Bao Bun Sloppy Joes

Bao Bun Sloppy Joe

Bao buns are a perfect delivery vehicle for sweet and spicy sloppy joes! The soft texture of the bun absorbs so much flavor from the saucy messy beef. I love the combo of flavors in these sandwiches, and the art cucumbers and creamy crunchy slaw only amplify the awesomeness!

The inspiration for this recipe

Visiting a friend in New York we went to a banh mi place that had a sandwich called a sloppy bao. I thought I was going to get something like what you see on this page. Instead it was not that sloppy at all and served on a baguette. I decided I had to go home and make the bao bun sloppy joe that I really and truly wanted!

The spicy cucumbers

For the cucumbers, I just tossed them with some rice vinegar, honey, and gochujang. Simple and delicious, and a great tart balance for the savory meat in the sloppy joe bao bun.

spicy cucumbers!

The creamy slaw

I wanted to make sure there was plenty of crunch on this little sandwich since the meat and the bread were so soft. I made a quick slaw with some mayo and sesame oil.

creamy slaw!

Making the sloppy joe mixture for the bao buns

There are a lot of ingredients in the beef but that is because I wanted it to taste like American sloppy joes, but also have a Korean flair to it. I added ketchup and mustard like you would with most sloppy joes, then I added gochujang and bean paste, my favorite Korean ingredients to add a deep and spicy flavor to the dish.

making the sloppy joe mixture

Lots of honey and gochugaru to finish it with a great sweet and spicy flavor!

lots of great flavors in the sloppy joe

Serving the bao bun sloppy joes

I used store bought steamed buns for this. You can get them in the freezer at the Korean store nearby and they come out awesome! I have made my own before and they are fairly straightforward to make but lately I have been saving time and buying them! If you want to make your own, I like this recipe.

Bao bun sloppy joes

This sloppy joe tastes so good on the soft bao bun! the meat is spicy and sticky sweet with so many complex flavors.

Bao bun sloppy joes

Even though the ingredient list is kind of long, it’s all stuff I always have in my pantry and it is really easy to put it all together.

Bao bun sloppy joes

Twists on this recipe

If you want to make this vegan, it’s easy to do the same thing with a vegan beef crumble. I also have made it with tofu. You could also just do your favorite American style sloppy joe mixture and serve it on this style of bun.

If you love sloppy joes, check out these honey gochujang sloppy joes, or this thai inspired sloppy sub!

Bao Bun Sloppy Joe

A spicy sweet sloppy joe served on a soft lotus leaf bao bun with cucumbers and slaw
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 963kcal



  • 1.25 pounds ground beef
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 1 jalapeno diced
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons mustard
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons gochujang
  • 1 tablespoon Korean black bean paste
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons worcestershire
  • 1 tablespoon gochugaru
  • 8 lotus leaf bao buns


  • 1 english cucumber sliced thin
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon gochugaru
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste


  • 3 cups slaw mix green and purple cabbage and carrot
  • 2 tablespoons mayo
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds


  • Bring a pan to high heat with a little oil. Add the beef, onion, and jalapeno and stir to combine. Cook until the beef is cooked through and lightly browned.
  • Add in the garlic, ginger, and sesame oil and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Turn heat to low and add in all the remaining beef ingredients except for the buns. Simmer on low for about 20 minutes. Add a splash of water if needed if it gets too dry.
  • Mix all the cucumber ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
  • Mix all the slaw ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
  • Steam or warm the buns according to the package instructions.
  • Serve the buns and top with cucumber, beef, and slaw.


Calories: 963kcal | Carbohydrates: 95g | Protein: 44g | Fat: 49g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 10g | Monounsaturated Fat: 18g | Trans Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 104mg | Sodium: 1587mg | Potassium: 888mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 46g | Vitamin A: 1426IU | Vitamin C: 27mg | Calcium: 422mg | Iron: 9mg


  1. I would eat about 15 of those. My god they look good. Props to your ingenuity. Have you heard of S&B curry powder? That is my favorite spicy brand…

  2. There’s this Vietnamese restaurant near to where I live, and they just added sandwiches like these onto the menu. They’re AWESOME. They’re basically the same as what you’ve made here, but along with the meat they have pate, thin sliced cucumber and carrot, cilantro and fresh jalapenos on them. My favorite is the barbecued pork 🙂

  3. Dan – made this last night, was very happy with it. I dig the asian spice/curry flavor going on, and it’s very quick to make this. I saved some pickles and curry mixture so I could make it again for lunch.

  4. I first saw this recipe on a Atlanta foodie blog. And I have to say bravo sir! This sandwich is amazing, I crave it on a weekly basis. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!

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