Cuban inspired Turkey Sloppy Joes - A Cuban twist on an American classic comfort sandwich meal. These sloppy joes are full of flavor and personality thanks to a kicked-up spicy ketchup!
This version of the sloppy joe was inspired by Cuban fritas burgers I had at an Ann Arbor, Michigan spot called Frita Batidos which served Cuban inspired street food. The food was simple and bold! The vibe and flavors stuck with me and was the catalyst to explore Cuban cuisine and flavors beyond my previous exposure.
I got boojee kids, and when your kids live way better than you ever did, there are times when you question whether you're doin this adulting thing right. About once a month I have to introduce my kids to humble grub from my childhood whether it’s fried bologna sandwiches or fried spam and cheese, just so they know and have some appreciation.
What is a sloppy Joe?
I won’t presume that everyone has had a sloppy Joe or it’s store-bought cousin - “a manwich meal.” If the manwich meal reference has you wondering wtf, then google it or search on Youtube. Sloppy Joe is basically ground meat, cooked in a tomato-ish sauce and served on hamburger buns. It’s simple, and if done right tastes like magic. For this dish, I used a doctored up ketchup or spicy ketchup if you will, that had those Cuban flavors I fell in love with in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
TURKEY SLOPPY JOE INGREDIENTS
- Ground turkey
- Garlic cloves
- Olive oil
- Yellow onion
- Bell peppers
- Cuban Ketchup - this is your store-bought ketchup doctored up with spices
- Worcestershire Sauce
- Black pepper
- Kosher salt
- Hamburger Buns
- Sliced Pickles
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add olive oil.
Add the ground turkey and brown. Using a wooden spoon to break up the turkey into smaller pieces. Remove the turkey and drain in a bowl lined with paper towels.
Wipe the skillet, bring back to medium-low heat, add some more oil and saute the garlic, onions, and peppers for 3-4 minutes.
Add the browned ground turkey back to the skillet and mix well with the vegetables. Add ketchup, water, and Worcestershire sauce to the ground turkey mix, stir, and simmer 10-15 minutes.
Serve on buns with pickles and a side of chips
RECIPE TIPS AND CONSIDERATIONS
Season the ground turkey with salt and pepper before cooking.
Toast your buns before topping them with sloppy Joe mix, otherwise, those buns will get soggy real quick.
It’s called a sloppy joe, so don’t cook so long and at too high a temperature that you overcook and dry out the sauce. If not you’ll end up with an adjective that doesn’t work as good as “sloppy” - clean joe, neat joe, fancy joe!
Use your imagination for bun selection or don’t! I do highly recommend a brioche bun if you have easy access
For crockpot sloppy joes be sure to brown the meat first
Brown the meat on high heat for more texture. At high heat levels you get more of that crustiness!
Typically recipes call for ground beef. However, ground pork, chicken or turkey can all be used. The latter two are a bit healthier. I’ve seen chorizo thrown in as well. I opted for the turkey in this version. Don’t sweat the flavor concerns with turkey. The sauce is so boss so there is plenty of flavors to go around and then some.
As long as you don’t top the buns with any of the filling you’re cool. Feel free to make the filling ahead of time and refrigerate. The extra time will actually make the dish tastier. Just make sure you reheat properly. Avoid the microwave and either use a crockpot or simmer slowly in a saucepan.
The filling makes for a great topping for French fries, rice, pasta, or hot dogs. If you want to reserve extra for leftovers, be sure to add a bit of water or stock to get more of the sloppiness!
For my own consumption, it’s strictly the sauce, ground meat, diced onions, and bell peppers. But if you want it your way consider adding pickles and/or fresh herbs. My recipe calls for a doctored up ketchup, but feel free to use other flavor boosts to your sauce. Different spices or red wine can easily take things up a level.
Make These Cuban Inspired Sloppy Joes
If you make these comforting and delicious turkey sloppy joes please come back and leave me a comment below with your feedback. Definitely take a photo of the dish and be sure to tag #foodfidelity so that I can see them.
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- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 pound ground turkey
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 medium yellow onion diced
- 1 bell pepper diced
- 2 cups Cuban Ketchup
- ¼ cup water
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp Kosher salt
- Hamburger buns
- Sliced pickles
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add olive oil.
- Add ground turkey and brown. Use a wooden spoon to break up the turkey into smaller pieces. Remove turkey and drain in a bowl lined with paper towels.
- Wipe the skillet, bring back to medium-low heat, add some more oil and saute the garlic, onions, and peppers for 3-4 minutes.
- Add the browned ground turkey back to the skillet and mix well with the vegetables.
- Add ketchup, water, and Worcestershire sauce to ground turkey mix, stir, and simmer 10-15 minutes.
- Serve on hamburger buns or rolls with sliced pickles on top.
- Toast your buns before topping them with sloppy Joe mix, otherwise, those buns will get soggy real quick.
- It’s called a sloppy joe, so don’t cook so long and at too high a temperature that you over cook and dry out the sauce. If not you’ll end up with an adjective that don’t work as good as “sloppy” - clean joe, neat joe, fancy joe!
- Use your imagination for bun selection or don’t! I do highly recommend a birch bun if you have easy access
- For crockpot sloppy joes be sure to brown the meat first
- Brown the meat on high heat for more texture. At high heat levels you get more of that crust!