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Best Sloppy Joe Recipe

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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. Homemade Sloppy Joe Ingredients
  2. How to Make a Sloppy Joe
  3. Sloppy Joes Recipe Substitutions and Additions
  4. How To Serve
  5. Storing Homemade Sloppy Joes
  6. More Recipes You’ll Love
  7. JUMP TO RECIPE
  8. Even More Recipes You’ll Love

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

Homemade Sloppy Joe Ingredients

Sloppy Joes raw ingredients that are labeled
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When it comes to comfort food, few things can compare to the beloved sloppy Joe. The combination of savory ground beef, tangy tomato sauce, and a hint of sweetness make for a truly delectable experience.

Each bite is a little bit messy, but that only adds to the charm of indulging in this classic dish.

You’ll need:

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

How to Make a Sloppy Joe

This delicious recipe features ground beef simmered in a savory tomato sauce before being served on a warm bun. Here’s how to make it:

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

Sloppy Joes Recipe 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.

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 coleslaw, 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.

Storing Homemade Sloppy Joes

Keep the sloppy Joe meat mixture in the fridge or freezer for a quick meal later. Here’s how:

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!

Best Sloppy Joe Recipe FAQs

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

Homemade Sloppy Joe Recipe

5 from 78 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 to 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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This recipe was developed, tested, cooked and photographed by the Spaceships Kitchen. From our dinner table to yours, we hope you think it's out of this world!

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  1. Nicole says

    5 stars
    I hadn’t had Sloppy Joes in years, but I will be fixing them more often after making this recipe! They received so many compliments and requests to make them again! YUMMY!!!!

  2. Whitney says

    5 stars
    Best sloppy joe recipe! I have 4 kids who are extremely picky.. after making this they all requested I make this so much more often! Thank you!

  3. Tamara Smith says

    5 stars
    LOVE this recipe. I did want to say I noticed in the picture you have 1 tsp of Worcestershire sauce but 2 tbls in the recipe. I only used the 1 tsp because I think 2 tbls is a bit much. I also only used 1 tbls of brown sugar because we don’t like it that sweet.

    Thanks for the recipe! Looking forward to having these tomorrow!

  4. Sahar says

    5 stars
    Delicious! I made this with beyond meat plant based ground “meat” and it is delicious!! Thank you so much!

  5. Mary Ann says

    5 stars
    We enjoyed our sloppy joes! We even have more for dinner tomorrow. It tasted great. I may use a bit less brown sugar. I also loved that it was so easy to make and much better than canned sauce. Finally, it was economical at a time when dinner on a dime is reality!

  6. froosie says

    How much Worcestershire do you use? You have 1 tsp in the picture but then in your printed recipe it says 2 tbsp. Thank you.

  7. Diane says

    5 stars
    Thanks a lot Stephanie…I decided to try this homemade sloppy joe recipe since I had all of the ingredients…now I have to always make homemade, this spoiled everyone so I can’t cheat using the can anymore! Haha seriously, this was perfect – just tasted so “fresh”…I guess because using all fresh ingredients lol! And I don’t know why I never buttered and toasted the (good bakery) buns before, that made all the difference. Thank you for sharing this and I’ll be making this recipe from now on when we want sloppy joes!

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