Three Ingredient Sloppy Joes

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Three Ingredient Sloppy Joes are a quick and tasty dinner that uses ingredients that you probably already have in your fridge and pantry.

209 CAL 14g CARBS 6g FAT 25g PROTEIN

Everyone who knows me knows that I am a bit of a slow-cooker fanatic. Every now and then, however, there are a few recipes that I just have to pull out my skillet for. It’s a sacrifice I am willing to make for just the right recipe. Oher sloppy joe favorites include these Tuscan Lentil Sloppy Joes and Buffalo Chicken Sloppy Joes.

I can’t explain it, but sometimes I just really need a Sloppy Joe. They remind me of childhood, and especially of fall and Halloween. I think my mom must have served them before we would head out trick-or-treating. Sloppy Joes kind of have a reputation for being kid food—to be enjoyed only in the confines of the school cafeteria. I am here to tell you that it is simply not true. I love a good Sloppy Joe from time to time, and our whole family devours them.

When you pull out the skillet and set out to make something like this, the last thing you want is a laundry list of ingredients. They are Sloppy Joes for crying out loud—they are supposed to be quick and easy! The temptation, then, can be to just open a can of Sloppy Joe sauce and go from there.

But don’t fall for it! These simple 3-Ingredient Sloppy Joes are almost as easy, and the amazing flavor is far better and totally worth the trouble. Using a simple combination of picante sauce and barbecue sauce (both of which I always have on hand) you can create a uniquely flavorful sauce that comes together easily and extremely quickly.

How to Serve Sloppy Joes

To keep these Sloppy Joes light you have several options. We actually really love to serve Sloppy Joe Salads, omitting the buns and enjoying the meat over a bed of crispy romaine. You can also serve over cauliflower rice, or as an open face sandwich. You can also beef up the mixture by adding some sauteed mushrooms or vegetables to the meat. Have fun experimenting to find which variation your family will enjoy the most!

  • Go traditional with a sandwich. Any hearty bun will work and you can use a reduced calorie bun if you are looking to cut back on calories. Top the sandwich with some sliced onions, cheese, and in our house we like to throw on some pickles as well.
  • Like I mentioned above, sloppy joes actually make a pretty great salad as long as you choose crispy lettuce that can stand up to the weight of the meat. Romaine lettuce is one of the best options for this. The sauce of the sloppy joes works as the dressing and you can throw in any other veggies you like.
  • Another option is to make a bowl-style meal and start with a bed of rice or cauliflower rice. We also like starting with some mashed cauliflower or polenta.
  • One final idea, that we love for leftovers, is stuffing this into baked regular or sweet potatoes. Add some cheese and diced onions for a filling meal that everyone will love.

Sloppy Joes in a thick sauce in two hamburger buns with a skillet.

Recipe Ideas for Three Ingredient Sloppy Joes

This is such a simple recipe, it is easy to switch things up and change the flavors to create new options for these easy sloppy joes.

  • Add some veggies to the mix. Consider mushrooms, carrots, bell peppers, or you can stir in some spinach at the end.
  • Switch up the flavor profile by using some chipotle salsa, which adds a more smoky flavor and extra spice. You could also add in 1-2 chopped chipotle peppers for some extra heat.
  • If you don't like spice, use canned fire-roasted tomatoes instead of salsa.
  • Try out different types of barbecue sauces to slightly switch up the flavor. Try one that is spicy, one that is smokier, or one that is sweeter.
  • Make this with any type of ground meat you like. You can use ground beef, ground turkey, ground chicken, and for tons of extra flavor, try making it with some ground turkey sausage.

How Long do Sloppy Joes Last in the Fridge

Sloppy Joes will stay good for 3-4 days in the fridge in an airtight container. Freeze it in individual portions for quick lunches or keep it as a large serving if you plan on using it for another meal. It makes a great stuffed pepper filling with cooked rice. When reheating the mixture, you can add a touch of water if the sauce looks dry. 

How to Freeze Sloppy Joes

Sloppy joes freeze well and a great option to have in the freezer. Start by making sure to let the mixture cool completely before freezing. Once it is cooled, you can freeze in individual portions or as a large family serving. For the best results, let a large portion defrost in the fridge overnight before using. Smaller servings can be defrosted in the microwave.

The Recipe
Three ingredient sloppy joes in sauce in hamburger buns.

Three Ingredient Sloppy Joes

209 CAL 14g CARBS 6g FAT 25g PROTEIN
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  • 1 pound 95% ground beef
  • 3/4 cup salsa (I used Pace Picante)
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce

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Nutritional Facts
Serving Size: about 6 oz.
Amount Per Serving
Calories 209
Calories from Fat 2
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 6g
Saturated Fat 3g
Monounsaturated Fat 2g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 70mg
Sodium 632mg
Total Carbohydrate 14g
Dietary Fiber 1g
Sugars 10g
Protein 25g

* 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.

On Three Ingredient Sloppy Joes
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Bonnie Camilla
July 20, 2017 - 12:58
Add a Rating:
Excellent! My family loved it. Easy and quick and tastes good.
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Machel Morton
June 5, 2017 - 10:40
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This is a quick and easy recipe which is very important to me right now with my kids being out of school for the summer. They really like it too!! Great for lunch or dinner.
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