Turkey Sloppy Joes

These turkey sloppy joes are full of great flavors and are super easy to throw together after a long day! Plus, this recipe freezes well so make a big batch to enjoy another time too!

Turkey Sloppy Joes | an easy, healthy meal that everyone will love! | thepajamachef.comSummertime makes me think of sloppy joes. I know they’re stereotypically a “kid food” that comes out of a can. However, I don’t really remember eating them until later in life. I always skipped over them in the lunch line in elementary school, so it wasn’t until I worked at a summer camp in college that I really ate them regularly. At camp, you eat what you get… or you eat PBJs. :) And you’re hungry from being outdoors ALL day long, so you really DO want to eat, no matter what’s on the menu. Those were some of the best summers of my life and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. If you work at camp, you’ll understand I’m sure.

Turkey Sloppy Joes | an easy, healthy meal that everyone will love! | thepajamachef.comAround this time, my mom started making homemade sloppy joes using this recipe from the Neely’s. While I love that recipe, it isn’t quite as good with ground turkey so I started trying other recipes online. And this is a recent one I tried that we LOVED! So of course, I had to share it. :) It’s BBQ sauce based, meaning it tastes like a million bucks with minimal effort [read: no measuring a zillion spices]. Just give this a quick 20 minute simmer after cooking the turkey and veggies, and you are golden! It’s not too sweet, not too tangy… absolutely perfect.

Turkey Sloppy Joes | an easy, healthy meal that everyone will love! | thepajamachef.comI’m not much of a “freezer cooking” kind of girl but I do like to make big batches of our favorite meals and freeze some of it for a future busy night. This recipe freezes great, and is a great one to double! I like to let it cool and pop half into a freezer bag for another time, but something else you could try is portioning it out into smaller tupperware containers that you could grab for a work lunch or single serving dinner. I think I’m too messy of an eater to eat sloppy joes in the middle of the work day, but I really like the idea now so I just might try it! :) Enjoy!

one year ago: BBQ Baked Spaghetti
two years ago: Honey Lemon Thyme Iced Tea
three years ago: Chocolate Chip Banana Pancakes
four years ago: Spiced Waffles

Turkey Sloppy Joes

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 45 minutes
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slightly adapted from Ambitious Kitchen


  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 cup sweet yellow onion, diced
  • 1 cup sweet bell peppers [I used red, yellow, and orange mini peppers]
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 8 ounces tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup BBQ sauce [I like Sweet Baby Ray’s]
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • red pepper flakes, if desired
  • hamburger buns, for serving
In a large skillet set over medium heat, heat olive oil. When it’s hot, add onion and peppers and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic at the end and cook an extra 30 seconds or so, until fragrant. Remove veggies from pan and place in a bowl.
Then, add the turkey to the skillet and cook until no longer pink, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as you go. Drain any grease if necessary. Then add veggies back to the pan, along with the tomato sauce, BBQ sauce, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, tomato paste, hot sauce, and brown sugar. Stir to combine.
Reduce heat to medium-low, then simmer for 15-20 minutes. Taste and season with red pepper flakes and freshly ground black pepper as desired. Additional brown sugar or even ketchup can be used if the sauce is too tangy/tart. Serve on hamburger buns and enjoy!
This recipe also freezes well!

#TripleSBites: Spiced Fig Turkey Mini Meatloaf

Mini turkey meatloaf… flavorful and perfectly portioned. :) With a spiced fig sauce on top, what’s not to love?!?

Spiced Fig Mini Turkey Meatloaf | thepajamachef.com #TripleSBites

Who eats meatloaf for a romantic dinner?!? Obviously, we do! #nontraditional Haha. Romantic or not, these mini turkey meatloaf [meatloaves?] are absolutely delicious! Sometimes in the past when I’ve made turkey meatloaf or turkey tacos I’ve been let down with the amount of flavor the meal has since it has a different flavor than beef. So when I was making these mini treats I used SO much flavor… ginger, garlic, herbs, chile peppers, balsamic vinegar… Ben walked by and commented how good the raw meat smelled. Crazy! :)

Spiced Fig Mini Turkey Meatloaf | thepajamachef.com #TripleSBites

Two of our #TripleSBites [go HERE for more info on this fantastic event and don’t forget to enter the giveawayyy! Do it now!] sponsors contributed to these delicious meat muffins [Ben’s name, not mine]. All the herbs and seasoning–ginger and garlic, herbs and chile peppers–came from Gourmet Garden. Before #10DaysofTailgate in the fall, I had never used Gourmet Garden’s squeezable herbs and seasonings, but now I do all the time. They are just so convenient, especially when you only need a little of something. For more info, check them out on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, or Pinterest. And the other major flavor player in my meatloaf was in the topping. Spiced Fig Not Ketchup is my new sauce of choice! It’s sweet and mild and I’ve been dipping everything in it lately, from sweet potato fries to meatloaf, and I’m playing around with making it into a salad dressing. Mmm! Find out more about Not Ketchup on their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google +, or Pinterest pages. I love these blogging events because I get to try out so many awesome products. Thanks to you both for being such great sponsors. P.S. readers… you can WIN these products in the giveaway too!

Spiced Fig Mini Turkey Meatloaf | thepajamachef.com #TripleSBites

I don’t really like meatloaf in those long slices… but give it to me in muffin form and I could eat it all day long! Enjoy!

one year ago: Sweet Potato Pork Quesadillas
two years ago: Chewy Peanut Butter Brownies
three years ago: Caramel S’mores Cups
four years ago: Bacon-Wrapped Feta & Almond Stuffed Dates

Spiced Fig Turkey Mini Meatloaf

  • Servings: 4-5
  • Time: 45 minutes
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adapted from my mom’s recipe


  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon Italian Herbs from Gourmet Garden [or ~1 teaspoon dried basil/oregano/rosemary etc.]
  • 1 tablespoon Chunky Garlic from Gourmet Garden [or 3-4 cloves garlic, minced]
  • 1/2 tablespoon Ginger from Gourmet Garden [or an equivalent amount of grated fresh ginger]
  • 1 teaspoon Hot Chili from Gourmet Garden [or a pinch of cayenne pepper or red chili flakes]
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup Spiced Fig Not Ketchup, divided


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 12 cup muffin tin with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, stir together oats, milk, and vinegar. Let rest for 5 minutes, then add turkey, egg, garlic, ginger, chili, and pepper. Use your hands [or a spoon] to mix everything together, then divide between the muffin tins. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove from oven and brush each meatloaf cup with Spiced Fig Not Ketchup [using about 1-2 teaspoons per meatloaf]. Return to the oven and bake an additional 15-20 minutes, until cooked through and crisp along the edges. Top with remaining Spiced Fig Not Ketchup.

Check out other yummy #TripleSBites recipes today!

#TripleSBites | thepajamachef.com

Disclosure: I received herbs and spices from Gourmet Garden and a bottle of Not Ketchup as part of my participation in #TripleSBites. I was not compensated in any way–for my time, to create a recipe, or to publish positive comments. I was not required to use these products as part of my recipe. My opinions are my own. 

Homemade Turkey Sausage Patties

Enjoy homemade turkey sausage patties seasoned as you like. My version includes a little sweet [brown sugar], a little spicy [cayenne pepper], and a little herb [oregano]. Mmm!

Homemade Turkey Sausage Patties | thepajamachef.com

When creating my 30 before 30 list last spring [and BOY am I running out of time…yikes!], I put homemade sausage on my list because I thought it was, ya know, hard or something. Umm, no. Not really. Well, maybe there’s something that makes real sausage legit… but this? It tasted pretty good to me. Pretty much like sausage. These sausage patties are sweet and savory with a lil bit of spice. You should definitely try this for your next fancy breakfast or brunch. I’m sure you’ll enjoy them!

Homemade Turkey Sausage Patties | thepajamachef.com

one year ago: Quick & Healthy Pineapple Fried Rice
two years ago: Healthy Mexican Hot Chocolate Breakfast Bars
three years ago: Cream of Broccoli Soup with Cheese
four years ago: Pork Chops with Red Wine Sauce

Homemade Turkey Sausage Patties

  • Servings: 16
  • Time: 1 hour + overnight
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  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper – optional
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • sea salt to taste


In a medium bowl, mix together all ingredients. Season with pepper and salt to your taste. Divide in half, then in half again, and in half again to form 16 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, then flatten into small patties and place on a baking sheet. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour if not overnight. When ready to serve, cook on the stovetop until no longer pink inside.


Seasoning amounts are VERY flexible. Adjust as desired–especially the cayenne pepper. Sausage patties can be frozen for another day if desired.

Skinny Lasagna

Skinny lasagna… lot of flavor with a few substitutions to make a classic dish just a little healthier for the new year!

Skinny Lasagna | thepajamachef.com

Lasagna is one of my favorite meals of all time! My mom’s lasagna is my go-to dish, but when Red Gold [an Indiana company… gotta support my home state, ya know!] contacted me to ask if I wanted to participate in their Lasagna Party this month I jumped at the chance. Lasagna is so good, how could I say no?!? :) The Red Gold Simple Gourmet Lasagna Party runs through February 3rd on their Facebook page. Be sure to enter for a chance to win one of 750 aprons or 6 gourmet lasagna party prizes [that include a Le Creuset Lasagna pan! How fun!]. The fabulous folks at Red Gold sent me a fun package with a selection of canned tomatoes, lasagna noodles, a Laura’s Beef coupon and apron, and some recipes to try out.

Skinny Lasagna | thepajamachef.comI made this lasagna a couple weekends ago, on a Saturday morning before I did a long run. Psssssst! Did I tell you guys that I’m marathon training?!? #5, in Nashville! Woohoo. :) It’ll be fun to do a marathon in my new city! Anyways, this lasagna was SO delicious. Using Italian seasoning, as simple as it sounds, along with tomatoes that have already been seasoned with basil, garlic, and oregano, made this dish SO flavorful. My only beef [ha ha ha] with this lasagna recipe was that it used a whole pound of lasagna noodles. I usually use just half a pound, so I thought it was very noodle-y and there was no way this would all fit in my pan. So I used two! [Ben’s idea. What a smartypants.] This lasagna was SO flavorful and delicious. PLUS it was really easy to make this sauce with just canned tomatoes and seasoning. I’ll definitely be using that trick more often. One less step to yummy lasagna! Hope you enjoy, and don’t forget to enter the contest! :)

Skinny Lasagna | thepajamachef.com

one year ago: Broccoli Stuffed Loaded Potato Skins with Avocado Cream
two years ago: Lemon Cranberry Muffins
three years ago: Preparing Black Beans in the Oven
four years ago: Triple Chocolate Oat Cookies

Skinny Lasagna

  • Servings: 16
  • Time: 2 hours
  • Print


  • 1/2 cup water
  • 28 ounces Red Gold crushed tomatoes
  • 2 – 14.5 ounce cans Red Gold diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, & oregano
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning – I used ~2 tablespoons of Gourmet Gardens Italian Herbs + 1 tablespoon crushed garlic instead
  • 1 pound Laura’s Lean Beef or ground turkey
  • 16 ounce traditional lasagna noodles, uncooked
  • 15 ounces low fat cottage cheese
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bring a large pot of water to boil to cook the lasagna noodles to al dente. Meanwhile, in a skillet, brown ground beef or turkey. Cook noodles according to package instructions, then drain. Drain grease from meat when done.

In a large bowl, combine water, tomatoes, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Stir in cooked meat.

In a 9×13 baking dish, spread out 1 1/2 cups sauce. Top with 1/3 of noodles, overlapped. Top with 1/2 of the cottage cheese, 1/2 of the mozzarella cheese, and 1 cup sauce. Repeat, then finish with remaining 1/3 of noodles and the remaining sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Cover with foil and bake for 60-90 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.


I used an oval dish that usually can be subbed with a 9×13 pan but I had way too much so I made a mini lasagna in a 9×5 loaf pan. As I was typing up this recipe, I noticed that the original recipe does not call for cooking the noodles–just placing them in the pan uncooked. So you could try that too–probably cooking it for about 90 minutes instead of the 1 hour I did.

Next time I make this I will probably only use 8 ounces noodles. We felt it was too noodle-y but I usually only make lasagna with 1/2 a box of noodles so that’s just what we are used to.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary lasagna kit from Red Gold with all the tomatoes for this recipe, lasagna noodles, a Laura’s Lean Beef apron, a coupon for Laura’s Lean Beef, and 6 recipes. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own.

Asian Turkey Meatballs with Carrot Rice

Flavorful Asian turkey meatballs served over carrot rice is an awesome, easy 30 minute weeknight dinner. Kids love it too!

Asian Turkey Meatballs with Carrot Rice | thepajamachef.comThis is one of our absolute favorite dinners. I’ve made it more times than I can count, but it’s never appeared on the blog because I never get a photo before it’s gone-zo. It’s pretty simple, as most meatball dinners are, but it feels so special because of the Asian flavors and wonderful aromatic ingredients in the dish. The meatballs are zingy with just a hint of spice. If spice isn’t your thing, feel free to leave out the Sriracha or use less. Don’t be afraid of the fish sauce though–a little goes a long way to making the meatballs extra tasty! Just don’t smell it. Take my word on that one. Can you say gross?! :)

Asian Turkey Meatballs with Carrot Rice | thepajamachef.com

One of the best things about this dinner is that it’s SO adaptable. Normally I make the meatballs with ground turkey, but if that’s not your thing, use pork or chicken or a combination. I also love that the rice isn’t boring. I stir carrots and cilantro [or Thai basil] in for some extra flavor and texture. To make this a 30 minute meal, using white rice is key… but if you have more time, brown rice would work too. Sometimes I make the rice with another liquid besides water, like chicken broth or coconut milk, for a lil extra something. But even if you just make the rice plain, it’s still amazing!

Asian Turkey Meatballs with Carrot Rice | thepajamachef.comI love to serve this dinner with steamed broccoli or edamame. It’s the perfect meal to take to a family with a new baby. I’ve done that so many times and have gotten rave reviews from everyone, including the kiddos! Just don’t forget the lime wedges. A squeeze of lime over the whole meal is essential! Enjoy!

two years ago: Maple Cornmeal Drop Biscuits
three years ago: Garlicky Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes and Basil
four years ago: Pillow Cookies

Asian Turkey Meatballs with Carrot Rice

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 30 minutes
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from Everyday Food Magazine


  • 1 cup white rice
  • 2 cups liquid for cooking rice – like water, chicken broth, or coconut milk
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1/3 cup cilantro or Thai basil, chopped
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 pound ground turkey [pork works too!]
  • 2 green onions, green and white parts chopped and divided
  • 1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 3 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 3 teaspoons Sriracha
  • 3 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger, optional
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • lime wedges, for serving


Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a large saucepan, combine 2 cups water [or coconut milk or chicken broth for extra flavor] and rice. Bring to a boil, stir, then cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook until rice is tender, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and top with carrot and cilantro. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes, then stir to mix all ingredients and fluff with a fork.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine breadcrumbs and 2 tablespoons water. Let stand for 5 minutes, then add turkey, white parts of the green onions, cilantro, fish sauce, Sriracha, sugar, garlic, and ginger if using. Gently stir to combine, then shape into 24 small meatballs.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Work in batches to brown meatballs on all sides, then transfer to a large baking dish to cook for 10 more minutes in the oven, or until cooked through. Serve meatballs over rice with green onions and lime wedges.