~ Pizza Sloppy Joes are a blissfully easy dinner your whole family will love! Filled with classic pizza flavors and two (yes … TWO!) layers of melty cheese. Plus, they’re ready in just 15 minutes. And you can even make them ahead for meal prep or freezer meals! ~
This Recipe Is: • Ready in 30 Minutes or Less • Freezable • Make Ahead •
This is what “regular” sloppy joe recipes want to be when they grow up.
As if sloppy joes couldn’t get any better. Any more family favorite-y.
But then they did!
Yep! They got all decked out in pizza toppings!
Mmmmmmm … because pizza-anything is pretty much always better than non-pizza-anything, right?!? (Just ask your hungry kids!)
Why You (and Your Kiddos!) Will Love Pizza Sloppy Joes
What we’ve got going on here is all the super-easy, super-fast joy of homemade sloppy joes + family-pleasing pizza flavors:
- a delicious sloppy joe meat mixture with a backdrop of lean ground beef …
- amped up with pizza vibes from Italian sausage and turkey pepperoni
- plus pops of sweet onion and green peppers (“deluxe pizza” must-haves!)
- all swimming happily together in your favorite pizza sauce
- with a double-hit of ooey-gooey-awesome mozzarella cheese!
Oh! And these pizza joes are on the table in just 15 simple minutes. It’s a one-pot meal that’s just begging to make your busy weeknights easier.
Better yet? You can make this recipe ahead of time, too – and even freeze it.
Make these, and you are basically winning allllll counts!
Ready to get started?
How to Make This Easy Sloppy Joe Recipe
These come together quickly, in nearly the same way as our “traditional” Best Ever Homemade Sloppy Joes recipe and our uniquely fun Cheeseburger Sloppy Joes. Which, honestly, is also pretty similar to most all of our one-pot, skillet recipes – like our Un-Stuffed Pepper Skillet and our One-Pot Mexican Rice Skillet Dinner.
Start by chopping your veggies and pepperoni. (You can do this a day or two ahead to save even more time on busy nights.)
A key here is to cut your pepperoni into pieces that are large enough to get noticed, but not clumsily, overwhelmingly large. Instead of just quartering your pepperoni slices, I recommend cutting each of them into nine pieces (with two cuts lengthwise and two cuts crosswise). Like this …
Now you’re ready to start the cooking steps of the recipe. And the whole process is suuuuuper quick and easy, I promise!
Grab a nonstick, large skillet (this one is my favorite), and fire up your stove on medium heat.
Just like with most “typical” sloppy joes recipes, this one begins with ground beef. But you’re also gonna use some sweet Italian turkey sausage, which adds notes of Italian seasoning and, of course, starts building those pizza vibes.
Ingredient Tip: Leaner Meats
Notice that – instead of high-fat meat – we’re using really lean ground beef, as well as leaner turkey sausage and turkey pepperoni. They’re all pretty easy to find at the grocery store these days.
These leaner choices are a great way to get the hearty, meaty flavors you want in sloppy joes, but with fewer calories and fewer “bad” fats.
We usually use 96% lean ground beef, but even 90% or 93% lean is still a good choice for this recipe.
Cook your ground beef and Italian sausage, along with your diced onion and diced green bell pepper, for about 7-8 minutes.
As it’s all cooking merrily away, stir the mixture occasionally and break up the clumps of meat. (You can use a spoon or spatula to break up the ground meats, but I absolutely adore this tool, which makes the task – surprisingly – soooo much easier.)
Once the meats are browned, drain the excess grease from the pan.
Pro Tip: Using Up Extra Meat
Most ground beef is sold in approximately one-pound packs. And lots of brands of Italian turkey sausages (like Jennie-O and even store brands) are sold in 20-ounce packages. Hmmmmm … so a little quick math suggests that you’ll have half a pound of ground beef and 12 ounces of sausage left over after you make these Italian sloppy joes.
What to do with that extra meat?
The leftover ground beef and Italian sausage is the perfect amount to become the hamburger meat for our Italian Hamburgers!
Problem solved! Two dinner recipes from one grocery run … and your fam is gonna love ’em both!
Next comes the pepperoni and the sauce. Even more layers of pizza-parlor-flavor!
Instead of making a homemade sloppy joe sauce with things like crushed tomatoes, ketchup, tomato paste or canned tomato sauce, we simply make these sloppy joes with pizza sauce. Grab a jar of your favorite store-bought sauce for a terrific, quick way to add yummy pizza flavors! We usually choose Mid’s or La Famiglia DelGrosso Old Style. But use whichever brand your family likes best.
Give your sloppy joe mixture a good stir, and let it cook for about another 3 minutes. Just long enough for it all to heat through.
Now we get to the very best part of all!
No pizza joes recipe would be complete without wonderfully melty mozzarella cheese. Gotta have the cheese! So let’s add some (twice!).
Remove your pan from the heat, and stir in some shredded mozzarella.
As with the leaner meats we recommend for this recipe, we also like to use leaner, part-skim mozzarella for this step. You still get plenty of cheesiness, but with a better nutritional profile.
Now just pile your delicious creation onto hamburger buns (whole wheat, if possible!). If you’d like, you can go for toasted buns for a bit of crunch.
And … for the second cheese-y addition … top it all off with a little bit more mozzarella!
We really like to go with a thin slice of creamy, fresh mozzarella cheese for this final pop of cheese-filled pizza happiness. Surprisingly, we don’t like it completely melted, though. Just a little warmed and soft from sitting on top of the piping hot sloppy joe meat is PERFECT!
But, if you don’t want to buy two types of mozzarella to make this recipe, you can also just sprinkle some more shredded mozzarella (the same stuff you stirred in during step #3 above) on top, instead of the fresh mozzarella slice.
And just like that … in less time than it would take to order out for pizza, you’re serving up a meal that combines two favorite things into one saucy, cheesy, pizza-party, please-make-this-again-tomorrow dinner your whole family is gonna enjoy.
And you’ve got just one pan to clean, too. Well played, dinner wizard!
Make-Ahead and Freezing Options
But wait … there’s more!
This easy recipe gets even easier.
Wanna take your meal prep totally next-level?
Customize Your Pizza Joes
Feel free to get creative with your favorite pizza toppings.
We always go with pepperoni, sausage, green peppers and onions … usual suspects on a deluxe pizza. But you could also stir in (or top your sloppy joes off) with other flavorful additions like:
- mushrooms (cooked or canned would be best; not raw)
- sliced green or black olives (fun fact: green olives are my absolute, all-time most favorite pizza topping!)
- banana pepper rings
Or, honestly, whatever else you love on your pizza. Don’t be afraid to experiment and make this pizza-inspired, Italian sloppy joe recipe truly your very own!
And here’s a crazy idea: Wanna ditch the bread altogether? We use the exact same “sloppy joe” filling in our Italian Stuffed Peppers … no bread required!
What Goes with Sloppy Joes?
Need some serving ideas to round out the meal?
A fresh green salad is so simple and a great, crisp counterpoint to the warm, melty ‘joe. Or, how about our:
- Italian Pasta Salad
- Roasted Potatoes
- Tomato and Onion Salad with Peppers
- Old Fashioned Kidney Bean Salad
- Grape Salad with Cream Cheese-Vanilla Dressing
Really, these quick sammies are happy cozied up next to practically any side dish you can think of!
Sure! The flavor won’t be as “beefy” of course, but sloppy joes (especially recipes like these sloppy joes with Italian sausage and pepperoni) are so full of other flavors that the difference in meat flavors won’t be as obvious. One note of caution, though: Be sure to check the nutrition information on the packages. Surprisingly, ground turkey blends are not always lower in fat, calories, and cholesterol than very lean ground beef.
Totally a matter of personal preference. I like soft buns for my ‘joes. But toasted buns do add an additional crunchy texture to the experience. And, that crunch layer can help just a little to keep your bun (especially the bun bottom) from sogging out as it comes in contact with the sloppy joe sauce. No wrong answer here … you do you!
Yep! As I explained above, you can cook the sloppy joe meat mixture ahead of time, cool it down, and refrigerate it until you’re ready to heat up dinner.
Sloppy joe meat freezes great! Thaw it safely in the fridge before re-warming, or gently reheat it directly from frozen.
I just thought this was fun! I came across some interesting articles about Sloppy Joe History and different sloppy joe names. And I found out that, depending on where you live, you might also know them as: loose meat sandwiches, slush burgers, yum yums, dynamite, yip yips, spoonburgers, tavern sandwiches … and (of course) Manwich. So, I guess we could rightfully call this sloppy joe recipe “Pizza Yum Yums,” which I just absolutely love!
From this day forward, your sloppy joes will never be the same! And neither will pizza night, for that matter … because now pizza night and your favorite sloppy joes will be happening all at the same time.
No doubt, when sloppy joes dream, this is what they dream of being.
And trust me … once you’ve given this super-fast dinner idea a try, you just might find yourself dreaming sloppy-joe-filled dreams, too!
And also find yourself making this recipe again … and again … and again … (Your family says “thank you”! 😉 )
Love the Recipe? • Were My Tips Helpful?
Please leave a star-rating in the recipe card below – I truly appreciate all your wonderful feedback!
- 8 ounces extra-lean ground beef (we use 96% lean)
- 8 ounces sweet Italian turkey sausage (bulk, or links cut open)
- 3/4 cup chopped sweet onion
- 1/2 cup chopped green pepper
- 1 cup your favorite pizza sauce (we like Mid's or La Famiglia DelGrosso Old Style)
- 1/2 cup chopped turkey pepperoni (see note)
- 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella (we use part-skim)
- 6 whole-grain burger buns
- for topping: 6 thin slices of fresh mozzarella (or extra shredded mozzarella)
- In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, cook beef, sausage, onions, and peppers until meat is browned, about 7-8 minutes, stirring to crumble the meats (I really like this crumbling tool). Drain.
- Stir in pizza sauce and pepperoni, and continue cooking for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thoroughly combined and heated through.
- Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella.
- Serve immediately on buns, topped with thinly sliced fresh mozzarella (or additional shredded mozzarella). You want the sliced mozzarella to get just a little warm and soft from sitting on top of the hot sloppy joe mixture, but we actually prefer if it's not completely melted.
Turkey pepperoni: The fastest way to cut the pepperoni is to stack several rounds on top of each other and cut through the whole stack at once. For this recipe, we suggest cutting each round into 9 pieces, by making two horizontal cuts and two vertical cuts (as shown in a photo in the post above).
Make-ahead and freezing tips: These sloppy joes reheat beautifully, so you can cook the recipe through step 3 ahead of time and stash it in the fridge. To serve, reheat the sloppy joe mixture, spoon onto buns, and top with cheese.
The sloppy joe mixture also freezes well. You can either freeze an entire batch, or (what I prefer) portion out individual servings and freeze them flat in zipper bags. Thaw in the refrigerator before re-warming, or gently reheat directly from frozen.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 servings Serving Size: 1 sandwich
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 463Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 113mgSodium: 1209mgCarbohydrates: 34gFiber: 5gSugar: 7gProtein: 41g
Nutrition information should be considered an estimate only, and may vary depending on your choice of ingredients or preparation. No guarantees are made regarding allergies or dietary needs. Always consult a physician or dietician for specific advice and questions.