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Loaded with ground beef, green pepper, zucchini, tomatoes, and spices, this Keto Sloppy Joes recipe is such an easy recipe! Made without ketchup, this easy dinner is ready in 30 minutes and perfect for a quick and simple weeknight meal the whole family can enjoy. Serve it with a keto bun, low-carb tortillas, or biscuits!

Keto Sloppy joes Served on a low carb bun on a grey plate.

Why you will love this Keto Sloppy Joes recipe

  • Easy: It’s just a matter of cooking all of the ingredients together in a skillet!
  • Quick: I made this easy meal in just 30 minutes. I also made some keto biscuits to go along with it which took about 20 minutes to bake, while I was cooking the Keto Sloppy Joes.
  • Vegetables: This recipe is loaded with canned diced tomatoes and tomato paste, as well as green bell pepper and I also added a zucchini in there (which is optional)!
  • Real ingredients: While many keto sloppy joes recipes call for sugar-free ketchup, I opted for adding the spices from my keto ketchup recipe instead. Simple ingredients are key to making healthy recipes in my opinion. This also allows me to also control the sweetness – ketchup can be a little too sweet for me!
  • Family friendly: Keto Sloppy Joes is one of my favourite family friendly keto recipes – picky eaters just gobble it up, and I like the fact that it is a little sweet but there is no sugar in it. This easy low carb sloppy joe recipe will become a family favorite in no time!
  • Low carb: The carb count per portion of this recipe is just 6g net carbs. A perfect keto-friendly version of this American classic!

Key Ingredients

  • Beef: I used lean ground beef, however, you could use a fattier percentage for more flavour. The excess fat will be drained before it gets added to the other ingredients. I’ve also used a ground beef and pork mixture when that’s all I had on hand. It worked really well – I couldn’t tell the difference! Other ground meats like ground chicken or ground turkey are great substitutes as well.
  • Tomatoes: Instead of using ketchup with high fructose corn syrup and added sugar which you can’t really have on the keto diet, I opted for a can of diced tomatoes and some tomato paste as well. With all of the spices and sweetener, it really tastes like there is ketchup in there! You could use a can of tomato sauce instead, or passata.
  • Sweetener: I used brown erythritol which is an excellent brown sugar replacement. It adds in the right amount of sweetness, with a slight caramel flavour, and no funny aftertaste. If you’re not on a keto diet you can substitute brown sugar or coconut sugar. For whole30, just skip this ingredient.
  • Green bell pepper: The best sloppy joes always have green bell pepper, so I finely diced half of one green bell pepper and added it in. If you’re allowing a few more carbs in your diet, red pepper or yellow bell peppers would work as well!
  • Zucchini: Zucchini is optional and not in the original recipe, but I mix it into recipes where I can because it doesn’t add or take away from the flavour, and also provides nutrition and moisture too. Skip it if you want to!
  • Onion & garlic: Just half of a red onion to keep it low carb diet friendly, and I opted for fresh garlic instead of garlic powder as I prefer to use fresh ingredients where I can.
  • Spices: I looked back at my delicious keto ketchup recipe and added in the spices from there. Ground allspice, sweet paprika, ground cumin and ground black pepper. These are all ingredients that most supermarkets always have in stock. You can also add in chili powder or red pepper flakes, however, I opted for a dash of hot sauce instead.
  • Vinegar: I have tried this recipe with both apple cider vinegar and sumac which is a ground tart berry that is an excellent way of adding a puckeringly vinegar taste with no liquid (e.g. for ketchup or bbq sauce). Either is great in this recipe, however, I like the liquid added from the vinegar to make the sloppy joe meat a little…sloppier, so that’s what I usually go with.
  • Other condiments: A dash of Worcestershire sauce (skip for paleo sloppy joes), a little yellow or dijon mustard, and a dash of hot sauce round out this recipe perfectly!

How to make low carb sloppy joes

To make Keto Sloppy Joes, begin by browning the ground beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the ground beef is cooked, drain it in a colander over a mixing bowl. I do this so that it catches the fatty liquid and doesn’t go down my drains and clog it up. Just allow the liquid to cool and harden, and either scrape it into the bin or save it in the fridge for frying vegetables later.

Browning the ground beef in a black skillet with a wooden spoon.

While the brown ground beef is draining, in the same pan add the diced onion and green bell pepper, and sauté them for a couple of minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon occasionally, until they begin to soften.

Onion and green bell pepper sautéed in a black skillet with a wooden spoon.

Now add in the spices: allspice, cumin, sweet paprika, salt and ground black pepper and sauté them for a minute until fragrant.

Add spices to the ingredients in a black skillet with a wooden spoon.

Add in the garlic and allow it to soften for 2 minutes.

Add garlic to the ingredients in a black skillet with a wooden spoon.

Mix in the zucchini and tomato puree, followed by the drained brown ground beef. Mix it together well.

Add browned beef, zucchini and tomato paste to the ingredients in a black skillet with a wooden spoon.

Now add the can of diced tomatoes or tomato sauce to the ground beef mixture, followed by the brown sugar substitute. You can add more brown sugar to taste at the end if you like it sweeter.

Add sweetener and a can of diced tomatoes to the ingredients in a black skillet with a wooden spoon.

Finally, add the vinegar, cover the pan with a lid, and simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes, until the zucchini is soft and the juices are abundant (i.e. it’s sloppy!).

Add vinegar to the ingredients in a black skillet with a wooden spoon.

Serve as keto sloppy joe sandwiches in low carb hamburger buns, lettuce wraps, or biscuits, or even on its own with a sprinkle of cheddar cheese if desired!

Storage Instructions

  • Store in an airtight container for up to 4 days in the refrigerator.
  • Reheat this healthy sloppy joe recipe in a pot on the stove, microwave or oven until piping hot. You may need to add a little water so that the sloppy joe mixture becomes sloppy again!
  • Can you freeze sloppy joes? Yes! Sloppy joes are an excellent freezer-friendly meal prep idea. Freeze the sloppy joe sauce in an airtight container or zip-top freezer bag in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw the meat mixture completely before reheating as above.

What to serve with Keto Sloppy Joes

To keep it keto-friendly, you can serve this healthy sloppy joes recipe with any of the following:

Recipe Notes & Tips

  • Skip the zucchini for a more classic sloppy joe. I like to add more vegetables where I can, but it isn’t necessary!
  • Try different peppers. Red bell pepper or yellow peppers are great in this Keto Sloppy Joes recipe too! Stick to green bell peppers if you’re on a strict keto diet as it’s the lowest carb.
  • To turn this into paleo sloppy joes simply skip the Worcestershire sauce as it tends to have a little sugar (molasses).
  • Make it in the slow cooker: Add all of the ingredients to the slow cooker and cook it on low for 5 hours, or high for 3-4.
  • Make it in the instant pot: Begin by using the sauté option to sauté the onions, green bell pepper and spices. Then, add the other ingredients and cook on high pressure for 15 minutes. Allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes before turning the valve and venting it the rest of the way.
  • If you need to thicken the Keto Sloppy Joes xanthan gum is my preferred keto-friendly thickener. It’s quite low carb, just add it 1 tsp at a time mixed with some of the sauce, like you would with cornstarch.
A black skillet of keto sloppy joes with a wooden spoon on a wooden table. Some low carb buns are next to it, and a white cloth.

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Keto sloppy joes in a bun on a grey plate.

Keto Sloppy Joes

Bethany Galloway
Loaded with ground beef, green pepper, zucchini, tomatoes, and spices, this Keto Sloppy Joes recipe is such an easy recipe! Made without ketchup, this easy dinner is ready in 30 minutes and perfect for a quick and simple weeknight meal the whole family can enjoy. Serve it with a keto bun, low carb tortillas, or biscuits!
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Keto
Cuisine American
Servings 6 servings
Calories 378 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 750 g 1.65 lbs ground beef (or pork, chicken, turkey)
  • 1/2 green bell pepper finely diced
  • 1/2 onion finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 zucchini finely diced (optional, see note 1)
  • 1.5 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp salt + more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 400 ml 14.5oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 45 g 1/4 cup brown erythritol + more to taste (omit for whole30, for other options see note 3)
  • 60 ml 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • A dash or two of hot sauce optional

Instructions
 

  • Begin by browning the ground beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the ground beef is cooked, drain it in a colander over a large bowl and discard the excess moisture in the bin when it's cool (see note 2).
    A keto sloppy joe frying pan with meat and rice in it.
  • While the brown ground beef is draining, in the same pan add the diced onion and green bell pepper, and sauté them for a couple of minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon occasionally, until they begin to soften.
    A wok filled with onions, green peppers, and keto sloppy joes
  • Now add in the spices: allspice, cumin, sweet paprika, salt and ground black pepper and sauté them for a minute until fragrant.
    Keto sloppy joes simmered with spices and onions in a pan, stirred with a wooden spoon.
  • Add in the garlic and allow it to soften for 2 minutes.
    A keto sloppy joes frying pan with onions and a wooden spoon.
  • Mix in the zucchini and tomato puree, followed by the drained brown ground beef. Mix it together well.
    A keto sloppy joe wok with meat and vegetables in it.
  • Now add the can of diced tomatoes or tomato sauce to the ground beef mixture, followed by the brown sugar substitute and mix well. You can add more brown sugar to taste at the end if you like it sweeter.
    A keto-friendly pan with meat and vegetables in it, perfect for making sloppy joes.
  • Finally, add the vinegar, cover the pan with a lid, and simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes, until the zucchini is soft and the juices are abundant (i.e. it’s sloppy!).
    A person pouring a keto sauce into a dish for sloppy joes.
  • Adjust the seasoning and sweetness, and add a dash or two of keto-friendly hot sauce if desired. Serve in a keto bun, lettuce wraps, over keto biscuits, or as it is with a sprinkle of cheddar cheese.

Notes

    1. The traditional Sloppy Joes recipe doesn't call for zucchini, however, I like to add extra veggies where I can! Zucchini can be added without taking away or adding to the flavour, and the final dish is still keto-friendly! You can skip it if you'd like.
    2. I drain the liquid into a bowl so that it catches the fatty liquid and doesn’t go down my drain and clog it up. Just allow the liquid to cool and harden in the bowl, and either scrape it into the bin or save it in the fridge for frying vegetables later.
    3. Instead of brown erythritol you can add regular brown sugar, or coconut sugar to keep it paleo.

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 378kcalCarbohydrates: 8gProtein: 35gFat: 22gSaturated Fat: 8gPolyunsaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 111mgSodium: 993mgFiber: 2gSugar: 4g
Keyword keto, low carb, no ketchup, sloppy joes, stove top, without ketchup
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