Loaded with vegetables and made with grass-fed beef, these Instant Pot sloppy joes are a healthier, more nutrient-dense version of your favourite comfort food.
Who doesn’t love a generous serving of sloppy joes over a soft bread roll? But, as delicious and comforting as this classic dish is, the meat stew is often full of sugar and when served over refined flour based bread buns, it can send your blood sugar levels on a bit of a roller coaster.
We wanted to create Instant Pot sloppy joes that are a bit healthier, by changing up the source of the sweetness and adding A LOT of veggies in the process. This way, you and your kids will enjoy the familiar flavour and texture without even knowing how much goodness is hidden within. Plus, you will yield a large batch of sloppy joes sauce without using too much meat, making it more affordable and more sustainable. Check out all the veggies used in this recipe!
Instead of serving the sloppy joes over bread rolls, we baked a few vitamin-packed sweet potatoes until tender. You can, of course, serve the meat over other foods: pasta, rice, beans, veggies or good quality bread like sourdough.
Instead of using regular sugar or brown sugar or adding ketchup we used coconut sugar, which has a much lower glycaemic index (below 50) and won’t spike your blood sugar as much. It looks and tastes similar to brown sugar, and works great as a healthier source of sweetness in this recipe. For a Whole30 version of this recipe, simply omit the coconut sugar. Of course, if you can’t have this healthier sugar alternative, you can use regular brown sugar.
Coconut aminos is a soy-free, gluten-free alternative to soy sauce. It has a lovely salty, sweet flavour and we’re using it instead of soy or Worcestershire sauce here. You can find both coconut sugar and coconut aminos online and in health food stores, and they are great pantry items for healthier eating (especially for paleo and Whole30). Check out more paleo friendly recipes here.
Leftover meat sauce can easily be turned into Shepherd’s Pie, lasagna or filling for tacos.
A little trivia: Did you know that the name sloppy joe’s origins lie with the “loose meat sandwiches” sold in Sioux City, Iowa in the 1930s and were the creation of a cook named Joe. The dish has previously also been called devilled hamburgers, hamburger a la creole and Spanish hamburgers.Print
For the sauce
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1/2 large onion, finely diced
- 1 large carrot, diced into small cubes
- 2 celery sticks, diced into small cubes
- A handful of spinach, chard or another leafy green vegetable, diced
- 6 mushrooms, diced into cubes
- 1 + 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 3 garlic cloves, minced or diced
- About 1 lb / 500 g ground beef mince
- 1 can of chopped tinned tomatoes (400 g)
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon coconut aminos (or Tamari gluten-free soy sauce)
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons coconut sugar (brown sugar can also be used)
- 1 onion stock cube (or 1 tablespoon of onion soup powder)
- 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
- Pinch of chilli flakes
- ¼ cup water
For sweet potatoes
- 2 medium sweet potatoes, cut in halves lengthways
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt for seasoning
- To make the sweet potatoes, preheat the oven to 200 C / 400 F. Place the sweet potato halves onto a baking sheet covered with some parchment/baking paper. Drizzle with olive oil and place in the oven, middle shelf, for 35-40 minutes. We recommend doing this just before cooking the sauce, to get the timings about right. If making the sauce ahead of time, you can, of course, bake the potatoes at a later stage. Or, you can also prebake the sweet potatoes or even boil them, and reheat just before serving.
- To make the sloppy joes, turn the Instant Pot on. Press the Sauté function key and allow the pot to heat up for 1-2 minutes. Add the olive oil, onions, carrots, and celery and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring a few times. Then add the rest of the ingredients and stir through really well. Please note, you only need a little extra water because you will have enough liquid from the tinned tomatoes, juices from the vegetables and the meat. Press Cancel/Keep Warm to stop the Sauté process.
- Place and lock the lid, making sure the steam valve is pointing at Sealing. Press Manual, HIGH pressure and adjust the timing to 10 minutes. The Instant Pot will beep three times and the pressure will start to build. Once the timer goes off, allow 10 minutes for natural pressure release and then use quick release method (QR) -by turning the steam valve to Venting – to let the rest of the steam and pressure out.
- Open the lid, and press Sauté again. Cook the sauce for 10 minutes with no lid on, stirring frequently. This final stage is used to thicken the sauce further. You can also add a little tapioca or arrowroot flour, about 1 teaspoon, (cornstarch is also fine if you wish) right at the end, to thicken the sauce further.
- Serve the sauce over baked sweet potatoes, topped with favourite fresh herbs and maybe a lovely, crispy green salad.
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