Des

Hey! I'm Des!

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Turkey Sloppy Joes

Turkey Sloppy Joes are a twist on the childhood classic. Topped with an easy homemade cheese sauce make these a family favorite. 

What is it about Sloppy Joes that make them an instant hit with the kiddos? I think it might be the name. Or maybe it’s the fact that they live up to their name and are a truly messy food, and let’s be honest. Kiddos LOVE that.

But don’t think this is a kids only dish, Turkey Sloppy Joes are a favorite with the adults too. The sweet n’ savory sauce piled on the bun invokes all kinds of childhood memories for me. Sloppy Joes were one of those meals that we had growing up. They are super easy making them perfect for busy family weeknights.

This version of sloppy joes is elevated to the next level with an easy homemade cheese sauce. I’m telling you, friends. You’re going to want to add these to your weeknight menu ASAP.

What ingredients do you need to make Ground Turkey Sloppy Joes?

Instead of grabbing a can of sloppy joe mix, you’ll be making your own sauce for this with just a few key ingredients that you probably already have in your fridge and pantry:

  • TOMATO SAUCE
  • WHITE WINE VINEGAR: Adds a touch more acidity to the sauce.
  • BROWN SUGAR: Adds that classic touch of sweetness that we are used to with Sloppy Joes.
  • WORCESTERSHIRE SAUCE: Deepens the flavor of the sauce. Don’t leave this out!
  • GROUND MUSTARD
  • CAYENNE: This is optional, but does at a light kick to the sauce. I used just a sprinkle since I was feeding it to my kiddos.

To bulk up the sauce you’ll obviously need, as the name of the recipe suggests, ground turkey. I prefer this to the traditional ground beef version of sloppy joes. You’ll also need onion.

DES’ PRO TIP: If you’ve got kiddos that aren’t onion fans, just mince them really fine so they don’t notice them. I wouldn’t leave them out they add to the flavor of the final dish.

Now the cheese sauce is totally an optional addition to this recipe but I think it totally takes these to the next level. It too, is easy to make. You’ll need:

  • UNSALTED BUTTER: This helps you control the salt content of the cheese sauce. Cheese is salty so you want to make sure you don’t over do it.
  • FLOUR: This will act as the thickener for the cheese sauce.
  • WHOLE MILK: I prefer to use whole milk for the richness. 2% would also work but for the best results don’t use fat free.
  • CREAM CHEESE: Adds an extra decadence to the sauce.
  • SHREDDED CHEDDAR CHEESE: As always, I recommend shredding it yourself. I find that it tastes so much better.

How do you make Sloppy Joes?

These are pretty easy to make, the longest cooking part involves letting the sauce cook down so that it coats the meat. It’ll take about 30ish minutes.

  • STEP #1: In a bowl whisk together tomato sauce, white wine vinegar, worcestershire sauce, granulated garlic, ground mustard, cayenne, brown sugar and salt and pepper.
  • STEP #2: Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook onions and ground turkey until brown and cooked through
  • STEP #3: Add tomato mixture to the pan, stir to combined. Bring to a boil. Reduce to medium low and allow to cook 30-40 minutes, or until sauce reduces and is thick.
  • STEP #4: While the meat mixture is cooking, make the cheese sauce. In a sauce pan over medium heat, melt butter. When butter has melted, whisk in flour. Cook 1 minute. Slowly stir in milk. Stir in cream cheese and shredded cheddar and cook until melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • STEP #5: Preheat your broiler. Toast the hamburger buns. Scoop the turkey mixture onto the bun, top with cheese sauce. Serve.

You guys, my kiddos LOVED these. And the added cheese sauce leveled up these Turkey Sloppy Joes to a meal that the adults love too. You’ve got to try them.

Looking for a side dish to serve alongside?

Want more Sloppy Joe Variations? Here are some great ones!

Note: This post was originally posted in 2009. It was updated in 2021 with new photos, step by step instructions and nutrition information.

Turkey Sloppy Joes

Turkey Sloppy Joes are a twist on the childhood classic. Topped with an easy homemade cheese sauce make these a family favorite. 
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 55 mins
Course Main Dishes
Cuisine American
Servings 6 Servings
Calories 640 kcal

Ingredients
  

Ingredients:

  • 1 14.5 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
  • sprinkle of cayenne
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 onion diced
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 6 hamburger buns

Cheese Sauce Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • In a bowl whisk together tomato sauce, white wine vinegar, worcestershire sauce, granulated garlic, ground mustard, cayenne, brown sugar and salt and pepper.
  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook onions and ground turkey until brown and cooked through.
  • Add tomato mixture to the pan, stir to combined. Bring to a boil. Reduce to medium low and allow to cook 30-40 minutes, or until sauce reduces and is thick.
  • While the meat mixture is cooking, make the cheese sauce. In a sauce pan over medium heat, melt butter. When butter has melted, whisk in flour. Cook 1 minute. Slowly stir in milk. Stir in cream cheese and shredded cheddar and cook until melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Preheat your broiler. Toast the hamburger buns.
  • Scoop the turkey mixture onto the bun, top with cheese sauce. Serve.

Notes

Unlike hamburger there shouldn't be a lot of fat from the turkey so I don't strain it. But if you need to, feel free.
Mixture should not be overly saucy. The meat will be coated in the sauce, but you won't have sauce dripping from the spoon when you scoop up the mixture.
Whole wheat burger buns are also a great option/
Nutrition information for estimation purposes only.

Nutrition

Calories: 640kcalCarbohydrates: 31.4gProtein: 42.1gFat: 39.9gSaturated Fat: 19.4gCholesterol: 161mgSodium: 1097mgFiber: 2.2gSugar: 10g
Tried this recipe?Mention @lifesambrosia or tag #lifesambrosia!
Keywords: cheese sauce, ground turkey, sloppy joes

Leave a Comment

Recipe Rating




  • Reply
    Anne
    April 12, 2010 at 8:50 pm

    My fam LOVED this! I made a jack cheese sauce instead as that was the only cheese in the house…yummmmmmm!!!! Another great recipe…thank you!

    • Reply
      Deseree
      April 13, 2010 at 7:52 pm

      You’re welcome Anne!

  • Reply
    Chelle
    March 26, 2010 at 10:01 am

    These were AMAZING!!! My 4 year old asked for seconds :o) I did omit the sugar though. Definitely going to check out your other recipes. Thanks!

  • Reply
    Lauren
    December 17, 2009 at 10:17 am

    These sandwiches look amazing! I’ve never had cheese sauce on a sloppy joe, but am looking forward to trying it out. Thanks for the great recipe.

  • Reply
    David
    December 12, 2009 at 9:58 am

    Great recipe! I substituted ground chicken for turkey though. I took the leftovers both sloppy joe and cheese sauce and made a casserole with it the next day. Delicious! Gave it to a friend who loved it as well.

    • Reply
      Deseree
      December 12, 2009 at 10:12 am

      Thank you David! I never would have thought to change the leftovers into a casserole. What a great idea!

  • Reply
    Deseree
    April 21, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    Thanks Kevin and Kristen!
    You’re welcome Carrie!
    Savor: They are pretty tasty and probably healthier without the cheese sauce, but there is just something about melty cheese that makes my mouth water ;-)

  • Reply
    Savor
    April 21, 2009 at 10:45 am

    I truly apprecaite how you made this a bit healtheir using turkey! I am goign to make these without the cheese to start as they look for tasty and juicy on their own.

  • Reply
    Carrie Oliver
    April 21, 2009 at 6:35 am

    We were just talking the other day about making sloppy joes. The turkeys around here are gross but I do have some great beef chuck that I can chop up. This will be fun, thanks.

  • Reply
    Kristen
    April 21, 2009 at 6:15 am

    What a great idea! These sound like a much tastier version of regular sloppy joes.

  • Reply
    Kevin
    April 20, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    Adding a cheese sauce to sloppy joes sounds really good!

  • Reply
    Deseree
    April 20, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    Thanks Rita!
    Mindy: A tomato slice would be super yummy on this!
    RecipeGirl: Haha I think you are right, everyone grew up on these!
    Thanks Esi!
    Thank you Sara!
    Thanks Rmg12!
    I agree Karly!
    Thank you Carrie!
    Theresa: funny how cheese sauce can have that effect on you huh? ;-)

  • Reply
    Theresa
    April 20, 2009 at 8:14 am

    I never liked sloppy joes growing up, but I think I would like this version a lot! I’ll admit, it’s the cheese sauce that won me over :)

  • Reply
    Carrie
    April 20, 2009 at 7:19 am

    That cheese sauce looks amazing! I always thought that sloppy joes were so much better with cheese!

  • Reply
    Karly
    April 20, 2009 at 5:57 am

    Ooh, anything with cheese sauce just has to be delicious!

  • Reply
    Rmg12
    April 20, 2009 at 2:03 am

    Ok we don’t have these over here (n such thing in the UK) and I was looking at what they were. Most looked foul, this one looks quite tasty however.

  • Reply
    sara
    April 19, 2009 at 11:21 pm

    These look so yummy. I love sloppy joes and it’s great to see another version!

  • Reply
    Esi
    April 18, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    I love how you made these a little healthier, but still used the cheese sauce! They look great!

  • Reply
    RecipeGirl
    April 18, 2009 at 5:58 am

    I grew up with sloppy joe’s too… I think everyone did LOL! Looks like you made some fun changes to make it a bit more up-to-date!

  • Reply
    Mindy
    April 17, 2009 at 10:50 pm

    When I was a kid, my mom used to make sloppy joes open-faced. She’d then put a slice of American cheese and a slice of tomato on top and then broil them until the cheese was all melty. I may have to try your version to recreate this childhood memory now that I don’t eat American cheese!

  • Reply
    Rita
    April 17, 2009 at 7:36 pm

    Nice photo! I’ve made those before for Andrew, didn’t add cheese though, nice thought

  • Des

    Hey! I'm Des!

    Welcome to Life’s Ambrosia where Dinner is served and memories are made. Here you will find over 1000 tried and true recipes for every possible occasion. In the last 10 years, this blog has helped millions of families put dinner on the table and create food memories. Let me help you too.

    Read more »

    Have new recipes emailed to you.