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Homemade Sloppy Joes

Sloppy Joes are a family favorite and bring many of us back to our childhood. These classic sloppy joes are so comforting with all the flavors of ground beef, onions, peppers and a sweet tomato-based sauce.

white plate with homemade sloppy joes recipe on toasted bun

Homemade Sloppy Joes Recipe

This simple recipe will please the entire family and have them coming back for more.

Trust me, this easy sloppy joe recipe is so much better than the canned sauce and nearly as simple to put together. Homemade is always better, right?

This will easily become one of your favorite recipes and a go-to for a quick, satisfying dish.

Looking for side dishes to make it a full meal? Check out these Sloppy Joe Side Dishes for some great ideas.

This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Read my disclosure policy here.
labeled picture of ingredients for traditional sloppy joes

Ingredients Needed

Ground Beef – Ground turkey also works beautifully in this recipe for a lighter, healthier version.

Onion – You can use white, yellow or red onion. You can find pre-diced onions in the produce or frozen section of your supermarket.

Bell Pepper – Green bell pepper is best in sloppy joes or substitute a medley of green and red bell pepper.

Ketchup – Use your favorite brand. I like a low sodium version to eliminate extra salt.

Tomato Paste – You can buy tomato paste in a can or a tube. The tube packaging lasts much longer in the fridge.

Yellow Mustard – You can substitute dijon mustard for a little more spice.

Apple Cider Vinegar – You can use red wine vinegar instead.

Brown Sugar – I use dark brown sugar but light brown or white sugar will also work. This adds a subtle bit of sweetness to the sloppy joe mixture.

Garlic Powder – You can use 3-4 cloves of fresh minced garlic if you prefer.

Hamburger Buns – Use your favorite brand. Slider buns are fun for the kids:)

Pantry Staples – Salt

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How to Make Easy Sloppy Joes

First: In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the ground meat with the onion and green pepper. If desired, you can use a tablespoon of olive oil or vegetable oil.

Cook until the beef is browned and drain off any excess fat. Add in ketchup, brown sugar, seasonings, and remaining ingredients. Stir to combine well.

Second: Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon to avoid sticking or burning.

Third: Serve the sloppy joe mixture on a toasted hamburger bun or brioche bun. Enjoy!

For the full recipe and detailed baking instructions, please see the recipe card at the end of this post.

open faced sandwich on a white plate with potato chips

What is a sloppy joe?

A traditional sloppy joe is a loose meat sandwich consisting of ground beef and onions stewed in tomato sauce, ketchup, and other seasonings and often served on a hamburger bun.

There are a couple of theories of how the sandwich originated. Some say it was created in Cuba, while others think its origins are in the United States, invented by a cook named Joe in Sioux City, Iowa in the 1930’s.

Can I make sloppy joes in the slow cooker?

This recipe works really well in the slow cooker. After browning the beef and onions, put all ingredients in the crock pot, add a little water (2-3 tablespoons) and cook on high for 2-3 hours or on low for 3-4 hours.

What should I serve with Sloppy Joes?

Of course you can serve favorites such as a side salad, french fries, potato chips, or tater tots, but I’ve got you covered.

close up of side of sandwich with ground beef and bbq sauce in it

Tips for No Leftovers

  • The best sloppy joes use 80/20 but if you use lean ground beef you can skip the step of draining the excess fat.
  • Want to really up the ante on your sloppy joe sandwich? Serve your sloppy joe meat mixture between 2 pieces of toasted bun, garlic bread, or Texas toast. Delicious!
  • Like a little more spice? You can add a pinch of red pepper flakes, black pepper, chili powder or cayenne pepper. A splash of Worcestershire sauce is always good too.
  • Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days in an airtight container.
  • Sloppy Joes can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight and reheat as usual before serving.
  • This is a great prep ahead freezer meal. After preparing the sloppy joe filling, cool to room temperature and store in an airtight container or freezer bag.
  • Double your recipe and have one batch tonight and freeze a batch for an easy dinner later.

If you love this recipe as much as I do, please write a five-star review in the comment section below (or on Pinterest with the “tried it” button – you can now add pictures into reviews, too!), and be sure to help me share on facebook!

sloppy joe sandwich on a plate with white banner and text

This Homemade Sloppy Joes Recipe will be a big hit for a crowd or a casual dinner for the family. Dig in and make sure you have plenty of napkins for this one!

sloppy joes sandwich on a white plate with chips

Sloppy Joes

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Sloppy Joes are a family favorite and bring many of us back to our childhood. These classic sloppy joes are so comforting with all the flavors of ground beef, onions, peppers and a sweet tomato-based sauce.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 small sweet onion (diced)
  • 1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
  • 2/3 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Instructions

  1. In a skillet over medium heat, brown the ground beef with green pepper and onions. Cook until the beef is no longer pink. Drain off any excess fat.
  2. Add in ketchup, tomato paste, mustard, and apple cider vinegar. Stir; then add in the brown sugar, salt, and garlic powder. Stir to combine well.
  3. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally to avoid sticking.
  4. Serve on buns or your favorite way to enjoy them!

Notes

  • The best sloppy joes use 80/20 but if you use lean ground beef you can skip the step of draining the excess fat.
  • Want to really up the ante on your sloppy joe sandwich? Serve your sloppy joe meat mixture between 2 pieces of garlic bread or Texas toast. Delicious!
  • Like a little more spice? You can add a pinch of red pepper flakes, black pepper, chili powder or cayenne pepper. A splash of Worcestershire sauce is always good too.
  • Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days in an airtight container.
  • Sloppy Joes can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight and reheat as usual before serving.
  • This is a great prep ahead freezer meal. After preparing the sloppy joe filling, cool to room temperature and store in an airtight container or freezer bag.
  • Double your recipe and have one batch tonight and freeze a batch for an easy dinner later.

Recommended Products

This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Read my disclosure policy here.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 346Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 101mgSodium: 1044mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 1gSugar: 15gProtein: 34g

This nutrition information was generated via a third party, Nutritionix, and we can not be held liable for any discrepancies in the information provided.

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