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Sloppy Joes


Sloppy Joes

Why is it called a sloppy joe? We picture a kid named Joe who is kind of messy but makes a really good sandwich. Kids Advisory Board member Beckett thought this one could be called “Not So Sloppy Joe.” If you bring your lunch to school, you can transport the meat mixture in a thermos, pack the bun separately, and assemble your sandwich when you’re ready to eat.
Prep Time 45 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4 servings

kitchen gear

  • Cutting board
  • Sharp knife (adult needed)
  • Measuring cup
  • Measuring spoons
  • Large skillet
  • Large spoon or heatproof spatula
  • Pot holders


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small bell pepper (any color), seeded and chopped
  • 2 garlic clove, peeled and minced (or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder)
  • 1-2 tablespoons water (if you need it)
  • 1 pound ground turkey or beef
  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 4 burger buns, split and lightly toasted
  • Pickles, for serving (if you like)


  • Put the skillet on the stove, turn the heat to medium, and add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened and darkened, about 10 minutes. If the pan gets too dry, add a spoonful of water.
  • Add the ground turkey and cook, breaking up the meat with the spoon, until it no longer looks raw, about 10 minutes. Add the ketchup and mustard, stir, and cook until the mixture thickens and comes together, about 10 minutes. Use a clean fork to taste the mixture. (Be careful! It’s hot.) Does it need a pinch of salt or more ketchup or mustard? Add it, then taste again.
  • Scoop one-quarter of the mixture onto each bun and serve right away, with pickles (if you like). Or let cool slightly, then pack in a thermos and refrigerate up to 3 days.


According to research done by a ketchup company, the sloppy joe started out as a “loose meat sandwich” made by a cook named—you guessed it!—Joe in Sioux City, Iowa, in the 1930s.
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