How to Make Homemade Burger Buns, with recipes for "Cheese & Onion Buns" and "Cheesy Ranch Buns" | The Good Hearted Woman
5 from 1 vote

Lighter Classic Sloppy Joes

This lighter version of classic Sloppy Joes has all the rich, savory, full-bodied flavor you’re craving! 
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Course: Main, Main Course, Main Dish
Cuisine: Comfort Food
Keyword: lighter sloppy joes, sloppy joes
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 210kcal
Author: Renée ♥ The Good Hearted Woman


Sloppy Joes Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 3-4 stalks celery finely chopped
  • 1 - 1 1/4 pounds ground turkey or ground chicken
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 3/4 cup ketchup [We use Portland Ketchup!)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar see NOTES
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 medium carrots coarsely grated
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 cup water or as needed
  • 1/8 - 1/4 cup old-fashioned or quick oats coarsely ground or chopped

For Serving

  • Chopped green onions
  • Toasted burger buns
  • Cheese sliced or grated [Optional; see NOTES]


  • In a small bowl, mix together ketchup, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, cocoa powder, salt, Sriracha, basil, oregano, fennel seeds, and paprika. Set aside.
  • Melt butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Increase heat to medium-high and add chopped onions and celery. Stir intermittently until the onions just begin to brown.
  • Add 1/2 cup water and ground meat to skillet with the onions and celery. Season with Break meat apart and cook until no pink remains and water has evaporated.
  • Add contents of small bowl to skillet mixture and stir to combine thoroughly.
  • Reduce heat to Low, cover skillet, and simmer 5 - 10 minutes.
  • If mix is too thick: Add up to a cup of water before simmering (Don't go crazy, though!)
  • To thicken the mixture, add 2 -4 tablespoons of quick or old-fashioned oats. This works best if you run them through a food mill or small blender first. Be careful though - you don't want to turn it into oat flour - you just want to break the oats up a little.


SLOW COOKER DIRECTIONS: Do steps 1 - 4 as outlined, then dump everything into the slow cooker, and cook on low for 1-2 hours.
  • BROWN SUGAR: If you prefer your Joes a little less sweet, reduce or omit the brown sugar according to your tastes. Also, pay attention to the amount of sugar in your ketchup - if it is a very sweet variety, you will want to cut back on the brown sugar.
  • CHEESE: I usually use cheddar, or a blend of cheddar and jack. Just use whatever sounds good to you.


Calories: 210kcal
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