Venison Sloppy Joes Recipe

Venison Sloppy Joes Recipe

Depending on where you hail from determines what you call a loose meat sandwich. With representatives from California to Pennsylvania, the MeatEater editorial team has heard of them referred to as barbeques, taverns, made-rites, wimpies, slushburgers, and more. “Sloppy Joe” is probably the one moniker that stretches across all regions and, according to legend, comes from an Iowan named Joe in the 1930s who liked to add tomato sauce to ground burger. Whatever you call them, this is an iconic American sandwich.

If you haven’t tried making Sloppy Joes with wild game, this recipe is a great place to start. It’s messy, but you won’t mind grabbing a few extra napkins for this sandwich made of ground venison sautéed in sweet, tangy tomato sauce.

Serving size


Time to make

20 minutes


1 lb. ground venison

2/3 cup yellow onion, finely diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 cup ketchup

1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup water

2 tbsp. brown sugar

1 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. cumin

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1 1/2 tsp. black pepper

4 hamburger buns

Optional Toppings: dill pickles, pickled peppers, onions, coleslaw, cheese

Also works with

Any ground wild game

Special equipment

Sauté pan


  1. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add a tablespoon of cooking oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Once the oil shimmers, add the ground venison and brown.
  2. Remove the venison and set aside. Add another drizzle of oil if needed and sauté the diced yellow onion until brown and soft, or about 3-5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook an additional minute.
  3. Deglaze the pan with water and vinegar. Incorporate the ketchup, sugar, and all the spices. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the sauce for a few minutes to thicken. Return the venison and stir.
  4. Serve with warm hamburger buns.