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posted January 11, 2022

Turkey Sloppy Joes

These are not your average weeknight turkey sloppy joes! This turkey sloppy joe recipe adds a little bit of smoke and grown-up flavor to that old classic recipe. Get ready to fall in love with the sloppy joe again!

Turkey sloppy joes next to a pile of crinkle cut fries with text overlay - Turkey Sloppy Joes.

Turkey Sloppy Joes

Sometimes, weeknight meals that are simple and fast can often also fall under the category of flavorless and boring. That’s not the case with these turkey sloppy joes! You think you know sloppy joes, but if all you’ve ever done is browned some ground beef and opened a can of pre-made sauce then you don’t reeeaaalllly know sloppy joes.

For this fresh take on sloppy joes, I’ve kept the basic flavor profile with a tomato-based sauce and ground meat but I’ve added in serious flavor. We’re talking real-life actual flavor! These lean turkey sloppy joes are made from scratch and include bell pepper, onion, and Worcestershire sauce for the perfect sloppy joe flavor.

The smoky turkey, sauteed peppers and onions, and tangy-sweet sauce all come together for the ultimate turkey sloppy joe. Serve the mixture on buttery toasty buns (my absolute favorite are the Torta ciabatta rolls from Costco) and your family will be blissing out on a Wednesday. 

Spatula spreading ground turkey on a wire cooling rack.

Ingredients for Turkey Sloppy Joes

These smoked turkey sloppy joes are pretty easy to make, and you likely have most (or all!) of the ingredients in your pantry and fridge. Here’s what you need to make these turkey sloppy joes.

  • Lean ground turkey. Make sure you purchase fresh lean ground turkey for this recipe.
  • Hey Grill Hey Beef Rub. This rub can be purchased from the Hey Grill Hey Store, or you can substitute it with your favorite steak seasoning.
  • Olive oil. Quality ingredients really make the difference in this recipe, so use high-quality extra virgin olive oil if possible.
  • Onion, red bell pepper, and garlic. 
  • Tomato sauce. You can use canned tomato sauce or make it from scratch using my recipe for Smoke Roasted Tomato Sauce.
  • Brown sugar.
  • Tomato paste.
  • Apple cider vinegar.
  • Worcestershire sauce.
  • Salt. This recipe calls for 1 teaspoon salt, but you can add more as needed to taste.

Beef seasoning being sprinkled over ground turkey.

How to Make Ground Turkey Sloppy Joes

Now, we’ve talked about how quick and easy these sloppy joes are to make, and we aren’t kidding! They’re a great dinner option for busy weekdays and they’re always a kid favorite! Who doesn’t love getting messy with their meal? Here’s how to make them.

  1. Preheat. Preheat your smoker to 200 degrees F. Prepare the meat while the smoker comes to temperature.
  2. Prep the turkey. Spread the ground turkey on a wire cooling rack over a foil-lined baking sheet. Season the turkey well with Beef Rub or you can use this recipe for Steak Seasoning. You can even use equal parts salt, pepper, and garlic powder if you don’t have anything pre-mixed on hand.
  3. Smoke the turkey. Place everything on the grill grates of the smoker, close the lid, and smoke for 30 minutes.
  4. Cook the veggies. While the turkey smokes, heat a 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil, onions, garlic, and bell peppers. Cook for 6-8 minutes.
  5. Add the meat. Once the turkey is done smoking, add it to the vegetables in the cast iron skillet and break up the meat.
  6. Finish making the sloppy joe meat mixture. Add in the remaining ingredients (tomato sauce, tomato paste, brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and salt) to the meat and veggies. Stir well and simmer the mixture for 5-8 more minutes.
  7. Assemble. Pile the sloppy joe mixture high on top of toasted buns. Dig in!

Bonus information! If you don’t have a wood-fired grill you can still make these turkey sloppy joes. Just brown the meat and seasoning in a skillet and add in 1 tsp of liquid smoke when you stir in the sauce ingredients. I have used this basic recipe from Rachel Ray for a while now, but I’ve adapted it for my own tastes!

Turkey sloppy joes next to a pile of crinkle cut fries.

More Smoked Turkey Recipes

If you’re in the turkey mood, Hey Grill Hey has a handful of smoked turkey recipes to keep your entire family full and happy. Branch out a bit from that red meat, and try these other smoked turkey recipes today.

Turkey Sloppy Joe Recipe

It doesn’t get much easier than these turkey sloppy joes. There’s no need to wait; add this recipe to your weekly lineup ASAP. You won’t be disappointed!

This post was originally published in April 2015. We recently updated it with more information and helpful tips. The recipe remains the same.

Turkey sloppy joes next to a pile of crinkle cut fries.

Smoked Turkey Sloppy Joes

Susie Bulloch
Smoked turkey, sauteed peppers and onions, and tangy-sweet sauce all come together in these sloppy joes straight from BBQ heaven.
Prep Time : 10 mins
Cook Time : 15 mins
Total Time : 25 mins
Servings : 4 people
Calories : 361kcal


  • 1 ½ pounds lean ground turkey
  • 1 Tablespoon Hey Grill Hey Beef Rub
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion (diced)
  • 1 red bell pepper (diced)
  • 1 clove garlic (minced)
  • 2 ½ cups tomato sauce
  • cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  • Preheat. Turn on the smoker and preheat your smoker to 180-200 degrees F.
  • Season. Spread the ground turkey onto a wire cooling rack and place it over a foil-lined baking sheet. Season the turkey well with Beef Rub.
  • Smoke. Place the turkey, cooling rack, and baking sheet on the preheated grill. Close the lid and smoke for 30 minutes.
  • Cook the vegetables. While the turkey is smoking, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil then add the onions, garlic, and bell peppers. Cook, stirring frequently until the onions and peppers have softened but not caramelized, about 6-8 minutes.
  • Add the meat. When the turkey has finished smoking, add it to the vegetable mixture and use the sharp edge of the spatula to break the meat into smaller pieces and finish cooking through.
  • Add the sauce. Stir in the tomato sauce, tomato paste, brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and salt.
  • Finish cooking. Bring the sloppy joe mixture to a simmer and cook for 5-8 more minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the sauce is at your desired thickness.
  • Assemble and serve. Pile the sloppy joe mixture on top of toasted buns and serve with your favorite condiments, if desired.


Calories: 361kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 43g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 94mg | Sodium: 1600mg | Potassium: 1272mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 28g | Vitamin A: 1764IU | Vitamin C: 54mg | Calcium: 60mg | Iron: 4mg
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