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Healthier Sloppy Joes with Turkey

32 Reviews

These Ground Turkey Sloppy Joes are a healthier take on the classic sandwich recipe. Perfect for busy weeknights, potlucks, and cookouts! 

ground turkey sloppy joe on wood board with bread in background

Healthy Ground Turkey Sloppy Joes

Ground turkey makes a great healthy substitute for sloppy joes, however they are they so much lighter than a ground beef sloppy joe that you’ll want to adjust the recipe slightly. This healthy sloppy joes recipe can be made on the stovetop, in a slow cooker, or in an Instant Pot!

While ground beef packs great protein, it along with the sugar, condiments, and fats in classic sloppy joes can make for a not so lean meal. However, there are some easy changes you can make to lighten up the calories.

Brown sugar really makes for a delicious sloppy joe, the sweet the smoky and that wonderful umami flavor, but for those watching their sugar carrots are a wonderful substitute. Just grate some carrots into the mixture and you won’t miss the sugar at all.

Ground beef is not actually unhealthy, but you can cut on the calories and fat by using ground turkey. When you use ground turkey you’ll notice that there isn’t as much fat, so you’ll want to add a little oil while the meat is browning so it doesn’t over cook or dry out.

close up of ground turkey sloppy joe on wood board

What’s in Ground Turkey Sloppy Joes? 

The ingredient list for theses healthy sloppy joes may look a little lengthy, but most of the items listed below are for flavor!

  • Olive oil
  • Onion
  • Red bell pepper
  • Garlic
  • Ground turkey
  • Carrot
  • Dijon mustard
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Liquid smoke
  • Chili powder
  • Smoked paprika
  • Tomato sauce
  • Brown sugar
  • Apple cider vinegar 

How to Make Ground Turkey Sloppy Joes

Homemade sloppy joes are incredibly easy to make. Here are the basic steps to making this healthy sloppy joe recipe:

  1. Start off with a diced onion, which is a great way to add flavor without adding many calories. This is a great time to add the oil, but only start with a small amount as we aren’t looking to boil the onion in oil.
  2. As the onion cooks, it will become tender and at this point you should add the ground turkey.
  3. Cook, stirring occasionally and adding small amounts of oil to keep the ground turkey from burning.
  4. From here, add all other ingredients, stirring as you go until everything is combined.
  5. Now you just let the sauce simmer and cook!

How to Make Slow Cooker Sloppy Joes

You can make sloppy joes in a slow cooker if you first sauté the onions and cook the meat. At this point, pour everything into the slow cooker or crockpot and cook on low for 4-6 hours or high for 2-3 hours.

How to Make Instant Pot Sloppy Joes

An Instant Pot is really the way to go for sloppy joes as it brings out the flavor in a fraction of the time and you only have to dirty one bowl!

Turn the Instant Pot onto sauté and add the onion and oil and proceed just as the original recipe states. Continue with the recipe as normal and then turn the instant pot to manual high pressure for 15 minutes. Allow a natural release for 5 minutes and then turn to vent and remove the lid. Serve as normal.

ground turkey sloppy joe on wood board

Can I Make This With Ground Beef? 

If you’d like to make classic sloppy joes, I recommend following our Homemade Sloppy Joes recipe. Otherwise, I’m sure you could use ground beef in this healthy sloppy joes recipe. 

Can I Prep Sloppy Joes in Advance? 

Absolutely! The sloppy joe sauce and ground turkey mixture can be prepped in advance and frozen for later or stored in the fridge to reheat the next day. The flavor is even better on day two! 

Our Favorite Sloppy Joes Sides

Here are a few of our favorite side dishes to serve with homemade sloppy joes: 

Tips for Making Ground Turkey Sloppy Joes

We made this healthier sloppy joes recipe with ground turkey, but I bet ground chicken would work well here too. 

Once the sloppy joe sauce mixture comes together, you’re welcome to serve it immediately or let it simmer for an hour on the stove. The longer the mixture simmers, the better the flavor! 

If you don’t have any liquid smoke on hand, feel free to omit. Just don’t substitute the smoked paprika with regular, otherwise your sloppy joes won’t have that lovely smoky flavor. 

More Healthy Dinner Recipes: 

Healthier Sloppy Joes with Turkey

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A quick and easy healther sloppy joe recipe with turkey

Healthier Sloppy Joes with Turkey

4.1 from 32 votes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 6
These Ground Turkey Sloppy Joes are a healthier take on the classic sandwich recipe. Perfect for busy weeknights, potlucks, and cookouts! 


  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Cup Onion diced fine
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons Garlic minced
  • 1 Pound Ground Turkey
  • 1 Carrot grated
  • 2 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
  • 3/4 Teaspoon Liquid Smoke
  • 1 Tablespoon Chili Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Smoked Paprika
  • 1 Cup Tomato Sauce
  • 1 Teaspoon Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Salt and Pepper , to taste
  • Whole Wheat Buns , for serving


Stovetop Method:

  • Heat a dutch oven over medium heat and add the olive oil. Once it's hot, quickly add the onion and stir occasionally until translucent.
  • Add the peppers and garlic and stir occasionally for 1 minute then add the ground turkey and break it up with a wooden spoon, stirring it all together. Allow to cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the carrots, mustard, worcestershire, liquid smoke, chili powder, and paprika.
  • Stir for 30 seconds and then add the tomato sauce, brown sugar, vinegar and salt and pepper.
  • Allow to cook for 5 minutes, season to taste, and serve OR cook up to 1 hour on low and then serve. (The longer it cooks, the better the flavor.)
  • Scoop onto buns that have been brushed with butter.

Slow Cooker Method:

  • Prepare the onion and meat as per above. Turn a crockpot onto low heat and add the meat, onions, and all remaining ingredients. Place the lid on and cook for 4-6 hours on low or on high for 2-3 hours.

Instant Pot Method:

  • Turn the instant pot onto sauté and add the onion and oil and proceed just as the original recipe states. Continue with the recipe as normal and then turn the instant pot to manual high pressure for 15 minutes. Allow a natural release for 5 minutes and then turn to vent and remove the lid. Serve as normal. 


To freeze, cool completely in the refrigerator. Freeze in freezer bags for 3-6 months.
Nutrition Facts
Healthier Sloppy Joes with Turkey
Amount Per Serving (1 g)
Calories 484 Calories from Fat 279
% Daily Value*
Fat 31g48%
Saturated Fat 7g44%
Polyunsaturated Fat 22g
Cholesterol 120mg40%
Sodium 875mg38%
Carbohydrates 20g7%
Fiber 4g17%
Sugar 8g9%
Protein 32g64%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

A quick and easy healther sloppy joe recipe with turkey

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About the authors

carrian feik cheney oh sweet basil

Cade and Carrian have three children and love to spend time together whether it’s vacationing or snuggled up on the couch for a good movie.

And this family especially loves to eat.

They love everything from the keep you fit and healthy to the get out your sweat pants indulgent and everything in between.

But most of all, they love the memories made, shared and treasured and it’s all thanks to a meal shared together with loved ones.

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Recipe Rating


  • This looks amazing!!! I want to do the instapot method but just wondering if I brown the turkey and then cook it for 15 mins? Thanks for any info!

    • Reply
    • Hi Lacey! Yes, brown the turkey first!

      • Reply
  • I have made this recipe several times and absolutely love it. So much healthier and so much flavor.

    • Reply
    • Thank you so much Juanita!

      • Reply
  • Are the nutrition facts for one serving?

    • Reply
    • Yes, one serving which is about 1 cup of the sloppy joe filling.

      • Reply
  • I haven’t tried it yet do you have a recipe for the homemade sloppy joes sauce
    Thank you

    • Reply
  • These sloppy Joes are so much better than any I’ve tried. They are so flavorful and definitely not just for kids! After making them several times, the only thing I have changed is to use only 1 tablespoon of vinegar instead of 2, just personal preference. We eat them open faced on toasted whole grain sprouted bread with a sprinkle of shredded cheese. Yum!

    • Reply
    • Sounds delicious! I’m glad you like them!!!

      • Reply
  • We tried this tonight and loved it! And it was a lot easier than I thought it would be. We didn’t have liquid smoke but it still had a ton of flavor. I’d make this again for sure.

    • Reply
    • Thank you so much Sarah! So glad you enjoyed it!

      • Reply
  • Just tried this and it was good! There is just two of us, so I used my leftovers to top a sweet potato for another easy weeknight meal.  Thanks for the recipe.

    • Reply
    • On top of a sweet potato…what a great idea! Thanks for the feedback Cheryl!

      • Reply
  • The ingredients and instructions don’t match up but it is still a great recipe!

    • Reply
    • Oh shoot! Thank you! We will get that fixed!

      • Reply
  • I’m totally making this!!!  Why does it say to add butter in a Dutch oven?  The recipe calls for olive oil.    I do love some butter!!!

    • Reply
    • Yes, we need to fix the instructions to match the ingredients. So sorry about that!!

      • Reply
  • Wow! This food looks so delicious! My child also loves sloppy joes and wants to eat. Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply
    • Yay! Thank you! Enjoy!

      • Reply
  • Can’t wait to try this homemade version! 🙂

    • Reply
    • You’re going to love it!!

      • Reply
  • My kids love Sloppy Joes and to find a healthier version is a total win for me! Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply
    • Totally! And they will never know the difference!

      • Reply
  • Hello, Just made your “Healthier Sloppy Joes” this morning. Wanted to mention that the directions need to be revised. The butter is Olive Oil, there is no ketchup in the ingredients, but is in the directions, and the carrots don’t show up in the directions. I adjusted for the healthier version and look forward to tasting them for lunch today. Packed hot in a thermos and served on rolls with a little chedder cheese and some raw veggies on the side makes a wonderful lunch. Thank you! Mary Beth

    • Reply
    • Let us know what you think! And thank you for the corrections on the recipe. We will get right on fixing that!

      • Reply
  • Looks delicious! A great weeknight meal option!

    • Reply
    • Thanks Jamielyn!!

      • Reply
  • I love swapping out turkey for beef. These look fantastic.

    • Reply
    • Thanks Beth!

      • Reply

Cozy Christmas Movie & Snack Nights 🎥🎄