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When it comes to comfort food for hunters, slow cooker venison sloppy joes are often one of the first dishes that comes to mind. Now don’t get me wrong, what some folks refer to as a traditional sloppy joe or "Manwich", that's usually made with ground meat and that delicious mystery sauce from a can is something that I’ll always cherish. But when I can improve a dish by using brighter and bolder flavors, I’m going to run with it. And by using whole muscles like venison shoulders, you can slow cook the meat for hours and achieve even greater depths of flavor. I personally don’t grind a lot of my venison, so it's all the easier to skip the grinding process and utilize the braising or slow cooking instead.

Venison Sloppy Joe


  • Taking Shortcuts: If you're short on time or just don't want to expend the energy to sear the meat or cook the vegetables before placing them in your crock pot, that is perfectly fine. You'll be missing out on a little of the flavor goodness, but this recipe will still be delicious.

  • Other Cuts of Venison:  If you don't have deer shoulders, boneless venison neck, or venison shanks that have been into disks (like for venison osso buco) or de-boned work well.

  • Can you Use Beef for this Recipe? You can absolutely use beef in place of the venison. Boneless chuck works great and most red meats that are labeled as "stew meat".

  • How Long is Sloppy Joe Good For?  Properly stored in a container with a tight-fitting lid, sloppy joe will last in the fridge for around 4 to 5 days. This is one of those dishes that gets better the next day.

  • Can you Freeze Leftovers?  You can definitely freeze the leftovers. If stored properly, this will keep well frozen for a couple of months.

  • Is this Sloppy Joe Recipe Gluten Free? If you use a gluten free wine and ketchup, this recipe will be gluten free.

  • Like Thicker Sloppy Joes? After the meat is fork tender, you can remove the meat from the sauce and then reduce the sauce to a thicker consistency. Add the meat back to the sauce and stir to combine. 

  • Serving Ideas: If you’re wanting to try something a little outside of the box, try stuffing this mixture inside of pie dough and baking them. I like to serve these “hand pies” with a creamy American cheese sauce (photo below).

Venison Sloppy Joes
Venison Sloppy Joe Hand Pie and Sandwich with Homemade American Cheese Sauce

Serves: 6 to 8



  1. Preheat your slow cooker on the low setting.

  2. In a large heavy-bottomed skillet, add the olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Season the venison with kosher salt to your liking. When the oil is hot and starts to shimmer, add the venison. Working in batches if necessary, so that you can achieve a crust on the meat. Remove the meat from the pan and place it in the crockpot, all while reserving the oil in the pan.

  3. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions and garlic. If the pan looks a little dry, add more olive oil as needed. Cook the onions and garlic for around 2 minutes while stirring. Add the chili powder, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, allspice, paprika, dried thyme and tomato paste. Cook while stirring for 1 minute.

  4. Deglaze the pan by adding around one cup of the red wine. Stir with a sturdy spoon or spatula while scraping up any brown bits in the pan. This will take around one minute. Pour this mixture over the venison that is in your slow cooker.

  5. Add the remaining red wine, tomatoes, vinegar, mustard, ketchup and sugar to the slow cooker.

  6. Cover with the lid cook on the low setting for around 7 to 8 hours or until tender.

Looking for other slow cooker venison recipes? These are a few of my favorites:

Lastly, if you make this Ultimate Slow Cooker Venison Sloppy Joe Recipe, be sure to leave a comment or tag me on Instagram! I thoroughly enjoy hearing feedback and checking out the photos of recipes that you've made.


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Meet Larry White

Chef Larry White

Hey folks, I'm Larry. The recipes you'll find here are inspired by my years as a chef, travels as a hunter, and being a father. I cook from these experiences, so my food ranges anywhere from fun and creative to traditional and to what somewhat family style comfort food.     

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