I feel lucky enough, with my aging and increasingly cluttered brain, to have distinct memories of many nights at the dinner table with my family.  Family dinner (at the kitchen table) was a basic requirement to living in my parents house.  I’m sure my adolescent years were filled with dread about that required family time but today I couldn’t be more thankful for the memories I have about those nights.

On one such night when I was maybe 11 or 12, we had taco salad for the first time.  It was nothing fancy, as tacos don’t need to be – taco meat with all the fixings over crunchy tortilla chips – but it felt like a revolutionary dinner.  Tortilla chips with dinner?! Score!! I don’t remember tacos being in my mom’s rotation previous to that (she may tell you otherwise in the comments here) so this was quite possibly a seminal moment happening.  It was also likely that we didn’t eat much Mexican or Tex Mex food aside from tacos or taco salad after that since it turns out that my mom loathes cilantro.  I died a little inside when I learned that recently.

So these Tex Mex sloppy joes combine an American staple food that epitomized my childhood dinners with my utter love for Tex Mex food today.  Set between two halves of a soft homemade bun with a hefty serving of guacamole, these sloppy joes are a little spicy but totally homey and familiar at the same time.  Get your napkins ready and belly up to the table for this dinner – it’s a favorite we’ll keep coming back to, even if *cough* we eat ours in front of the T.V.

Tex Mex Sloppy Joes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 6 servings


    For the sloppy joes:
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 chipotle chile en adobo (or ¼ tsp chipotle powder)
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 ¼ lbs ground chicken, turkey, or beef
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • ½ medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 oz beer, such as a light ale or lager
  • 2 tbsp ketchup
  • ¼ cup cilantro
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • For serving:
  • 6 warm hamburger buns (like these jalapeno cheddar buns)
  • Guacamole
  • Sliced jalapenos, chopped cilantro, diced onion, grated cheddar or Monterey jack or crumbled queso fresco (all optional)


  1. Add the tomato sauce, chipotle chile (or powder), oregano, ground cumin, smoked paprika, allspice, cayenne and Worcestershire sauce to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth.
  2. Brown the ground meat in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally until browned, about 10 minutes. Drain off the fat. Warm the canola oil in the pan with the browned meat then add the onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Pour the tomato mixture into the skillet along with the beer, ketchup and cilantro. Stir until well combined.
  3. Bring to a low simmer over medium heat then reduce the heat to medium-low heat and cook uncovered for 15 minutes. Stir in the lime juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve on warm buns with suggested toppings, if desired.


source: adapted from Homesick Texan