This simple homemade recipe for keto sloppy joes is made without brown sugar and with unsweetened ketchup.
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 when you simply cook it in a pan with a few other ingredients, then pile it on a plate or on a (keto) bun.
Cut the sugar, keep the flavor
This super easy recipe for keto sloppy joes is just as good as those sugary recipes that call for lots of sweet ketchup and brown sugar. I make it often for my family because it’s one of those dishes that everyone loves.
It’s surprising, or maybe it shouldn’t be, how good some recipes are even after you cut out sugar and grains. This recipe is certainly a good example.
The ingredients you’ll need
You’ll only need a few simple ingredients to make keto sloppy joes. The exact measurements are included 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. And you can use oil instead.
Ground beef: I use lean ground beef (85% lean and 15% fat). It’s my opinion that extra-lean ground beef is too lean and not as flavorful.
Kosher salt and black pepper: If using fine salt, you might want to reduce the amount you use.
Onion and garlic: I’m lazy, so I chop the onion in the food processor and use jarred minced garlic.
Unsweetened ketchup: I get it at Whole Foods or on Amazon. I believe that regular ketchup is too sugary.
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).
A few comments on the ingredients I use and why I use them
I use unsweetened ketchup in this recipe (link provided in the recipe card) and completely omit the sugar.
When I make this recipe for just my husband and myself, I don’t add any additional sweetener. But when I make it for my teenage kids, I add a bit of stevia.
I also add a touch of balsamic vinegar for its tangy flavor, a hint of sweetness, and a pretty color.
How to make keto sloppy joes
It’s a truly quick and easy recipe. Scroll down to the recipe card for the detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:
1. Cook the beef and onion in butter.
2. Next, add the garlic and cook it briefly.
3. Now add the remaining ingredients.
4. Lower the heat and cook just five more minutes. That’s it! Dinner is served.
How to serve keto sloppy joes
Instead of using hamburger buns, I serve them in bowls with spoons, just as I serve no bean chili. Another option is to serve them on a bed of cauliflower rice, or to use cloud bread or 90-second bread as a keto bun.
The true test for this recipe is my kids. They eat a higher carb diet than my husband and I, so they expect sweeter tastes. And yet, they LOVE this recipe.
They do request that I serve it on a bun, so when I make it for them, I either use a gluten-free bun, or I make one of the low carb buns mentioned above.
What about leftovers?
Sloppy joes is one of those dishes that actually taste better the next day. You can keep 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 1/2 teaspoon fine salt)
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
- 1/2 cup unsweetened ketchup
- 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 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, 5 more minutes. Serve immediately.