Korean Sloppy Joe Sandwiches are a flavorful take on the classic comfort food, made with soy sauce, garlic chili sauce, and rice wine vinegar.
Confession - I don't care for a classic sloppy joe sandwich. Whether I use a homemade sauce or buy the premade stuff it just tastes like ketchup on ground beef to me and I am not a fan. But these sandwiches are packed with flavor and I've finally found a version of a sloppy joe sandwich that I enjoy.
What are Korean Sloppy Joe Sandwiches
A sloppy joe sandwich is a ground beef sandwich covered in sauce served on a burger bun. Traditionally the sauce is made with ketchup, brown sugar, mustard and spices. In this Korean version the ketchup and brown sugar remain, but soy sauce, garlic chili sauce, rice wine vinegar and ginger are added. I also topped the sandwiches with pickled vegetables, making it more like a bahn mi.
- ground beef
- brown sugar
- soy sauce
- rice wine vinegar
- sesame oil
- garlic chili sauce
- ginger paste
- green onions
- sesame seeds
- salt and pepper
- optional toppings: pickled carrots, cucumbers, radishes
- burger buns
First, prepare the sauce for the sloppy joes. In a medium bowl, whisk together the ketchup, brown sugar, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, garlic chili sauce, minced garlic and ginger paste, salt, pepper and water. Stir until combined and set aside.
Then, cook the ground beef. In a large skillet add sesame oil over medium high heat. Then add in the ground beef and cook, crumbling until brown. To help the sandwich hold together better, don't crumble the ground beef too much (as you would for tacos).
Next, drain the grease and add in the sauce. Drain any grease from the ground beef and return it to the pan. Reduce the heat to medium low and pour the sauce on top, stirring until all of the meat is coated. Cook for a few minutes until the sauce begins to thicken up.
Finally, assemble and serve the sandwiches. Lightly toast the burger buns (if desired) and pile ground beef mixture on top Sprinkle diced green onions and sesame seeds on top and if desired, garnish with pickled vegetables.
Serving Suggestions and Substitutions
Serve Korean Sloppy Joe Sandwiches with chips or fries!
Pickled vegetables: thinly slice carrots, cucumbers and/or radishes and add to a small bowl. Cover with vinegar, add in a little sugar and salt and let sit 10 minutes. Drain the liquid before adding to the sandwich.
- Replace pickled vegetables with kimchi.
- Swap ground beef for ground pork.
- Cook ground beef in olive, canola or vegetable oil if you don't have sesame oil.
- Rice wine vinegar can be replaced with apple cider vinegar.
- Garlic chili sauce can be swapped with Sriracha, but it will be spicier so taste test and add more ketchup if needed.
Tips for great sloppy joes
- Don't break up ground beef into too small of pieces. Leave some of them larger (think pieces the size of a quarter) so they'll hold more sauce and not fall out of the sandwich as easily.
- To drain grease from meat - line a large bowl with foil and place a mesh sieve on top. Pour the beef and grease into the sieve and press down with a spatula to push the grease through. Let harden in the foil, wrap up and throw away. (Or transfer to a container if you save it)
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Korean Sloppy Joe Sandwiches
- 1.25 lb ground beef
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- ¼ cup ketchup
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup water
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon garlic chili sauce
- 1 bsp minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon ginger paste
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 2 tablespoon green onions diced
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
- 8 burger buns
- Mix up the sauce for the sloppy joes in a medium bowl. Stir until combined and set aside.¼ cup ketchup, ¼ cup brown sugar, ¼ cup water, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon garlic chili sauce, 1 bsp minced garlic, 1 teaspoon ginger paste, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper
- Add the sesame oil to a large skillet over medium high heat and then add in the ground beef, gently crumbling, until cooked through about 6 minutes. Leave the ground beef in larger pieces, about the size of a quarter to help the sandwich hold together better.1.25 lb ground beef, 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- Drain the grease and return the ground beef to the skillet. Reduce the heat to medium low and pour in the sauce, stirring until the beef is fully coated. Cook another 3-4 minutes until the sauce begins to thicken.
- Lightly toast the buns (if desired) and scoop the sloppy joes on top. Garnish with green onions and sesame seeds. Top with pickled vegetables or kimchi if desired.2 tablespoon green onions, 1 teaspoon sesame seeds, 8 burger buns