash of beef broth and/or water. If the sauce is thinner than you like you can simmer it uncovered and the extra liquid should cook off.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper. Scoop the sloppy Joes into split buns or baked potatoes and serve.


How to serve sloppy Joes
Sloppy Joes are typically served on a soft bun. In an effort to keep this meal lighter I often serve it “open face” on only half of a bun (and eat it with a knife and fork). You can also add the meat into a baked russet potato or baked sweet potato, or just eat it on its own.
Toppings for sloppy Joes
My favorite toppings for sloppy Joes are grated pepper jack cheese and pickles. Feel free to top the meat with any cheese that you like. Jalapenos, pickled peppers, or chopped giardiniera are delicious options as well.
Optional flavorings
  • You can add ¾ teaspoon smoked paprika into the meat mixture.
  • If you have the extra time you can add a roasted poblano pepper into the meat mixture. Roast a poblano pepper, remove the skin and seeds, chop it and stir it in along with the sauce ingredients.


Calories: 188kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 47mg | Sodium: 700mg | Potassium: 632mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 3418IU | Vitamin C: 33mg | Calcium: 33mg | Iron: 3mg