A childhood-inspired classic, updated
If you grew up in America, it is highly likely you grew up eating sloppy joes at one time or another. In most cases, it was probably thrown together with ground beef and a can of heavily processed sloppy joe sauce, then "slopped" onto a soft hamburger bun. These Sloppy Joe Bowls are the slightly more refined version of this sloppy childhood meal. I sometimes refer to them as "Un-Sloppy Joes."
Ground beef gets cooked down with bell pepper and treated to a classically savory tomato sauce, seasoned with garlic, Dijon mustard, and a splash of apple cider vinegar to give it that classic sloppy joe tanginess. Rather than serving in a bun, I prefer to serve these Sloppy Joes in a bowl on top of white rice, cauliflower rice, roasted sweet potatoes, or a combination thereof. This childhood-inspired classic dinner dish can be made in less than 30-minutes and is perfect for busy weeknights!
How should I serve these Sloppy Joe Bowls?
I prefer to assemble my Sloppy Joe Bowls with a base of either fluffy white rice or lightly sauteed and seasoned cauliflower rice. I also love to add some roasted sweet potatoes, though roasted white potatoes are also nice. You can also swap out the rice for a bed of roasted sweet or white potatoes, spaghetti squash, or serve this over top of green veggies such as roasted broccoli, green beans, zoodles (spiralized zucchini), or sauteed kale or spinach. The saucy meat is super tasty with both starchy bases and veggies, so use what you prefer.
What tools do I need to make this recipe?
- A large saute pan or skillet
- A cutting board
- A chef's knife
- A kitchen scale -- OR -- measuring cups (for less precise measurements)
- Measuring spoons
- A wooden spoon or spatula
If you choose to serve this dish with roasted sweet potatoes, as pictured, you will also need:
- A parchment-lined baker's half sheet
If you choose to serve this dish with white rice, as pictured, you will also need:
- An Instant Pot, rice cooker, or pot for the stove (make rice according to your preference)
Are you looking to upgrade to your cooking tools or replenish your pantry? Check out my kitchen tools shop page and pantry staples shop page to find my must-have kitchen tools, pantry items, and other Whip & Wander favorites.
Looking for more easy dinner inspiration?
- Cauliflower Mac and Cheese with Kale and Sausage
- Cottage Pie with Horseradish Mash
- Greek Lamb Meatballs with Tzatziki Sauce
- Crispy Oven-Fried Fish
- Shrimp in Romesco Sauce with White Beans
A note for special diets
These Sloppy Joe Bowls are easily made friendly for grain-free, gluten-free, low-carb, Paleo, and Whole30 diets depending on what you choose to serve the sauced meat with. For Paleo and Whole30 diets, you'll want to serve the meat over cauliflower rice, sweet potatoes, or another compliant base (or combination) rather than the white rice. For low-carb diets, you'll also want to avoid rice as well as potatoes; cauliflower rice, roasted broccoli, or sauteed greens are nice choices to build your Sloppy Joe Bowls instead.
Sloppy Joe Bowls
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 20 minutes
- Yield: 6 portions 1x
- Category: Mains
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Gluten Free
Ground beef gets cooked down with bell pepper and treated to a classically savory tomato sauce, seasoned with garlic, Dijon mustard, and a splash of apple cider vinegar to give it that classic sloppy joe tanginess. This childhood-inspired classic dinner dish can be made in less than 30-minutes and is perfect for busy weeknights!
For the Sloppy Joe meat:
- 2 lbs ground beef
- 80 g (about 1 ½ cups) green onions, chopped
- 225 g (about 1 large or two small) bell pepper, chopped (any color you prefer)
- 6 oz tomato paste
- 15 oz tomato sauce
- ½ tsp garlic powder (may sub for 1 tbsp garlic-infused olive oil if needed)
- 2 tbs apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbs Dijon mustard
- ½ tsp Kosher salt, plus more to taste
- ½ tsp pepper
Optional additions for serving:
- White rice (as pictured)
- Cauliflower rice
- Spaghetti squash
- Zoodles (spiralized zucchini)
- Roasted sweet potatoes (as pictured)
- Roasted white potatoes
- Roasted Broccoli
- Green Beans
- Sauteed kale or spinach
- Shredded cheese, to top
For Sloppy Joe meat:
- In a large sautee pan or deep skillet over medium-high heat, brown the ground beef, breaking it up with a wooden spoon or spatula as it browns. Cook until hardly any pink is visible, then add the bell pepper and green onion and continue to cook until the meat is fully browned.
- Lower the heat to medium and add the tomato paste, tomato sauce, garlic powder (or garlic-infused olive oil), apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine, then allow the mixture to simmer, stirring regularly, until the sauce has thickened. Taste for salt and adjust as needed.
- Serve over your choice of optional bases (see ideas above). *In the photos, I have served the Sloppy Joe meat over fluffy white rice with roasted sweet potatoes -- For the sweet potatoes, I slice them thinly, then lightly coat in olive oil and a sprinkle of Kosher salt, then roast on a parchment-lined baker's half sheet at 400 degrees F /205 C for 30 minutes, flipping once after 20 minutes.
Nutritional information on Whip & Wander is provided as a courtesy and is approximate only. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of the nutritional information given for any recipe on this site.
Nutritional information does not account for optional extras such as rice or sweet potatoes.
9/8/21 This recipe was updated and may no longer fit specified dietary preferences from previous versions of this post. The previous version of this recipe was named "Un-Sloppy Joe Bowls."
- Serving Size: 1 portion
- Calories: 317
- Sugar: 2 g
- Sodium: 567 mg
- Fat: 15 g
- Saturated Fat: 6 g
- Carbohydrates: 9 g
- Fiber: 1 g
- Protein: 30 g
- Cholesterol: 100 mg
Keywords: Sloppy Joe
This recipe is so good! Made as written and no changes except a few minor ones due to personal preference (which is a high compliment from me - haha). This made a perfect hearty lunch for the weekday that was quick to reheat.
I'm so glad you enjoy this dish! It's a favorite of ours too!
Does the nutrition info include the cauliflower rice? Or is it just the sloppy joe mix. I can’t wait to try this.
Whip & Wander says
The nutrition info includes the cauliflower. I calculated this on myfitnesspal.com using a medium head of cauliflower for the whole recipe. I hope you love it!
Claudia Lamascolo says
this sounds like a delicious healthy alternative for this sandwich!
Veena Azmanov says
Oh my! That looks so tender. Ultimate comfort food! I can't WAIT to try this! Is good food and this looks like one of the BEST!! Thank you for this great recipe!
I love sloppy joe, but tend to make it rarely because it is, well - sloppy 🙂 These sloppy joe bowls are simply genius! What a great idea, which is delicious and way less messy.
Alida | Simply Delicious says
Great recipe idea!
camila hurst says
I didn't grow up in America so I never had a sloppy joes like what you described, but I would totally have this that you present here today!! Looks and sounds delish!
This looks delicious. I don't eat beef, so I'd substitute ground turkey.
I love finding unique Whole30 recipes! I'm not usually a fan of sloppy joes but these sound like something I could get down with!
Holly Lasha says
yummy! I think this looks like something I should try!!
Jessica Wagner says
This looks like a meal I can get behind! Defiantly marking this off as one to remember! Thanks for sharing! XO
So nostalgic! I never really understood why anyone would try to stuff what's basically a meat sauce into a bun. This makes so much more sense. I am LOVING meals that re-heat well for work lunches these days too!
Adriana Lopez Martin says
What a great idea to transform a childhood calssic into a better option. Really enjoy updating old recipes and make them modern again. Great job!
Molly Kumar says
That looks so comforting and would make a perfect midweek meal. I love the addition of cauliflowers too and will have to try this soon now.