Chef John’s Turkey Sloppy Joes

I love this recipe ♥.  This is a quick, go-to recipe at our house.  I like to serve with sweet potato fries for a kid friendly meal that is sure to have enough flavor complexities for a foodie at heart.


  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 1 onion, diced

  • salt and ground black pepper to taste

  • 1 1/4 pounds ground turkey

  • 1/2 cup cold water

  • 3/4 cup ketchup

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste

  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 cup water, or as needed

  • 1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder

  • 1/3 cup chopped green onions

  • 6 hamburger buns, split

  • 1/2 cup shredded white Cheddar cheese


  • Melt butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add onion; cook and stir until onion starts to brown, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and black.

  • Mix ground turkey and 1/2 cup cold water into onions. Cook and stir, breaking up the meat, until it begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Add ketchup, brown sugar, cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper. Cook and stir until liquid is reduced, about 5 minutes. Stir in Worcestershire sauce and cocoa powder. Cook, stirring frequently and adding up to 1 cup water if needed, until meat is cooked through and liquid is reduced and thick, 20 to 30 minutes.

  • Preheat the oven’s broiler and set the oven rack about 6 inches from the heat source. Toast hamburger buns until golden, 2 to 3 minutes.

  • Remove turkey mixture from the heat and mix in green onions and Cheddar cheese. Serve on toasted hamburger buns.

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