Smoky Spicy Sloppy Joes for Grown Ups

1 1/2 lb lean ground beef
6 oz tomato paste
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup bourbon
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, finely grated
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons chipotle chile powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
smokehouse black pepper (to taste)

shredded sharp cheddar (optional-for sprinkling)

In a large saucepan, saute the garlic, onion and carrot in olive oil until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add ground beef and saute until brown, stirring to break up the meat. Add water, bourbon, tomato paste, and all of the spices. Simmer, stirring occasionally 20-30 minutes until thickened. Serve on buns and sprinkle with cheese.

Yield: about 6 servings

Note: While it is tasty on a sandwich, I also think it would be fabulous on a hot dog as an alternative to chili.

My thoughts:

There is something a little summery about sloppy joes. I guess because it is such a casual dish and Summer is all shorts and flip flops and outdoor dining. As I am over the age of 10, the canned and jarred sauce just doesn’t cut it. I need more spice, and for this version, a bit of smoke. It still isn’t a terribly glamorous dish but it is tasty, comforting and very satisfying. So, indulge! Have a sloppy joe night. And if you want to go all out, serve with some slightly grown up mac & cheese.


  1. that looks pretty delish! i think the last time i ate sloppy joes were in my grade school hot lunch program!

  2. This is right up my alley – I’m going to try them this weekend…I put in a plug for your blog on mine because I think it’s terrific! Nan

  3. oooooh rachel. this just made my heart stop in the name of love.

  4. Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)

    I was thinking this would be great as a pasta sauce, too. Love the warm flavors of cinnamon and allspice!

  5. Yes! Yes! Yes! This looks mouth-watering delicious!

  6. This recipe looks amazing. I’m going to try it this weekend!

    You might be interested in my website. There are some incredible recipes.

    Thanks for the idea!


  7. This recipe looks great. We have “Chili Parties” in the summer. One huge pot of chili served with your choice of a potato, hotdog, nachos or fries. Makes parents as well as the kids happy – and that mess is all outside – love it that way! Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  8. Sounds great to me.

  9. How funny — I made vegan sloppy joes (with cremini mushrooms instead of meat) for dinner last night!

  10. TheRavenousMommy

    Looks delicious! I’m sure its way better than all the manwich I was forced to eat as a child…haha.

  11. This is the second sloppy joe post I’ve seen in the last week or so. Are the food Gods trying to tell me something here?
    This looks tasty, tasty, tasty.

  12. These sloppy joes sound tasty!

  13. ah! looks great. this, flipflops, a cold drink and i’m sorted.

  14. I’m really liking the spice mix here. My only problem with it is it doesn’t look sloppy enough 🙂

  15. Boy does this look yummy! This is perfect to enjoy eating on the patio. Tasty!

  16. Soppy mes!
    This has saliva levels rising.
    Looks so yummy!


  17. Rachel, I made these yesterday for a party and they were excellent! The way the bourbon and spices mix together in a spicy and sweet combination gave them a kick that was irresistible. Great recipe!!

  18. We made these last night and they were great!
    The bourbon was a terrific addition.

  19. I don't know if I've been in Europe too long (away from my native California) or what, but this recipe as written was burn-your-face-off hot & spicy! The flavours were fantastic, but I found it hard to enjoy them through my flaming lips…for myself next time I think I shall reduce the cayenne and red chili flakes and just let the heat come from the chipotle chili powder.