Kid-friendly Backyard BBQ Mushroom Sloppy Joe Skillet Sliders + Mama's Fried Potatoes + Simple Lemonade Recipe - Sticky Fingers Cooking
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Family Meal Plan: Backyard BBQ Mushroom Sloppy Joe Skillet Sliders + Mama's American Fried Potatoes + Refreshingly Simple Lemonade

Family Meal Plan: Backyard BBQ Mushroom Sloppy Joe Skillet Sliders + Mama's Fried Potatoes + Simple Lemonade

Backyard BBQ Mushroom Sloppy Joe Skillet Sliders + Mama's American Fried Potatoes + Refreshingly Simple Lemonade

by Dylan Sabuco
Photo by Maryia/Adobe Stock
prep time
25 minutes
cook time
25 minutes
4-6 servings

Fun Food Story

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Backyard BBQ Mushroom Sloppy Joe Skillet Sliders

When you think of Sloppy Joe's, what comes to mind? Parties? Picnics? BBQs? Summer Camp? It's no surprise that this classic American comfort food is a favorite at large, casual gatherings. Sloppy Joes are quick and easy to scale up, so they're ideal for feeding a crowd.  

This meatless version of the American classic is just as delicious as the original. This version relies on the "meatiness" of mushrooms which are chopped into small, virtually unidentifiable bits and coated in a sweet and tangy tomato sauce. It's a convincing substitute for meat that even the veggie-wary will enjoy. 

So next time you're feeding a crowd, consider putting Sloppy Joes on the menu. Just be sure to have plenty of napkins on hand because, just as their name suggests, Sloppy Joes are delightfully messy!

Happy & Healthy Cooking,

Chef Erin, Food-Geek-in-Chief

Shopping List

  • 12 small mushrooms (you choose the type—button mushrooms are my favorite)
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 medium russet potatoes
  • 5 green onions
  • 2 lemons
  • 6 to 12 buns (choose 6 large or 12 small—the style is your choice) **(see allergy subs below)**
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp mild chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground mustard
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 3 T vegetable oil
  • 3/4 C sugar
  • 4 1/4 C water
  • ice (optional)

Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills

  • chop :

    to cut something into small, rough pieces using a blade.

  • dice :

    to cut foods into small pieces of equal size so that the food is cooked evenly or looks uniform and pleasant when used in the recipe.

  • fry :

    to fry in a pan in a small amount of fat.

  • measure :

    to calculate the specific amount of an ingredient required using a measuring tool (like measuring cups or spoons).

  • mix :

    to thoroughly combine two or more ingredients until uniform in texture.

  • sauté :

    to cook or brown food in a pan containing a small quantity of butter, oil, or other fat.

  • squeeze :

    to firmly press or twist a food with fingers, hands, or a device to remove its liquid, like shredded potatoes, frozen and thawed spinach, or tofu.

  • stir :

    to mix together two or more ingredients with a spoon or spatula, usually in a circle pattern, or figure eight, or in whatever direction you like!

Equipment Checklist

  • Large skillet
  • Cutting board + kid-safe knife
  • Medium mixing bowl
  • Measuring spoons
  • Wooden spoon or heat-resistant spatula
  • Pitcher
  • Citrus juicer (optional)
  • Dry measuring cups
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Wooden spoon
  • Grater


Backyard BBQ Mushroom Sloppy Joe Skillet Sliders

  • 6 to 12 buns (choose 6 large or 12 small—the style is your choice) **(for GLUTEN ALLERGY sub gluten-free/nut-free buns)**
  • 12 small mushrooms (you choose the type—button mushrooms are my favorite)
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 green onions
  • 1 tsp ground mustard
  • 1/2 tsp mild chili powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 pinch sugar
  • 1 T vegetable oil
  • 1/4 C water

Mama's American Fried Potatoes

  • 2 medium russet potatoes
  • 3 green onions
  • 1 tsp ground mustard
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper
  • 2 T vegetable oil

Refreshingly Simple Lemonade

  • 2 lemons
  • 3/4 C sugar
  • 4 C cold water
  • ice (optional)

Food Allergen Substitutions

Backyard BBQ Mushroom Sloppy Joe Skillet Sliders

  • Gluten/Wheat: Substitute gluten-free/nut-free buns.


Backyard BBQ Mushroom Sloppy Joe Skillet Sliders


If you haven’t tried a sloppy joe before, you have been missing out on an American classic. A theory is that it was based on the "loose meat sandwiches" produced in the 1930s in Sioux City, Iowa, by a cook named Joe. Traditionally, this sandwich is made with a combination of seasoned ground meat and spiced tomato sauce, squished between a hamburger bun. For our Sticky Fingers Cooking version, you will follow the standard formula for a sloppy joe but replace the ground meat with finely chopped mushrooms. You are sure to enjoy these Backyard BBQ Mushroom Sloppy Joe Skillet Sliders as much as the original.

chop + measure

Start by chopping 12 small mushrooms and 2 green onions as small as possible. Next, grate 2 carrots. Combine all the vegetables in a mixing bowl with 2 tablespoons tomato paste, 1 teaspoon ground mustard, 1/2 teaspoon mild chili powder,1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1 pinch of sugar, and 1 tablespoon vegetable oil.

sauté + simmer

Add the entire mixture to a large skillet and place over medium heat. The mixture will sauté and sizzle for about 5 minutes. Then, add 1/4 cup water and simmer the mixture for 10 minutes on low heat.

taste + adjust

Be sure to taste the Sloppy Joe mixture periodically throughout the cooking process. That way you can add salt or seasonings to add some flavor, or you could add a little extra water if the mixture is too flavorful for your liking.

slice + serve

After the Sloppy Joe mixture is fully cooked and fully flavored, slice your buns (if you need to) and scoop roughly 1/3 cup of the Sloppy Joe mixture onto all the buns. Eat and enjoy and be sure to bring a napkin for these tasty summer treats, and don’t forget to thank our friend Joe for creating this tasty dish!

Mama's American Fried Potatoes

chop + measure

Start by chopping 3 green onions and 2 medium russet potatoes into a small dice. Place the green onions and potatoes in a mixing bowl.

season + mix

Measure and add 1 teaspoon ground mustard, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 pinch of black pepper, and 2 tablespoons vegetable oil to the bowl. Mix all of the ingredients with a wooden spoon.

sauté + serve

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, pour in all the ingredients from your mixing bowl. The mixture will sauté until golden brown or for about 10 minutes. Stir as frequently as your heart desires. After the potatoes become golden brown, remove them from the skillet and serve.

Refreshingly Simple Lemonade

cut + squeeze

Cut 2 lemons in half. Next, squeeze all the juice into a pitcher using a juicer or by hand, making a cup with one hand to catch all the seeds that fall from the lemon while squeezing the juice out.

measure + mix

Measure 3/4 cup sugar and pour that into the pitcher. Start mixing until all the sugar is dissolved. Then, measure and mix in 4 cups of cold water.

pour + gulp

Pour this tasty and simple lemonade over ice before you gulp down a tall, refreshing glass.

Surprise Ingredient: Mushrooms!

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Photo by Africa Studio/

Hi! I'm Toady! I'm a Mushroom!

“I'm also a fun guy! Get it? Fun guy—fungi? I'm good in salads, sandwiches, soups, stews, on pizza, with pasta, and stuffed with other yummy foods. Plus, you can cook and use me in recipes just like you would meat!"


  • The first mushrooms were thought to be cultivated in Southeast Asia, but it is not known why for sure. Perhaps someone discovered that mushrooms grew by accident and sought out a growing method.
  • All mushrooms are fungi, but not all fungi are mushrooms! There are an estimated 1.5 to 2 million species of fungi on planet Earth, of which only 80,000 have been properly identified. There are over 250 kinds of mushrooms that people eat.
  • Mushrooms are a kind of fungus that look like umbrellas! They grow in places like yards, forests, fields, and gardens. 
  • What is a fungus? It's a kind of living organism that is different from plants. In fact, mushrooms are more like humans than plants! 
  • Fungi walls are made of a fibrous substance called "chitin," rather than cellulose, like plants. Also, plants produce their own energy from the sun from photosynthesis, but mushrooms and other fungi don't need the sun for energy!
  • Many fungi eat by breaking down dead plants. However, other fungi feast on dead animals, bird droppings, manure, wallpaper paste, fruit, and living animals. So fungi are like nature's cleanup crew!
  • The yeast that makes bread rise is a type of fungi.
  • Mushrooms are sometimes called Toadstools! Can you picture a toad sitting on top of a giant mushroom?
  • Some mushrooms are good to eat, like portobellos, crimini, and shiitakes, while others are extremely poisonous. Never eat a mushroom you find growing outside unless you are with a mushroom expert!
  • The Honey Mushroom in the Blue Mountains of Oregon is the world's largest living thing. It is actually a mushroom colony and is believed to be at least 2,000 years old! It covers almost four square miles!
  • Some mushrooms live entirely underwater.
  • In the Amazon rainforest, mushrooms release spores into the air, which creates the surface for water to condense and can trigger rain. The rain then causes more fungi to grow.
  • Before the invention of colorful synthetic dyes, people used mushrooms for dyeing wool and other natural fibers.
  • Greek warriors ate mushrooms to increase their strength before battle.
  • Mushrooms are one of the vegetable world's substitutes for meat. 

Anatomy & Etymology

  • The largest mushroom you'll find in most grocery stores is the portobello. It is the fully grown version of the Agaricus Bisporus species and has a large, brown cap. Smaller, immature mushrooms may be brown, like the cremini, or white, like the button.  
  • Mushrooms contain more than 90 percent water!
  • Some mushrooms glow in the dark! They produce light through a process called bioluminescence. People used to carry these in ancient times to light their way through the forest. 
  • Mushrooms can grow super fast. Once they break through the surface of whatever they're growing on, they can double their size in just one day.
  • The word "mushroom" comes from late Middle English for any fungus with a fleshy and fruiting body. It is derived from the Old French "mousseron," from the late Latin "mussirio."

How to Pick, Buy, & Eat

  • Wild mushrooms can be found in many wooded areas. If you choose to harvest wild mushrooms, make certain you have a professional identify your pick. Many mushrooms may resemble safe mushrooms but are actually poisonous!
  • Buy mushrooms with whole, intact caps, and be sure they are not wet or slimy!
  • They will smell strong, sweet, and earthy when fresh. 
  • Rinse mushrooms before you slice or cut them. Whole mushrooms won't absorb much water, while cut mushrooms will. Wait to rinse mushrooms until right before you cook them; otherwise, they'll turn slimy.
  • Mushrooms can be broiled, sautéed, and grilled. Mushrooms can be chopped or sliced and added to other dishes. Portobello caps are large enough to eat like a hamburger on a bun!
  • The mushroom cap is most often the part that is cooked and eaten. The stem can be fibrous and woody but will add flavor to vegetable or meat stock.
  • Mushrooms pair well with balsamic vinegar, fresh herbs (like oregano, rosemary, thyme, and cilantro), marinara, spinach, leafy greens, tomatoes, goat cheese, mozzarella, cream-based sauces, garlic, and onions.
  • Store mushrooms in a partially closed resealable plastic bag to ensure air circulation without drying out the mushrooms.


  • Mushrooms are low in calories and are an excellent source of B vitamins. These vitamins are needed for healthy cell and brain function, and they help prevent cancer and stress.
  • Even though mushrooms don't use the sun for energy, they use it to produce vitamin D, just like humans do! Vitamin D is essential to our bones! It keeps them strong and regenerating. 
  • Mushrooms have essential minerals such as selenium, copper, phosphorus, zinc, and potassium. Copper helps the body build red blood cells and is necessary for the health of our bones. Selenium is an antioxidant that may decrease cancer risk. 
  • Mushrooms have been used successfully in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years to treat many health conditions. Western medicine is finally beginning to recognize and utilize some of the medicine mushrooms naturally contain.


History of the Sloppy Joe Sandwich!

Photo by myviewpoint/Adobe Stock
  • A Sloppy Joe sandwich typically consists of browned ground beef mixed with a tomato-based sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and spices and served on a hamburger bun. 
  • There are a few theories about when and where it originated. One story has the sandwich created in Havana, Cuba, in 1917, and American tourists bringing it to the US, along with the creator's nickname, around 1937. Another theory is that it was based on the "loose meat sandwiches" produced in the 1930s in Sioux City, Iowa, by a cook named Joe. 
  • American cookbooks in the mid-1900s included recipes for similar sandwiches with names like "chopped meat sandwiches" and "Spanish hamburgers." Food companies started selling canned versions of Sloppy Joe sauce in the 1960s. 
  • We hope you enjoy our delicious Sticky Fingers Cooking version, Backyard BBQ Mushroom Sloppy Joe Skillet Sliders, which are full of vitamins and minerals, replacing ground beef with mushrooms and carrots.

Let's Learn About Iowa!

Photo by Jason/Adobe Stock
  • Iowa is a state in the upper Midwest region of the United States. It is the 29th state, joining the union in 1846. It is bordered on the north by Minnesota, the south by Missouri, the west by Nebraska and South Dakota, and the east by Illinois and Wisconsin. 
  • Iowa was part of the Louisiana Purchase and used to be part of French and Spanish Louisiana. Its state flag is similar to the blue, white, and red French flag except for an eagle in the wider center white stripe with blue streamers andntye state motto in its mouth and Iowa printed in red below. The motto is "Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain."
  • The name "Iowa" comes from the Ioway people, part of the Sioux Nation who inhabited the area. Iowa's nickname, the "Hawkeye State," came about in the 1930s partly because of the popularity of the character "Hawkeye" (Natty Bumppo) in James Fenimore Cooper's novel, "The Last of the Mohicans," and partly to commemorate the Native American chief, "Black Hawk."
  • Des Moines (pronounced duh-moyn) is the capital of Iowa and its largest city. Iowa's total land area is 55,875 square miles, with a population of over 3 million. That makes it 23rd in land area and 31st in population compared to other US states and territories.
  • The state lies in the Corn Belt, an area in the Midwest where corn production has dominated the agricultural economy since the 1850s. Iowa is the top corn producer in the United States, and about 90 percent of its land is devoted to agriculture. 
  • Iowa has expanded its economy to include meat and poultry processing, manufacturing, financial services, green energy production, and information technology.
  • Four rivers border Iowa: the Mississippi River on the east, the Missouri River and Big Sioux River on the west, and the Des Moines River on the south. Carter Lake is the only Iowa city west of the Missouri River.
  • Iowa has its own "Great Lakes," also called the "Okoboji." They consist of seven natural lakes in northwestern Iowa, with the largest of the three major ones, Spirit Lake, totaling 5,684 acres. The other two are West Okoboji Lake and East Okoboji Lake.
  • The state's topography is mostly rolling hills and some flat plains. Hawkeye Point, in northwest Iowa, is the highest point at 1,670 feet elevation.
  • Iowa experiences all four seasons and has cold, snowy winters and hot, humid summers. Spring and summer bring frequent rainfall and thunderstorms, and sometimes tornadoes. 
  • A popular attraction in northeast Iowa is Pikes Peak State Park. It is named for Zebulon Pike, who visited the area in 1805. (Pikes Peak in Colorado is also named for the American explorer.) The park features a 500-foot bluff with a view of the upper Mississippi River near the Wisconsin border. Families enjoy hiking, camping, and touring the Native American burial or ceremonial mounds—many look like animals—at the Effigy Mounds National Monument a few miles north of the park.
  • The Iowa State Fair is an annual summer event enjoyed by well over a million visitors each year. It is one of the country's largest and most famous state fairs. It is known for its "butter cow," a life-size cow sculpted out of butter yearly for the fair, and other butter sculpture, like Elvis Presley and Leonardo DaVinci's "The Last Supper." The agricultural and food competitions are also very popular.
  • Some of the foods Iowa is known for (besides corn!) include Maid-Rite (loose-meat) sandwiches, similar to Sloppy Joes but without tomato sauce. Another Iowan dish created in a restaurant in Des Moines is Steak de Burgo, made of beef tenderloin. Taco pizza is said to have originated at a pizza parlor in Davenport, Iowa. 
  • A couple of the state's favorite sweet snacks are "scotcheroos" and "puppy chow," also known as "muddie buddies." Scotcheroos are dessert bars that include Rice Krispies, peanut butter, chocolate chips, and butterscotch chips. Puppy chow is a homemade candy made of cereal (often Chex cereal), melted chocolate, peanut butter, and powdered sugar.

THYME for a Laugh

Did you hear the joke about the fungus? 

I could tell it to you, but it might need time to grow on you.

The Yolk's On You

What did the carrot say to the rabbit? 

"Do you want to grab a bite?"

THYME for a Laugh

Why did the lemon have no friends? 

Because she was a sour-puss!

THYME for a Laugh

What do you call a potato that is reluctant to jump into boiling water? 

Hez A Tator

The Yolk's On You

What do you give an injured lemon?


That's Berry Funny

Why do potatoes make good detectives? 

Because they keep their eyes peeled.

That's Berry Funny

Why did the Mushroom get invited to all the parties? 

Because he's a fungi! (fun guy)

THYME for a Laugh

What do you say to an angry potato? 

Anything, just butter him up first.

THYME for a Laugh

What do you call a baby potato? 

A small fry!

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