Right off the bat, I have to clarify that I don’t enjoy calling a recipe healthy. It’s such an ambiguous term that means something different to every individual. That said, it’s the easiest way classifying a recipe as a lower calorie and in this case, higher protein, than its alternatives. Like all of my recipes, I’ve made these healthy Instant Pot sloppy joes with the active person and fitness enthusiast in mind.
I must admit my research was limited, but I feel confident in dubbing this recipe one of the healthiest recipes for sloppy joes on the web. Now, that doesn’t mean I’ve stripped all the flavor and sloppy goodness away from them. Using lower calorie substitutions and a unique ingredient lineup, I feel I’ve made it even tastier than your traditional sloppy joe.
Oh, and don’t worry, I made ’em extra sloppy for ya.
What’s so special about these Instant Pot sloppy joes?
Well, other than being one of the few food bloggers dropping Billy Madison references, I specialize in making high protein and low calorie recipes. Whether a food is part of a low carb, high carb, ketogenic, plant-based, or any other type of diet, my primary focus is on swapping ingredients for lower calorie and higher protein options.
That’s exactly what I’ve done with this Instant Pot sloppy joes recipe. Even with a plain and simple hamburger bun, you’re only looking at a 260-calorie sloppy joe with 28 grams of protein.
As for ingredients, there are a few obvious substitutions like reduced sugar ketchup and a lean approach to seasoning the recipe. But there are also a few not so obvious additions, such as a calorie-free sweetener to balance some of the spice in this recipe. Let’s take a look at the swaps and other ingredient notes.
If you want an extra protein boost, I originally published this recipe with a scoop of unflavored protein powder in the sauce mixture.
Is there a big difference between reduced sugar ketchup and regular ketchup?
Ya. On a dipping your french fries level, maybe not so much. But when we’re talking about 3/4 cup of ketchup, it really adds up fast. As in, 180 calories and 48 grams of sugar saved by using the reduced sugar version.
Making swaps like this is a key to making healthier recipes. Another ingredient in this recipe, the Walden Farms Pancake Syrup, is also a great example of this. Using an ingredient like this instead of a sticky sweetener like honey or maple syrup saves more than 200 calories and almost 50 grams of sugar. Low calorie food swaps for the win!
Making this recipe without an Instant Pot
Most Instant Pot or pressure cooker recipes are best left alone as it’s difficult to replicate the cooking method without one. The last thing you want is undercooked food, after all. These Instant Pot sloppy joes, however, work great on the stovetop since you’ll be using the sauté function before sealing the Instant Pot to fully cook the meat before pressure cooking.
So, as long as you’re careful not to burn the sauce, and you’re okay with a slightly longer cook time, a skillet will work fine for this recipe. I’ve left notes at the bottom of the recipe below for instructions on cooking without an Instant Pot.
Final Notes for These Instant Pot Sloppy Joes
Since this recipe is so easy to make, you’ll have plenty of time to make some sides. Check out my air fried carrot fries, low carb cauliflower tots, air fryer cajun fries, or copycat Wingstop fries to pair with your sloppy joes.
Okay, that’s it. Be sure to let me know what you think about these sloppy joes! Snap a pic of your creation and tag me on Instagram @mason_woodruff or join my free Facebook group and share it with the group.
- 2 lbs Ground Beef, macros with 96/4 beef
- 2 Tbsp (30g) Minced Garlic
- 1/4 C White Onion, diced (optional)
- 1/8 tsp Salt and Pepper, to taste
Sloppy Joe Sauce
- 3/4 C (204g) Reduced Sugar Ketchup
- 1/4 C (60g) Mustard
- 2 Tbsp (30mL) Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1/4 C (60mL) Walden Farms Pancake Syrup, or a sugar free syrup or sticky sweetener
- 1 Tbsp Chili Powder
- 1/2-1 tsp Cayenne Pepper, to your spice preference
- Set the Instant Pot to its saute function and wait for the "hot" notification. Spray the pot with nonstick cooking spray before add the minced garlic, onion, salt/pepper, and ground meat.
- While the meat cooks, mix remaining sauce ingredients together in a bowl.
- After your meat has browned, give it one last stir before adding your sauce to the top. DO NOT stir. Leave the sauce on the top, close the Instant Pot, and cook on manual for 10 minutes with a quick release.
- The sauce should look thick and still be on top of your meat mixture, almost like the top of a meatloaf. Using a rubber spatula, fold the sauce into the meat, mixing well. It should lose its thickness and blend well.
- Serve on your choice of bun or for a lower carb option, a bed of cauli rice or with roasted vegetables.
- Each 1/2 C (150g) serving is for the sloppy joes only, without a bun.
- A 1/2 C serving has 2 Smart Points.
- If you're using the stovetop instead of an Instant Pot, prepare the meat using a large skillet. Instead of pressure cooking the sauce on top, reduce the heat to low before mixing the sauce in and covering. Simmer for 8-10 minutes, stirring often.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 9 Servings Serving Size: 1/2 C (150g)
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 143Total Fat: 4gCarbohydrates: 2.4gProtein: 21.3g