Sink your teeth into juicy homemade gluten-free sloppy joes without ketchup! Savory sweet with a bit of bold flavor, perfect for easy weeknight meals.
Why you'll love these gluten-free sloppy joes
- This sloppy joe recipe is high in protein and filled with hidden vegetables.
- The sloppy joe sauce is zesty, tangy, sweet and savory. It has the perfect texture and consistency.
- There is no brown sugar, no Worcestershire sauce and no ketchup. It's also gluten-free and dairy-free.
- A homemade sauce starting with tomato sauce, builds on a classic recipe that is kid friendly and adult friendly. An easy recipe for busy weeknights that your whole family will enjoy.
- It's super versatile and can be made with a variety of ground meat like grass-fed and pasture-raised ground beef, ground chicken or ground turkey.
- Enjoy on a gluten-free bun. Or, serve on lettuce, stuffed in a baked potato, or as a side and keep it whole30 friendly and paleo friendly.
- Best of all it's served messy on purpose!
For other easy, high-protein dishes try my Easy Chicken Muffins, Roasted Turkey Breast with Garlic and Herbs, or my Simple Teriyaki Chicken (easy 20 minute recipe). Or, for plant based options whip up some Vegan Chickpea Veggie Burgers, White Fish Tacos with Mango Mint Salsa or my White Bean and Vegetable Soup with Kale.
Noteworthy ingredients and substitutions
- Olive oil: can be substituted for ghee, coconut oil or avocado oil.
- Onion: can be sweet, yellow, red or shallots. I prefer to use sweet onions as they're fairly inexpensive, versatile and don't overpower the dish.
- Red peppers: add a little color but a green bell pepper works as well.
- Ground turkey, chicken or beef: all work well with this sloppy joe recipe. I always choose pasture-raised and/or grass fed when available.
- Cumin, smoked paprika and ground mustard: make a great spice combination that compliments the sauce.
- Fine sea salt
- Tomato sauce and tomato paste: make the base of the sloppy joe sauce.
- Apple cider vinegar: adds a little tang.
- Hot sauce: brings a little heat but not too much!
- Maple syrup or date paste: adds a little sweetness which is more in keeping with the traditional Manwich Original Sloppy Joe Sauce. I tend to leave it out. It tastes great either way.
See recipe card for all ingredients and quantities.
How to make gluten-free sloppy joes
- Sauté vegetables: Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Warm olive oil and add onion and red bell pepper. Sauté until softened, mixing often. About 4 minutes.
- Spice: Add garlic, ground cumin, smoked paprika, ground mustard and sea salt. Continue to mix as garlic slightly browns and spices become aromatic. About 1 minute.
- Protein: Add the ground turkey, chicken or beef and continue to cook, breaking the meat apart with a wooden spoon until no longer pink. About 3 minutes.
- Sauce: Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, apple cider vinegar, hot sauce, and maple syrup or date paste if using. Mix well and reduce heat. Simmer uncovered until sauce has thickened. About 10-12 minutes.
Tips, tricks and variations
- To save time, prep your veggies in a food processor, pulsing a few times to coarsely chop for texture. Or pulse a little longer to mince the veggies so no one notices there's vegetables in the sloppy joes.
- Swap your choice of ground meat and use ground beef, ground turkey or ground chicken. You could also use about 2 cups of cooked lentils in place of the meat to make vegetarian sloppy joes.
- Add extra hot sauce, sriracha or jalapeño to pump up the spicy heat. Or top with a sprinkle of chili pepper flakes.
In order to thicken your sloppy joes, continue to cook the mixture on low heat for a while longer. Tomatoes hold a lot of water, some brands of sauce have more than others. By leaving the sloppy joe mixture simmering, the water will eventually evaporate and the sauce will thicken.
The sloppy joe meat mixture is super flavorful and easy to use in different dishes. The obvious way is in a gluten-free bun but it also works well in tacos, on top of pizza or stuffed in a baked sweet potato. It can also be used as a protein in salad, over gluten-free pasta or rice, or in your favorite nacho recipe.
- Store: The homemade gluten free sloppy joes can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for 4 days.
- Freeze: This recipe freezes well in an airtight container for up to 3 months. You can also store in single portions for easy thawing and individual servings.