In our constant quest to create easy and delicious weeknight meals that can be cooked on our Traeger Grills, we often like to get back to the basics and make meals that remind us of our childhood. Especially as we now have kids ourselves, some of the dishes we grew up with are particularly fun and tasty, and we can’t wait till the twins are big enough to really share a dinnertime experience with us. For last week’s dinner, we took a grill-centric spin on the Sloppy Joes of our childhood and amped-up flavor with a BBQ sauce base. Make these BBQ Sloppy Joes on your Traeger tonight for dinner for the family!
ALL ABOUT THE SLOPPY JOE
Created early in the 20th century in America, Sloppy Joes have certainly become an iconic dish on American dinner tables. They’re pretty basic– ground meat (usually beef) cooked until crumbly and then sauced pretty heavily with a tomato-based mixture. You can easily buy Sloppy Joe sauce at the grocery store (under the label Manwich) but the reality is that it is super easy to make at home.
We amped up the flavor a few notches in this version we made on our Traeger grills, and nothing sounded more delicious than a BBQ-flavor focused Sloppy Joe. We used our favorite BBQ sauce in this cook– from Head Country BBQ– which already included most of the ingredients we’d use if we were making a more traditional Sloppy Joe sauce from scratch.
To the BBQ sauce, we did add most of a can of tomato sauce, to thin out the sauce a bit, ensure the meat stayed moist and tender and ensure the flavors were balanced. Before we cooked the meat, we sauteed up some red bell pepper and sweet white onion with garlic and butter for a terrific first layer of flavor.
PRIMARY INGREDIENTS FOR BBQ SLOPPY JOES ON THE TRAEGER
- Head Country BBQ Sauce– we used the Original variation
- Ground beef
- Tomato sauce
- Red bell pepper
- White onion
- Hamburger buns
- Shredded white cheddar cheese
- Crispy green chilis for topping- we use these!
WHY COOKING SLOPPY JOES ON THE TRAEGER WORKS
Like with all our recipes, cooking on the Traeger grill is our ultimate goal. It is fun, easy, makes clean-up a breeze and provides an extra boost of flavor through the wood-fired fuel. A cook like Sloppy Joes on the Traeger is so perfect because it is a fairly quick dish to pull together and the results are bound to be delicious. By cooking the meat at a high heat in a cast iron pan, we’re able to ensure that the beef stays tender and delicious, the sauce thickens up but not too much, and some of that wood-fired flavor comes through.
Now if we had a little more time to get dinner on the table, we also could have smoked the beef before cooking it. Letting the ground beef take a smoke bath for 15-20 minutes before hitting the hot pan would have imparted even more wood-fired flavor in the meat, and given it another dimension. But we wanted the BBQ sauce flavor to be dominant, and also wanted dinner on the table pretty quickly.
By using an awesome BBQ sauce like Head Country’s in this cook, we also cut the corners a bit to make a fast dinner faster. The ingredients of the BBQ sauce closely mimic the list of ingredients for homemade Sloppy Joe sauce, so we didn’t have to pull out multiple bottles from the fridge and items from the pantry. BBQ sauce + tomato sauce = perfect Sloppy Joe sauce.
And when dinner was ready, the food came in, the mess stayed outside and cleanup was a breeze. No grease splatter on the stove or counters to contend with. Also, by the time we were done eating, the grill had cooled down (thanks winter!) and was ready to be covered and done for the night. Easy peasy.
- Preheat your Traeger grill to high heat and include a cast iron skillet to also get very hot.
- While the grill preheats, finely chop the onion and red bell pepper and press the garlic.
- Once the grill is hot, saute the onion, pepper and garlic in the butter until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes.
- Then, add the ground beef to the pan and sprinkle generously with the seasoning blend.
- Allow it to cook on one side for about 4 minutes until beginning to brown.
- Use a wooden spoon or spatula to begin breaking up the meat, and continue cooking, stirring and breaking it up until cooked nearly through.
- Drain the excess grease from the beef.
- Then add the sauce ingredients– BBQ sauce, tomato sauce and seasonings.
- Stir to combine, then close the grill and allow the mixture to simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- When the sauce has reduced some and the meat is fully cooked through, toast the buns.
- First brush the inside of the buns with melted butter and then toast open-side down until golden. Sprinkle with garlic powder. Repeat with remaining buns.
- Shred the cheddar cheese to put on top of the Sloppy Joe sandwich.
- Assemble the sandwiches by putting heaping spoonfuls of the meat mixture on the bottom bun. Top with shredded cheese and crispy green chile pieces.
- Put the top bun on the sandwich and serve hot!
RECIPES RELATED TO BBQ SLOPPY JOES ON THE TRAEGER
We find the sauces from Head Country BBQ to be totally delicious and versatile. A couple of recipes we’ve made recently that include them are:
Ultimate BBQ Cheeseburger
We also used Head Country’s marinade for this amazing pork steak recipe:
Products used in this cook:
For this cook, we used a variety of things that made our cook easy and delicious.
- Traeger Grill (we used the Traeger Ranger but you could use any model and just crank up the heat)
- Lodge Cast Iron skillet
- Head Country BBQ sauce
- Head Country Sweet & Spicy seasoning
MAKE THIS TONIGHT!
Pull together this easy and delicious BBQ Sloppy Joe on the Traeger recipe tonight and your family will be really happy with dinner. Everyone in our house loved it!
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BBQ Sloppy Joes on the Traeger
- Traeger grill
- Lodge cast iron skillet
- 1 bottle of Head Country BBQ Sauce- we used the Original variation
- Head Country sweet & spicy seasoning
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 small can of tomato sauce
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 sweet white onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp butter
- 4 hamburger buns
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- ½ cup shredded white cheddar cheese
- ¼ cup crispy green chilis for topping- we use these!
- Preheat the Traeger grill to 450*
- Place a cast iron pan in the grill to get very hot while you prep the other ingredients
- Finely chop the onion and red bell pepper and press the garlic
- In the hot pan, melt half of the butter and saute the onion, pepper and garlic until translucent
- Add the ground beef to the pan, sprinkle with seasoning and cook until brown on one side
- Using a spatula or spoon, break up the meat and continue cooking until brown all over
- Drain the meat on paper towels and return to the pan
- Add the sauce ingredients– BBQ sauce, tomato sauce and seasonings
- sCombine the meat and sauce and close the grilll and simmer the mixture for an additional 10 minutes or so
- Let sauce reduce and thicken, continuing to stir the meat mixture until cooked through
- Toast the buns by brushing the insides with melted butter
- When toasted, sprinkle with garlic powder
- Assemble the sandwiches: several spoonfuls of meat on the bottom bun, lots of shredded cheese, then topped with chile crisps
- Put the top bun on the sandwich and serve hot!