Cuban inspired Turkey Sloppy Joes – A Cuban twist on an American classic comfort sandwich meal. These turkey sloppy joes are full of flavor and personality thanks to a kicked up spicy ketchup!
Some years ago I was in Ann Arbor, Michigan near the University of Michigan campus for my daughter’s track meet. We had dinner at this small modern looking spot called Frita Batidos which served Cuban inspired street food centered around fritas which are Cuban hamburgers. The service was great. 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. Subsequent trips to Miami only deepened my interest. Anyway, all these things were on my mind when I started thinking about this turkey sloppy Joe recipe.
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. Now that my son is in the midst of a growth spurt, I may need to offer these up more frequently. The boy is trying to eat me outta my own damn house! Sloppy Joe is the perfect solution for a growing boy. Cheap, good, and goes a long way.
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.
What kind of ground meat do you use for sloppy joes?
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.
Can you make sloppy joes in advance?
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.
What do I do with extra or leftover sloppy Joe meat?
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!
How do you dress your sloppy joe?
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.
Turkey Sloppy Joe Cooking Tips
- 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 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!
Making Cuban Inspired Turkey 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
- 1/4 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.
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!