Slow Cooker Turkey Sloppy Joes made with all your favorite Italian flavors. Delicious for sandwiches, pasta, and rice bowls.
Crockpot Sloppy Joes with an Italian twist. These lightened up sloppy joes are made with lean ground turkey, tomato sauce, peppers, onions, mushrooms, and plenty of garlic and Italian spices.
What do you think of when you hear "Sloppy Joes"? Do you think of those Manwich commercials from the 80s (and 90s?) of the canned meat that you threw into a bun and called it a meal? Me too. I never had those as a kid (though I had plenty of canned foods, don't get me wrong), so the thought of eating Sloppy Joes just conjured in my head a can of gross meat.
So, since these weren't something I ever ate as a kid growing up, I kind of mostly forgot about them. That is, until recently when a friend told me she makes them almost weekly for her son. Then, in the same breath, she told me that she was deeply in need of an updated, more adult-friendly version so her and her husband would be happy as well.
Looking at the basic recipes for sloppy joes, an Italian-inspired version seems like the perfect solution. Ground turkey sausage, lean ground turkey, peppers, onions, mushrooms, crushed tomatoes, and some Italian seasoning — that's it. Cooked low and slow, sloppy joes make a delicious meal in a sandwich, over polenta, or on a bed of spaghetti squash.
What is a Sloppy Joe?
Traditionally, a Sloppy Joe referred to a sandwich made with a filling of cooked ground beef that had a seasoning of a variety of spices mixed with tomato sauce. According to legends and the trusty internet, a cook (named Joe, of course) at a restaurant named Floyd Angell's Cafe in Sioux City, IA, invented the dish for the restaurant.
How do you make Turkey Sloppy Joes in the Slow Cooker?
Making Sloppy Joes in the slow cooker really can't get any easier! First, I brown the turkey sausage and ground turkey into a skillet to brown. Don't skip this step or your meat will be all clumped together and not browned at all.
Next, I add the browned meat to the slow cooker and then add in all the other ingredients — onions, garlic, peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, and seasonings. Turn the slow cooker on low and cook all together for about 4 hours.
How can I customize Crockpot Sloppy Joes?
If you'd like to switch up these Sloppy Joes, then by all means. Just follow the first step to browning your meat (whatever meat you prefer) before adding it to the slow cooker).
- Give it a Mexican flair by using only ground turkey (or beef) and adding in spices like cumin, cayenne, garlic, chili powder, or coriander. Add in a can of Rotel tomatoes instead of plain crushed tomatoes. Keep the onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms if you like or swap one or both for black olives. Top with hot sauce and salsa if you want to make it even sloppier!
- Make it Asian-inspired by swapping ground meat for a mixture of ground turkey and chicken (or just do one or the other). Then, add in peppers, garlic, ginger, a quarter cup of hoisin sauce, and two tablespoons of soy sauce before cooking in the slow cooker. Top with Asian Slaw to complete the sandwich.
- Go traditional using only ground meat, onions, green bell pepper, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, two tablespoons of brown sugar, salt, and pepper.
- Make healthier Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes by browning some ground turkey and adding in onions, green peppers, a cup of beef broth, a quarter cup of steak sauce, and steak seasoning. Finish off each sandwich with a slice of provolone.
- Make a Sloppy Joe bar by making the Sloppy Joe recipe here and offering the following toppings:
- Fried egg
- Tapenade spread
- Black olives
- Yellow mustard (trust me, it's good!)
- Pickled jalapeno slices
Side Dish Ideas
I like to serve a nice, hardy side salad with my Sloppy Joes.
Roasted veggies, like these Roasted Brussels Sprouts are easy to cook and usually quite the hit at my house!
Mashed potatoes are easy to whip together (see what I did there?) and make a perfect accompaniment to hot sandwiches of all sorts.
Lemon Garlic Roasted Cauliflower is so flavorful and delicious, you might want to eat it every night.
No matter which way you serve it, I think you'll agree that these are a vast improvement on the Sloppy Joes you grew up with!
Can I freeze this recipe?
Sloppy Joes are a great option for a make ahead, freezer meal. It will keep in the fridge for 3-4 months in an airtight container. One note, this recipe can be frozen before adding it to the slow cooker or after it has been cooked. If you freeze before cooking, you will need to defrost overnight in the fridge and then cook in the slow cooker for 4 hours before serving.
Looking for more Sloppy Joe recipes?
Slow Cooker Tuscan Turkey Sloppy Joes
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1 lb lean ground turkey sausage
1 lb. 99% lean ground turkey
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
28 oz. crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper
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* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
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