Turkey Sloppy Joes

Ground turkey sloppy joe sandwich
The Spruce / Diana Rattray
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 25 mins
Total: 35 mins
Servings: 6 to 8 servings
Yield: 3 1/2 cups
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
303 Calories
15g Fat
26g Carbs
18g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 303
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 15g 19%
Saturated Fat 3g 17%
Cholesterol 60mg 20%
Sodium 547mg 24%
Total Carbohydrate 26g 10%
Dietary Fiber 2g 7%
Total Sugars 8g
Protein 18g
Vitamin C 10mg 48%
Calcium 103mg 8%
Iron 3mg 16%
Potassium 366mg 8%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

These turkey sloppy Joes are a tasty alternative to the red meat version. The ground turkey makes the dish lower in saturated fat, and the flavor is just as good as ground beef sloppy Joes. Ground turkey thighs are a good choice for this recipe, as they offer excellent flavor and texture, or use a combination of turkey breast and dark meat. If you want the leanest option, feel free to use 99 percent lean turkey breast meat.

The typical sloppy Joe sauce mixture includes chopped onions, peppers, and ketchup. This ground turkey sloppy Joe sandwich recipe involves garlic, chili powder, and a small amount of tomato paste. Mustard adds tanginess and a few teaspoons of brown sugar offer some sweetness.

If you have fussy eaters, this sandwich is a great way to sneak in a vegetable or two. Sauté about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of finely shredded carrot and diced celery along with the onion and green pepper. The carrot adds natural sweetness, so you might not need any other sweetener.


  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 medium onion, minced

  • 1/2 cup diced green bell pepper

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 pound ground turkey (93 percent or above)

  • 3/4 cup ketchup

  • 1/4 cup barbecue sauce, optional

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

  • 2/3 cup water

  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar (or to taste)

  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard

  • 1 teaspoon chili powder (or sweet or smoked paprika)

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)

  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)

  • 8 hamburger buns, split, for serving

  • Shredded or thinly sliced cheese, for topping, optional

  • Lettuce, for topping, optional

  • Pickles, for topping, optional

  • Sliced tomatoes, for topping, optional

  • Thinly sliced onion, for topping, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for ground turkey sloppy joes
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet or sauté pan over medium heat. Add onion and bell pepper and cook for about 6 minutes, or until onion is translucent.

    Saute pan with diced peppers, onions, and garlic
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  3. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute longer.

  4. Add ground turkey to pan with onion and bell pepper and cook while breaking up and stirring, until turkey is no longer pink, or about 5 minutes.

    Saute pan with cooked ground turkey
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  5. To turkey, add ketchup, barbecue sauce (if using), tomato paste, water, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, yellow mustard, chili powder or paprika, salt, and pepper. Stir and taste; adjust the seasonings as necessary.

    adding the sauce ingredients to ground turkey
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  6. Simmer sloppy Joe mixture for about 10 minutes, or until thickened, stirring occasionally.

    pan with simmered turkey sloppy joe mixture
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  7. Assemble turkey sloppy Joes on warm or toasted hamburger buns with lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles, and cheese—or your own favorite toppings.

    turkey sloppy joe assembly
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

Why Are They Called Sloppy Joes?

As with many dishes, the origin of ground beef sloppy Joes is not clear. In print, the name dates back to a 1940 Ohio restaurant ad. The name "sloppy" probably describes the dish's appearance—a messy, dripping, loose meat burger. According to John Mariani in The Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, there is probably no specific Joe after whom it is named.

How To Store Turkey Sloppy Joes

  • Refrigerate leftover sloppy Joe mixture within 2 hours in shallow airtight containers for up to 4 days.
  • For longer storage, transfer the cooled sloppy Joe mixture to zip-close freezer bags. Label with the name and date and freeze for up to 6 months.

Recipe Variations

  • Sloppy Joes are usually served on split buns, but the meat mixture makes an excellent taco filling as well. Top sloppy Joe tacos with shredded lettuce, sliced black olives, and shredded pepper jack cheese.
  • Replace the ground turkey with ground chicken.
  • Omit the buns and use the sloppy Joe mixture instead of ground beef for nachos along with other toppings and cheese.
  • Use the sloppy Joe mixture as a pizza topping.
  • Make mini sandwiches or sliders with the sloppy Joe turkey and sauce mixture.
  • It's also great mixed with mac and cheese or worked into a casserole with Tater Tots.