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Peachy BBQ-Style Sloppy Joes

Margaret has a passion for cooking, baking, and creating recipes that satisfy her cravings for delicious and indulgent food.

My husband loves traditional comfort food. Give him a plate of American Chop Suey, macaroni and cheese or meatloaf and mashed potatoes and he's a happy camper. Sloppy Joes are one of his favorites, but many recipes for it are fairly bland and uninspired. So when I make Sloppy Joe sandwiches I always do something special to amp up the flavors. Sometimes I'll add extra tomato paste and some Italian seasonings for what I call Sloppy Giuseppe sandwiches. Other times I'll add oregano, a touch of cinnamon and some crumbled feta cheese and top the ground beef mixture with a simple Tzatziki sauce made from yogurt cucumber and garlic sauce for what I call Greek Joes.

I'm a big fan of barbecue and my favorite BBQ sauce is thick, sweet and smoky, so I decided to create Southern-style sweet and smoky Sloppy Joes that combine my favorite barbecue sauce flavors with sweet Georgia peaches. I'm pleased to say that my recipe is not only delicious but also husband-approved!


Achieving the Perfect Balance of Sweet and Smoky BBQ Flavors

I wanted these Sloppy Joe sandwiches to taste like my favorite style of barbecue sauce, only better. I decided to add sweet peaches, peach nectar, and sugar-free peach preserves. Because I live in Boston and not in Georgia and wanted to be able to make this recipe any time of year, I went with flash-frozen peaches and bottled peach nectar. I used ketchup (AKA catsup), molasses and diced fire-roasted tomatoes to create the rich, sweet and smoky taste of my barbecue-style sauce. Then I added smoked paprika and liquid smoke flavoring for that smoky barbecue flavor. Finally, I kicked up the flavor profile a notch with a little apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, and chili powder.


A 50/50 Mix of Lean Ground Beef and Extra-Lean Turkey Keeps the Same Hearty Taste and Makes Them More Heart-Healthy

Originally when I developed this recipe I used lean ground beef plus some olive oil to replace some of the saturated fat with a flavorful, heart-healthy oil that also allowed the onions and garlic to cook nicely. But since my husband and I are trying to cut down on our consumption of red meat, after making the first batch with two pounds of lean ground beef, I decided to make another batch using one it with one pound each of 85% lean ground beef and 93% lean ground turkey, plus an extra tablespoon of healthy olive oil to replace some of the missing fat from the extremely lean turkey.

It was just as delicious as the all-beef version. In fact, my husband didn't even notice the substitution! I also made the half beef, half turkey version for my meat-loving brother when we flew cross-country to visit him recently. He loved these so much that he immediately asked for the recipe, even though he didn't cook much at the time! Best of all, made this way, each generous serving of Sloppy Joes is only 482 calories and contains only 16 grams of fat!

Of course, it wouldn't be a Sloppy Joe sandwich without a nice soft sandwich roll or hamburger bun to sop up the sauce. I prefer sesame seed-topped potato rolls but you can use any type of burger bun you prefer. Sometimes I'll serve these sandwiches on whole wheat buns.

Sweet and Smoky Sloppy Joes with Peaches


Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

20 min

55 min

1 hour 15 min

Makes 10 servings of Sloppy Joe sandwiches

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  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb. 85% lean ground beef
  • 1 lb. 93% lean ground turkey
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 14.5 oz. can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 lb. frozen (unsweetened) or fresh peeled and pitted peaches
  • 1 1/2 cups peach nectar
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 3/4 cup Smucker's sugar-free peach preserves with Splenda
  • 3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp. liquid smoke flavoring
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 soft sandwich rolls or hamburger buns, with or without seeds, e.g., Arnold Select Sandwich Rolls with Sesame Seeds


  1. Heat 2 Tbsp. of the oil in a very large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Crumble in the ground beef and ground turkey and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat loses its pink color.
  2. Stir in the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the onion and garlic. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent.
  3. While the meat, onion and garlic are cooking, chop the peaches.
  4. Stir in the fire-roasted tomatoes, chopped peaches, peach nectar, molasses, ketchup, peach preserves, cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, chili powder, smoked paprika, liquid smoke, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring for another 20–30 minutes or until the sauce has thickened.
  5. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if necessary. There is salt in the ketchup and diced fire-roasted tomatoes, but you may want to add a bit more, depending on your saltiness preference.
  6. Spoon the mixture over the bottom halves of the sandwich rolls or hamburger buns and add the top halves. Alternatively, serve as open-face sandwiches and skip the tops of the buns.
  7. Note: This recipe may be made in advance and refrigerated or frozen and then reheated. It tastes even better after a day or two!

What Do YOU Think of This Recipe? Please Rate It!

Are You Planning to Make My Sweet & Smoky Sloppy Joes with Peaches Recipe?

Wait—You Call Those Southern Barbecue Flavors?

Actually, Southern barbecue covers a wide variety of flavors, depending on the state. True, this recipe isn't based on traditional, thin, vinegar-based North Carolina barbecue dipping sauce, and while it contains mustard it's certainly nothing like the mustard and vinegar sauce served in South Carolina. But it's definitely related to the tomato and vinegar-based sweet-and-sour barbecue sauces served in Memphis, Tennessee, just thicker and smokier like the Kansas City or K.C. style sauces (and also sweeter than those).

So while I would never presume to call the sauce in this recipe traditional Southern barbecue, it does have key ingredients from several different Southern (and Midwestern) style BBQ sauces.

And of course, there are those luscious Georgia peaches!

Given that Alabama's mayonnaise, vinegar, lemon juice, and black pepper "white sauce" is considered a legitimate element of regional Southern BBQ, I am quite comfortable calling this my own signature "Southern-style" Sloppy Joes recipe.

Vegetarian or Vegan Variations

There are several meat substitutes that would work nicely in this recipe. Obvious choices include tempeh or meatless crumbles, but you could also use cooked and shredded canned young jackfruit (do not use mature jackfruit).

Canned young jackfruit is an unusual ingredient in many areas. Depending on where you live, you many not be able to find it locally. Organic brands are even harder to find. Amazon sells cans of organic young jackfruit by Native Forest, one of my favorite brands for high-quality, organic ingredients, at good prices. (Their organic coconut milk is the best I've tried!)

The following recipe video demonstrates one of several ways to cook and shred jackfruit for Sloppy Joes.

© 2015 Margaret Schindel

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