Skip to Content

Turkey Sloppy Joes

Homemade sloppy joes made with ground turkey and chili sauce.  Quick and easy, a healthy dinner the whole family loves. 

Turkey sloppy joe sandwich with pickle slices.

Hands up if you liked sloppy joes growing up?  They weren't my favorite and back then my mom made them by adding a can of something to some browned ground beef.  But once I had homemade sloppy joes, years later, from my mom actually, I had a new found liking of those sloppy sandwiches.

I have a couple sloppy joe recipes I like, both from my mom.  Check out this sloppy joe recipe made with ground beef and breakfast sausage, very tasty.  These turkey sloppy joes are adapted from a recipe given to me by my mom's friend.  She makes them every summer for their girl's week at the lake.  I just swapped out the ground beef for turkey and tweaked the seasonings a bit, but they're still MJ's sloppy joes!

What exactly are sloppy joes?

Sideview close up of turkey sloppy joe on plate.

Sloppy joes are sandwiches made with a filling of ground beef (or, in this case, turkey!), onions, tomato sauce or ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and seasonings or some variation of this basic flavor profile.  The ground meat mixture is piled on a hamburger bun, and yes, it's sloppy.

Legend has it that the sloppy joe originated in Sioux City, Iowa.  Iowa is known for their "loose meat" sandwiches and apparently a cook named Joe added tomato sauce to his loose meat sandwiches and the sloppy joe was born.  (If you're curious, check out this recipe for loose meat sandwiches from Dine and Dish.)

How to make sloppy joes with ground turkey

Overhead view of open faced turkey sloppy joe with pickles and potato chips

As easy as making them with ground beef, and you certainly can use beef if you want.  I like this lighter, healthier version sometimes.

  1. Brown the ground turkey really well in a large skillet.  The best way to do this and ensure great flavor is to pat the meat dry, add it to the pan and don't touch it for several minutes.  Flip it and brown the other side, then start breaking it up with a wooden spoon.  Trust me, great color and flavor will happen this way.
  2. Add some onion and green pepper, cook to soften a bit, then add some garlic.
  3. For the tomato part, add a bottle of chili sauce, and then some Worcestershire, cider vinegar, mustard, chili powder, brown sugar and salt.
  4. Cover and let it simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Taste for salt and pepper.
  5. Pile on hamburger buns and serve.

Can I freeze the sloppy joe mixture?

Definitely, it freezes really well.  Just put any leftover, cooled sloppy joe mixture in an airtight container and freeze.  It should be good for 3 to 4 months.

Leftovers will last in the fridge about 4 or 5 days.  I like to reheat in the microwave instead of a pan on the stovetop.  I put leftovers in a microwave safe bowl or plate and loosely cover with a paper towel.  Because stuff like this always splatters in my microwave, the paper towel really helps.  Just heat and stir in 30 second intervals until hot.

Sloppy joe sandwich with pickles and potato chips

What goes with sloppy Joes?

  • Pickles, I like to top sloppy joes with homemade bread and butter pickle slices.
  • Or slip some pickled jalapeños on your sandwich, or candied jalapeños, also known as cowboy candy.
  • Marinated red onions would be good, these marinated onions from No Crumbs Left are amazing on everything!
  • Potato chips!!
  • I also like some fresh fruit alongside those chips.
  • Easy baked beans would be delicious with these sammies!
  • How about some potato salad?
  • And you can't go wrong with french fries or tater tots.

I hope you try these turkey sloppy joes next time you get the craving... they're mom approved.  Enjoy ~ Kelly

Sloppy joe sandwich with pickles

If you’ve tried this recipe, please rate it below in the comments and let me know how it went ~ I love hearing from you! HUNGRY FOR MORE?  Subscribe to my Newsletter and come hang out with me on INSTAGRAM, or give me a follow on FACEBOOK or see what I’m pinning on PINTEREST.

Sideview close up of sloppy joe on plate.

Turkey Sloppy Joes

Quick and easy homemade sloppy joes made with ground turkey and chili sauce.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 281kcal


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 pounds ground turkey a mix of light and dark turkey
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • ½ green bell pepper, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (12-oz.) bottle chili sauce like Heinz brand
  • 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 8 hamburger buns, regular or with sesame seeds, or brioche buns


  • Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium high heat until shimmering. Pat ground turkey dry and add to skillet in one piece. Let brown without moving or breaking up for about 5 minutes. Flip turkey and brown the other side for a few minutes and then start breaking up with a wooden spoon, until all meat is browned and crumbled.
  • Add onion and green pepper, continue cooking until softened, about 3 to 4 more minutes. Add garlic and cook and stir about 30 seconds.
  • Stir in chili sauce, apple cider vinegar, mustard, Worcestershire, chili powder, brown sugar and salt. Cover and simmer 20 minutes, stirring often.
  • Taste for salt and pepper. See note below if mixture seems too thick. Spoon on buns and serve. Enjoy with pickles, chips or whatever your heart desires!

Recipe Notes

  • If mixture seems too dry as prepared, you can add a little ketchup.  I never have, but that's what MJ says to do.
  • You can definitely make this recipe with ground beef instead of turkey, if you like.
  • My serving preference is sesame seed buns and bread and butter pickle slices.  Yum!


Calories: 281kcal Carbohydrates: 26g Protein: 31g Fat: 6g Saturated Fat: 1g Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g Monounsaturated Fat: 2g Trans Fat: 1g Cholesterol: 62mg Sodium: 580mg Potassium: 439mg Fiber: 1g Sugar: 7g Vitamin A: 133IU Vitamin C: 8mg Calcium: 74mg Iron: 3mg
Did you make this recipe? Please comment, rate it and share! And mention me on Instagram @thehungrybluebird or tag #thehungrybluebird so I can see!



5 from 2 votes
Recipe Rating


Thursday 26th of November 2020

They were soooo good. I haven’t had a sloppy joe in forever and it did not disappoint.


Wednesday 28th of August 2019

Turkey Sloppy Joes is akin to a Turbocharged ‘57 Chevy.

Bernie ~ A Gouda Life

Friday 23rd of August 2019

Ditch the canned stuff ~ homemade sloppy joes are where it's at! They look really delicious. Just added to my "TO TRY" list.