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Sandwiches

Easy Gluten-Free Sloppy Joes

Looking for an easy weeknight dinner? This gluten-free sloppy joes recipe is an easy and delicious dinner that comes together in under 30 minutes. (Don’t miss our three favorite serving methods below!)

We’ve been deep in nostalgic dinner mode over here! Between cozy classics like Homemade Tomato Soup, Fluffy Focaccia, and Cheesy Baked Ziti, we’ve been reaching toward simple, kid-friendly dinners as we adjust to a new school year.

I got a BIG craving for sloppy joes recently, so I knew it was time to share our go-to gluten-free sloppy joes recipe. I am 100% not above store-bought shortcuts (my pantry & fridge are stocked with canned beans, spice mixes, & pre-cut veggies), but I really think you get the best flavor from homemade sloppy joes.

Our homemade gluten-free sloppy joes have a thick, saucy texture, layers of flavor from veggies and spices, and plenty of protein thanks to lean ground beef.

AND this family favorite meal is done in under 30 minutes, so they’re definitely a great recipe for busy weeknights!

Did I mention the ingredient list is simple, too? Here’s what you’ll need to get started on our easy recipe…

simple ingredients for homemade sloppy joes:

  • A Little Oil or Butter. Just a little to help you cook the beef and veggies. If you use olive oil, these are easily gluten-free dairy-free sloppy joes!
  • Extra Lean Ground Beef. I usually aim for something in the 93-97% lean zone. This is lean enough that you won’t need to drain the pan after cooking the beef. It’s protein packed, and delicious! I order grass-fed beef 
  • Onion & Green Bell Pepper. These simple veggies add layers of flavor without taking over. (I use green peppers because the color pops through, but red bell pepper or yellow pepper works, if you prefer!) 
  • Garlic. Fresh garlic or frozen garlic works great here!
  • Simple Seasonings. I love a mix of chili powder, salt, pepper, and a tiny bit of brown sugar to mimic the classic flavor. If you’re avoiding extra sugar or the ketchup makes this sweet enough for you, feel free to skip the sugar!
  • Tomato Paste. This helps the sloppy joe sauce get extra thick and delicious.
  • Worcestershire Sauce. For depth of flavor. Make sure to use gluten-free Worcestershire sauce! It adds lovely umami notes!
  • Ketchup & Mustard. Honestly, just do it. Ketchup (even if it’s no-sugar added or Paleo!) will add that classic, delicious tangy flavor and make your sauce nice and glossy. A tiny bit of yellow mustard adds brightness and keeps this from tasting flat.
  • Water. To thin out the sauce. Start with 1/3 cup, but feel free to add a little more if you like your sloppy joes saucier! You can also use beef broth for extra flavor.

how to make gluten-free sloppy joes, step by step

  1. If You Have Time: Toast The Buns! If you have a few minutes, toast gluten-free buns in the oven for a few minutes or in a pan until golden. You can brush them with butter or mist them with olive oil spray if you like for a more golden, crispy texture.
  2. Brown The Beef. Start by adding butter or oil to a large skillet. Add the ground beef and cook the beef over medium-high heat 8-10 minutes on medium heat or until browned and just cooked through. Remove the beef from the pan and set aside on a plate. (If you’re using very lean ground beef, there’s no need to drain the pan here, even if there’s some water or fat in the pan. If you have excess fat in the pan, feel free to drain most of it, but leave about 1 Tablespoon to help you cook the vegetables).
  3. Cook The Veggies. Add the onion and bell pepper to the same skillet and cook 4-5 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened and the onion is translucent.
  4. Mix In The Sauce Ingredients. Return the beef to the pan along with any juices from the plate. Add garlic, chili powder, salt, pepper, and brown sugar (if using). Add tomato paste, mustard, worcestershire sauce, ketchup, and water, and stir to combine.
  5. Cook To Thicken. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the sloppy joe sauce, stirring regularly, until it’s your desired thickness. (Follow your personal preference here–If it’s too saucy, cook a few minutes longer to reduce the sauce. If it’s too thick, you can add a little extra water to thin it back out.)
  6. Serve. Spoon the sloppy joe mixture onto toasted gluten-free buns, into baked potatoes, or into sloppy joe bowls with sweet potatoes and coleslaw or vegetables. Store leftover sloppy joes sauce in an airtight container in the fridge 3-4 days, or freeze up to 2 months.

serving suggestions to try

Okay, so you’ve got a bubbly pan of gluten-free sloppy joe mix on the stove! How should you serve it? Here are our favorite ways to eat this easy weeknight meal:

  • Toasted Gluten-Free Bun. Hello, comfort food! Udi’s, Trader Joe’s, Canyon Bakehouse, and more all make gluten-free hamburger buns. I always recommend toasting them first if you can, so they hold up better under the meaty sauce. (It also improves the flavor and texture!)
  • Baked Potatoes. Another grain-free option that’s easier on your budget and a little more nourishing is scooping your sloppy joe filling into a baked potato or baked sweet potato.
  • With Sweet Potatoes In Sloppy Joe Bowls! Honestly, this is 100% my favorite way to eat a gluten-free sloppy joe. I turn it into a sloppy joe in a bowl by serving the sloppy joe meat with seasoned sweet potatoes (I cut them into coins instead of french fries), and a little coleslaw. It’s delicious, hearty, and grain-free!

faq + tips and tricks for the best gluten-free sloppy joes:

Is Manwich Gluten-Free? Probably. Manwich is not certified gluten-free, but contains no gluten ingredients and their website states “This product does not contain any of these common food allergens.”

Can I Use Ground Turkey Instead? Absolutely, if you like it! I’m not a big fan of ground turkey (the flavor is too strong for me), so I like to stick with super lean ground beef (93-97% lean). For that matter, I’m sure you could use ground chicken, too.

Can I Use Tomato Sauce Instead of Ketchup? I don’t recommend it. I use tomato sauce in our chicken sloppy joes recipe, but I really think you get the best classic flavor and texture from ketchup in this recipe. Feel free to use a no sugar added ketchup or paleo ketchup if you’re trying to watch sugar!

Toast The Buns! If you have a few minutes while the sauce is thickening, I recommend toasting the buns. It will make them sturdier (great under a hearty meat sauce!) and improves the flavor and texture.

Try It As A Freezer Meal! One great way to get the most out of this dinner is to double the recipe and freeze half of the meat mixture for another day. It freezes like a dream! I like to freeze it flat in freezer bags so it thaws more quickly in the fridge later.  

easy gluten-free sloppy joes

Need an easy weeknight dinner? This easy Gluten-Free Sloppy Joes recipe is a simple, crowd-pleasing dinner that’s done in under 30 minutes! 
Prep Time 8 days
Cook Time 20 days
Total Time 28 days
Course Dinner
Cuisine American, Mexican
Servings 6

Ingredients
  

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil or butter
  • 1 pound extra lean ground beef (I like 93-97% lean) 
  • 1/2 cup finely diced onion
  • 1/2 cup finely diced green bell pepper
  • 1–2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 3/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • optional: 1/2-1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 2/3 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup water (or more, if needed)

Instructions
 

  • If You Have Time: Toast The Buns! If you have a few minutes, toast gluten-free buns in the oven for a few minutes or in a pan until golden. You can brush them with butter or mist them with olive oil spray if you like for a more golden, crispy texture.
  • Brown The Beef. Start by adding butter or oil to a large skillet. Add the ground beef and cook the beef over medium-high heat 8-10 minutes or until browned and just cooked through, breaking the beef up into small pieces as you go. Remove the beef from the pan and set aside on a plate. (If you’re using very lean ground beef, there’s no need to drain the pan here. If you have excess fat in the pan, feel free to drain most of it, but leave about 1 Tablespoon to help you cook the vegetables).
  • Cook The Veggies. Add the onion and bell pepper to the same skillet and cook 4-5 minutes on medium heat, or until the vegetables are softened and the onion is translucent.
  • Mix In The Sauce. Return the beef to the pan along with any juices from the plate. Add garlic, chili powder, salt, pepper, and brown sugar (if using). Add tomato paste, mustard, worcestershire sauce, ketchup, and water, and stir to combine.
  • Cook To Thicken. Reduce the heat to low and cook the sloppy joe sauce, stirring regularly, 5-8 minutes, or until it’s your desired thickness. (If it’s too saucy, cook a few minutes longer to reduce the sauce. If it’s too thick, you can add a splash of water to thin it back out.)
  • Serve. Spoon the sloppy joe sauce onto toasted gluten-free buns, into baked potatoes, or into sloppy joe bowls with sweet potatoes and coleslaw or vegetables. Store leftover sloppy joe sauce in an airtight container in the fridge 3-4 days, or freeze up to 2 months.

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