Sloppy Joes

Quick Summary

Sloppy Joes- ground beef with a tangy, sweet tomato sauce piled onto toasted hamburger buns. This easy homemade Sloppy Joe recipe is a family favorite meal! Serve for lunch, dinner, or feed a crowd for game day!

sloppy joes on plate with potato chips and cole slaw.

What is a Sloppy Joe?

A sloppy joe is a loose meat sandwich consisting of ground beef, onions, garlic, tomato sauce, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, and other seasonings, traditionally served on a hamburger bun.

The tomato-based sauce is savory, a little tangy, and slightly sweet. All of the flavors come together nicely!

Homemade Sloppy Joes are easy to make and are always a favorite meal. You can serve them up for lunch or dinner. Kids and adults love these messy, saucy sandwiches!

Make sure you serve the sandwiches with plenty of napkins:) They are sloppy, but so delicious! And you can always play the Sloppy Joe song by Adam Sandler while you make and eat the sloppy sandwiches. It’s a funny song:)

sloppy joe ingredients in bowls.

Key Ingredients

  • Olive oil– for sautéing the veggies.
  • Onion– chopped!
  • Red bell pepper– red pepper adds sweetness and I always love adding more veggies!
  • Garlic– fresh garlic adds lots of flavor.
  • Ground beef – you can use ground beef or ground turkey to make sloppy joes. Use whatever you prefer.
  • Tomato paste– to thicken the mixture and to give it a rich tomato flavor.
  • Brown sugar– to sweeten the sloppy joes a little. You can also use pure maple syrup. Adjust the sweetness to your taste.
  • Spices– smoked paprika, chili powder, and crushed red pepper flakes
  • Tomato sauce– to make the sloppy joes saucy!
  • Apple cider vinegar– just a splash to give the mixture a little tang.
  • Yellow mustard– the mustard adds a little tang too!
  • Worcestershire sauce– classic flavor for sloppy joes!
sloppy joe ingredients in skillet.

How to Make Sloppy Joes

  • In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and red pepper and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes or until vegetables are tender.
  • Add the ground beef (or turkey) and season with salt and pepper. Cook until browned, using a wooden spoon to break up the beef or turkey.
  • Stir in the tomato paste, brown sugar, smoked paprika, and chili powder.
  • Stir in the tomato sauce, apple cider vinegar, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring often.
  • Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. You can add more salt and pepper, more brown sugar if you want it a little sweeter, or more chili powder or crushed red pepper flakes, if you want it spicier.

Serving Ideas for Sloppy Joes

Sloppy Joes are traditionally served on hamburger buns or bread. I recommend toasting the buns or bread so the sandwiches don’t get soggy.

If you have leftovers or want to mix things up, here are some other ideas for serving Sloppy Joes.

  • Serve the mixture in a lettuce wrap.
  • Spoon over nachos.
  • Use the mixture as a filling for quesadillas.
  • Use as a topping for baked potatoes.
  • Add some of the mixture to a grilled cheese sandwich.
  • Instead of chili dogs, make sloppy joe dogs!
  • Enjoy with spaghetti squash or pasta.
sloppy joe mixture in skillet with wood spoon.

What Sides to Serve with Sloppy Joes

sloppy joe sandwiches on wood cutting board.

How to Store

Store the leftover sloppy joe mixture in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Reheat in the microwave or in a skillet.

You can also freeze the mixture. Let it cool completely and store in a freezer container or bag. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw and reheat.

FAQ

What is the difference between a sloppy joe and a Manwich?

Manwich is the brand name of a canned sloppy joe sauce you can buy at the grocery store. The can contains seasoned tomato sauce that is added to ground beef cooked in a skillet. Homemade sloppy joes are EASY to make, made with better ingredients, and taste much better:)

Can I use ground turkey instead of ground beef?

Yes, ground turkey works just as well. You can even use ground chicken.

Can I make Sloppy Joes in the slow cooker?

Yes! Brown the beef and then combine all of the ingredients in the slow cooker. Cook on low for 4-6 hours, or high for 2-3 hours. Taste and adjust seasonings.

sloppy joe sandwich on hamburger bun.

More Dinner Recipes

Sloppy Joes

Sloppy Joes- ground beef with a tangy, sweet tomato sauce piled onto toasted hamburger buns. This easy homemade Sloppy Joe recipe is a family favorite meal!
5 from 3 votes

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef (or ground turkey)
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 15 ounces tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Crushed red pepper flakes, optional
  • Toasted hamburger buns, for serving

Instructions
 

  • In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and red pepper and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes or until vegetables are tender.
  • Add the ground beef or turkey and season with salt and pepper. Cook until browned, using a wooden spoon to break up the beef or turkey. Stir in the tomato paste, brown sugar, smoked paprika, and chili powder.
  • Stir in the tomato sauce, apple cider vinegar, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring often.
  • Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. You can add more salt and pepper, more brown sugar if you want it a little sweeter, or more chili powder or crushed red pepper flakes, if you want it spicier.
  • To serve, spoon mixture onto toasted buns. Serve immediately.

Notes

Store leftover sloppy joe mixture in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Freeze the mixture for up to 3 months. Thaw and reheat. 

Nutrition

Calories: 170kcal, Carbohydrates: 10g, Protein: 18g, Fat: 7g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 47mg, Sodium: 437mg, Potassium: 607mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 7g, Vitamin A: 1398IU, Vitamin C: 33mg, Calcium: 31mg, Iron: 3mg
Keywords ground beef, sloppy joes

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Maria

I'm Maria and my husband is Josh. We share a love of cooking, baking, and entertaining. We enjoy creating recipes that are simple, fresh, and family friendly. We love sitting around the table with good food, good conversation, and good friends and family! Our kitchen is always open!
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  1. 5 stars
    I pretty much make your recipes at least 5 out 7 days a week and my family literally cannot wait for dinner time

    There has yet to be one we haven’t rated a 5/5.

    I love that they are real food, balanced and mostly wholesome.

    Thank you!