Slow Cooker Barbecued Beans & Chicken Joes

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This Slow Cooker Barbecued Beans & Chicken Joes recipe is a kid-friendly meal, and one the entire family will enjoy! The sandwich is simple to make and packed with fiber. Barbecued beans are a hit with dieters with special needs because they taste like a treat. But, they’re actually quite healthy. We’ve cleaned up the barbecue sauce in this healthier version, so you can enjoy this classic American treat without being worried about consuming too much sugar or going over your calorie count for the day.

Best of all, these sandwiches taste fantastic! Even if you are not an expert chef, you can whip up a delicious meal for the family any day of the week. They come together quickly on the stovetop, but we like making them the hands-off way in the slow cooker.

A Healthy Twist on an American Classic

When you break it down, a Sloppy Joe is simply a combination of ground beef and tomato sauce, served up on a soft, potato bun. It’s a play off the classic Midwestern sandwich, the loose meat sandwich. They were born out of economy because you could add a lot of ingredients to stretch your ground meat, but they survived to this day because they’re comforting and delicious.

That’s what we love about these Chicken Joes: they taste just like the Sloppy Joe or loose meat sandwich of your childhood. Using lean ground chicken definitely reduces the calorie and fat content of the sandwich. All without sacrificing flavor! Once you add in the sweet flavor of the barbecue sauce and the savory additions of onions and bell peppers, you would never know it’s not ground beef in your sandwich. Add in fiber-rich and full flavored beans, and you’re really in for a treat with these Slow Cooker Barbecued Beans & Chicken Joes!

If you can’t find ground chicken, feel free to swap in ground turkey instead. Any ground meat would work, really, but turkey and chicken have significantly less saturated fat and calories as compared to beef or pork.

Barbecued Beans and Chicken Joes

Barbecued Beans and Chicken Joes

Yields: 6 servings | Serving size: 1 cup & 1 bun | Calories: 315 | Total Fat: 9 | Saturated Fat: 2 | Trans Fat: 0 g | Cholesterol: 80 mg | Sodium: 204 mg | Carbohydrates: 36 g | Dietary Fiber: 5 g | Sugars: 16 g | Protein: 24 g | SmartPoints (Freestyle): 5 |


  • 1 pound lean ground chicken (ground turkey can also be used)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup diced bell pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pinto beans, drained
  • 1 (15 ounce) can Great Northern beans, drained
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar (less to taste)
  • 1/2 cup ketchup (recipe)
  • 6 Whole Wheat Buns, optional gluten-free buns


  1. In a large skillet cook ground chicken and onion over medium heat, breaking up chicken with a fork as it cooks. Cook just until chicken begins to lose its pink color, drain off fat and add to the slow cooker.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Cover, cook on low heat 6 to 8 hours.
  3. Fast Slow Cooker Prep Option: Add uncooked ground chicken to slow cooker, break up with a fork, add remaining ingredients and cook 7-9 hours on low.
  4. Stove Top Method: Cooked ground over medium-high heat, breaking up with a fork as it cooks. Drain off any fat. Add the remaining ingredients and cook for 10 minutes or until heated through.
  5. Serve over wheat buns.

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19 Comments on "Slow Cooker Barbecued Beans & Chicken Joes"

  1. Sandra  August 10, 2012

    Wow!  This sounds great and SO different!  My husband would love this!

  2. Brittany M  August 12, 2012

    Bought all that is needed to make this tonight can't wait!!!

  3. Erin  August 12, 2012

    I'd love to hear your results. I'm making it this week, and I'm worried it'll be too sweet with that much honey. 

  4. Michellepearson0  August 12, 2012

    Favorite recipe and kids too!

  5. Marolyn Komperud  August 14, 2012

    Do you drain and rinse the beans or put the whole can in?

  6. Christie W  October 29, 2012

    I made this tonight for dinner, it was great! I used ground turkey and I did not drain the beans before putting it all together in the crockpot. It was perfect consistency. Yum!

    • Skinny Ms.  October 29, 2012

      Christie, Great! Thanks for letting us know. 🙂

  7. Jean  February 28, 2013

    I need to drain the beans to reduce the sodium content…will the consistency still be ok. Thanks.

    • Skinny Ms.  February 28, 2013

      Jean, Just add a little more more ketchup.

    • SkinnyMs  March 6, 2014

      If using canned beans, drain and rinse the beans before adding. It will be okay, though fresh beans are always a better option when you have the time.

  8. Garden  April 4, 2013

    This is WONDERFUL! I didn't add as much of the sweetener as the recipe called for, and I think the calorie count is off by a good margin, as I didn't get 6 one cup servings from this. But I love it & will definitely be making this again!! Thank you so much for sharing it!

  9. Jessica  January 6, 2016

    I made this using the honey instead of the sugar and also mixed ground turkey with ground chicken. The flavor was good but it turned out runny.

    • Melissa Florero  January 7, 2016

      Jessica, Did you strain out the juices from the ground poultry? That may help. Another idea is to form a slurry with 2 teaspoons cornstarch and 1-1/2 tablespoons water and add it to the sauce and let the sauce come to a boil briefly.

  10. Lori  July 9, 2016

    How many points for the roll by itself in this recipe. I want to use a light roll to bring the points down.


  11. Amma  May 8, 2019

    Is there other sweeteners that will work besides coconut sugar?

    • Gale Compton  May 8, 2019

      Amma, Sure! Try maple syrup or honey.

      • Courtney P  December 3, 2019

        Do you use the same amount syrup or honey as a substitute?

        • Nichole Furlong  December 5, 2019

          A little bit less – about 3 tablespoons should be just enough.


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