Transform Sloppy Joes With The Help Of Roasted Peppers

The nostalgic sloppy joes from many of our childhoods were delicious in their simplest form, even when the sandwiches were made with canned sauce or packets of pre-made seasonings. Depending on your level of home cooking ingenuity back then, the loose-meat sandwiches might have included freshly chopped onion and green bell peppers. Those aromatics infuse the meaty base with more flavor, but you can swap the sautéed green bell pepper with roasted red peppers for a sweet and smoky upgrade.

This ingredient swap can work with any version of sloppy joes, so you don't have to ditch your family's recipe for this technique. You can also try our recipe for Philly cheesesteak sloppy joe sliders from Tasting Table recipe developer Leah Maroney, which incorporates a large roasted red pepper with onions in the beef mixture.

To make it simple, buy a jar of roasted red peppers from the grocery store. Alternatively, roast a pepper on the stovetop or in the oven then remove the charred skin, membranes, and seeds before adding to the sloppy joe mixture. Either of these options will upgrade the beefy sandwiches, but homemade roasted red peppers might have more of an intense sweetness and smokiness because the pepper is fresher — plus it will have lower sodium levels because they weren't sitting in brine.

Roasted red peppers elevate meaty and vegan-friendly sloppy joes

There are a couple of ways to add roasted red peppers to your sloppy joes. If you're following our slider recipe, slice the peppers then add them to the pan where the beef is browned along with the onions. Some recipes suggest using the sliced peppers in the sauce along with other ingredients like tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and dried herbs. You can also easily use the pepper slices as a sandwich topping with cheese since they're cooked already. And for a vegan-friendly version, combine roasted red peppers with tomatoes, lentils, and other ingredients to get the same essence without the meat.

For cheesesteak-style sloppy joes, roasted red peppers pair well with American, provolone, or mozzarella cheeses. To keep it classic, use shredded sharp cheddar cheese on the pepper-infused sloppy joes instead. To temper the mild sweetness in the roasted bell peppers, combine it with cayenne pepper, crushed red pepper, or smoked paprika, add some hot sauce to the mixture, or go with a bit of apple cider vinegar for acidity. Or to add more sweetness, use a combination of brown sugar or sweet pickle relish along with the roasted peppers.