Korean-Style Sloppy Joes

These Korean-style sloppy joes are made with tender, slowly cooked, gochujang-spiced shredded beef and topped with tangy pickled onions. A supper-worthy sandwich that’s unlike any sloppy joe you’ve ever experienced.

Korean-style sloppy joes made with shredded beef, topped with pickled red onion on a hamburger bun resting on a piece of parchment.

When you think of Asian-inspired comfort food, Korean-style sloppy joes probably aren’t the first thing that comes to mind. They should be, though, because these sandwiches stuffed with gochujang-spiced shredded beef and topped with tangy pickled red onions, are one of the best things we’ve eaten in recent memory.–Angie Zoobkoff

Korean-Style Sloppy Joes

  • Quick Glance
  • Quick Glance
  • 1 H
  • 4 H, 30 M
  • Makes 8 to 10
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  • For the pickled red onions
  • For the Korean-style sloppy joes


Make the pickled red onions

Pack the red onions into a quart-size Mason jar or other nonreactive lidded container.

In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, salt, hot water, and vinegar, and whisk until the sugar dissolves completely.

Pour the brine over the onions and let it sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

Make the Korean-style sloppy joes

Preheat the oven to 325°F (163°C).

In an 8-quart (7.5-liter) Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm the oil until shimmering, about 2 minutes.

Pat the chuck roast dry with paper towels and season well all over with salt and pepper. Sear until nicely browned on all sides, 13 to 15 minutes total. Move to a plate.

Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the onion and garlic to the Dutch oven, and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion begins to soften and smell fragrant, 5 to 7 minutes.

Pour in the stock and bring to a simmer, scraping the bottom of the Dutch oven to release any browned bits.

Whisk in the gochujang and vinegar until smooth. Return the chuck roast to the Dutch oven. (It won’t be completely submerged in the liquid. That’s okay.)

Cover the Dutch oven and transfer to the oven. Cook, turning the chuck roast halfway through, until it’s fork tender and easily pulled apart, 3 1/2 to 4 hours.

Move the chuck roast to a rimmed baking sheet. Return the Dutch oven with the liquid to the stove over medium heat. Bring to a boil and cook, uncovered, until the liquid is reduced by half, 20 to 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, shred the chuck roast with 2 forks.

Remove the Dutch oven from the heat. Skim some of the oil off the top of the sauce. Stir the shredded chuck roast back into the Dutch oven and cover keep warm. (The meat can be cooled, covered, and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Warm it up over medium heat before serving.)

To assemble, spoon some of the meat onto each bun and top with some of the pickled red onions. Cram it in your piehole. Originally published October 9, 2019.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

This recipe made a lot, however, two of us managed to eat all of these Korean-style sloppy Joes in just a few days. After one bite, we both decided that these were awesome and that we just didn't care that they were also a huge mess. The gochujang isn’t very pronounced in the finished product and we liked adding a splash of fresh gochjang on the beef in addition to the pickled onions.

I recommend a sturdy bun to hold this juicy and messy sandwich. While the beef takes a long time to cook, most of it is hands-free braising time, so it doesn’t feel ultra time-consuming. We also froze one portion as an experiment, in case we made this again and decided not to devour it all, and it thawed and heated well. We're already looking forward to the next time that we can make this recipe again.

While we LOVED this and are already craving more, we took issue with these being called sloppy Joes. While it was messy and beefy and awesome, it was more a Korean-style beef sandwich to us. Semantics, perhaps, but sloppy Joes are a very specific sandwich to us and this didn't quite match.

This Korean-style sloppy Joe recipe makes a big sandwich. Making it accurate for an 8 person serving. This recipe highlighted all the deep savory flavor from the browning of the beef with an acidic, spicy tang that made it truly addictive.

There’s a fair amount of fat rendered from the meat during cooking. This could be a turn-off to some. The recipe suggests skimming extra fat off the top. For me this would only have been achieved by chilling the sloppy Joes for a bit of time. Which makes it even more appealing in the make-ahead category. Make it journal-worthy with the addition of pickled red onions.


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