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Homemade Sloppy Joes

4 from 2 votes
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posted: 05/07/23

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This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy

Homemade Sloppy Joes are always a crowd pleaser. They are so easy to make, and absolutely delicious. You will love this easy dinner recipe packed with flavor.

Close up photo of Homemade Sloppy Joes sandwiches with glasses of beer in the background.

My kids are huge Sloppy Joe lovers! Unfortunately, my husband and I were on the fence about them for years. I think we had unpleasant lunch room memories that clouded our judgement. All that changed when I made my own sauce for them years ago when I first published my Turkey Sloppy Joes. We are using the same sauce here, and it is a winner – bound to change the minds of anyone else traumatized by the elementary school cafeteria.

A sloppy joe is a sandwich made with ground meat and a tomato-based sauce served on a bun. Most sloppy joe recipes are made with ground beef and a sauce that contains ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and some seasonings.

How to Make Sloppy Joes

These homemade sloppy joes come together in one pan on the stovetop with simple steps and ingredients. Here is a brief overview of how to make them. For the full recipe including all measurements, see 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 and onion and saute until they soften. Drain off any excess grease.
  • Make the sauce. Add the sauce ingredients (tomato sauce, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, ground mustard, salt, and ground pepper).
  • Simmer and serve. Cover and cook for about 30 minutes. Serve on buns.
Overhead photo of a pan of Homemade Sloppy Joes recipe.

Homemade Sloppy Joe Sauce

What makes this the best sloppy joe recipe? The homemade sauce! It is so easy to make and the flavor of it is just right. Here are the ingredients that make it so delicious:

  • Canned tomato sauce: unlike pasta sauce which has been cooked with seasonings, tomato sauce is pureed tomatoes in which all the seeds, pulp, and skin have been removed. That is what you are looking for.
  • Ketchup: a staple in so many sloppy joe recipes, it adds a little sweetness.
  • Worcestershire sauce: this gives the sauce a nice tang that deepens the flavor.
  • Brown sugar: balances the acidity of the tomato sauce and adds to the sweetness.
  • Ground mustard
  • Salt and pepper

Using Ground Turkey

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 higher), add a little bit of olive oil to your pan before you start browning the meat.

Turkey Sloppy Joes

The lighter spin on these ground Turkey Sloppy Joes will make you feel great.
Overhead photo of Homemade Sloppy Joes sandwich served with potato chips and a pickle spear.

Crock Pot Sloppy Joes

Sloppy joes are a great meal to make in the crockpot ahead of time. If you want to do that, follow the instructions in my Crock Pot Sloppy Joes recipe.

Crock Pot Sloppy Joes

These Crock Pot Sloppy Joes are only 15 minutes hands on time! This easy sloppy joe recipe is the perfect dinner to come home to.

Sloppy Joes for a Crowd

This recipe can be easily doubled or tripled to serve a crowd or to have leftovers for a quick meal. This recipe makes about six sloppy joes. If you are serving a crowd, just double or triple the whole recipe. In addition to increasing the meat, don’t forget to double or triple the rest of the ingredients accordingly.

  • To make 12 sloppy joes, you will need two pounds of meat.
  • To make 18 sloppy joes, you will need three pounds of meat.

Pro Tip!

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.

FAQ

How much does this recipe make?

This will serve about six people. The recipe can easily be doubled or tripled to serve a bigger crowd. I talk more about this in the post above.

What is the difference between Manwich and sloppy joe?

Manwich is the pre-made version of sloppy joe sauce that you can buy at the grocery store. It is intended to make making sloppy joes at home easy, however, making your own sloppy joes is easy to make without a can of sauce.

Serving

Classic Sloppy Joes are typically served on hamburger buns. Be sure to use a sturdy bun that can stand up to the delicious filling. We love having these with potato chips, but we also have a whole list of great side dishes that would compliment this recipe perfectly at the bottom of the post.

Making Ahead

If your life is as busy as ours is, this is a dinner that can certainly be made ahead. You can make this up to 24 hours in advance and then warm it up on your stovetop over low heat while covered. Keep in mind that the more it bubbles, the more liquid will evaporate and the less sloppy these will be.

Storing Leftovers and Freezing

These sloppy joes are delicious leftover. Store the leftover meat mixture in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. Reheat over very low heat, covered, stirring intermittently. Always use your best discretion with leftovers.

You can also freeze the leftovers. Make sure to freeze them in a container that will allow for a little expansion. It should only be thawed once, so you may consider freezing it in individual serving sizes. Store them in the freezer for up to three months.

Photo of two Homemade Sloppy Joes with chips, glasses of beer, and pickle spear in the background.

Sloppy Joe Sides

Wondering what to serve with sloppy joes? These easy sides are perfect for serving with your homemade sloppy joes.

If you try this homemade sloppy joes recipe or any of my others, please let me know what you think by leaving a comment. I love hearing from you!

Close up photo of Homemade Sloppy Joes sandwiches with glasses of beer in the background.
4 from 2 votes

Sloppy Joes

Serves: 6 people
(tap # to scale)
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 45 minutes
Total: 55 minutes
Homemade Sloppy Joes are always a crowd pleaser. They are so easy to make, and absolutely delicious. You will love this easy dinner recipe packed with flavor.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef (453.6 grams)
  • 1 green bell pepper diced
  • 1 small yellow onion diced
  • 15 ounces tomato sauce (425 grams)
  • 1/4 cup ketchup (68 grams)
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

Instructions

  • Heat a large skillet over medium heat.
  • Add the ground meat and cook, breaking it up until it begins to brown, about 4 minutes. No need to cook it all the way through.
    1 pound ground beef
  • Add in the green pepper and onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain off any excess grease.
    1 green bell pepper, 1 small yellow onion
  • Add in the tomato sauce, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, ground mustard, salt, and ground pepper. Stir to combine.
    15 ounces tomato sauce, 1/4 cup ketchup, 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • Bring to a simmer and then reduce the heat to low. You should still be able to see intermittent bubbles. Cook, covered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Notes

Please note that the nutritional information does not account for the bun this is served on.
Serving: 0.5cup Calories: 253kcal (13%) Carbohydrates: 15g (5%) Protein: 15g (30%) Fat: 15g (23%) Saturated Fat: 6g (38%) Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.5g Monounsaturated Fat: 7g Trans Fat: 1g Cholesterol: 54mg (18%) Sodium: 431mg (19%) Potassium: 655mg (19%) Fiber: 2g (8%) Sugar: 9g (10%) Vitamin A: 491IU (10%) Vitamin C: 26mg (32%) Calcium: 43mg (4%) Iron: 3mg (17%)
Author: Lisa Longley
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Close up photo of Homemade Sloppy Joes sandwiches with glasses of beer in the background.

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Sloppy Joes

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Hi! I'm Lisa Longley, and I am committed to giving you simple dinner ideas and recipes that are easy to make; recipes that will fill your home with joy. I am the owner and author of SimpleJoy.com and I'm so glad that you are here.

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  1. Jan says

    3 stars
    This recipe was a good start but too much sauce and not enough flavor. It was better as leftovers when I added some chili powder. If I use this recipe again, I will only use an 8 oz can of tomato sauce and maybe tomato paste instead of ketchup, will also add some chili powder. Overall, the recipe is good for a starting point.

    • Lisa Longley says

      We will have to agree to disagree, I like my Sloppy Joes sloppy and that means a lot of sauce :)

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