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Sloppy Joe Boule Bowl is a fun way to serve this family-friendly meal. Saucy, flavorful ground beef is spooned into a hollowed-out bread bowl, then topped with cheese. Bake it in the oven until hot and melted, then serve with crispy bread croutons on the side for dipping, or spoon onto a plate and eat with a fork.
Everyone’s favorite Sloppy Joes – served in a bread boule!
I’ve always loved reimagining recipes – taking familiar flavors from our favorite dishes but serving them up in a brand new way. Our Sloppy Joe Boule Bowl does just that!
We start this recipe with our popular Sloppy Joes recipe. But rather than serving it on a roll as a sandwich, we carved out a cavity in a round bread boule, then spooned the ground beef inside and melted cheese over the top. The top and insides of the bread are cut into large cubes that toast up light and crispy while the boule heats through in the oven.
What is a Boule?
A boule is simply a round loaf of crusty bread. It’s pronounced as “bool” (like the word pool, but with a b) and it translates to “ball” in French.
While you can make a boule with any kind of bread recipe, we think the best are crusty on the outside, and light and airy on the inside, made from a similar dough as a classic French bread or baguette.
Our recipe today makes enough Sloppy Joes to fill two, one-pound bread Boules. You can fill both and serve or fill one and refill as needed.
Why you’ll love Sloppy Joe Boule Bowl
- Simply put – it’s delicious!
- Both kids and grownups love this easy, beef dish.
- This is a very versatile recipe. You can swap out our classic Sloppy Joes recipe for our Sloppy Tom – a ground turkey version, or our Smoky Joe – a zestier, ground beef version with smoky flavors thanks to smoked paprika in the sauce.
Planning ahead for serving:
Our recipe today makes enough Sloppy Joes to fill two, one-pound bread boules that have been carved out. You can fill one boule, then refill as the Sloppy Joes get eaten. Or fill two bread bowls for serving – the choice is yours. (Note that you’ll also buy an extra boule to make croutons for serving.)
Key Ingredients & Substitutions
- Bread Boule – Buy crusty, dense one-pound round loaves for this recipe. As mentioned above – buy two or three depending on how you plan to serve this dish.
- Ground beef – Buy 80/20 ground beef for the best flavor. (Note that any excess rendered fat will be strained off after browning.)
- Vegetables – We included yellow onion, green bell pepper, celery, carrots and garlic in the mix.
- Tomato – Both tomato paste and diced canned tomatoes make up the sauce.
- Worcestershire sauce
- Beef Broth – Make a homemade beef broth if you’d like or buy canned or boxed.
- Seasonings – Kosher salt, black pepper, chili powder, onion powder, dry mustard (we recommend Colman’s) and brown sugar.
- Cheese – You’ll use both sharp white cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese for the topping.
- Butter – Brushed on the bread cubes before baking to help them crisp up.
Special Tools Needed
- Knife and cutting board
- Sheet tray
- Rack – To fit inside the sheet tray
- Large non-stick pot
- Various spatulas and wooden spoons
- Strainer and large bowl – To drain the cooked beef
- Fat Separator – We recommend this one.
How do I make Sloppy Joe Boule Bowl?
- Sauté vegetables in olive oil.
- Add ground beef and sauté until browned.
- Place strainer over a large bowl, then pour in the beef to strain out cooking liquid.
- Pour liquid into a fat separator. Discard fat but save the juices.
- Place meat and vegetable mixture back into the pot, then add tomato paste and cook.
- Add reserved beef juices, beef broth, canned tomatoes, seasonings, and Worcestershire sauce.
- Simmer for 45 minutes.
- Carve out the bread boules (one or two as noted above) and cube the bread you remove.
- Cut up the last bread boule into cubes.
- Lay bread cubes on a foil lined sheet tray and drizzle on the melted butter. Bake for 25 minutes, tossing a few times during baking.
- Bake hollowed out empty bread boules to harden the inside before filling.
- If filling two bread boules, divide the Sloppy Joe mixture into both and top with the cheese. (If filling just one to be refilled later, spoon in half the Sloppy Joe mixture and top with half the cheese.)
- Wrap foil around the bottom and sides of each bread boule, shiny side facing out and place on a rack that is sitting over a sheet pan.
- Bake and serve with toasted bread cubes.
Tips & Tricks
If filling one boule at a time and refilling once the meat gets eaten, keep remaining Sloppy Joe mixture hot on the stove. When ready, top with cheese to melt then spoon into the bread boule. (This will allow you to skip the baking step.)
Frequently Asked Questions
- Can I make Sloppy Joe Bread Boule Dip ahead of time? You can make the Sloppy Joe, toast the bread and when ready, heat, fill, top with cheese and bake.
- How do I store leftovers? Store refrigerated but keep bread separate. Store the boule refrigerated and the toasted bread sealed in a container at room temperature.
- How do I reheat leftovers? Heat in the microwave or in a saucepan.
- Can I freeze? The Sloppy Joe will freeze nicely. Keep the toasted bread separate from the meat mixture, and that can be frozen as well.
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3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cups yellow onion, diced (about one medium onion)
1 1/2 cups green bell pepper, diced (about one medium pepper)
1/2 cup carrot, diced small (about one carrot)
1/2 cup celery, diced small (about one stalk)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 pounds ground beef (80/20)
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
2 cups beef broth
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes with juice
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 or 3 one-pound loaves round dense bread
1 stick butter
4 ounces sharp white cheddar shredded
4 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
- In a non-stick pot over high heat, place olive oil and once hot, add onion, pepper, carrot, celery and garlic and cook for five minutes, stirring often.
- Move vegetables to the edges and add the ground beef in the center. Cook until browned.
- Pour mixture into a strainer over a large bowl. Do not discard liquid.
- Once drained, place beef and vegetables back into pot along with the tomato paste and cook three minutes at medium high.
- Separate the fat from the liquid that you drained. Discard the fat and pour the liquid in with the beef.
- Add beef broth, canned tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, mustard, chili powder, onion powder, and brown sugar.
- Bring to a simmer over medium low heat and cook for 45 minutes, stirring often.
- While Sloppy Joe cooks, heat oven to 425 degrees F and line a sheet tray with foil.
- Using a small serrated knife, carve inside of one or two loaves of the round dense bread by slicing the top off then carving the inside out. Cut up the top and inside into two-inch cubes and place on prepared sheet tray.
- Carve the last loaf into two-inch cubes and add to the sheet tray.
- Melt the butter and toss with the bread and bake for 25 minutes, tossing 2-3 times during baking.
- Remove the toasted bread cubes from the oven and place the carved out empty bread loaves in the oven and bake for ten minutes. This will harden the inside to avoid getting soggy.
- Once the Sloppy Joe is done, fill one or two and divide the cheese between them.
- Add a rack to a sheet tray and wrap the bread boules in foil, shiny side facing out, and place on the rack.
- Cover the top with the cheese, dividing between the two and place in the oven for 15 minutes to melt the cheese.
- If serving both at once, lay out on one or two platters and surround the bread boules with the toasted cubes.
- If serving one, keep half the Sloppy Joe mixture hot on the stove and half of the cheese separate and when ready to fill, add the remaining cheese to the pot with the hot Sloppy Joe, stir and pour into the now empty bread boule.
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