These Healthy Ground Chicken Sloppy Joes need to be on this week's meal plan! They're just as hearty and satisfying as the original beef sloppy joes, but are lower in fat and made with a homemade sloppy joes sauce. Plus, they're ready to serve on toasted buns in just 30 minutes!
📋 About the Recipe
- Easy to feed a crowd. Just like my Instant Pot BBQ Pulled Chicken and Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad, these ground chicken sloppy joes are easy to make in large batches to feed large families or a crowd of people. As written, this recipe makes 4 sandwiches. Adjust the measurements to make more servings.
- Made with pantry staples. If you have ground chicken and bell peppers in the refrigerator, you likely have almost everything you need in the pantry (if you keep it stocked with the basics, that is). Add these healthy sloppy joes sandwiches to your meal plan this week for a cheap, easy dinner.
Tip! If you have the ingredients on hand for sloppy joes, you can also probably make my Healthy Ground Chicken Meatloaf with Vegetables too!
- Customize with your favorite toppings. Some of my favorite sandwich toppings are cheese, pickles, coleslaw, pickled red onion, or sliced tomatoes, but make these hot sandwiches your own.
A few notes about the ingredients:
- Ground chicken - My favorite lean substitute for ground beef! Ground chicken cooks just as quickly without the need for draining any excess fat.
- Tomato sauce - Make sure to use canned tomato sauce, not diced tomatoes, petite tomatoes or tomato puree. Save those ingredients for making Air Fryer Stuffed Peppers or Chicken Minestrone Soup.
- Ketchup - Adds both sweetness and tomato flavor to the sloppy joes. I do not recommend substituting it with tomato paste because it will be too bitter. If necessary, make your own homemade ketchup. You can even try this homemade ketchup made with fresh tomatoes.
- Mustard and apple cider vinegar - Both ingredients help balance the sweetness from the ketchup and add necessary tanginess. Add additional mustard for an even tangier sauce!
- Brown sugar - The molasses in the brown sugar helps add a caramel flavor and depth to the sloppy joes sauce. I prefer to use light brown sugar, but dark brown sugar can likely be used in a pinch.
- Make the sauce. In a small bowl, whisk together the tomato sauce, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, light brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, yellow mustard, chili powder, salt and pepper. Once smooth, set aside.
- Begin cooking the ground chicken. In a large skillet, over medium heat, heat olive oil. Once hot, add in the ground chicken and cook halfway through, about 5 minutes.
- Add onion and bell pepper. Once the chicken is cooked halfway through, add in the diced onion, bell pepper, and minced garlic and continue to cook for 8 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent sticking and burning.
- Add in the sauce. Stir in the sauce and continue to cook the sloppy joes for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened and the ground chicken mixture is evenly coated.
- Serve immediately on buns. These sandwiches are best served warm on toasted hamburger buns with toppings like cheese, pickles, coleslaw, pickled red onion, or sliced tomatoes.
⁉️ Substitutions and Alterations
- Ground chicken substitutes: Use ground turkey for a similar, lean sloppy joe. Or, use the traditional ground beef as needed. I'd recommend a 85/15 lean ground beef.
- Apple cider vinegar substitute: You can substitute regular white vinegar for the apple cider vinegar.
- Bell pepper options: Substitute any color bell pepper or even frozen diced bell pepper in a pinch.
- Lower sodium option: Use a low sodium or salt free tomato sauce and adjust the kosher salt to taste.
❄️ How to Store
To store: Allow any leftovers to cool completely, then transfer to an airtight container. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
To freeze: Sloppy joes freeze very well. Cool completely, then place in a freezer safe container or zip top bag. If freezing in a zip top bag, remove as much excess air as possible. Freeze for up to 6 months. Make sure to label your sloppy joes and place a best by date on the container.
You can also freeze any leftover burger buns separately, but freezing sloppy joes toppings is not recommended.
To reheat: Reheat any leftovers in the microwave or in a skillet until hot.
Simmer for a couple extra minutes. Over time, the extra liquid will evaporate and the sauce will thicken. It will also thicken as it cools, so any leftover sloppy joes will be a little bit thicker than when first served.
No, ground chicken is leaner than beef so the meat in these sloppy joes doesn't need to be drained before adding the onion and bell pepper.
Manwich is simply just a store-bought sloppy joes sauce that you can buy to make sloppy joes quicker and easier.
However, I highly recommend using my homemade sloppy joes sauce instead. Manwich, while convenient, contains unhealthy ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, more corn syrup, powdered vegetables, and preservatives. Making fresh is worth the extra effort and doesn't take much extra time at all!
💭 One More Tip
Taste your sloppy joes sauce before adding it to the pan! It is easier to adjust the flavors to suit your taste before adding it to the chicken.
🍴 Related Recipes
Share your cooking with me! If you make this recipe, I'd love to know! Tag @yourhomemadehealthy on Instagram or leave a comment with a rating and some feedback at the bottom of this page!
Healthy Ground Chicken Sloppy Joes
- 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
- ⅓ cup ketchup
- 2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound (16 ounces) ground chicken or ground turkey
- 1 cup diced yellow onion (about ½ an onion)
- ¾ cup diced green or red bell pepper (about 1 pepper)
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 3 garlic cloves)
- 4 to 6 hamburger buns
- sliced cheese
- pickled red onion
- sliced tomatoes
- To make the sauce: Add tomato sauce, ketchup, mustard, brown sugar, worcestershire sauce, apple cider vinegar, salt, black pepper, and chili powder to a glass measuring cup or mixing bowl. Whisk to combine. Set aside.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add ground chicken. Cook until almost cooked all the way through, about 5 minutes.
- Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Cook 8 minutes, or until the onion is translucent, stirring occasionally so nothing sticks or burns to the bottom of the skillet.
- Pour sauce over the chicken mixture. Simmer, again stirring occasionally, for 2 to 3 minutes, until sauce is thickened and chicken is coated.
- Serve on hamburger buns with your favorite toppings.
- You can use ground turkey in place of the ground chicken. Ground beef works too, but be sure to drain the fat before adding the rest of the ingredients.
- Toasting the buns helps prevent them from getting soggy.
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