These homemade healthy sloppy joes feature a rich, sweet, and savory sauce, hidden veggies, and protein-packed ground beef. Throw everything into the slow cooker and come home to a family-friendly meal everyone will look forward to. Scoop them inside a sweet potato or serve them on top of your favorite hamburger buns.
See recipe notes for a quick, 30-minute option to make them on the stove!
We're always looking for easy, healthy weeknight meals in our house. We can't get enough of things that taste so good but also don't take a ton of effort to make or clean. These healthy sloppy joes are just that!
Why You'll Love These Healthy Sloppy Joes
- Just like a traditional sloppy joe, but with clean and simple ingredients.
- Easy to reheat, making them great for meal prep.
- Quick and easy meal the whole family will love.
Need another slow cooker recipe with similar ingredients? These barbeque burgers so flavorful and easy to make in the crock pot.
Here are the simple ingredients for this sloppy joes recipe. Most are pantry staples and easy (and affordable) to find in grocery stores. Jump down to the recipe card for the full list of ingredients.
- Onion and garlic: the base of the recipe to build flavor.
- Ground beef: lean protein traditional to sloppy joes.
- Peppers: we like red bell peppers or green bell peppers. Dice them into small pieces and your kids won't even know they're eating them.
- Tomato sauce and paste: these give the sloppy joe filling the rich tomato flavor you're used to, without ketchup.
- Maple syrup: we always have pur maple syrup on hand and it makes a great sweetener foor the meat mixture. Coconut sugar and brown sugar are great options. Use any substitute for coconut sugar if needed.
- Spices: chili powder, onion powder, and salt.
- Worcestershire sauce: this is the classic recipe, but it does contain sugar, so you can use coconut aminos instead.
- Mustard: we've tested this with both yellow and brown mustard and both worked well.
- Vinegar: this balances the sweet and savory flavors in the sloppy joe sauce. You can use red wine vinegar too.
How to Make Healthy Sloppy Joes
The full printable recipe is at the bottom of this post, but let’s walk through the steps with some photos and a video so you have a clear idea of what to expect. These healthy homemade sloppy joes are really easy and these step-by-step instructions will make sure they turn out every time.
Watch How to Make Healthy Sloppy Joes
Add the oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the diced onions and peppers and cook until soft and translucent, about 3 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for another minute, until fragrant.
Brown the meat for about 5 minutes then carefully drain the fat from the pan and transfer the mixture to in a 4-quart slow cooker.
Add the remaining ingredients to the slow cooker and stir well to combine, until the tomato paste is evenly distributed. It should be thick with a deep red color. Cook on low heat for 6-7 hours or high heat for 3-4 hours. You could also cook everything on the stovetop and simmer for about 15 minutes until it's warm and bubbling.
Try making this recipe with lean ground turkey or even ground chicken, instead of beef.
Add more veggies by dicing another red bell pepper, chopped spinach, or diced carrots.
Want a little spice? Mix in your favorite hot sauce or a pinch of red pepper flakes.
Mix in some drained and rinsed pinto beans for added fiber.
Healthy Sides for Sloppy Joes
We love to serve our sloppy goes in gluten-free buns, regular buns, or a sweet potato, and alongside our favorite salads, veggies or sides. If you're wanting to stick with healthy sides to go with your homemade sloppy joes, here are a few ideas!
- Dairy free mashed potatoes
- Crispy brussel sprouts
- Brussel sprout salad
- Kale and goat cheese salad
- Baked sweet potato fries
- Summer corn salad
It depends on what sloppy joe recipe you're following, but this one is very healthy! It's paleo approved and I've even included a whole30 option. Even if you use a whole wheat or gluten free bun this recipe is super healthy and full of protein, veggies and healthy fat.
One serving of these sloppy joes has about 375 calories. This includes a whopping 32 grams of protein! If you want to eat it with a bun or a sweet potato add about 200 more ingredients depending on what you use.
If you make this recipe, I’d love for you to give it a star rating ★ below. You can also tag me on Instagram so I can see it!
More easy paleo dinners:
- Korean shredded beef tacos
- One pan sausage, butternut squash and apples
- Slow cooker paleo chili
- Slow cooker sweet potato beef stew
- Taco stuffed sweet potatoes
Healthy Sloppy Joes
Healthy Sloppy Joes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or avocado oil
- 1 medium yellow onion diced
- 2 cloves minced garlic or 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 lb ground beef we used 93% lean
- 1 red or green bell pepper diced
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup (Note 2)
- ½ teaspoon EACH: chili powder and onion powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon coconut aminos or Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon brown or yellow mustard
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 4 Hamburger buns or roasted sweet potatoes
Sweet Potatoes (Optional)
- 4 medium sweet potatoes
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- Pinch of salt
- 4-quart slow cooker Note 1 Stovetop version
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the diced onions and cook until soft and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, until fragrant.
- Place ground meat into the pan and brown until no pink remains, about 5 minutes. Carefully drain the fat from the pan and transfer the beef and onions to in a 4-quart slow cooker. See Note 1 for stove top instructions.
- Add the remaining ingredients to the slow cooker and stir well to combine, until the tomato paste is evenly distributed. It should be thick with a deep red color. Cook on low heat for 6-7 hours or high for 3-4 hours.
- Serve warm with whole wheat buns or inside roasted sweet potatoes.
- If serving them in a sweet potato, start making them an hour before you're ready to serve. Preheat your oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Coat the outside of the sweet potatoes with coconut oil then sprinkle with sea salt. Poke a few holes in the potatoes with a fork to release steam then bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour or until the outside is crisp and the inside is soft. Serve sloppy joes inside sweet potatoes.