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Homemade Sloppy Joes Recipe

Looking for a nostalgic, quick and easy one-pot dinner for the whole family? Try these Homemade Sloppy Joes. They’re a messy, yummy dinner fun! 

close up of sloppy joe hamburger placed on a wooden board

An Easy Sloppy Joes Recipe

Sloppy Joe’s? What’s this, 1994? 

Well, no – but why not eat like it is? I loved Sloppy Joe night as a kid and I’m here to make my kids Sloppy Joe lovers, too! What’s more fun than eating an intentionally messy dinner? Uh, nothing. 

Have some fun and introduce your kids to this childhood family favorite!

What is a Sloppy Joe?

Sloppy Joe is hamburger meat mixed with sauteed veggies, ketchup, brown sugar, and water (plus loads of other yum) to create a saucy meat mixture that’s served on a hamburger bun. It’s messy fun so you’ll want to make sure you’ve got a fork and loads of napkins. They became popular around the 1950’s as an alternate use for hamburger meat, but loose meat sandwiches date back to the 1920’s. 

Sloppy Joes were immortalized in the 1990’s by Adam Sandler in “Lunch Lady Land”. “Sloppy Joes, Slop-Sloppy Joes”, I can still hear it in my head! 

browning ground beef in a skillet

Recipe Ingredients

Sloppy Joes are a great way to use up that ground meat you’ve had in the freezer forever. Here’s everything you’ll need:

  • olive oil
  • ground beef
  • green bell pepper
  • yellow onion
  • garlic
  • chili powder
  • salt and fresh ground pepper
  • tomato paste
  • brown sugar
  • hot sauce 
  • ketchup
  • water
  • worcestershire sauce
ground beef in a skillet mixed with ketchup and brown sugar

How to Make Sloppy Joes

  1. Heat: Add 1 ½ tablespoons of olive oil to a large 12-inch skillet and heat it over medium-high heat. 
  2. Brown the Beef: Stir in the beef and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, or until browned, breaking it apart as it cooks. 
  3. Drain the beef and remove it from the skillet. Set aside and keep it covered. 
  4. Sautee: Return skillet to the stove. Heat the remaining oil and add the peppers and onions. Cook until they are softened.
  5. Add: Stir in garlic, chili powder, salt, and pepper.
  6. Stir beef back into the skillet and mix in the tomato paste, brown sugar, and hot sauce.
  7. Add the ketchup, water, and worcestershire sauce. Mix and stir until thoroughly combined. 
  8. Simmer: Lower the heat to MEDIUM and continue to cook for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened.
  9. Serve: Remove from the heat. Serve over toasted buns.

Tips for the Best Sloppy Joes

These tips will make your Sloppy Joes better than your moms ever were!

  • If you’ve got veggie haters in your home, prep your veggies in the food processor. They’ll never know they’re hiding in the meat mixture!  
  • Adding hot sauce is optional but I recommend it. If you or your kids are super sensitive to spice, though, you can go without it. 
  • The amount of water needed might vary, add it slowly and watch for the consistency you’re going for. 
  • You can use any ground meat you have in your freezer, ground beef, ground turkey, ground chicken – you name it. 
serving sloppy joes in a bun with potato chips on the side

Serving Suggestions

Sloppy Joe’s are best served as a sandwich. I like mine on a toasted, seeded bun. Throw some oven baked potato wedges on the side, maybe a crispy green veggie, and you’ve got yourself a complete meal. You could also do a Sloppy Joe sandwich on a wrap or flatbread.  

But, let’s think outside the box here. Maybe consider topping some fettuccine with your sloppy joe mixture. How about making some Sloppy Joe quesadillas? The possibilities are endless! 

How to Store Leftovers

Let your Sloppy Joe mixture come to room temp and then transfer it into an airtight container. Pop it in your fridge for about 5 days. Don’t store your Sloppy Joe’s with their buns. The buns would become soggy and well – gross. Be sure to store them separately. 

close up of sloppy joe hamburger

Can You Freeze Sloppy Joes?

Sure, you can make your Sloppy Joe mixture ahead of time, let it cool, add it to a zip top freezer bag and store it in the freezer for 3 months. It’s so easy to reheat, too! Just defrost, dump into a skillet and simmer on medium-low until heated through. Add a bit of water if you need to loosen it up a bit. 

This makes it a great freezer meal for your family or to bring over to a new mom friend. Just be sure to label your freezer bag so you know when to use it. 

sloppy joe hamburger placed on a wooden board
Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Homemade Sloppy Joes

Looking for a nostalgic, quick and easy one-pot dinner for the whole family? Try these Homemade Sloppy Joes. They’re messy, yummy dinner fun! 
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Keyword: best sloppy joe recipe, easy sloppy joe recipe, homemade sloppy joes, how to make sloppy joes
Servings: 6
Calories: 264kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • ½ green bell pepper, minced
  • 1 small yellow onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • ½ tablespoon hot sauce, optional, but recommended
  • cup ketchup
  • cup water
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Instructions

  • Add 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil to a large 12-inch skillet and heat over medium-high heat.
  • Stir in ground beef and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, or until browned, breaking it apart as it cooks.
  • Drain beef and remove from skillet; set aside and keep covered.
  • Return skillet to stove; heat remaining oil and add peppers and onions; cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until softened.
  • Stir in garlic, chili powder, salt, and pepper; cook for 20 seconds.
  • Stir beef back into the skillet and mix in the tomato paste, brown sugar, and hot sauce.
  • Add ketchup, water, and Worcestershire sauce; mix and stir until thoroughly combined.
  • Lower heat to MEDIUM and continue to cook for 12 to 15 minutes, or until mixture has thickened.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Serve over toasted buns.

Nutrition

Calories: 264kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 54mg | Sodium: 477mg | Potassium: 289mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 127IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 21mg | Iron: 2mg

8 Comments

  • Dorothy Reinhold
    May 2, 2020 at 2:42 am

    I think homemade is so worth the extra effort. The sauce sounds perfect!

    Reply
    • Katerina Petrovska
      May 2, 2020 at 5:40 pm

      Thank YOU! I hope you enjoy it! 🙂

      Reply
  • Cathy
    May 4, 2020 at 3:57 am

    This will definitely be our new go to sloppy joe recipe!

    Reply
    • Katerina Petrovska
      May 6, 2020 at 2:50 pm

      That’s great! I am very happy you enjoyed this recipe!! Thank YOU! 🙂

      Reply
  • Catalina
    May 4, 2020 at 7:39 am

    5 stars
    I would like to have these Sloppy Joes for dinner tonight. Looks amazingly delicious!

    Reply
    • Katerina Petrovska
      May 6, 2020 at 2:49 pm

      I hope you enjoy them! Thank YOU! 🙂

      Reply
  • Allyson Zea
    May 4, 2020 at 3:25 pm

    5 stars
    I love making these on busy week nights! Thank you for the easy recipe!

    Reply
    • Katerina Petrovska
      May 6, 2020 at 2:49 pm

      I am very happy you enjoyed them! Thank YOU! 🙂

      Reply

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