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Sloppy Joes

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close up shot of a sloppy Joe sandwich on a plate
These hearty, messy, delicious classic homemade sloppy joes are the perfect weeknight dinner recipe your whole family will love, all ready in less than 30 minutes!
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Table of Contents
  1. Sloppy Joes Ingredients
  2. How To Make This Sloppy Joes Recipe
  3. How To Serve
  4. Storage
  5. More Recipes You’ll Love
  6. JUMP TO RECIPE

This homemade sloppy Joes recipe has all the best parts of the classic recipe we loved as kids: perfectly seasoned meat, a toasted hamburger bun, and a little messiness with every bite. It’s an easy favorite for a party or a quick weeknight dinner.

close up shot of a sloppy Joe sandwich on a plate

Sloppy Joes Ingredients

Sloppy Joes raw ingredients that are labeled

You’ll need:

  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion
  • 8 ounces tomato sauce
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar (more to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon prepared mustard
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • 4-6 hamburger buns for serving
  • 2 tablespoons butter for the buns

SUBSTITUTIONS AND ADDITIONS

GROUND MEAT: This recipe uses a pound of ground beef. Using ground beef gives this recipe its classic sloppy Joe flavor. Popular substitutions that are still tasty include ground turkey or ground chicken.

VEGGIES: Add chopped green bell pepper or red bell pepper to include a few more hidden veggies in this dish.

SPICY: Give this homemade sloppy Joe recipe a kick by adding a dash of chili powder to the spice mix.

BROWN SUGAR: The brown sugar adds a bit of sweetness to the sloppy Joes but you can adjust the amount you use in this recipe if you prefer it sweet or not quite as sweet.

How To Make This Sloppy Joes Recipe

OUR RECIPE DEVELOPER SAYS

This sloppy Joe recipe is for 4 to 6 people, but it can be doubled or tripled. Simply make your filling and toast your buns and assemble the sloppy Joes when it’s time to eat.

STEP ONE: Brown the ground beef in a large skillet, drain the grease, and set aside the meat. Don’t skip this part, draining the meat is crucial to stopping your filling from getting greasy.

ground beef being cooked in a skillet

STEP TWO: In the same skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of butter and sauté the onions over medium-high heat until translucent, about 3 minutes.

butter and onions being cooked in a skillet

STEP THREE: Stir in the remaining sauce ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes. The sauce will thicken. As your sauce simmers, it will bubble and start to splatter. Watch for these splatters and turn your heat down if the sauce is making too much of a mess.

ingredients added to the sautéed onion in the skillet

STEP FOUR: Add the ground beef to the sloppy Joe sauce in the skillet and stir until cooked through.

PRO TIP:

Don’t wait to serve them. Sloppy Joes are best served as soon as they’re made. Adding filling to the buns and letting it sit for more than a few minutes can make your buns soggy. Instead, if you need to make this recipe ahead of time, keep your filling and buns separate until you’re ready to serve.

cooked ground beef added to the sauce in the skillet

STEP FIVE: Butter the inside of the buns and toast them on a griddle pan.

PRO TIP:

For perfectly toasted buns, you’ll need about 2 tablespoons of softened butter for six hamburger buns to make it happen.

buns being toasted on a griddle pan

STEP SIX: Spoon the meat mixture onto the prepared buns and enjoy.

How To Serve

There are plenty of sides that you can serve with sloppy Joes. We love pairing them with traditional BBQ or picnic-style sides such as cheesy potato casserole, corn pudding, or macaroni salad. You could also serve them with a side salad or Caesar salad.

We have reimagined classic sloppy Joes in so many new ways. Try our sloppy Joe bake or Philly cheesesteak sloppy Joes too.

Storage

IN THE FRIDGE: You can store the sloppy Joe meat mixture in the fridge for up to three days in an airtight container. Reheat in the microwave or in a skillet and add to a hamburger bun before serving.

IN THE FREEZER: Sloppy Joe filling will freeze well for up to three months. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop and add to a bun to make a sandwich.

overhead shot of a plate of sloppy Joe sandwich with a pickle and chips

Sloppy Joes have been a favorite recipe for decades for good reason ​—​ they’re a tasty and easy dinner. This old-fashioned sloppy Joes recipe is a crowd-pleasing family favorite and makes a much tastier dish than using the canned sauce. Its flavors are the best and it’s easy to make. Definitely worth a little mess!

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Can I make these easy sloppy Joes ahead of time?

This great recipe can be made ahead of time. You could whip up a double batch and store it in the freezer and you’ll have easy meals for busy nights.

Could I serve this sloppy Joe recipe on a hoagie roll?

Hoagie rolls would be a great alternative to hamburger buns. They are nice and sturdy and would hold up to the saucy meat mixture nicely.

Can I make this recipe into a vegetarian version?

If you have a ground meat alternative you like, you can replace the ground beef to create a vegetarian version.

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close up shot of a sloppy Joe sandwich on a plate

Sloppy Joes

5 from 58 votes
These hearty, messy, delicious classic homemade sloppy joes are the perfect weeknight dinner recipe your whole family will love, all ready in less than 30 minutes!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion
  • 8 ounces tomato sauce
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar, more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon prepared mustard
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons softened butter to toast the hamburger buns
  • 4-6 hamburger buns

Instructions
 

  • Brown the ground beef in a large skillet, drain the extra grease, remove the ground beef, and set it aside.
  • In that same skillet, add the 2 tablespoons of butter and melt over medium-high heat, and add the onions and saute until transparent, about 3 minutes.
  • Stir in all remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 5 to 7 minutes. Watch for bubbling and splattering tomato sauce!
  • Add the ground beef to the sauce in the skillet and stir together and cook until all is reheated.
  • Butter the inside of the buns and toast them on a griddle pan.
  • Spoon the meat mixture on to the prepared buns and enjoy.

Video

Notes

  • This sloppy Joe recipe is for 4 to 6 people, but it can be doubled or tripled. Simply make your filling and toast your buns and assemble the sloppy Joes when it’s time to eat.
  • Don’t wait to serve them. Sloppy Joes are best served as soon as they’re made. Adding filling to the buns and letting it sit for more than a few minutes can make your buns soggy. Instead, if you need to make this recipe ahead of time, keep your filling and buns separate until you’re ready to serve.
  • For perfectly toasted buns, you’ll need about 2 tablespoons of softened butter for six hamburger buns to make it happen.

Nutrition

Calories: 417kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Trans Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 96mg | Sodium: 1114mg | Potassium: 705mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 585IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 55mg | Iron: 4mg
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  1. Kee says

    5 stars
    I had no way to get to the store and had no Manwich available but had promised everyone yummy sloppy joes. This was the recipe that introduced me to this site. I hastily followed the instructions, and it was super easy to follow and get together in a pinch while browning meat. It came out wonderfully and I’ve made it multiple times since.

    • Dave says

      5 stars
      Hi Pat,
      You might look for a Maid-Rite Sandwich recipe or Loose Meat Sandwich recipes, they are kinda like Sloppy Joe’s but with no tomato sauce or ketchup. Hope this helps.

  2. Greg Divine says

    5 stars
    I made this for dinner tonight , I doubled it right out the gate and I’m glad I did . Everyone absolutely loved it ! Never gonna buy canned Sloppy Joe again , I’m sold on this recipe. I was really struggling with wanting a sloppy joe or a chili dog so had one of each . Yummy! Can’t wait to pick another recipe of yours and this one is without a doubt a keeper. Thank you so much for sharing the recipe with us! Next time I might even triple this recipe, it’s that good . By the way , I love the name of your food blog , Space Ships and Laser Beams . Being an X-Files geek it appeals to me , I can hear the theme music in my head now . Great recipe!

  3. DianeN says

    5 stars
    Love this recipe. Grandkids said best ever. Do have a question though. Does the nutritional value include the buns?

  4. Mary says

    5 stars
    This is the easiest and best tasting sloppy joe recipe ever! The only thing I change is I don’t use chopped onions (so my onion hating daughter doesn’t freak out!), I just add a little more onion powder. I also use the same sauce base and substitute lentils for the meat if I have vegetarians over for dinner, still tastes great with ground beef or lentils! Thank you for an easy and tasty sloppy joe recipe!

  5. Jeanne says

    These were delicious. Haven’t had sloppy joes in years and I saw this and it settled “what’s for dinner” tonight. My husband said to definitely make them again. However, I don’t think there is any way this would feed 6 people unless they were pretty young. There are only 2 of us and it is almost gone. Maybe enough for 1 1/2 sandwiches. There goes my freezing it for next time!

  6. Burlett says

    5 stars
    Very easy! Better than Manwich by a mile! Have made this several times and it’s a hit with my family. We like it with just a bit more brown sugar.

  7. Patsy says

    5 stars
    Tonight, I was out of Sloppy Joe mix that comes in a packet and didn’t want to go to the store. Found this recipe on Pinterest. So good! Ingredients you have on hand, comes together fast, tastes great, and inexpensive to make!
    Thanks!

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