Easy skillet 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 for a great healthy weeknight dinner that can be prepared in 30 minutes or less.
Turkey sloppy joes make 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 sloppy joes
- Potato chips
- Bread and butter or dill pickles
- Elote (or plain grilled corn on the cob)
- Roasted broccoli or roasted Brussels sprouts
- Onion rings
- French fries (or sweet potato fries)
- Baked beans
- A good pasta salad like this orzo pasta salad
- Potato salad
- Cucumber salad
How to make turkey sloppy joes
The descriptions below correlate to the photo collage above.
- Sauté the veggies: add the grated onion, garlic, diced red pepper, and diced carrots to a large skillet.
- This is a picture of the grated onion — it’s been grated on the large holes of a cheese grater to get this texture. A little tedious, but it makes for delicious flavored sloppy joes without crunchy onions throughout!
- Sauté until tender: mix around the veggies and sauté until all the moisture has evaporated and veggies are tender.
- Here’s how the veggies look once tender: at about 5-7 minutes.
- Add in the diced mushrooms: this picture shows how small the dice on the mushrooms are.
- Sauté the mushrooms until tender: another 2-3 minutes.
- Brown the ground turkey: more on this below!
- Sauce: while the ground turkey is browning, add all the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl (or you can just add them straight into the skillet once the turkey is cooked through!)
- Whisk: the sauce until smooth.
- 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 ever so slightly brown.
Because of the low fat content, ground turkey isn’t too forgiving when it’s over cooked; it will become dry, crumbly, and lose flavor. Use a food thermometer and cook it until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.
- Serve these 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 20-30 seconds.
- Add the sloppy joe topping to the bun right before eating. The turkey sloppy joe mixture is very moist and will make the bread soggy quickly!
- Sweeten to taste: depending on the BBQ sauce you use and the ketchup (some are sweeter than others!) you may want more or less brown sugar. I use Stubb’s BBQ Sauce and Heinz ketchup and have found 1 tablespoon brown sugar to be the perfect amount sweet. (Neither brand sponsored this post).
- Use a food processor: to get your veggies finely chopped, without spending forever chopping, add them to a food processor and pulse a few times. Don’t over-pulse the veggies or liquify them, just pulse enough times to get them into small pieces equivalent to a dice.
More EASY ground turkey recipes:
- Ground Turkey Tacos
- Miniature Turkey Meatloaf
- Loaded Taco Fries with ground turkey
- Ground Turkey Recipe skillet stir-fry
- Spaghetti Squash with Turkey Meatballs
Easy skillet 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 for a great healthy weeknight dinner option that can be prepared in 30 minutes or less.
- 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 sauté 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; I add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
SAUCE: either 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.
Note 1: depending on the BBQ sauce you use and the ketchup (some are sweeter than others!) you may want more or less brown sugar; add to personal preference.
Note 2: 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 sauté pan for 2-3 minutes over medium high heat.