Pressure Cooker Sloppy Joes

Pressure Cooker Sloppy Joes
Make these healthified Sloppy Joes from scratch and cut down their simmering time to 10 minutes of completely hands-off pressure cooking – during which you can make coleslaw.

Vito and his Sloppy JoeA Sloppy Joe is a runny American hamburger sandwich commonly served in public school cafeterias or made at home with a ready-sauce from a can, a packet or following a recipe that requires the use of ketchup.   I can personally confirm that, even in San Francisco, public schools in the 1980’s served these droopy piles of deliciousness with a side of ‘tater tots (potato croquettes) – a perk of growing up in America.

I make  ketchup on the fly with tomato paste, vinegar and spices. No sugar is added to the mix- the carrot sweetens things up naturally. Rolled oats add thickening power, bulk and extra fiber, too!

This particular recipe is made with frozen ground beef to illustrate how easy it is to make dinner in a pinch using  frozen meat.  Of course, you can make these Sloppy Joes with “fresh” ground meat – just break it up during the browning step instead of after pressure cooking.

Pressure Cooker Accessories Pr. Cook Time Pr. Level Open
3 L or larger none 10 min. High(2) Slow Normal

4.3 from 14 reviews
Skinny Sloppy Joes with Tangy Slaw (pressure cooker recipe)
Nutritional Information
(per serving)
  • Serves: Serves 6-8
  • Serving size: ¾ cup slop + ¾ cup slaw (no buns)
  • Calories: 179.8
  • TOTAL Fat: 5.9g
  • TOTAL Carbs: 18g
  • Sugar Carbs: 5.3g
  • Sodium: 649mg
  • Fiber Carbs: 3.5g
  • Protein: 15g
  • Cholesterol: 32.5mg
Recipe type: pressure cooker
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Make this with your favorite ground meat without changing anything. If not using frozen meat, as illustrated in this recipe, break-up the ground meat before pressure cooking during the browning phase. While the Sloppy Joes are pressure cooking, make the coleslaw.
Sloppy Joes:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound (500g) extra lean ground beef - fresh or frozen
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 medium green or red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce - optional
  • 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup (250ml) chopped tomatoes - canned or fresh with their juice
  • 4 tablespoons (80g) tomato paste
  • 1 cup (250ml) water
  • ½ cup (45g) rolled oats
Tangy Coleslaw:
  • 1 tablespoon grainy dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ½ head of cabbage, quartered and thinly sliced (about 5 cups)
  • 2 carrots, grated (about 1 cup)
  • ½ red onion, finely chopped
  1. To the heated pressure cooker add olive oil and slab of frozen ground beef.
  2. Brown the slab on both sides (about 8 minutes per side).
  3. Push beef aside and add onions, peppers, carrots, salt and garlic powder and saute' until the veggies are soft (about 5 minutes).
  4. Add Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, water and mix well. If the frozen slab of meat has softened, break it up into chunks and lift-up any brown bits of meat from the base of the cooker into the mixture.
  5. When the contents of the cooker come to boil sprinkle the oats on top of the mixture and do not stir.
  6. Close and lock the lid of the pressure cooker.
  7. For electric pressure cookers: Cook for 10 minutes at high pressure.
    For stove top pressure cookers: Turn the heat up to high and when the cooker indicates it has reached high pressure, lower to the heat to maintain it and begin counting 10 minutes pressure cooking time.
  8. When time is up, open the cooker by releasing the pressure very slowly. If the pressure release speed cannot be regulated by your cooker's valve, simply release pressure in short bursts. If anything other than steam comes out of the valve, stop and count to 10 before releasing the pressure slowly (or in small bursts), again.
  9. Raise the heat and reduce the contents, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes - mix and break-up the ground meat.
  10. Let stand for an additional 5 minutes to thicken before serving.
for coleslaw:
  1. Combine the mustard, vinegar and honey in the base of a large bowl and whisk together.
  2. Mix-in the cabbage, carrots and onions.

Brevile Fast Slow Pro

Sloppy Joes in the PRESSURE COOKER!

Bun-free Pressure Cooker Sloppy Joes
Bun-free Pressure Cooker Sloppy Joe serving suggestion –  in a cabbage leaf cup.
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  1. Sloppy Joes and Fish Sticks. Two public schools lunches I still sometimes embarrassingly crave. We were a farm family and since school lunches were prepared mostly from USDA agricultural commodity food, our parents insisted we eat school lunches. We never had a packed lunch, never, not even once. Thank you President Truman!

    Printed out your recipe, it’s a must try and the slaw recipe is a great addition. I add grated carrots to anything that’s dark enough to camouflage them and none’s the wiser. A few years back I was given a recipe for Sloppy Joes made with Ragu pasta sauce and it wasn’t too a bad recipe with a few additions. Certainly made a quick dinner.

  2. For completely vegetarian, I replaced the ground animal with jackfruit. It worked great.

    1. Thanks for sharing your variation, did you use the same weight of Jackfruit? How long did you pressure cook it for?



  3. Laura,

    I’ve wanted to explore healthy jackfruit for some time. W hen I finally found a source, I dove in. I soon discovered that jackfruit is useful for its mouthfeel. But it has little taste of its own. This recipe is a perfect foil for it because of its many flavor-enhancing ingredients which the fruit absorbs while cooking. BTW, jackfruit seems more like a bland vegetable than a fruit, not terribly different than hearts of palm. Jackfruit also seems very tolerant of cooking strategies. You can use it right out of the can or cook it for hours without effecting it much. It breaks apart a bit more with cooking. But that is about it. So I made up the recipe, tossed the jackfruit in and cooked it per instructions. Then I reduced it for about an hour to the right consistency and stopped..

    1. Interesting! For next time, since you’re doing a veggie version, double the rolled oats – they will thicken everything up nicely and you wont’ have to reduce for as much time. ; )



  4. Great idea.

  5. I followed the recipe exactly and cooked in my Instant Pot duo-IP. The float valve would not rise but the cooker started and ran through the 10 minutes cook time. My troubleshooting manual suggested that there was not enough liquid so I added another quarter cup of water. I checked the valve and gasket and tried again with the same result. I ended up with half cooked sloppy joes and had a charred sloppy mess on the bottom of the cooker. It’s not the pot because I cooked another dish after cleaning the pot. Any ideas on what could be wrong?

    1. Susan, did you wait for the contents to come to a boil before closing the lid? That is the key to this recipe not burning since it’s designed to be almost ready after pressure cooking without needing to reduce.



  6. Inspired by this recipe (& my Southern grandfather), I made it with some leftover BBQ sauce (homemade) & a hunk of frozen ground elk. Omitted the tomatoes, spices, vinegar, water & oats, & served over cornmeal muffins. Came out delicious. What a great last minute supper. Thanks for the helpful technique.

  7. Laura,

    I did wait for the contents to boil before putting on the lid. My problem was that I couldn’t get the pot to get to “pressure”. The valve wouldn’t rise. Anyway, I scraped the contents into my slow cooker leaving the charred stuff behind and cooked it for about an hour on high. It was fantastic. We loved the consistency and tartness of the dish. I have a bottled cole slaw dressing that is a standby at our house and I used it to make coleslaw. Although I loved the sloppy joe on a bun, the second day I heated the sloppy joe mix and put a serving of creamy coleslaw on top and ate it minus the bun. It was really good! Since I have to eat gluten free, it’s my new “go to” for a quick meal.

    I must have done something wrong. I’ll have to give it another try in my Hot Pot when I need another batch. Thanks for the recipe.

    1. Susan, with the Instant Pot raise the water to 1 cup. Unfortunately, one flaw of this cooker is that the heat-up in “manual mode” is at 100% (think of it as blasting up the heat to the max) and it creates a larger opportunity for scorching with recipes that might work in other pressure cookers.

      I’m sorry to hear that this recipe gave you a hard time.



  8. This recipe resulted in a burnt mess on the bottom of the PC for me as well. When I saw how little liquid was “boiling” (it was more of a simmer because there was so little liquid) and the fact that it contained tomatoes, I suspected that this might happen. I used fresh (local hothouse) tomatoes – a bit on the dry side – for what it’s worth.

    Perhaps some guidance as to the amount of liquid that should be present relative to the amount of meat and veg would be useful, or perhaps holding onto the chopped tomatoes until everything else is in the pot first and then placing them on top without mixing them in would work.

    1. Michael, can you clarify “amount of liquid that should be present relative to the amount of meat and veg” did you use different quantities than what was written in the recipe?



  9. No, I used what was specified in the recipe. I was just saying that maybe my attempt at the recipe resulted in less liquid than what you experienced (for whatever reason) and that a description of how much liquid should be there might be helpful.

    When I was prepping the ingredients, I combined the oats with everything else that it was going to be added to the pot with (water, Worcestershire, tomato paste, etc) prior to adding it, so it was sitting there for a while, soaking. Perhaps that resulted in less available liquid – I don’t know.

    As not to be completely negative, I have to say that we really enjoyed the taste of the end product, so the recipe is otherwise a winner :)

    1. Well, this is the second burn report so this recipe needs updating.

      I try to write recipes to be as simple as possible but any variation, such as not scraping-up brown bits of meat, or not waiting for the contents to boil or choosing a different opening method could throw a wrench in the works.

      I have updated it to require 1 cup, instead of 3/4 cups of water, and have people sprinkle the oatmeal on at the very end before closing the lid. This will require a little simmering post- pressure cooking to ensure that the sloppy joes aren’t TOO runny, but the extra liquid should ensure that in no burning happens during the pressure build-up.

      Thanks for writing and letting me know about the issue – I had tested the original recipe (3/4 cups water, oats with the other ingredients and no simmering afterwards) both in the Breville and KR without issues.



      1. No problem. Thanks for the excellent content and for being so attentive to your audeince!

      2. I plan on cooking this tomorrow. Can you tell me if the problem with the burning is because of using non frozen meat? I am using defrosted ground chuck.

        1. No, there is no problem with using fresh meat. I’ve made these lots of time -they’re a family favorite and healthier than hamburgers because of the extra veggies. I’ve made this with ground beef, ground beef and pork mixture and… last Thanksgiving with freshly ground turkey! Long story, : )

          The key, is to make sure you scrape-up the brown bits when you add the liquids and to sprinkle the oatmeal in top just before closing the lid (btw, I also made this with steel-cut quick cooking oats – half the amount of rolled).



  10. very nice recipe. Thanks for sharing it.


  11. Made this tonight and it was a big hit with the husband and kids. I had no issues with burning at all in my IP. My husband wants me to double the recipe when his family comes into town— should I just double the ingredients? I’m pretty new to pressure cooking and I’ve been following recipes with success but haven’t really altered any yet. I have an Instant Pot if that matters. I’d appreciate your thoughts. Thanks!

    1. muklevin, this recipe makes 4 cups of slop so you can safely double it without changes in cooking time or ingredients (except doubling them, of course) if you’re using a 6L Instant Pot. If you have the 5L, first add 8 cups of water and see if that stays under the 2/3 full before doubling.



  12. I gave the recipe 5 stars, not sure why I’m seeing 2 in my last comment. My husband wants this recipe in the weekly rotation… So it is a keeper!

    1. That’s odd, the stars work for me. Please try to post again with the new score and I’ll combine your comments there and delete the 2 and 3 star comments.

      I cannot change the ratings in the comments.

      Be careful when tapping “post comment” that you don’t hit a star. : )



  13. My Instant Pot arrived today and this was the first recipe I made. My husband and I both enjoyed it very much and will definitely make it again. We are Sloppy Joe lovers but have to find healthier recipes and this hit the spot.

  14. Definitely a hit. Some of the best sloppy joes I’ve ever tasted!

  15. Completely perfect and delicious- both the sloppy joes and slaw. Kids asked for seconds. It was a big hit. Thank you!

  16. Hello, I am new to IP recipes and would love to try this. My husband is allergic to carrots, however, and I’m wondering if there is a suitable substitute? Thank you in advance for any guidance!

    1. You can leave out the carrots – they only add sweetness. You might want to taste and adjust with 1/2 teaspoon of sugar or honey before serving.



      1. Thank you so much! Have a great Sunday. :)

  17. why oats? Can I make without?

    1. The oats do a few things in this recipe. They serve as a filler, decreasing the amount of meat you would add to this recipe. They add fiber, making this recipe healthier. And, most importantly, they serve as a thickener. Do you see how in the photo the filling kind of holds into the bun and doesn’t pour out all over the place? That’s the starch from the oats holding it together.

      I would not leave out the oats.



  18. if not, can I use steel cut rather than rolled oats?

    1. I have not tested steel-cut oats myself with this recipe the problem is that steel-cut oats take longer to pressure cook than the meat! If you have quick-cooking steel-cut oats and you want to give it a shot, use 1/3 of a cup instead but follow the same directions (sprinkle on top and don’t stir).

      Come back to let us know how it worked!



  19. Made the recipe as stated, was delicious! I used a frozen brick of meat, enjoyed the skepticism of my boyfriend. Next time I make it I’m going to skip the bread and put it over baked potatoes or sweet potatoes.
    I made the slaw for a party a few months ago, it was delicious as well!

    And thank you for including prep pics, they are such a help.

  20. I cook a lot and this is one of the best recipes I’ve made. So incredibly tasty and transports me back to my childhood :) I also never comment on web sites but this was so yummy I felt like I had to make sure everyone knew it! Thank you thank you thank you!!!

  21. Not too bad of flavor , but way to starchy, would not make again. But Thank you for posting, I appreciate!

  22. This is the 2nd time I made this recipe. Thanks. Amazing!

  23. Turn out very good. I used a 1lb. can of of chopped tomatoes instead of one cup. Added only 3/4 cup of water was afraid it might be to watery since I used a 1lb. can of tomatoes. Way better than canned sloppy Joe mix from the store.

  24. Good Morning – still learning how to use my new 8-qt Instant Pot, and I’d like to try this recipe. I have a large family; would tripling the recipe affect cookig time?

    Thanks for your help.

    1. It shouldn’t change the time at pressure if you use fresh beef, but remember that a fuller pot will take longer to reach pressure. so the total time will be longer.

      If you use frozen, that will act like a single thicker piece of meat until it defrosts and breaks up, so that will take longer.

      Also don’t forget that you shouldn’t go over the 2/3 full line. Make sure you don’t overfill.

  25. Hi Laura. Made your sloppy joes and coleslaw and it was a big delicious hit. Mine was a little more runnier than yours but I think it was because we couldn’t wait to try it. Leftovers for tomorrow for another great supper.. The tangy coleslaw was perfect also.
    Thank you so much for sharing all your recipes. Your instructions on all the recipes and I have made too many to count are spot on. Nothing left to the imagination. Your cookbook is also easy to read and the tips are so helpful. Thanks again.


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