Sloppy Joe Boats


Sloppy Joe Boats by Ashley of

I am convinced that this is the best sloppy joe I have ever had. It’s sweet, spicy, smoky and sophisticated. It’s like the grown-up version of the childhood favorite!

I simmer the spiced ground beef in tomato sauce, spike it with a hit of tangy apple cider vinegar and add a bit of sweet and slightly bitter molasses. I use both paprika and smoked paprika to add a mild, smoky flavor to the dish and I use cayenne to add some heat. Roby and I both love this recipe and I’m so sure that you and your family will love it too.

I had the hardest time trying to decide on a name for this recipe. I was trying to choose between “sloppy joe boats” or “sloppy joe spaghetti.” This recipe looks like sloppy joe in a boat but it tastes like sloppy joe spaghetti. I (obviously) went with boat, because that sounds more fun. Now that I’ve told you this story, I’m sure you’re probably thinking that I should’ve gone with spaghetti… or maybe you’re normal and don’t obsess over recipe titles the way I do. Forget the name, let’s call just call this delicious.

Sloppy Joe Boats by Ashley of

If you don’t have spaghetti squash, you can make boats out of zucchini, butternut squash, acorn squash, and probably several other vegetables. You could stuff this saucy filling into a bell pepper or serve it on top of a sweet potato. I like the spaghetti squash because not only does it serve as an awesome bowl (hooray for fewer dishes!), I can also twirl its noodle-like strands onto my fork the way I would if I were eating spaghetti with meat sauce.

Sloppy Joe Boats by Ashley of

Sloppy Joe Boats

Sloppy Joe Boats

5 from 6 reviews
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Cook the spaghetti squash

  • Preheat oven to 375°F.
  • Stab the squash in several places.
  • Bake for 45 minutes - 1 hour, or until you can easily pierce the skin with a knife (cooking time depends on size of squash). While this is baking, you can prepare the sloppy joe filling (below).
  • Remove seeds and use as a bowl.

Make the sloppy joe filling

  • Add oil or fat of choice to a saute pan on medium heat. Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes, or until the onions have softened.
  • Add the garlic and the spices, stir for a minute, then add the ground beef.
  • Once the ground beef is mostly browned, stir in the tomato sauce, apple cider vinegar, molasses yellow mustard, and water.
  • Simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the sauce thickens.
Did you make this recipe?Tag @myheartbeets on Instagram and hashtag it #myheartbeets!

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Find out more about my cookbooks Indian Food Under Pressure and South Asian Persuasion.

About Ashley

Hi, I’m Ashley. Thanks for being here! I truly believe that food brings us closer together. Gather around a table with good food and good people, and you’ll have the ingredients you need to create some happy memories. My hope is that you find recipes here that you can’t wait to share with family and friends.


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  1. PattiH says

    Delicious flavors – tastes better than what I remember from childhood. The molasses made it sweet but not overly so, like the usually-used brown sugar tends to be. I needed only about 1/4 cup water so the filling wasn’t too thin, and I used two large ‘zucchini-zillas’ from our garden instead of the spaghetti squash. Loved the convenience of getting the zucchini baking in the oven while I cooked the meat filling. (I think that could have made the squash less mushy?) Dinner was quick and tasty! Thanks!

  2. Sarah says

    5 stars
    Hi Ashley,

    I finally made this after years of having it on my list and I’m sorry I didn’t make it sooner! It is one of the best spaghetti squash dishes I’ve had and certainly the best paleo “spaghetti” recipe. I’ve never liked sloppy joes, which is why it took me so long to make it, but it really is excellent. Perfect now that winter squash season is upon us 🙂

  3. Ellie says

    I’ve made this several time with a couple of alterations based on my diet and what I’ve had on hand. I made it vegetarian using veggie crumbles and used Dijon mustard instead of yellow. I imagine the yellow flavor goes better but I love Dijon and it turned out good. I prefer adding more tomato sauce rather than water since the veggie crumbles don’t have a ton of flavor. It’s def a go to.

  4. Charlotte says

    5 stars
    Ashley, I made these last night and they were so great! Thank you so much for this delicious recipe. Aman and I loved them! Especially since they are a little spicy. Sloppy joe is kind of underselling them! We had leftover of the filling, so I’m planning to cook up another spaghetti squash tonight! Awesome.

  5. Anje says

    5 stars
    I am going to double the recipe and make empanadas, phyllo cups, and paleo friendly almond crusted pie shell and possibly add sour cream or greek yogurt and eggs to turn it into a pie. I try to double everything so I can freeze one portion to share with a special someone that shows up for a visit this week or next. I know it is going to be fabulous! You can just tell by your ingredients. So excited!

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