Cider and Sloppy Joes

I try to showcase how hard cider can pair with anything: seafood, pizza, vegetarian, spicy, and even dessert. However, sometimes you just want a nice hearty meal. Something that warms you not just from the food but from the memories or emotions. For me, that is food like macaroni and cheese and hamburgers but it can also be something new that evokes those same feelings. My wife’s recent Sloppy Joes dinner is a great example. Hearty and reminiscent of more carefree times, I wanted a hard cider that would provide that same vibe.

Sloppy Joes sandwich is of American origin from the 1930s. Specially, some say it is tied to Sioux City, Iowa. But, it appears to have been known by a variety of names in different regions. Growing up, we often called it Spanish Hamburger. Others called it a chopped meat sandwich or loose meat sandwich. Spanish Hamburger is now probably considered politically incorrect and chopped meat or loose meat sounds slightly perverted so I’m sticking with Sloppy Joes. It’s basically ground hamburger, pork, or turkey in a slightly sweet or hot red sauce. We also had some homemade creamed corn and apple sauce but we started with a great roasted beet and walnut salad. I also paired it with my Bitter Orange hard cider. Here’s what it looked like.

  • Roasted Beet and Walnut Salad
  • Sloppy Joes: Cream Corn, Apple Sauce, and Hard Cider

Let’s check out the salad before we tackle the Sloppy Joes and hard cider.

Roasted Beet & Walnut Salad

Roasted Beet and Walnut Salad
Roasted Beet and Walnut Salad

Servings: 4 Serving

Salad Ingredients:

6-7 Cups Spinach
3 Medium Golden Beets, roasted with olive oil, salt, and pepper
1/2 Cup Walnuts, Roasted
1 Medium Avocado, Diced
4 Ounces Goat Cheese, Crumbled
Fresh Ground Pepper

Dressing Ingredients

  • 1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/4 Cup Honey
  • 6 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 3/4 Tsp Salt


  • Place the cubed beets on an aluminum foil lined cookie sheet, brush with olive oil, and then salt and pepper. Roast 20 minutes at 400F or until tender. Ideally, this is done ahead of time and the beets are chilled in the refrigerator.
  • Toast walnuts by placing them in a dry skillet over medium-low heat. Toss or stir them until fragrant, 6-8 minutes. Let cool. Again, this can be done ahead of time.
  • Prepare the dressing by whisking all the ingredients and set aside.
  • In an extra large mixing bowl, toss the spinach, beets, walnuts, and avocado with the dressing.
  • Place in serving bowls, add crumbles of goat cheese and serve and fresh ground pepper.

Southwest Sloppy Joes

Sloppy Joes
Sloppy Joes

Servings: 6-8 Servings


2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 1/2 Pounds Pork, Ground
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1 Tsp Allspice, Ground
2 Tsp Coriander, Ground
1/2 Tsp Salt
1/4 Tsp Pepper, Fresh Ground
2 Tsp Paprika, Smoked
1 Tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 Lime, Zested and Juiced
1 Cup Chicken Broth
1 Cup Tomato Sauce

6-8 Sourdough Cider Buns (See my recipe for bread)
12-16 Slices of Pepper-jack Cheese
24-32 Candied Jalapeño Slices


  • Cook the oil and pork for 5-7 minutes on medium-high heat until browned in a large skillet or chicken fryer. Use a spatula to keep meat crumbled.
  • Reduce the heat and add the minced garlic, brown sugar, allspice, coriander, salt, pepper, paprika, Worcestershire, lime zest, and lime juice. Cook for 3 minutes stirring constantly to mix the ingredients.
  • Add the tomato sauce and chicken broth and cook for about 6 minutes stirring constantly. This should reduce and start to thicken.
  • We served this as an open-faced sandwich. Split the bun, scoop the sloppy Joes onto each side, top with pepper-jack cheese and candied jalapeño slices.

Bitter Orange

Bitter Orange hard cider combines two of my favorite adjuncts: citrus and hops. You can find the recipe here. While the orange and hops add aroma they also add bitter. Tannins and the bitter flavors they provide are always a challenge for me as I can’t find a lot of cider or high tannins apples in Arizona. Therefore, I am always trying to pull tannins and bitters into my hard ciders through other fruits and adjuncts. For this cider, the carbonation is targeted at 2.25 volumes CO2, which should give it enough to tickle your tongue and help release the orange and hops aromas.

If you don’t want to make your own hard cider, you can always pair it with some from your local wine, bottle, or liquor store. For alternatives, I picked ciders with a either a good tannins base or adjuncts that will have some nice bitters. If you find other hard ciders that work well, please post them!

The Alternatives:

Habanero by Finnriver

Habanero By Finnriver
Habanero By Finnriver

Brut Cidre by Le Brun

Le Brun Brut Cidre (Hard Cider)
Le Brun Brut Cidre (Hard Cider)

Guava by ACE

Guava by ACE
Guava by ACE

Courtney’s by Whimple Orchards

Courtney’s Whimple Orchard Hard Cider
Courtney’s Whimple Orchard Hard Cider

Black Currant by Finnriver

Black Currant Hard Cider By Finnriver
Black Currant Hard Cider By Finnriver

Did you enjoy this article? Follow me so you can get more ideas on pairing hard ciders with food as well as ideas and tips for making and experiencing hard cider. Also, if you want to learn more about making hard cider, get my book. It covers all things hard cider as well as food and cider pairings like above.

It’s that easy. No, I won’t sell your email or blitz you with a bunch of request to buy things. You will simply get a link to my articles and an easy method to communicate with me if you have questions or need help with a batch of cider. Thanks for reading, stay safe, enjoy cider!

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