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Venison Sloppy Joes

Minced venison and tomato sauce in a Sloppy Joe-style sandwich is an excellent shoot snack alternative to a bacon bap, suggests Cai ap Bryn. Serves 6 to 8.

Sloppy Joe venison sandwiches

A Sloppy Joe Burger

Now, I know what most of you are thinking: what on earth are venison Sloppy Joes? The title does not sound like a culinary treat at all, does it? However, Sloppy Joes are a delicious sandwich believed to have originated in America in the 1930s.

A Sloppy Joe comprises a minced-meat filling with a barbecue or tomato sauce addition. It’s extremely simple and makes it easy to feed a lot of people quickly, as it is ladled inside a burger bun and often served with coleslaw. It’s a cheap meal that’s extremely popular at gatherings and sports games all over the US. (Find our venison burger recipe here.)

I tried my first Sloppy Joe from a street vendor at a college football game (American football not soccer) in Texas. We went to watch Baylor University play TCU (Texas Christian University) with 45,000 in attendance for a college game. It was a truly unbelievable spectacle.

As noteworthy as the game was, the vast array of street food on offer was even more impressive. I was immediately intrigued by Sloppy Joes, so I bought one without hesitation. It’s exactly as it sounds — although not only sloppy, but juicy and incredibly delicious, too.


It was only recently that I decided this would be excellent recreated using ground venison. I have plenty of prime- quality fallow venison left from last season, frozen up in 1kg bags, and it needs to be used. (Read our tips for freezing game.)

Not only is this sandwich a great addition to a barbecue, it would be excellent for a shoot snack. Hot venison mince on a winter morning sounds like a great pick-me-up and an alternative to bacon baps.

As I work through my venison stocks, it is ideal that the fallow buck season has now started again and we can begin our deer management and restock the freezer. Here in Sussex, we have large numbers of fallow deer that need to be managed correctly.

Post-Covid, we have seen numbers soar due to a drop in both venison prices and demand from the consumer. Last season, we started to really concentrate on managing the increasing numbers. Once all the crops are cut and we have full access to the land, we will certainly be kept busy this year.

Venison Sloppy Joes


  •  1 white onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • ½ bell pepper, finely diced
  • 500g venison mince
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1½ tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp crushed chilli flakes
  • 400ml passata
  • 2 tbsp barbecue sauce

To serve

  • 150g coleslaw
  • Sliced or grated cheese (I like to use Gouda, but Monterey Jack is also very good)


  1. In a pan, sauté the onion, garlic and pepper until soft. Add the venison mince and stock cube, and brown.
  2. Add in the vinegar and stir, before adding the remaining ingredients to the pan. Stir, cover and simmer on a low heat for around one hour. If the sauce becomes too thick, add a little water to soften.
  3. Before serving, toast some buns. I like brioche as they are buttery and delicious, and complement the filling well. Some people like their rolls to be dry, but I like to coat them with either butter or a thin layer of mayonnaise.
  4. Spoon over the Sloppy Joe filling and serve with a slice of cheese and coleslaw. The creamy texture of the coleslaw combined with the rich Sloppy Joe filling will leave you wanting more.