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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 for an even healthier version or serve them on top of your favorite hamburger buns.

Don’t have time for a slow cook? See recipe notes for a quick, 30-minute option to make them on the stove!

Love healthier classics? Try this Instant Pot Mongolian beef or one pot taco pasta for another quick and easy dinner for the family.

healthy sloppy joe on a plate with a wheat bun
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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. (That’s why we have a whole library of slow cooker recipes.) Set it and forget it!

These healthy sloppy joes are great for 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? The entire family will give rave reviews for these barbeque burgers. They’re so flavorful and easy to make in the crock pot.

Grab These Ingredients

Here are the simple, wholesome 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.

ingredients for healthy sloppy joes on a table
  • 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 pure maple syrup on hand and it makes a great sweetener for 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

Saute onions and peppers. 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. 

sauteed onions and peppers in a skillet

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.

browned ground beef with peppers and onions in a skillet

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.

how to make healthy sloppy joes in the slow cooker

Recipe Variations

Never be afraid of making little changes that make easy dinner recipes even easier (or tastier) for your family! We have some ideas of easy ways to switch up these sloppy joes:

  • Try making this recipe with lean ground turkey, ground chicken, or even ground bison instead of beef.
  • Add more veggies by dicing another red bell pepper, chopped spinach, or diced carrots. (Check out our tips for how to cut a bell pepper.)
  • 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.
  • Take a great recipe to the next level with a toasted bun, pickled red onions, or homemade pickles.

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 side dishes. If you want to stick with healthy sides to go with your homemade sloppy joes, here are a few family-friendly recipes to serve them with!

Recipe FAQs

Are sloppy joes good for you?

It depends on what delicious 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.

How many calories are in sloppy joes?

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.

healthy sloppy joes inside a roasted sweet potato

 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

Craving tacos with healthy, real ingredients? Try our Korean shredded beef tacos or taco stuffed sweet potatoes.

If you’re looking for lower carb options for easy dinners, try our one pan sausage, butternut squash and apples or slow cooker sweet potato beef stew.

Need a good recipe for game day? This slow cooker paleo chili is a favorite.

Tap stars to rate!
4.73 from 51 votes

Healthy Sloppy Joes

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 5 hours
Total: 5 hours 10 minutes
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.

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Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients

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)
  • 1/2 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

Instructions 

  • 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.
Last step! If you make this, please leave a review letting us know how it was!

Notes

Note 1. Stovetop Healthy Sloppy Joes. Follow the directions to cook the onion and ground beef in a deep saucepan. Stir in the rest of the ingredients until the tomato paste is well distributed. Increase the heat to medium-high then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes, until the sauce reduces slightly.
Note 2. Maple Syrup. We like this as a refined sugar-free option, but you can also use brown sugar or coconut sugar. You can also omit the maple syrup for a whole30 option.
Storage: store leftover sloppy joes in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge and warm up on the stove or reheat individual servings in the microwave.
*Nutrition facts include the paleo version with maple syrup. The whole30 version, it’s 330 calories and 12.3 carbs.

Video

Equipment

  • 4-quart slow cooker Note 1 Stovetop version

Nutrition

Serving: 1sloppy joe (without potato) | Calories: 373kcal | Carbohydrates: 22.3g | Protein: 32.2g | Fat: 16.8g | Saturated Fat: 5.5g | Cholesterol: 95mg | Fiber: 2.7g | Sugar: 15.7g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Recipe Rating




28 Comments

  1. Katy says:

    Hi. What is the serving size for this? I’d like to track the macros but the serving size is listed as “1 sloppy joe”. Can you give an amount in grams/oz or size such as cup, 1/2 cup, etc? Thanks!

    1. Molly Thompson says:

      Hey Katy! I’m working on going through all of my recipes, doing this, and adding them to MFP. I can’t give an exact measurement right now. I recommend weighing it all and dividing by 4 to get an accurate serving size. Putting this one at the top of my list for checking. Thanks!

  2. Christine says:

    5 stars
    Made the recipe exactly as is, and my 8 year old and I loved it! Easy and very tasty, and I’ll make this again and again. Thank you!

    1. Molly Thompson says:

      Thank you!!!

  3. Lisa says:

    5 stars
    These were soooo good! Comfort food without the bloat and guilt!

  4. Kelli says:

    Hi — not sure if you’ll see this in time or not, but what would be the changes for the Whole 30 version vs. the regular? I have gestational diabetes, and trying to watch my carb count, so the 12carb option frees me up to have a bun too!

    1. Molly Thompson says:

      Sorry that wasn’t clear! Just omit the maple syrup in the recipe:)

  5. Emily says:

    5 stars
    Crowd pleaser. So good and enjoyed by my entire family. I always double it/triple it to keep some in the freezer for the future.

  6. Lindsey Abendroth says:

    5 stars
    We love this recipe and make it about once a week! So yummy. Making a double batch today 😋

  7. Courtney says:

    5 stars
    This recipe is sooooo good! I forgot to slow cook it so I cooked it in the Instant Pot and it was so good. I’ve already made it 3 times now.

  8. Cheyenne says:

    5 stars
    My husband and I are on our second round of whole 30 so we omitted the maple syrup to be compliant and this came out absolutely fantastic! Very flavorful and will be making again! Thank you!

  9. Tara says:

    5 stars
    This was delicious!! So easy and yet so truly satisfying!

    1. Molly Thompson says:

      Thanks, Tara!

  10. Cherisse says:

    5 stars
    I came on here to write a raving review and then realized I already wrote one haha! It’s THAT GOOD!!!

  11. Cherisse says:

    5 stars
    This is the BEST slow cooker I have EVER tried!!! I just made it and it’s already on my list to make again for next week! THANK YOU for bringing this childhood favorite back for me!

    1. Molly Thompson says:

      Ahhh Cherisse! This is the best. SO glad you love it. We make this one all the time!

  12. Alyssa says:

    5 stars
    This recipe is a staple in our house! We make it at least once a month. Never would have thought to pair sloppy joe’s with sweet potatoes. This recipe doesn’t call for salt and really needs it though! I always add salt to the beef after I brown it and then add more salt at the end as well.

    1. Molly Thompson says:

      Thanks, Alyssa! I think you’re right about the salt. I need to update the recipe, that might be a typo. I typically add salt, especially to beef recipes. Thanks!

  13. Jamie says:

    Love your recipes! Have you tried this one in the instant pot? I just got rid of my slow cooker!

    1. Molly Thompson says:

      Hey Jamie! So glad you love my recipes:) I haven’t tried this in the instant pot, but here is what I would do if I did!

      Follow the directions to saute and cook everything in the pot then cancel it and pressure cook on high for 10 minutes, natural release for 5 ish mins and then quick release. Let me know if that works!

      1. Julie says:

        I just made this for the first time and followed your suggestions for the Instant Pot . . . It worked out great! Don’t have a comparison to the slow cooker so might have to try that next time to compare.

        Great flavor profile!

        1. Molly Thompson says:

          Love that! Thanks for sharing!

  14. Alyssa says:

    5 stars
    I love this recipe! I’ve made it multiple times and it never disappoints. So easy to throw together in the crockpot and I love the idea of combining it with a sweet potato. This will continue to be one of my easy and healthy go-to recipes!

  15. Jamie says:

    I have no red wine vinegar, can I omit or use apple cider vinegar?

    1. Molly Thompson says:

      You can use apple cider vinegar!

  16. Sara Williston says:

    5 stars
    A FAVORITE EASY RECIPE AT MY HOUSE! My BF LOVESS THESE!! I make them in the skillet for dinner, so easy and yummy 🙂

  17. Amy says:

    5 stars
    This recipe is amazing. My family loves it. So easy to prepare and so much flavor.

    1. Molly Thompson says:

      Love that, Amy! Thanks for sharing:)