Simple, quick eats are pretty much what we live by in my house. And we’ve always been big on casual fare that you can eat with your hands. Which is why I love this dairy-free sloppy joes recipe from my friend Linda Coss. Her family loves this 15-minute meal in wraps, but you can also enjoy it the classic way, as a sandwich. It contains some sneaky vegetables, making this a complete dish.
Dairy-Free Sloppy Joes for Sandwiches, Wraps, or Bowls
Linda has a milk-, egg-, and nut-allergic son, so she knows a thing or two about fast, creative, and family-friendly meals. She’s actually written two cookbooks full of everyday recipes, What’s to Eat? and What Else is to Eat?. We originally shared this recipe for dairy-free sloppy joes about 15 years ago, but I’ve since updated the recipe and added some additional tips and notes below.
Can I Substitute Ground Turkey for the Beef?
You can, but I have a little trick for you. First, I would use 90% or 93% lean ground turkey. Extra-lean ground turkey can be a bit too dry and tough. Second, add a little Worcestershire sauce to the meat in the pan, just before you brown it. I usually just shake a little on, probably about a 2 teaspoons or so. It gives turkey better meaty depth in flavor. This might work well with ground chicken, too, but I haven’t tested it.
What is Chili Sauce and Where Can I Find It?
Don’t let the name fool you, regular chili sauce is not spicy. It’s similar to ketchup, but is made with more aromatic spices for a richer taste. It’s also a little less sweet than ketchup. You can find it in the condiment aisle of most
Are there Any Substitutes for the Chili Sauce?
It’s hard to find a direct substitute for chili sauce, but you can quickly make your own with a homemade chili sauce recipe. I recommend simmering that sauce down a little before using it or reduce the brown sugar to 3 tablespoons and add 1 tablespoon tomato paste. And you can reduce the sweetener in the recipe below, if desired. That chili sauce recipe is on the sweet side.
Can I Use Light Brown Sugar instead of Dark?
Yes, you can substitute regular light brown sugar. If you want the depth of dark brown sugar, you can add about 1/2 teaspoon of molasses.
Can I Add Garlic?
Linda makes these dairy-free sloppy joes kid-friendly, without garlic. But if you’re a big garlic fan, go ahead and sauté 2 minced or crushed garlic cloves for about 1 minute with the meat, just before adding the sauce.
What Dairy-Free Bread Can I Use for Sloppy Joes?
I like to use my dairy-free hamburger buns recipe or dairy-free slider buns recipe. For store bought options, we love Pretzilla buns, Dave’s Killer Bread buns, and Angelic Bakehouse sprouted buns. But you will likely find more options at your local grocer. Just use caution as many brands do contain dairy.
What Dairy-Free Gluten-Free Buns or Wraps Can I use for these Sloppy Joes?
If we’re having gluten-free guests, I bake these dairy-free gluten-free hamburger buns. For store-bought bread options, see our guide to the best dairy-free gluten-free bread. For wraps, our gluten-free friends love Siete grain-free tortillas.
Does this Sloppy Joe Recipe Freeze Well?
It does! You can make it ahead and refrigerate leftovers for up to two days, or freeze it in an airtight container for longer storage. It should keep in your freezer for up to two months. It won’t go bad at that time, but food does start to degrade in the freezer over time. Simply reheat the sloppy joe mixture in the microwave or on the stove top.
Special Diet Notes: Sloppy Joes
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, optionally gluten-free, nut-free, peanut-free, and soy-free. Just be sure to choose the chili sauce and tortillas or buns that suit your dietary needs. See suggestions in the FAQs above.
- ½ cup finely chopped zucchini
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced (white bulb and green tops)
- 1 pound extra lean ground beef
- ½ cup chili sauce (the mild type, similar to ketchup)
- 3 tablespoons firmly-packed dark brown sugar
- 6 (8-inch) whole wheat tortillas or dairy-free burger buns (sub gluten-free, if needed; see post above for suggestions)
- Place the meat, zucchini, and green onions in a large skillet. Sauté over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, or until the beef is completely cooked through (with no pink or red showing). Break the meat into small pieces as it cooks. Drain and discard the fat.
- In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the chili sauce and brown sugar until the brown sugar is dissolved.
- Pour the chili sauce mixture into the ground beef mixture and cook over medium-high heat for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove the skillet from the heat.
- Place the tortillas on microwave-safe plate, and microwave on high for 20 seconds or until soft and warm.
- To assemble the wraps, spoon ½ cup of the meat mixture onto each tortilla. Fold the bottom half of tortillas up, and then fold each side in towards the center. Serve immediately.
Delicious Additions: When making these sloppy joes as wraps, we like to add sliced olives, chopped lettuce or baby spinach, sprouts, and/or other leftover diced vegetables or rice. For burgers, we like topping the sloppy joe mixture with crispy lettuce leaves or dairy-free coleslaw.
Bowl Option: Put about ¾ cup cooked rice, brown rice, quinoa, or millet in each bowl. Top with the sloppy joe mixture for quick bowls. Optionally layer with spinach or top with olives.