I have to be honest… I’ve been craving a good Sloppy Joe since 2015. And it’s finally here.
Growing up, Sloppy Joes were a family staple. You know those meals that feel like stereotypical meals for your family in particular? Sloppy Joes were a stereotypical, classic Rice family meal. Every night was family night in my house, but Sloppy Joe night was even moreso. It meant a special occasion. Usually dinner with a movie, and maybe some dessert after. Probably a weird board game, too.
OR it meant the complete opposite. On the rare occasion Mom was gone and couldn’t cook, I could always count on Jimbo (Dad) for a killer Sloppy Joe. It was his go-to, probably because it’s a “manly” meal. My sister and I used to joke that they should really be called Sloppy Jimbos.
I was always obsessed with Sloppy Joes. There’s something about rich, meaty sauce in between a bun with a side of fries that’s irresistible. Our go-to combo? Sloppy Joes with Tater Tots. Doesn’t get more American than that.
I never had any idea what was actually in a Sloppy Joe, though. All I knew was that it was delicious. At that point in my life, I truly did not care what was in it, either. I knew there was meat… and a sauce… and it wasn’t a regular hamburger… Whatever. All I cared about was being able to wipe up the extra Sloppy Joe sauce with my Tater Tots. If I could do that, I was a happy camper.
I also grew up thinking that my family literally invented Sloppy Joes. I thought it was something my parents made up, and that no one else had ever had one unless they had been to my house. That had to be the case, considering how ridiculous the name was! Imagine my horror as I strolled through the grocery store aisles while my mom shopped, and I saw a Sloppy Joe mix on the shelves.
Oh. My. God.
I freaked out. My first instinct was, “I can’t believe someone stole our Sloppy Joe recipe!”
Then I realized that was ridiculous.
My next thought was, “Okay, so my parents clearly didn’t make up Sloppy Joes. Still, though, there’s a MIX?!”
The mix infuriated me. As much as I loved packaged food at that point in my life, I still knew that a mix was cheating when it came to Sloppy Joes! A mix in a packet could not make a real Sloppy Joe. I was irritated AF.
I remember going to school the next day and asking all of my friends if they had ever tried a Sloppy Joe. I couldn’t believe other people ate them, too. Everyone said yes, they had eaten a Sloppy Joe. What they also said, though, was that they didn’t like them.
I could not believe that. SLOPPY JOES ARE SO DELICIOUS! It was definitely because they never had a real Sloppy Joe. A homemade one. The mix was an imposter.
I tried the mix once later on, and I was truly horrified. I had a whole new appreciation for my family recipe. Whenever anyone told me they didn’t like Sloppy Joes, I told them to come over to my house for dinner. I’d prove ya wrong.
Anyways, Sloppy Joes are my ultimate comfort food. They’re very nostalgic for me. The truth is, I haven’t had one since going Paleo a few years ago. I was honestly really scared that I would have to adjust the recipe and it wouldn’t turn out the same. I remember clearly what it tasted like growing up, and I didn’t want to taint that memory. The problem was, though, that I always get the craving whenever I’m feeling like I need some hometown vibes. Whenever I’m around my family or think about them, I wish I could have a Sloppy Joe. So I decided to make one.
The problem with most Sloppy Joe recipes, though, are that they often contain ingredients that are a bit too much for my stomach. I don’t do well with garlic or onions or hot peppers, like many others with sensitive stomachs, and those ingredients are usually included. As I researched more, though, it seemed pretty easy to work around that. I was going to make an onion-free, garlic-free, not spicy Sloppy Joe that wouldn’t kill my gut.
And I did it! I cannot tell you how excited I am about this recipe, because it is truly everything I ever wanted it to be. It tasted just like I remembered it growing up. I even paired it with some jicama fries, because you’ve gotta have fries with a Sloppy Joe! You could serve this with portobello mushrooms as a bun, in between sweet potato slices, or in a sweet potato. If you want to go lower carb, you could serve it over zoodles, cauliflower rice, or greens! And of course — the fries! Jicama fries and sweet potato fries are two of my favorites. How else are you going to get every last drip of sauce?
If you love a good Sloppy Joe, I highly recommend you try this out. And if you’ve never had a Sloppy Joe before, YOU NEED TO TRY THIS! If you’re sensitive to garlic and onions, then I know you’ll appreciate this spin on the old classic! Nothing’s more paleo than some Sloppy Joe sauce, if you ask me!
Paleo Sloppy Joes (Garlic / Onion-Free)
Time: 30 minutes
- 1 lb 100% grass-fed ground beef
- 2-3 tbsp avocado oil
- 3-4 stalks celery
- 1 bell pepper (I used green)
- 2 tbsp coconut aminos
- 1.5 tsp pink Himalayan salt / Celtic sea salt
- 2 tbsp brown mustard (I prefer Whole Foods 365 brand or Eden Brown Mustard)
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp cumin
- 7 oz organic tomato paste
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 3/4 cups filtered water
- Add avocado oil (or other cooking oil of your choice) to a large pan on medium heat. Add the ground beef and cook until browned, breaking up the meat as it cooks.
- While the meat is cooking, chop up your celery and bell pepper into small pieces. Toss in the cut up celery and bell pepper while the beef is cooking.
- Add in the salt, paprika, and cumin. Mix together and cover with a lid.
- Once the beef is browned, reduce the heat to low. Add in the rest of the ingredients and mix everything together.
- Allow the mixture to simmer for at least another 10 minutes, stirring every so often. You can allow the Sloppy Joes to simmer as long as you’d like. The longer you do, the more flavor it will have! I prefer to leave mine for about 30 minutes if I can.
- Remove from the heat and serve over any vegetables you’d like! This is great over a sweet potato, zoodles, cauliflower rice, or greens!
If you make this, I would love to see it! Make sure you tag me in a photo! I want to know – what was your favorite family meal growing up?!