Turkey Sloppy Joes

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Turkey Sloppy Joes are made with better-for-you ingredients, the best sauce, and loaded with hidden veggies. Adult-friendly and kid-approved Turkey Sloppy Joes make for a great healthy weeknight dinner that can be prepared in 30 minutes or less.

View of Turkey Sloppy Joes on a plate with a hand holding the sandwich.

Turkey Sloppy Joes: a great healthy meal

Sloppy Joes often get a bad rap for being unhealthy, so I’ve re-vamped classic Sloppy Joes into a veggie-packed, lean-meat-filled sandwich that is anything but bland. These Turkey Sloppy Joes are loaded with flavor and the ground turkey is covered in a crave-worthy sauce that can be whipped together in minutes.

Side dishes to serve with Turkey Sloppy Joes

Process shots: steps in cooking Turkey Sloppy Joes.

How to make Turkey Sloppy Joes

The descriptions below correlate to the photo collage above.

  1. Sauté the veggies. Add the grated onion, garlic, diced red pepper, and diced carrots to a large skillet.
  2. This is a picture of the grated onion; it’s been grated on the large holes of a cheese grater to get this texture. It’s a little tedious, but it makes for delicious flavored sloppy joes without crunchy onions throughout!
  3. Sauté until tender.  Cook and stir the veggies and sauté until all the moisture has evaporated and veggies are tender.
  4. Here’s how the veggies look once tender: At about 5-7 minutes.
  5. Add in the diced mushrooms. This picture shows how small the dice on the mushrooms are.
  6. Sauté the mushrooms until tender: Another 2-3 minutes.
  7. Brown the ground turkey: More on this below.
  8. Make the sauce. While the ground turkey is browning, add all the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl (or you can just add the ingredients straight into the skillet once the turkey is cooked through).
  9. Whisk. Mix the sauce until smooth.
  10. Pour. Pour the sauce over the meat and veggies; simmer until thickened and you’re ready to load the meat on buns and enjoy these Turkey Sloppy Joes!

How to cook ground turkey on the stove

To brown ground turkey on the stovetop, add it to the hot skillet and use a wooden spoon to break it up into small pieces as it browns. Over medium-high heat, it takes 5-8 minutes to cook through; the turkey will turn to a grayish-white color and will brown ever so slightly. If you aren’t using a non-stick skillet, be sure to spray it with nonstick spray or add a small amount of olive oil.

Because of the low fat content, ground turkey isn’t too forgiving when it’s overcooked; it will become dry, crumbly, and lose flavor. Cook the turkey just until done.

Overhead view of Turkey Sloppy Joes, ready to be spooned onto buns and served.

Quick tips

  • Serve Turkey Sloppy Joes on toasted brioche buns. Here’s how to toast buns — on a grill, in a pan, or in the oven. I personally like adding a little butter to the buns and then popping them on a hot grill for 20 to 30 seconds.
  • Add the sloppy joe mixture to the bun right before eating. Turkey Sloppy Joes are very moist and will make the bread soggy quickly. There’s a reason they’re called sloppy joes, after all!
  • Sweeten to taste: Depending on the BBQ sauce you use and the ketchup (some are sweeter than others) you may want to adjust how much brown sugar you use.  I like Stubb’s BBQ Sauce® and Heinz® ketchup. For those brands, 1 tablespoon brown sugar is the perfect amount. (Neither brand is sponsored in this post).
  • Use a food processor: To get your veggies finely chopped without spending forever chopping, just add them to the processor bowl and pulse a few times. Don’t over pulse the veggies or liquefy them; just pulse enough times to get them into small pieces equivalent to a dice.

More EASY ground turkey recipes

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Turkey Sloppy Joes

5 from 14 votes
Turkey Sloppy Joes are made with better-for-you ingredients, the best sauce, and loaded with hidden veggies. These adult-friendly and kid-approved Sloppy Joes make a great healthy weeknight dinner option that can be prepared in 30 minutes or less.
Print Recipe

Turkey Sloppy Joes

5 from 14 votes
Turkey Sloppy Joes are made with better-for-you ingredients, the best sauce, and loaded with hidden veggies. These adult-friendly and kid-approved Sloppy Joes make a great healthy weeknight dinner option that can be prepared in 30 minutes or less.
Course Dinner, Main Course, Sandwich
Cuisine American
Keyword turkey sloppy joes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 loaded sloppy joes (maybe could stretch to 6 if serving kids!)
Calories 446kcal
Author Chelsea Lords
Cost $9.47


  • 1/2 cup grated yellow onion (1 small onion)
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic (2 cloves)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped carrot (1 medium carrot)
  • 1 cup finely chopped red bell pepper (1 bell pepper)
  • 1 cup finely chopped baby bella mushrooms (~6 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon EACH: Worcestershire sauce, red wine vinegar, light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 2 teaspoons beef bouillon powder
  • 1/4 cup bbq sauce
  • Optional: 1/2 to 1 full cup freshly grated sharp Cheddar cheese (depending on how cheesy you'd like it)
  • Brioche (or your favorite) hamburger buns, for serving


  • PREP VEGGIES: Peel an onion and grate it on the large holes of a cheese grater. Mince the garlic, finely chop (or grate on the large holes) a carrot, finely chop the red pepper, and finely chop the mushrooms. ALTERNATIVELY, add a coarsely chopped carrot, coarsely chopped red pepper, and garlic to a food processor and pulse into diced pieces. Add the mushrooms separately and pulse into diced pieces.
  • COOK VEGGIES: Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to a large cast iron skillet and place over medium high heat. Add in the onion, garlic, carrot, and bell pepper. Sauté for 5-7 minutes or until liquid from the veggies has evaporated. Add in the mushrooms and saute for another 2-3 minutes or until all veggies are mostly tender. Press veggies to the edges of the skillet and add 1 pound ground turkey in the center of the pan. Crumble the meat into small pieces and cook until no longer pink (but not cooked through all the way), about 5-8 minutes. As you crumble the meat, incorporate the veggies into the meat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • SAUCE: Whisk this sauce separately in a different bowl or just add it right into the skillet. Add the 1/2 cup ketchup, 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon brown sugar (Note 1), 1 teaspoon yellow mustard, 2 teaspoons beef bouillon powder, and 1/4 cup BBQ sauce. Stir well and then simmer the meat until fully cooked through and sauce has thickened, about another 3-5 minutes.
  • FINISH: Remove the skillet from the heat. If desired, add some freshly grated cheese on top of the meat and let it stand (covered with a lid) for 2-3 minutes or until melted. Spoon the mixture on top of toasted buns (Note 2) and enjoy immediately.

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Sweetener: Depending on the BBQ sauce and ketchup you use (some are sweeter than others) you may want more or less brown sugar; add to personal preference.
Note 2: Buns: I like to toast the buns; it adds flavor and keeps the buns from getting too soggy too quickly. Either grill the buns on a hot grill for 20-30 seconds, gently toast in a 350 degree F oven until buns are warmed through and barely crispy (about 5 minutes), or cook in a saute pan for 2-3 minutes over medium-high heat.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 4loaded sloppy joes | Calories: 446kcal | Carbohydrates: 49.5g | Protein: 24.4g | Fat: 14.8g | Cholesterol: 78.8mg | Sodium: 776.4mg | Fiber: 4.3g | Sugar: 19.3g

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.


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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    what a great reminder of a long forgotten favorite, or at least it can become one again with healthier ingredients like ground turkey, very nice, thank you!

  2. 5 stars
    I made this for dinner tonight and followed recipe exactly (ok, almost exactly!! We have a lot of ground venison in the freezer so I used that instead of the ground turkey). It as DELICIOUS!!! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️!! The only thing I find is that my prep time is always at least double any website prep time listed!! I guess I’m a slow chopper! Lol. I did use my mini food processor for all the veggies and it was a big time saver. My husband said, “you can make this meal every week and I’d be happy!”

    1. I am SOOO happy to hear this!! Yay!! And thanks for the tip on the food processor! Thanks so much for your comment! 🙂

    2. Omg, I feel your pain!!! I’m 41 & have been cooking since I was about 12, and it still takes me forever to chop!! Lol. I look at the times listed for recipes and double it in my mind because I know there’s no way I’ll get it done faster.

    1. You could try rice wine vinegar or 1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar. If you don’t want any vinegar, you can leave it out. (I like the way it balances flavors and sweetness!)

  3. 5 stars
    My husband and I love this recipe. So much so, that I have shared it with my family and several friends. I grated the carrot (much faster than finely chopping), and added a 1/4 tsp of Smoked Paprika which gives it a mild Smokey flavor. Thanks for a delicious recipe!

    1. Not that I know of that will have the same effect, sorry. You can leave it out, but it gives it a really great flavor and makes the turkey taste more like beef 🙂 You may need some extra salt without it.

    2. I always use the Better Than Boullion that I always have on hand. If I don’t have beef (which I ususally do), vegetable or chicken work well, too. I prefer the extra bit of flavor that beef adds.

  4. 5 stars
    I didn’t have any barbecue or beef bullion so I swapped with about a half tablespoon of Johnny’s French Dip Au Jus concentrate. I had to calculate the nutrition count due to my husband’s restricted diet. Here it is for anyone interested. Btw, he liked it and we’ll be making it again. The nutrition count does not include a roll. Calculated on Spark recipes but not saved there to protect your content. I wish bloggers would break out the nutrition content, trying to cook for him now is very, very time consuming.
    Total Fat7.9 g
    Saturated Fat2.1 g
    Polyunsaturated Fat0.3 g
    Monounsaturated Fat1.7 g
    Cholesterol53.3 mg
    Sodium394.3 mg
    Potassium119.1 mg
    Total Carbohydrate24.0 g
    Dietary Fiber3.5 g
    Sugars11.3 g
    Protein17.5 g
    Vitamin A31.1 %
    Vitamin B-120.1 %
    Vitamin B-64.8 %
    Vitamin C33.0 %
    Vitamin D2.2 %
    Vitamin E1.4 %
    Calcium3.7 %
    Copper3.2 %
    Folate2.0 %
    Iron5.5 %
    Magnesium1.5 %
    Manganese3.7 %
    Niacin3.4 %
    Pantothenic Acid2.4 %
    Phosphorus2.2 %
    Riboflavin3.7 %
    Selenium3.5 %
    Thiamin2.3 %
    Zinc1.0 %
    *Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000

  5. 5 stars
    This is very similar to another Sloppy Turkey Joe recipe that I have used for years. That recipe included a make your own “No Cook BBQ Sauce” which can be used in this recipe. What I love about your recipe is the addition of the mushrooms and the beef bouillon. I also like that you grated the onion, it does make a difference. Definitely a keeper recipe!

  6. 5 stars
    This was a very tasty and healthy meal! A nurse came to my house and smelled what was cooking and took the recipe with her! Yummy!

  7. 5 stars
    These are my “go-to” sloppy joes. So tasty and a great way to make a healthier version of an old favorite. I serve these on thin buns, and use the thin cheese slices to save a few more calories. Thank you for sharing this great recipe!

  8. 5 stars
    This is my new favorite sloppy joe recipe! I made a triple batch so I could freeze some for meal prep. I subbed a small can of tomato paste for the tomato sauce (because that’s what I had on hand) and just added a bit of water to thin. I also added a couple jalapeños that needed used up. Served over sweet potato is my favorite way to eat it!

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