Italian Sloppy Joes are a delightful twist on the classic Sloppy Joes and come together fast. Dinner is on the table in half an hour and everybody is happy!
Comfort food isn’t just about hearty, tasty, feel-good ingredients; it’s about ease and convenience. Luckily this Italian Sloppy Joes recipe has every element of good old fashioned comfort food. Traditional Sloppy Joe ingredients meet Italian flavors to create a meal that sticks to your ribs and comes together in just about half an hour. We serve them with potato chips or french fries and a side of fruit. Kids love this meal!
These were amazing and loved by the whole family.
How to Make Italian Sloppy Joes
Here is a brief overview of how this homemade Sloppy Joes recipe comes together. It is easy and delicious! For the full recipe including all measurements, scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of the post.
- Brown the beef. Cook the meat, breaking it up, until the meat just starts to brown.
- Add in the vegetables. Add the bell pepper, onion, and garlic and saute until they soften. Because we are using a lower fat content meat, you shouldn’t need to drain it at the end.
- Make the sauce. Add in the tomato sauce, oregano, basil, salt, and a dash of pepper. Allow the sauce to simmer for 15 minutes. At the end, taste it, and add more salt and pepper as needed. If the canned tomatoes were especially acidic, you may want to add just a pinch of brown sugar to the mix.
- Build the sandwiches. Put the bottom halves of the hamburger buns on a baking sheet. Top with sloppy joe mix and cheese.
- Bake. Place in the oven, under the broiler for a few minutes until the cheese is melted. Watch the sandwiches closely to ensure they do not burn. Remove from the oven, top with the tops of the buns, and serve.
What Makes These Sloppy Joes “Italian”
This recipe is made with simple ingredients you probably already have in your pantry. Basil, garlic, and oregano give this recipe that Italian flavor that we all love so much. Pair that with bell peppers, onions, tomato, and ground beef. And cheese. Oh yes, the cheese! I mean, Sloppy Joes are good but melty mozzarella cheese turns them from an ordinary recipe to an Italian feast!
If you want to cut out one bit of measuring, you could swap the basil and oregano for a heaping tablespoon of our Italian Seasoning Mix. It would be delicious in this.
Using Ground Turkey or Italian Sausage
My family often prefers ground turkey to ground beef. If your family is the same, that is an easy swap to make in this recipe. If you are using a low fat content turkey (such as 93 percent or lower), you may want to add a little bit of olive oil to your pan before you start browning the meat.
This recipe would also be amazing with Italian Sausage. It can often yield more grease than the ground beef we are using here, so you may need to drain the fat off after sautéing the vegetables.
This recipe calls for shredded mozzarella cheese. While it is a bit of a time saver to use slices of mozzarella, you should know that freshly shredded cheese melts much better. That is because when cheese is prepared as slices and shreds to be sold, it is coated in a preservative that keeps it from melting well.
Adding Sugar and Honey
As yo know from my homemade spaghetti sauce, sometimes canned tomatoes can make a dish really acidic to the taste. This is less about pH balance and more about what it does on your tongue. This is why brown sugar is such a common ingredient in Sloppy Joes. At the end of the simmering time, taste the recipe. If you can taste that touch of bitterness, just add a little brown sugar or honey. If you do it right, it will eliminate the bitterness without making the Sloppy Joes taste sweet.
Tips and Tricks
- One pot supper. All you need is a good knife to do some dicing and measuring spoons for your spices, and it all comes together in one pan! Nothing complicated or confusing here.
- Use ground turkey or pork. I like using low fat ground beef but, as mentioned above, you could easily swap other types of ground meats for a different flavor, or a combination of meats.
- Change up your cheese. If you don’t have any mozzarella on hand, try melting provolone, Monterrey Jack, or white cheddar cheese on top. You can’t go wrong!
- Add more veggies. Diced onions and green bell pepper give the Sloppy Joe mixture added bulk and flavor. But why stop there? You could dice up carrots, yellow or red bell pepper, zucchini, squash, or whatever you have on hand. Dice them all the same size to ensure they cook evenly.
- Double the batch. This recipe easily feeds four adults, but it takes very little time and effort to double it for a larger family or if you want leftovers.
Storing and Freezing Leftovers
Leftover Sloppy Joe Mix can be stored in the refrigerator for up to four days. To freeze leftovers, place it in an air tight container that allows for expanding. It should only be thawed once, so you may consider freezing it in individual serving sizes. As with all recipes, use your best discretion when it comes to leftovers.
I can’t wait to hear what you think of this Italian Sloppy Joes recipe! Please leave a comment below and let me know how you jazz up your Sloppy Joes.
Italian Sloppy Joes
- 1 pound lean ground beef I used 96/4 (read about using ground turkey or Italian sausage here)
- 1 green bell pepper diced
- 1/2 medium yellow onion diced
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 15 ounces tomato sauce
- 8 ounces tomato sauce (please use both the 15 ounce can and the 8 ounce can)
- 2 teaspoons oregano
- 2 teaspoons basil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (if you are using table salt, start with 1/4 teaspoon)
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- brown sugar or honey (optional) read more about this here
- 4 hamburger buns
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese shredded
- In a large skillet, brown the ground beef. Once it has been broken up and begun to brown, add the bell pepper, onion, and garlic. Sauté until they are soft, about 5 to 7 minutes.1 pound lean ground beef, 1 green bell pepper, 1/2 medium yellow onion, 2 garlic cloves
- Add in the tomato sauce, oregano, basil, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Taste the mixture and add more salt and pepper to taste. If your tomato mixture is a little bitter, add a pinch of brown sugar or honey.15 ounces tomato sauce, 8 ounces tomato sauce, 2 teaspoons oregano, 2 teaspoons basil, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Put the bottom halves of the hamburger buns on a baking sheet. Top with sloppy joe mix. Top each with mozzarella cheese. Put the sheet into the oven under the broiler (leaving the tops of the buns out) for a few minutes until the cheese is melted, watching closely so they do not burn. Remove from the oven, top with the tops of the buns, and serve.