The Best Sloppy Joe Recipe I've Ever Found (2024)

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When it comes to easy homemade dinners, it doesn’t get any better than this easy Sloppy Joe Recipe, a longtime family favorite. This 30-minute meal is perfect for busy weeknights, backyard barbecues, and birthday parties. Of all the sloppy joes I’ve had, this one is the best.

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Homemade Sloppy Joes take me back to the good old days of summer vacations. Every year my mom would make a giant batch of this recipe, freeze it, and stow it in the car during our annual trip to northern Wisconsin. When we got to the cabin, dinner was already made and it was totally kid-friendly. All we had to do was toast up some buns and set the table. Summer meant lots of Sloppy Joe sandwiches, and maybe a little mess, and that was fine by me.

Of course, you can fiddle with the recipe. Make it spicy with some green chilies. Keep out the sugar if you prefer things less sweet, or add some smokiness with a little Barbecue Sauce. Fill it full of hidden veggies, or leave it as-is. Throw in some ground turkey, lamb, or venison. There’s simply no wrong way to make a Sloppy Joe.

Table of Contents

  1. Recipe ingredients
  2. Ingredient notes
  3. Step-by-step instructions
  4. Recipe tips and variations
  5. Frequently Asked Questions
  6. Sloppy Joe Recipe Recipe

Recipe ingredients

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At a Glance: Here is a quick snapshot of what ingredients are in this recipe.
Please see the recipe card below for specific quantities.

Ingredient notes

  • Ground beef: Or substitute ground turkey, ground chicken, or even ground venison.
  • Onion: Finely chopped celery and a green bell pepper are great too!
  • Brown sugar: Even a tablespoon is too much for some people. If you don’t like the sound of brown sugar in your Sloppy Joe, please leave it out!

Step-by-step instructions

  1. In a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat, combine beef and chopped onion. Cook until the meat is mostly browned, about 5 minutes. Drain well.
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  1. Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk together tomato sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire, mustard, and salt and pepper to taste (I like ¼ teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon pepper).
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  1. Pour sauce ingredients over drained beef and stir until evenly coated.
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  1. Simmer the sloppy joe sauce uncovered 20 minutes, stirring occasionally (cover if you prefer a sloppier Sloppy Joe).
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  1. Spoon the sloppy joe mixture into a hamburger bun and devour. For extra flavor, brush the crown of your bun with butter and toast on a griddle. YUM!
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Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This recipe makes 4 to 6 cups of Sloppy Joe meat mixture, enough for 8 heaping sandwiches.
  • Storage: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • Freezer: Cool completely, then add to freezer containers (one big batch or individual portions), label and date, and freeze for up to 4 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
  • No Worcestershire sauce: In a pinch, substitute soy sauce.
  • Barbecue sauce. Your favorite barbecue sauce (or my favorite barbecue sauce, based on Sweet Baby Ray’s) can be added instead of ketchup for a smoky version of a classic Joe.
  • Spices: Dress up your sloppy joes with garlic powder, onion powder, or any other flavors you love. If you want heat, throw in a tbsp of ancho chili powder, a tsp of ground cumin, or a half teaspoon of chipotle powder. Or, splash on your favorite hot sauce. Season with kosher salt to taste.
  • Slow cooker: In a skillet, brown the ground beef. Drain well and add the bottom of a crock pot. Add all the other ingredients (except the buns), cover, and cook onLOW for 6-8 hours, or HIGH for 3-4 hours.
  • Casserole: For a fork-friendly version, try my Sloppy Joe Casserole Recipe.
  • Favorite sides for sloppy joes: Try crispy French fries, crunchy potato chips, coleslaw, baked beans, and pickles.
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Frequently Asked Questions

Is Sloppy joe and Manwich the same thing?

Manwich is a specific food product that is marked as Sloppy Joe filling sold at the grocery store. However, as many commenters will attest, you needn’t open that can of Manwich ever again. This recipe is easy and delicious and miles ahead of Manwich!

How do you dress up sloppy joes?

Add a slice of cheese! The cheese melts over the hot meat and helps it all adhere better to the bun, but that’s just a bonus.

Where were sloppy joes created?

Legend has it that Sloppy Joes were invented in Sioux City, Iowa. In the 1920s, a cook named Joe was working at the Ye Old Tavern Inn. He created his sloppy sandwich filling and named it a “Sloppy Joe.”

More quick dinner ideas

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Sloppy Joe Recipe

By Meggan Hill

When it comes to easy homemade dinners, it doesn’t get any better than this easy Sloppy Joe Recipe, a longtime family favorite.

Prep Time 5 minutes mins

Cook Time 25 minutes mins

Total Time 30 minutes mins

Servings 8 servings

Course Main Course

Cuisine American

Calories 294

5 from 333 votes

ReviewPrint

Ingredients

Instructions

  • In a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, combine beef and onion. Cook until the meat is mostly browned, about 5 minutes. Drain well.

  • Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk together tomato sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire, mustard, and salt and pepper to taste (I like ¼ teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon pepper).

  • Pour sauce ingredients over drained beef and stir until evenly coated. Simmer uncovered 20 minutes, stirring occasionally (cover if you prefer a sloppier Sloppy Joe). Serve in buns.

Recipe Video

Notes

  1. Ground beef: Or substitute ground turkey or venison.
  2. Onion: Finely chopped celery and green peppers are great too!
  3. Brown sugar: Even a tablespoon is too much for some people. If you don’t like the sound of brown sugar in your Sloppy Joe, please leave it out!
  4. Yield: This recipe makes 4 to 6 cups of Sloppy Joe meat mixture, enough for 8 heaping sandwiches.
  5. Storage: Store covered in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 sandwichCalories: 294kcalCarbohydrates: 29gProtein: 14gFat: 13gSaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 40mgSodium: 412mgPotassium: 292mgFiber: 1gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 77IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 92mgIron: 3mg

Did you make this recipe?Tag @culinaryhill on Instagram so we can admire your masterpiece! #culinaryhill

Meggan Hill

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Meggan Hill is a classically-trained chef and professional writer. Her meticulously-tested recipes and detailed tutorials bring confidence and success to home cooks everywhere. Meggan has been featured on NPR, HuffPost, FoxNews, LA Times, and more.

The Best Sloppy Joe Recipe I've Ever Found (2024)
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