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As a kid, I always loved when it was Sloppy Joe night. But as a mom, I wondered what’s in that sloppy joe mix and canned sauce. In the same amount of time and with fresh ingredients, you can make the best classic Sloppy Joes ever. This simple Sloppy Joe recipe makes plenty so you can enjoy them for leftovers or freeze them for a busy night. Everyone in my house loves these!

Best Sloppy Joe Recipe

This is the best Sloppy Joe recipe because it uses real ingredients and takes no time at all to put together. For a casual dinner with the family or something that can feed a bunch of hungry guests, this is a winner!

Sloppy Joe Ingredients

  • Ground beef – The star of the show!
  • Onions – Adds a pungent flavor.
  • Green peppers – Sneak in more healthy veggies and add a wonderful taste.
  • Tomato paste – One of the foundational elements that makes the Sloppy Joe sauce recipe red and thick.
  • Brown sugar – For a nice hint of sweet.
  • Worcestershire sauce – Gives a contrast of flavor so the sweetness from the sugar and tomatoes won’t overpower the dish. Some people like to add a dash of vinegar but Worcestershire sauce adds a great flavor combination.
  • Seasonings – See below for the special blend I use to make these homemade Sloppy Joes the best ever!
  • Hamburger Buns or rolls – You need something to pile that saucy Sloppy Joe meat into. For this recipe I used potato rolls toasted and brushed with melted butter.

Easy Sloppy Joe Recipe

The ingredient list might look long, but trust me, it takes no time at all to put these easy Sloppy Joes together. Plus, you likely have everything you need in your kitchen ready to go. In just 30 minutes, you could be sitting down to dinner with a Sloppy Joe getting all over your hands and face. Yum!

Hot mess is a compliment if you’re a sloppy joe.
Erin Candy

Why is it called a Sloppy Joe?

Back in the 1930s in Sioux City, Iowa, a cook named Joe added tomato sauce into the traditional loose meat sandwich and it became an instant hit.

How do you Make Sloppy Joes from Scratch

Making Sloppy Joes from scratch is so easy and happens in one skillet. You brown beef with onions and green peppers and then simmer it in a ketchup-based sauce. With a few spices and special ingredients, you’ll give it that famous taste you remember from your childhood!

Expert Tips and Tricks for the Perfect Sloppy Joes Every Time

  • Toasted Buns – Make sure you toast your chosen buns (I’ve selected potato rolls) first. It makes them really stand up to the sauce and just adds so much more flavor.
  • Adjust your timing – make sure you don’t reduce the sauce too much. While you don’t want it to liquidy, you also don’t want it dry.

How Long to Cook Sloppy Joes

This old fashioned Sloppy Joes recipe takes just 10 minutes to prep and then 20 minutes to cook. It will be about 30 minutes before you get it on the table, perfect for a busy night!

What is Sloppy Joe sauce made of?

Homemade Sloppy Joe sauce is made with tomato paste, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, yellow mustard, brown sugar, and an array of seasonings that give it that distinctive flavor.

How to Thicken Sloppy Joes

If you follow this homemade Sloppy Joe recipe, you should have the perfect consistency, but if it comes out too watery, try adding a small slurry of cornstarch with water. That should thicken it right up!

How do you spice up Sloppy Joes?

If you want a spicier take on this sloppy joes recipe, add a little more chili powder, red pepper flakes. You can also add a touch of cayenne though be careful or it might come out spicier than you bargained for.

What can I add to Sloppy Joes for flavor?

With this sloppy joes recipe, all the ingredients come together to give it lots of flavor. You can tweak it your way though with a little more Worcestershire sauce. If the ketchup makes it a bit sweet for your tastes, use more tomato sauce than ketchup to adjust it your way.

Can you make Sloppy Joes in a crockpot?

Yes, if you want your Sloppy Joes waiting for you when you get home, you can put them in your crockpot. Brown the beef with the onions and peppers first, then dump everything else into the crockpot and set to low for 4 to 6 hours (high for 2 to 3 hours). Don’t put the buns in there though. You can toast those when you get home.

Is Sloppy Joe and Manwich the same thing?

Manwich is the brand name of a pre-made Sloppy Joe sauce. I prefer making my own sauce because it takes very little effort and yields a homemade taste.

What to Serve with Sloppy Joes (Sides)

Sloppy Joes are perfect to serve family and friends. Good Sloppy Joe sides are corn on the cob, fries, baked potatoes, coleslaw, potato salad, macaroni salad, or a nice garden salad.

What can I make with Sloppy Joe meat?

If you have Sloppy Joe leftovers but no leftover buns, add the meat over fries with melted cheese. You can use a package of crescent roll dough and roll it up into that too. Add it onto rice and make a Sloppy Joe bowl! Yum!

How to Store Leftover Sloppy Joe Meat

You can take your cooled leftovers and put them in a plastic container in the fridge. You can enjoy them the next few days.

Can You Freeze Sloppy Joes?

Yes! Just put it in that plastic container, only leave a little but of room at the top so it can expand safely when you freeze it. It will be good in the freezer for 2 to 3 months.

How to Reheat Frozen Sloppy Joe Meat

Thaw it out in your fridge overnight. Then heat it on your stove over medium-low heat.

Watch How To Make Sloppy Joes (Video)

Classic Sloppy Joe Recipe

5 from 10 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 273
Hands down the BEST Sloppy Joe recipe ever! This super easy Sloppy Joe recipe is fast, easy, and absolutely delicious. Plus it makes enough for easy leftovers that everyone loves. Excellent take on a fun childhood favorite for the whole family.


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 yellow onion (chopped)
  • 1/3 bell pepper (minced)
  • 3 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 lb ground beef (cooked & drained)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2/3 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 pack potato rolls (toasted and brushed with melted butter)


  • Heat butter and oil in a large skillet over medium to medium high heat. Add the ground beef and brown evenly for about 5 minutes while breaking apart larger pieces into smaller chunks. Drain and set aside.
  • Add the onion and bell pepper into the same skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes until they become tender. Add garlic and cook until semi-translucent. Add the ground beef mixture back into the skillet and add tomato paste. Combined well.
  • Add in the ketchup, water, brown sugar, mustard, chili powder, Worcestershire sauce, salt, red pepper flakes, and black pepper to meat mixture and stir well. Over medium heat, cook for about 10-15 minutes until the mixture has reached your desired consistency. Remove from heat and serve on toasted buns. Yum!
Calories: 273kcal
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American


Calories: 273kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 54mg | Sodium: 531mg | Potassium: 355mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 509IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 29mg | Iron: 2mg

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Author Megan Miller

I’m a mom of two, food and wine lover, and recipe creation enthusiast. Good food brings families together. Which is why I’m devoted to sharing my best recipes that are simple enough for even the beginner cook that your family will love!

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