Middle Eastern Spiced Sloppy Joes

Middle Eastern Spiced Sloppy Joes

Middle Eastern Spiced Sloppy Joes are a fun twist on a classic American dish. Joe loves to make and eat Sloppy Joes. He makes big batches of them and divides them up to freeze into smaller portions. A few weeks ago, he made a big batch. When we tasted them, we realized he made a mistake which led to this new version.

Fun Twist on an American Classic

Joe reached for the chili powder, but accidentally grabbed our Moroccan spice mix instead. We ate the altered Sloppy Joes for lunch and they were really tasty. So, we decided to play with the recipe a little more and added the harissa paste and Urfa Biber pepper blend. The results were a success and have now become Middle Eastern Spiced Sloppy Joes.

Harissa is a chile paste that is originally from Tunisia. I’ve heard it described as Middle Eastern ketchup, but I find it much more complex in flavor. It is typically made of dry red chiles, garlic, lemon, extra virgin olive oil and some warm spices such as cumin, coriander and caraway seeds. I like to buy it in a tube and squeeze a little into a dish, like you would tomato paste.

Urfa Biber is a smoky Turkish pepper that is mild in heat, with hints of raisin and chocolate. We purchased it online from Spice House. They have a wide variety of good quality spices that we really enjoy. Urfa Biber reminded me of ancho chili powder the first time I tasted it.

Middle Eastern Spiced Sloppy Joes can be made with Ground Beef, Lamb or Bison

For this recipe we used ground beef, however you can also use ground lamb (for even more middle eastern flavor) or bison (if you’re looking for something leaner). The onions and the bell peppers provide some sweetness to counteract the spicy heat. Most of the ingredients that make up the sauce are common household pantry items. Ketchup, mustard and vinegar are part of almost every Sloppy Joe recipe.

Middle Eastern Spiced Sloppy Joes are a tasty twist on a classic that you’re sure to enjoy!

Middle Eastern Spiced Sloppy Joes

5 from 65 votes
Recipe by Joe Sanfelippo Course: Main DishCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy


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Middle Eastern Spiced Sloppy Joes are a fun twist on a classic dish. They’re spiced with our Moroccan spice mix, harissa and Urfa Biber pepper.


  • 1 tbsp 1 butter

  • 1 tsp 1 olive oil

  • 1 lb 1 ground beef

  • 1/4 cup 1/4 bell pepper, chopped

  • 1/2 cup 1/2 onion, chopped

  • 1/2 ts 1/2 salt

  • 1 tbsp 1 harissa paste

  • 2 tsp 2 Moroccan Spice Mix

  • 3/4 tsp 3/4 Urfa Biber pepper (can substitute Ancho Chile powder)

  • 1/4 tsp 1/4 ground black pepper

  • 2/3 cup 2/3 ketchup

  • 1/3 cup 1/3 water

  • 1 tsp 1 brown sugar

  • 1 tsp 1 yellow mustard

  • 1/2 tsp 1/2 Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 tbsp 1 hot sauce (We use Frank’s RedHot)

  • 1 tbsp 1 red wine vinegar


  • Heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once it is hot, add the ground beef. Breaking it into small pieces with a wooden spoon. Once it is browned (about 5 minutes), remove from pan with a slotted spoon and place on a plate.
  • Drain most of the fat from the pan, leaving enough to cook the onions and bell pepper. Add bell pepper and onions. Season with 1/4 tsp salt. Once softened (about 2-3 minutes), add the meat back to the pan.
  • Add the harissa paste, Moroccan spice mix, Urfa Biber pepper, remaining 1/4 tsp salt, and ground black pepper. Stir to coat the meat mixture.
  • Next, add ketchup, water, brown sugar, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce and vinegar.  Stir well to combine. Turn to medium-low heat and simmer for 25-30 min, until the mixture has thickened to your liking. Stirring occasionally.
  • Remove from heat and serve over toasted buns.


  1. Great recipe, love the flavor with lamb. If you want to complete the middle eastern theme, ditch the hamburger buns and use pita instead. The make wonderful pockets for the sloppy joe mix with less bread and hold up very well.


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