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Once you learn how to make sloppy joes, you’ll make these meaty sandwiches from scratch every time. This sloppy joe recipe is quick and easy, perfect for feeding a crowd!

These sloppy joe sandwiches are ready in 30 minutes and perfect to pair with Baked Zucchini Chips or Classic Coleslaw for a hearty and easy weeknight dinner.

Close up of four sloppy joes served on a white plate.

The BEST Homemade Sloppy Joes

Get your napkins ready, hide your whites and prepare to get a little messy!! When it comes to sloppy joes, messy is the only way to go.

This is the BEST recipe for old-timey, homemade sloppy joes and one of our favorite easy dinners. Every family needs a fail-proof sloppy joe recipe, and I’m not talking about the 90’s Manwich version. 😉

This saucy recipe is so easy to throw together, and just as quick to fall apart (that’s 100% part of the charm). Slap this meaty filling between your favorite buns and brace yourself for a flavor bomb.

The savory flavors are second to none. It’s perfect paired with some crispy French Fries and a salad.

We know you’ll love these homemade sloppy joes as much as we do! 

Homemade Sloppy joes meat cooked in a pot.

Why is it Called a Sloppy Joe?

Like many classic recipes, the exact origins of the Sloppy Joe Sandwich are a little fuzzy. One story traces back to Iowa, where a chef named Joe invented a variation of a loose meat sandwich.

His version included ground meat mixed with tomato sauce, and it’s thought to be the original recipe for a “Sloppy Joe”.

Manwich is a store-bought, canned version of sloppy joe sauce. The recipe was marketed as an easy dinner that anyone could make with a can of Manwich combined with ground meat.

As it turns out, a Homemade Sloppy Joe is super easy to make, can or no can!

Chili. While they technically share similar ingredients, a Sloppy Joe is not quite the same as chili. Both are made with ground beef, tomato sauce, and seasonings.

At the end of the day though, chili is a soup, while a Sloppy Joe is a sandwich. The other ingredients in Sloppy Joes make up what’s widely considered to be a sauce, versus the soup-like base in a traditional chili.

Measured ingredients for making homemade sloppy joes on a counter.

How to Make Sloppy Joes

These sloppy joes come together in 3 easy steps!

BEEF. Place ground beef, onions, pepper, garlic, and seasoned salt in a large pot over medium-high heat. Cook and break up meat until it is browned. Drain off the fat and add the remaining ingredients.

SAUCE. Bring to a simmer, turn to low, cover, and cook for 20 minutes or until meat is tender and the sauce has thickened.

ENJOY! Slap your juicy sloppy joe mixture between a crispy toasted bun, and enjoy. See further on for more serving ideas.

Make it in the crock pot

Toss everything in a crock pot in the morning, and come home to a warm, home-cooked meal that’s ready to go! It’s as easy as that! Just cook on LOW for 8 hours.

Ingredient tips

Sure, you could buy the ready-made stuff from the store. But it turns out that it’s just as easy to make at home!

Ground beef. Lean ground beef has a great meat-to-fat ratio. Ground turkey or ground chicken can be used for an even leaner mixture. If using higher-fat meat, drain the excess grease before adding in the remaining ingredients.

Veggies. Sloppy Joes are a perfect way to get some hidden vegetables into your kids’ meals! I dice up onion and green bell pepper to add to my beef mixture. Shredded carrots, zucchini, diced celery, or mushrooms may also be added to the mix.

Seasoning. Use fresh minced garlic and seasoned salt for flavor. If you’re not familiar with seasoned salt, this is a salt blend that comes pre-mixed with herbs, spices, and flavorings. You can find it in most grocery store spice aisles.

To make these in the crockpot, start by browning the meat in a large skillet as directed in step one. Add the meat and other ingredients to the pot. Cook on Low for 4-6 hours, or High for 2-3 hours. 

Chili Sauce. Choose your favorite brand and intensity, such as Sriracha or Tobasco. Or, leave the hot sauce out altogether for a milder sauce.

Turn up the heat with jalapeños, red pepper flakes, or chili powder. 

Beef broth. I use beef broth as the liquid in this recipe, for the added flavor. Otherwise, water can also be used to thin out the sauce a little.

Adding sauce ingredients to the meat for making homemade sloppy joes.

Recipe Tips

Toast the buns. A soft, toasted bun helps keep things a little less sloppy. I recommend spooning the meat over classic hamburger buns, sandwich rolls, or something similar.

  • Get the buns going in the toaster while you work.
  • Toast them in the skillet with a bit of oil before you start.
  • Toast them lightly under the broiler.

I like to add a sprinkle of garlic salt to the buns after they’re golden.

How to thicken. This sandwich is a messy one, but should not be runny. Here are some tips to make them less runny:

  • Simmer for longer allowing excess moisture to evaporate.
  • Add some tomato paste.
  • Cornstarch slurry: In a separate bowl stir 1-2 teaspoons of cold water with an equal amount of cornstarch. Pour it into the meat mixture, stir, and simmer.
Cooked meat and sauce for making homemade sloppy joes.

Storing info

STORE leftover Sloppy Joe Meat in an air-tight container for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

Reheating is as easy as microwaving the meat in bursts, or warming the mixture in a skillet on the stovetop until heated through.

FREEZE leftover Sloppy Joe mixture in a freezer-safe container or bag for up to 2 months.

Thaw in the fridge overnight and reheat in a slow cooker or stovetop.

Close up of assembled homemade sloppy joes on a white plate.

Recipe FAQ

What’s the difference between sloppy joes and Manwich?

If you grew up in the 90’s chances are your mom served you this canned version of sloppy joes called Manwich. Thankfully now in my adult years I know how to make delicious homemade sloppy joes and I don’t ever have to resort to a can of Manwich!

What should I serve with sloppy joes?

I LOVE to serve this with Coleslaw, Homemade Potato Salad, Grilled Corn on the Cob, basically any summer barbecue side!

What’s a Sloppy Jane?

A Sloppy Jane uses ground turkey or chicken instead of ground beef. A Messy Jane uses Italian Sausage.

For more tasty Sandwiches, try:

5 from 16 votes

Sloppy Joe Recipe

By: Lil’ Luna
This sloppy joe recipe is quick and easy, perfect for feeding a crowd! You'll make these meaty sandwiches from scratch every time. 
Servings: 8 servings
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
Total: 30 minutes

Ingredients 

  • pounds ground beef
  • ¾ cup onion, diced
  • ¾ cup green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • ½ cup barbecue sauce
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons chili sauce
  • ¼ cup beef broth, or water
  • 8 Buns

Instructions 

  • Place ground beef, onions, pepper, garlic, and seasoned salt in a large pot over medium-high heat. Cook and break up meat until it is browned. Drain off the fat and add the remaining ingredients.
  • Bring to a simmer, turn to low, cover, and cook for 20 minutes or until meat is tender and the sauce has thickened. Serve on buns.

Video

Notes

STORE leftover sloppy joe meat in an airtight container for up to 5 days in the refrigerator. Reheating is as easy as microwaving the meat in bursts, or warming the mixture in a skillet on the stovetop until heated through.
FREEZE leftover slopThaw in the fridge overnight and reheat in a slow cooker or stovetop. 

Nutrition

Calories: 397kcal, Carbohydrates: 49g, Protein: 23g, Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 55mg, Sodium: 1039mg, Potassium: 436mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 17g, Vitamin A: 195IU, Vitamin C: 13.9mg, Calcium: 34mg, Iron: 12.8mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Making this recipe? Tag us!
Share it with us on Instagram using the hashtag #lilluna, so we can see what you’re creating in the kitchen!

About Kristyn

My name is Kristyn and I’m the mom of SIX stinkin’ cute kids and the wife to my smokin’ hot hubby, Lo. My mom’s maiden name is Luna, and I’m one of the many crafty “Lil’ Lunas” in the fam. On this site I like to share all things creative - from recipes to home decor to gifts and home decor ideas. Welcome!

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Recipe Rating




24 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    First made this recipe for home and it was a hit. Decided to make it again for a Sunday football crowd and I became instantly famous. This is a very delicious recipe! You will never buy canned Sloppy Joe again!

    1. No, sriracha is more of a hot sauce. Heinz has a chili sauce (almost like a hybrid of hot sauce and ketchup). Or even the Great Value brand at walmart has one.

  2. 5 stars
    These are hands down the best sloppy joes I have ever had. So easy and it tastes so much better than out of a can. The whole family loves them.

  3. 5 stars
    i forget to make Sloppy JOes but when i was searching your blog i ran across them. They are on the menu for this week. Can’t wait to try them!! They look great.

  4. 5 stars
    I left oUt the green peppers and really liked how the Rest of the recipe came TOGETHER. Thanks for sharing.