This simple homemade recipe for keto sloppy joes is made without brown sugar and with unsweetened ketchup.
Ready in just 20 minutes, it's the perfect meal to serve on those busy weeknights when you're too tired for a complex recipe.
Ground beef is so EASY. It's always there in the fridge (or freezer) in those convenient vacuum-sealed packages that last for quite a while. It's readily available and very affordable.
Ground beef is easy even when you go through the trouble of shaping it into meatballs or burgers. But it's especially easy in this keto sloppy joes recipe, where you simply cook it in a pan with a few other ingredients, then pile it on a plate or on a (keto) bun and serve.
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this easy recipe. The exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
Butter: For cooking the meat. You can use salted or unsalted butter - both work.
Ground beef: I use lean ground beef (85% lean and 15% fat).
Kosher salt and black pepper: If using fine salt, you should reduce the amount you use.
Onion and garlic: It's OK to use jarred minced garlic, although freshly minced tastes better.
Unsweetened ketchup: I get it at Whole Foods or on Amazon.
Balsamic vinegar: Just a little, as it's very flavorful but also very potent.
Sweetener: This is optional. I use stevia to equal 1 tablespoon of a granulated sweetener (or honey/maple syrup).
Making keto sloppy joes is so easy! Scroll down to the recipe card for detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:
- Cook the beef and onion in butter with some salt and pepper.
- Next, add the garlic and cook it briefly.
- Now, add the remaining ingredients - ketchup, balsamic vinegar, and (if using) sweetener.
- Lower the heat and cook the mixture for just five more minutes. That's it! Dinner is served.
While you definitely want ground beef to be fully cooked, you don't want it overcooked, because then it turns dry and mealy instead of juicy.
So in the first step of cooking the beef with the onions, you should only cook it until it's no longer raw - it's OK if it's still slightly pink. It will cook further during the next stages.
Frequently asked questions
I don't recommend that. 85/15 is the leanest you should go. Any leaner than that and the meat will be too dry.
I don't drain it. The fat is so flavorful, and if you use lean ground beef, there isn't so much rendered fat that it needs to be drained.
Yes. You can divide it into servings and freeze those servings in freezer-safe containers, then thaw them as needed overnight in the fridge or reheat them in the microwave if your container is microwave-safe.
I love this recipe as is and almost always make it as written. But in case you'd like to vary the basic recipe, here are a few ideas for you:
- You can use different fats for cooking the beef, such as ghee, olive oil, or tallow.
- If you use a nonstick skillet or a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet, there's actually no need to add any fat to the pan. The meat will release fat as it cooks.
- Add spices. Good candidates include smoked paprika, ground cumin, and dried thyme.
- Stir in a tablespoon of Dijon mustard. You can add it at the same time you add the ketchup.
Instead of using hamburger buns, I serve keto sloppy joes in bowls with spoons, just as I serve no bean chili.
This is one of those dishes that actually taste better the next day. You can keep the leftovers in the fridge, in an airtight container, for up to 4 days. Reheat them gently, covered, in the microwave on 50% power.
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Keto Sloppy Joes
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 lb. lean ground beef (85/15)
- 1 small onion chopped (4 oz)
- 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt (or ½ teaspoon fine salt)
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
- ½ cup unsweetened ketchup
- ½ tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon stevia glycerite (optional, equals 1 tablespoon sugar)
- Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the foaming subsides, add the beef, onions, salt, and pepper.
- Cook, breaking up the beef into small pieces, until the beef is no longer raw and onions are soft, about 5 minutes. There's no need to drain the mixture.
- Reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic. Cook, stirring, 1 more minute.
- Stir in the ketchup, balsamic vinegar, and sweetener. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, stirring often, for 5 more minutes. Serve immediately.