The Evolution of Slow-Cooker Tavern Joes

Years ago I came across a recipe for Tavern Joes in an old cookbook designed for Crock Pots. The first time I made it, my guys did not go back for seconds. The recipe called for 16 ounces of dark ale. We aren’t beer drinkers, so the flavor did not win favors. It was more like having hot beer with chunks of ground meat. I ask you, does that sound appealing? Didn’t think so.

Fast forward to the present. Over the years I’ve gotten the recipe out of the reject pile, played around with the ingredients and given it another taste test. We have finally come up with a recipe for Tavern Joes that we enjoy. I needed to keep the beer because these aren’t Sloppy Joes, they are Tavern Joes. It’s the beer that give the sandwiches their pub connection. Barbecue sauce wasn’t part of the original recipe. But as the beer was reduced, something “sloppy” needed to take its place. Barbecue sauce was the logical choice. Now you could use any flavor sauce you like. I happen to stumble upon a Sugar-Free Commercial sauce that is really tasty. As a struggling diabetic, anything that I can find that is diabetic friendly while retaining good flavor is a win.

Oh, and one more thing – when you gather your ingredients, make sure you’ve checked your list twice. As you can see by the photos below, the first time around I forgot the onion. I didn’t notice until the meat was cooking and it was time to start chopping.

Slow-Cooker Tavern Joes
1 1/2 lbs Ground Chuck
1/2 Onion, chopped
1/2 Red Bell Pepper, seeded & chopped
1 Cup Barbecue Sauce
1 Teaspoon Chili Powder
1 Teaspoon Dry Mustard
1/2 Cup Beer
Kosher Salt to taste
Black Pepper to taste
4 Sesame Seed Hamburger Buns
4 slices Sharp Cheddar Cheese, optional

Brown the meat in a large cast iron skillet. Break apart into small pieces as it browns.

Tavern Joes (5)

While the meat is cooking, chop the onion, set aside. Seed and chop red bell pepper, set aside.

Tavern Joes (4)


Once the meat has browned, drain well. Place meat into a crock pot. Add onion and bell pepper. Add beer, barbecue sauce and seasonings.

Mix well. Set crock pot to low, cover and allow to cook for 6 hours covered. During the last hour, uncover and let the mixture thicken.

When ready to serve, toast the buns. Place a slice of cheese on each bottom bun. Spoon Tavern Joe filling over the cheese, then top with the top bun.

Tavern Joes (9)

Author: Rosemarie's Kitchen

I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and avid home cook.I believe in eating healthy whenever possible, while still managing to indulge in life's pleasures.

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