This Mexican-Style Sloppy Joes Recipe Turns Dinner Into a Fiesta
Who needs to choose between Taco Night and Sloppy Joe Night? This easy Mexican-Style Sloppy Joes is the best of both worlds.
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Sloppy Joes are a nostalgic weeknight dinner the whole family loves. There are good reasons for that. They're easy to cook, and a kid-pleasing answer to the perpetual weeknight question, “What do I do with this pound of ground beef?”
Classic sloppy Joes are hands-down one of my family’s favorite meals. They make a frequent appearance on our meal plan. Especially during those seasons our schedule is packed with extracurricular activities. Sloppy Joes come together quickly, and are just plain fun to eat.
“Fun” is one of those elements a lot of us forget about when meal planning. And while planning and prepping and cooking can sometimes end up feeling like a list of chores, eating together with your loved ones shouldn’t. The dinner table is meant to be an enjoyable experience. Serving sloppy Joes gives everyone permission to be a little messy — and what kid doesn’t love a little leeway after a day full of following rules? Dinner is a pocket of time to connect. And nothing connects you to your kids quicker than letting yourself lean into the vulnerability of being a bit silly. A little stress relief is the perfect antidote to the go-go-go of everyday life.
But I do have a tried and true tip if you’re looking to keep things neater. My mom taught it to my siblings and me back in the '90s when we were the kids at the table. Just flip your sandwich upside down so the top bun is on the bottom. It provides better support for all the filling, keeping as much as possible between the buns.
Sloppy Joes are also something I love to pack for day trips or weeknights spent at youth sports games. Just pack the filling in a preheated thermos. Toss it in a tote bag with a bag of hamburger buns and a stack of paper plates and you’ve got a hot dinner on the go. (Don’t forget the napkins!)
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What are Mexican-Style Sloppy Joes?
This recipe for Mexican-Style Sloppy Joes is a mashup between Taco Night and Sloppy Joe Night. They are a fun twist on two of our go-to weeknight dinner meals. Mexican-Style Sloppy Joes have a lot more going on flavor-wise when compared to a more basic sloppy Joe recipe seasoned with ketchup and Worcestershire sauce. This Yummly variation adds chorizo for a mildly spicy flavor profile. Canned beans bring a third protein option to the mix. I love the combination of different proteins. The veggies and beans bring extra nutrients and fiber to the table.
Sloppy Joes are easy to make, even if you’ve never made them from scratch before. Ground beef is cooked with aromatic vegetables and a lightly seasoned tomato sauce. Mexican-Style Sloppy Joes are pretty similar to the standard process, but with a few additions for lots of flavor.
Scraping the browned bits from the pan with the meat and vegetables; photograph by Meleyna Nomura
Start by browning ground beef and Mexican chorizo together in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion, carrots, bell pepper, and garlic and cook until tender. Season with smoky ground cumin and ground chipotle powder. A spoonful of tomato paste provides depth. Simmer it together with canned beans and fire-roasted, diced tomatoes, plus a little chicken stock.
While the filling cooks, split four hamburger buns. Spread them out on a sheet pan and toast them all at once under a preheated broiler. This extra step is one of my favorite little details that really makes the whole meal. The crispy, toasty rolls provide great contrast to the soft filling. The buns also hold up a lot better instead of getting immediately soggy.
Finally, stir together a slurry of cornstarch and a couple of spoonfuls of water in a small bowl. When the veggies are tender, stir the slurry into the meat mixture. Let the filling bubble away for a few more minutes to ensure that it is nice and thick. Spoon it generously onto the toasted buns, top it with sour cream, hot sauce, and cilantro, and dig in.
Adding the cornstarch slurry to the pan; photograph by Meleyna Nomura
Can I use any kind of chorizo for Mexican-Style Sloppy Joes?
This recipe calls for Mexican chorizo. Mexican chorizo is raw and typically sold in a casing or in bulk. It needs to be cooked before eating. To use in this recipe, simply remove from the casing and cook with the ground beef. Mexican chorizo is often made with pork, but can also be made with beef. Either variety will work here. Soyrizo is a vegetarian alternative. It is made with textured soy protein. While it won’t make this dish vegetarian on its own, it’s a great alternative if you’re looking to reduce your overall meat intake.
Spanish chorizo is a cured sausage, more akin to salami. It can be sliced and served as-is. While it is delicious, it will not work for this recipe.
Can I make Mexican-Style Sloppy Joes ahead of time?
Absolutely! Mexican-Style Sloppy Joes have a total time of about 45 minutes to make. While not a huge time investment, it might be too much on a busy weeknight. The filling can be made completely ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container for up to three days. When you’re ready to eat, warm the filling on the stovetop or microwave and toast the buns. You can reheat the whole batch at once, or individual portions if after school activities require staggered dinner times.
What do I serve with sloppy Joes?
Any steamed green vegetable, side salad, or slaw would be a perfect simple side dish to serve alongside the sloppy Joe main dish. Oven fries or sweet potato tots are a great option that keep with the overall theme of a throwback dinner. I like to keep things super simple and opt for a variety of raw vegetables. Carrot sticks, sliced cucumbers, snap peas, bell pepper strips, really whatever you’ve got in the fridge that goes well with your dip of choice will work. Oh, and one thing you don’t want to forget to bring to the table when serving sloppy Joes? A snack of napkins.
Get the recipe: Mexican-Style Sloppy Joes
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