Two-Way Sloppy Joes (Meat or Pareve)

Sloppy Joes
This Sloppy Joe slider is made with a vegetarian ground beef substitute. © Miri Rotkovitz
  • Total: 29 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 24 mins
  • Yield: Serves 4

Giora Shimoni was cooking up a batch of these easy Sloppy Joes when his teenage son returned home from school. Though he'd been a vegetarian for two years, he found the aroma so enticing that he had to have one. Shimoni quips that "it was Sloppy Joe's fault" for his son's return to meat eating, and thanks "this winning recipe for converting my son and making my life as the family chef easier." Of course, for dedicated vegetarians and vegans, this recipe works brilliantly with meatless ground beef substitutes; a 12- to 14-ounce package will substitute perfectly for the ground beef, and the cook time will be slightly reduced. 

Make it a Meal: Serve the Sloppy Joes on burger or slider buns, with a side of oven fries or Dijon Potato Salad, and this Rainbow Slaw. For dessert, think comfort food classics, like this Apple and Dried Cherry Crisp, served a la mode. Use pareve soy or regular ice cream, depending on whether you used beef or a vegetarian substitute in your Sloppy Joe recipe, and whether or not you're vegan. 


  • 1 tablespoon olive or canola oil
  • 1 onion (peeled, trimmed, and finely chopped)
  • 1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper (from about 1/2 pepper, optional)
  • 2 garlic cloves (peeled and finely chopped)
  • 1 pound ground beef OR 1 (12-ounce) package vegetarian ground beef substitute
  • 2 cups (16 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 hamburger buns or 8 slider rolls

Steps to Make It

  1. In a large skillet set over medium-high heat, warm the oil.

  2. Add onion, bell pepper (if using), and garlic, and saute just until the onion is soft and translucent about 5 to 7 minutes.

  3. Add the ground beef or vegetarian beef substitute to the skillet. Saute, breaking apart any chunks of meat with a spatula or wooden spoon, until all of the meat (or meat substitute) is browned, about 7 to 10 minutes for beef, or 5 minutes for a vegetarian substitute.

  4. Drain off or spoon out any fat the skillet (if you are using a vegetarian beef substitute, you can skip this step, as there will be little to no fat).

  5. Add the tomato sauce, brown sugar, salt, paprika, thyme, and pepper. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens and the mixture is heated through about 5 to 7 minutes.

  6. Spoon the mixture into the buns or slider rolls. Serve immediately.