Here’s a promise. These are the best slow cooker chipotle sloppy joes you’ll ever put in your mouth.
It’s slow cooker season, so why not start with a childhood comfort food favorite. My fiancé blew my mind when he told me he’d never tried cheese on his sloppy joe. I was like, “Boy, what?!” He hasn’t lived. If you haven’t thrown a slice of gooey cheese on yours, you haven’t lived either. Then, there’s a crazy textural element of super crispy fried onions that mingle with every lusciously sweet and spicy bite, with the warm smokiness of the chipotle peppers coating the back of your throat. Soft, toasty brioche trying so hard to support the weight of this fork-and-knife situation. Oh, man. You’re in for a treat!
This recipe is ridiculously easy. The only “work” you have to do is browning the meat before you add it to the slow cooker, along with a pre-sweat of sweet red bell peppers and onion. Drain the grease, and then throw it all together in your slow cooker. I like to add the mustard during the very last hour to preserve it’s tang, but you are free to add it at the very beginning if you don’t feel like babysitting this dish. Also, halfway through cooking is when I prefer to add the tomato paste, that way it doesn’t get too thick, but again, you can dump all this stuff in at the beginning, set it and forget it.
Chipotle peppers in adobo really add a great smokiness to this dish, as well as that good throat-hugging heat. It’s warm and spicy, not sharply spicy. That tiiiiny bit of cinnamon really brings everything together. If you thought cinnamon was only for sweet dishes, you were wrong. It’s really good in savory dishes too. Don’t sleep!
Ketchup vs Chili Sauce
Ok, so the truth is that chili sauce is nothing more than ketchup with extra kick. But it’s delicious! I highly recommend you use that in place of ketchup, but regular ketchup can and will work. Just make sure you use 12 ounces of ketchup in place of the chili sauce. To be clear, we’re not talking about Asian chili sauce — that’s a totally different product. This is specifically about Heinz Chili Sauce, so please don’t confuse the two.
They’re totally optional, but they seriously make this a phenomenal sandwich. All you have to do is coat some sliced raw onions in self-rising flour (that’s it!), and fry them up in super hot oil. Like, 380 degrees hot.
Some of you may have never considered throwing a slice of cheese on your sloppy joe, but trust me when I tell you that it pairs VERY well with it. Again, it’s optional, but it makes it so optimal. Give it a try, any cheese will work. Even melty gooey American cheese — just make sure it’s the deli-cut American cheese from the counter and not the kind that’s individually wrapped in plastic. The deli counter American cheese just melts better, even tastes better. Trust me. I used some aged cheddar for mine.
Lastly, you can serve this sloppy joe mixture on any type of bread or bun you prefer. Make sure you toast it up real good so it doesn’t get too soggy from all of the moisture of the meat. We used brioche buns. Believe it or not, the fresh baby greens really helped out a lot here. They provided a much needed fresh bite amongst all the richness. You can use ground turkey in place of the ground beef, but make sure it’s the fattiest ground turkey you can find. If it’s too lean, it’ll be bad.
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Slow Cooker Chipotle Sloppy Joes | Video TutorialI really hope you enjoy this recipe. It’s perfect for game day, you can even turn them into little sliders for your next party. Trust me, it’s bomb AF. Print
The easiest, and most flavorful sloppy joes you’ll ever have!
For the sloppy joes
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 pounds 80/20 ground beef
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 12-ounce bottle Heinz Chili Sauce
- 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more if needed
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, plus more if needed
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped fine
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
- 1 heaping tablespoon yellow mustard
For the fried onions
- 1 medium yellow onion, sliced into thin rings/strings
- 1 cup self-rising flour
- Oil for frying
- Fine sea salt to taste
- Baby greens for topping (optional)
- Brioche buns, buttered and toasted
- Cheese for topping (optional)
For the sloppy joes
- Place a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. When it’s really hot, drizzle in the vegetable oil and add the ground beef. Break up the beef into small pieces and brown it, about 8 minutes.
- Add the onion and red bell pepper, cook for about 3 minutes. Drain the grease and transfer the mixture to your crock pot. Add the chili sauce. Rinse out the remaining chili sauce stuck in the bottle with 2 tablespoons of water and add it to the mixture. Add the tomato sauce, brown sugar, onion powder, granulated garlic, kosher salt, black pepper, smoked paprika, cinnamon, balsamic vinegar, worcestershire, chipotles, and garlic. Stir to combine. Give it a taste, and adjust the salt and pepper if necessary. Cover and set your crock pot to High heat for 4 hours, or Low heat for 6 hours.
- After the first hour of cooking, break up the meat mixture even more with a wooden spoon. Cover and continue.
- After the second hour of cooking, add the tomato paste and stir well to combine. Cover and continue.
- At the very last hour of cooking, add the mustard and stir well to combine. Cover and continue cooking until it’s done. Adjust seasoning if needed.
For the fried onions
- Heat about an inch of oil in a medium pot with high sides to 380 degrees F.
- While the oil is heating, toss the onions in the self-rising flour until well coated.
- When the oil is ready, fry a handful of onions in batches until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Season with fine sea salt fresh out of the oil.
Serve the sloppy joes on buttered toasted buns of your choice, the fried onions, and baby greens (if using). Enjoy!
If using ground turkey instead of beef, please use the fattiest ground turkey you can find. Otherwise, it’ll be dry and tasteless.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 4 hours
- Category: sandwiches
- Method: slow cooker
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: slow cooker sloppy joes, sloppy joes, sandwiches