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sloppy joe recipe without ketchup

Healthy, Homemade Sloppy Joe Recipe Without Ketchup

  • Author: Rebecca Baron
  • Prep Time: 10 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 Minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 12 1x
  • Category: Dinnner
  • Cuisine: American


These are one of my children's favorite recipes - I like them too! I love them because they are so versatile and easy to make either on the stovetop, slow cooker or Instant Pot * and they freeze wonderfully. I have to make sure to always have some on hand in my freezer or my children start complaining there is nothing to eat. {Gluten-Free, Clean Eating, Dairy-Free}


  • 2 pounds Ground Beef
  • 2 15 oz Cans Diced Tomatoes, blended (or 4 cups fresh or frozen blended tomatoes - see note)
  • 1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/3 Cup Pure Maple Syrup *
  • 2 tsp Ground Mustard
  • 1 tsp Real Salt *
  • 1 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 1 White Onion, chopped (optional)
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper, chopped (optional)


Slow Cooker Method

  1. In a large skillet, brown and crumble the ground beef. Add the beef to a slow cooker (or see my notes for how I usually cook the ground beef).
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients to the slow cooker, stir well, and heat on high for 2 hours (or more for richer flavor).
  3. Serve on buns of your choice.

Stovetop Method

  1. In a large skillet, brown and crumble the ground beef.
  2. If you are going to add the onion and/or bell pepper, add them when the ground beef is about half cooked.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients to the skillet, stir well, and heat until they are cooked how you like them (20 minutes to two hours).
  4. Serve on buns of your choice.

Instant Pot Method

  1. Add the ground beef to the Instant Pot * and cook on "Saute" and brown and crumble the ground beef.
  2. Meanwhile, dice the onion and green pepper and add it to the Instant Pot and cook it until the onion and pepper are soft and translucent and the ground beef is fully browned and crumbled.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients to the Instant Pot, stir well, and cook on "Meat" (15 minutes plus the time to get to pressure.)
  4. Serve on buns of your choice.


  • I often start with frozen ground beef and don't feel like unthawing it in the microwave and watching it while it browns so I'll just put the frozen ground beef hunk in the crockpot and let it cook for about two hours until it is cooked but still in one piece. Then I skim off all the foam and drain out most of the fat then chop the ground beef up right in the slow cooker. Then I add the extra ingredients after that. It takes more time overall but less work, especially at the beginning of the day when I'm extra busy with my children. I also think it makes the ground beef extra tender.
  • The amount of tomatoes is approximate because there is a huge variety in the water content from different brands and variety of tomatoes. Fresh are always more watery too. Since I often have really watery tomatoes (beefsteak) One thing I do before freezing my tomatoes is blend them all up in a high speed blender like a Vitamix *, only cutting out the stem and leaving the skins on. Then I put them in a slow cooker or on the stovetop and let them cook until they have reduced in volume by about half. Then I freeze them in 17-ounce containers. This way they take up a lot less room in the freezer but they also get to be the consistency of tomato sauce so they are ready to add to recipes like these sloppy joes, pizza or spaghetti sauce.

Keywords: Homemade, Versatile, Easy, Favorite