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Smoked Sloppy Joes

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Smoked Sloppy Joes are just what the doctor ordered.. well, maybe not the cardiologist but, we did use lean ground sirloin in this so I don't think he'd be too unhappy😁

A reader, Ed Richard, recommended that I try smoked sloppy joes. He places the ground meat on a screen type tray and stirs it a lot during the cooking process to get plenty of smoke on it.

While I was pondering the idea, it occurred to me that my barbecue sauce  contains several of the ingredients that are typically used in homemade sloppy joes such as ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, etc. and what a great way to simplify a recipe and make it quick and easy without having to use a pre-made sauce!

It was a huge success and I can't wait for you to try it!

Helpful Information
  • Prep Time: 40 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Smoker Temp: 225°F (107°C)
  • Meat Finish Temp: 160°F (71°C)
  • Recommended Wood: Pecan, Oak
What You'll Need
  • 2 lbs lean ground beef (90/10)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • Butter
  • Jeff's Texas style rub
  • 1 cup Jeff's barbecue sauce
  • 1 TBS yellow mustard
  • ½ cup condensed tomato soup
  • 1-½ teaspoons chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • Hamburger buns

Did you know? You can order the MASTER FORMULAS which allow you to make Jeff's original rubs and original barbecue sauce at home using your own ingredients! Order the Recipes

Step 1: Smoke the Ground Beef

I recommend lean ground beef but you can use what you like including healthier options such as ground turkey. I used 90/10 ground sirloin in mine.

If you use anything fattier than 90/10, you'll want to drain most of the grease off before adding the other ingredients.

Setup your smoker for cooking at about 225°F (107°C) using pecan, oak, or whatever smoking wood you have available. If your smoker uses a water pan, fill it up.

Put 2 lbs of ground meat in a 12-inch iron skillet and break it up a little with a spatula to allow maximum smoke exposure.

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Once the smoker is ready, place the entire iron skillet on the smoker grate and let it cook for about 45-60 minutes or until the ground beef is browned and cooked.

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While the meat is cooking is a great time to chop and cook the onion, pepper and garlic.

Step 2: Prepare the Vegetables

Dice a medium onion.

Dice a whole green pepper (other colors are also okay)

Mince about 4 garlic cloves. Feel free to use more if you're a garlic freak like me.

Heat a large iron skillet over medium heat and add about 2 TBS of butter to the pan.

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Once the butter is sizzling, add the vegetables and 1 TBS of the Texas style rub .

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Let it cook for about 2 minutes before stirring them around. Let them cook for another 2 minutes and stir them around again. Continue this dance until they are soft and wimpy and you see some blackening starting to happen, especially on the onions.

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When they are finished, remove the pan from the heat.

Step 3: Mix and Simmer

When the meat is done smoking and is brown and fully cooked, bring it into the house and set the pan on the stove over low heat.

Reminder: if your ground beef is fattier than 90/10, you'll probably want to drain most of the grease before continuing with the recipe.

Add the vegetables as well as the barbecue sauce , yellow mustard, chili powder, and condensed tomato soup (no water) to the same pan with the cooked meat and stir everything to combine.

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Let the smoked sloppy joes simmer in the pan uncovered until you are satisfied with the consistency. I don't like it to be soupy but it should be a really wet mix.

Mine took about 15 minutes of simmering to get the right consistency.

During this time, add a little salt and pepper to taste (optional). I ended up adding ½ teaspoon of coarse salt and 1 teaspoon of coarse ground black pepper to mine.

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Note: if at any time you feel like it needs to have more liquid added to it, just add a little more of the condensed tomato soup or you can add a small amount of water.

Step 4: Toast the Buns

I've heard a lot of people say they don't like sloppy joes because they don't like soggy bread.. the trick is buttering and grilling the bottom of the buns. It becomes crisp and doesn't sog up like non-toasted bread does.

When the smoked sloppy joes are almost finished, butter up the buns.

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Place the buns buttered side down on a hot griddle or iron skillet over medium heat.

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This only takes about a minute so keep a close eye on them until it gets the amount of “toastiness” that you like.

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Step 5: Build the Sandwich

Pile about 1/3 cup of the smoked sloppy joes on the bottom bun and cap it off with the top bun.

I don't care for cheese on my sloppy Joes but if that's your thing, have at it!

Step 6: Serve it Up

When the sandwiches are ready, serve it up with plenty of paper towels and, of course, some good crunchy kettle chips on the side.

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Notes/Comments

The smoke on the meat adds a nice layer of flavor but I could have used more smokiness. I am thinking you could possibly simmer this in the smoker instead of on the stove and get more smoke flavor that way.

Did you know? You can order the MASTER FORMULAS which allow you to make Jeff's original rubs and original barbecue sauce at home using your own ingredients! Order the Recipes

4.9 from 16 votes

Smoked Sloppy Joes

Smoked sloppy joes are everything you'd expect and more from a delicious sandwich that's known far and wide. The smokiness in the beef adds yet another wonderful layer of flavor.
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time1 hour
Total Time1 hour 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs lean ground beef (90/10)
  • 1 medium yellow onion (diced)
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 4 each garlic cloves (minced)
  • Butter
  • 1 TBS Jeff's Texas style rub
  • 1 cup Jeff's barbecue sauce
  • 1 TBS yellow mustard
  • ½ cup condensed tomato soup
  • 1-½ teaspoons chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • Hamburger buns

Instructions

  • Place the meat in a large iron skillet and smoke it at 225°F (107°C) until browned and cooked.
  • While the meat is cooking in the smoker, dice the onion and the pepper and mince the garlic.
  • Place the onion, peppers and garlic with 1 TBS of Jeff's Texas style rub and 2 TBS of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute until they are soft and blackened.
  • Once the meat is done cooking, add the vegetables, 1 cup of barbecue sauce, 1/2 cup of condensed tomato soup, 1 TBS of yellow mustard and spices to the skillet with the meat and simmer over low heat.
  • Simmer until the mixture is no longer soupy and has the right consistency. If you need to make it more saucy, you can add more of the tomato soup or a small amount of water.
  • Butter the buns and toast them on a griddle or in an iron skillet until they are browned and crispy on the bread side.
  • Ladle about 1/3 cup of the smoked sloppy joes onto the bottom bun and cap it off with the top bun.
  • Serve immediately.

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Recipe Rating




21 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    It was easy to do the sloppy joes tonight, and they turned out very tasty. My wife did the vegetables, and I did the meat which was 88-12 from Costco. Next time I’ll use a leaner ground beef as there was a little too much fat. Next time, instead of chile powder, I’ll add jalapenos. It was a 5-star treat. Thanks, Jeff.

  2. Hi Jeff,

    I followed the recipe closely (I halved it) and it came out perfectly. Enough that my wife and I had 3 last night (2 for me- 1 for her) along with some toasted tater tots, and there is enough left over for 2 for lunch today. Next time I make the entire 2 lbs.

    MW

  3. 5 stars
    Just a thought, putting the meat in a stainless steel colander or maybe a large SS strainer would cook out the grease letting it drip in a small SS bowl or pan. And let more of the meat exposed to the smoke I would think. Your thoughts?

  4. In 1966 i worked at a McDonald’s that was not a franchise but a corporate operated store. I don’t know about now, but at that time McDonald’s only used buns made to their specific recipe which included more sugar that a usual bun recipe. The purpose of the additional sugar was so that when toasted on the grill, the bun would actually form a glaze to prevent the ketchup, mustard, juice from the pickle, and juice from the meat from soaking into the bun and making it soggy. They did not put anything on the bun before toasting.

  5. 5 stars
    I followed your recipe to (almost) a tee – I used a different bbq sauce. But then I simmered on the BGE with the smoke.

    Yum! The Smoky Joes had the right amount of smoke and were delightful.

    A++

    1. Joe,

      You need to give his BBQ sauce a try (assuming you have not). My wife refuses to use anything else, it is that good.

  6. 5 stars
    Bought 4.25 LB 93/7 burger to do something for a church dinner. Did this “Smoked Sloopy Joe Recipe.” For our conservative church group, and small children, we modified the recipe some, so it was a little milder. It was a huge hit. Didn’t get to bring any home as leftovers. They put it on buns, chips, topped Texas potatoes and ate it on tomatoes and by itself. Great recipe and will definitely make again.

  7. Jeff,
    I am going to make these, I was wondering if I can throw them in crockpot after they are smoked having big group of family members, so I want them made ahead of time.

  8. 5 stars
    I just made this tonight along with the apple dump cake. WOW!! It was fantastic. The smoke flavor was on point thanks to my Pit Boss pellet smoker and fruit blend pellets. Will be making both of them again. Thanks Jeff for continually coming up with great recipes.

  9. Big hit Jeff, some minor changes for me – I added cooked bacon to the HB, substituted the bell pepper for Serrano, and added gnd cumin to the sauce! Outstanding!!

  10. 4 stars
    Jeff,
    Look up mixing baking soda on hamburger. It is amazing because it prevents the hamburger from losing moisture when cooking it, and it browns up much better. I have done it, and will never cook hamburger any other way. Baking soda works with solid meat also.
    I’m going to try your recipe, but I’ll put a smoke tube in with it to pump up the smoke.

    1. 5 stars
      Fantastic recipe and inspiration!

      Only alterations I made were omitting the Jeff’s products. Simply because I didn’t have them on hand (and didn’t want to wait to get them to try making this!) I also added a splash of Lea & Perrins to the mix.

      My rub substitute was Grill Mates smoked paprika & onion with garlic and pepper.

      I smoked this over Jack Daniel’s whiskey barrel smoking chips.

      And my sauce substitute was Fridays peach honey smash.

      Let me tell you, this was absolutely KILLER! There’s nothing left! Even my 5 year old son ate it and asked for more!

      I have the Jeff’s products coming and would love to try it true to form as well!

      Thanks!

  11. 5 stars
    What a great meal!! Simple and so very tasty. I will be adding this to our family favorites.

  12. 5 stars
    This recipe was delicious. I did serve it with coleslaw. I scooped the coleslaw directly onto the bun with the sloppy Joe. It was perfect. It added just the right amount of tang and crunch to the sloppy Joe.

    1. Oh man.. I bet that’s good! I’ve never tried that and I’m not sure why. I’m from NC and we put slaw on literally everything! Thanks for the great suggestion.. I’ll try that soon ;-)