There’s no need for canned sauce when it’s this easy to make homemade sloppy joes from scratch! Ground beef, soft rolls, and a handful of common ingredients come together quickly to create a delicious sloppy joe that both kids and adults will love!
This Homemade Sloppy Joe recipe has all the flavors you’d expect in this classic comfort food loose meat sandwich, but without any processed ingredients or preservatives like you might find in the canned varieties of sloppy joe mix. This sloppy joe sauce is simple to make, and I’ll bet that you have all of the ingredients at home already.
Sloppy Joes are perfect for a weeknight family dinner. Serve it with a crowd pleasing side like Velveeta Mac and Cheese, and enjoy the trip down memory lane. This sloppy joe recipe tastes just like you remember it from your childhood.
I love ground beef recipes! They are simple, inexpensive, and wonderful for getting dinner on the table quickly. Check out Ground Beef Stroganoff, Walking Taco Casserole, Tater Tot Casserole, or Cheeseburger Sliders for more simple ground beef recipes.
Love casseroles? Try my Sloppy Joe Casserole which is basically the delicious sauce of sloppy joes but the buns are replaced with pasta, and it’s topped with lots of cheese, too!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- It’s Nostalgic. I don’t know about you, but I love recreating recipes that I ate as a child. Memories of sitting at the table with my sister and parents can be really lovely, and it’s amazing how certain foods can bring that on.
- Kids Love These. Sloppy Joes are like a hamburger, but messy enough to eat with a fork. They are sweet and tangy with kid-friendly flavors, so nobody will complain when you make sloppy joes for dinner.
- It’s Homemade! Forget Manwich, or other canned sloppy joe sauces. These pre-made sauces are a convenience food, but it really is so simple to make sloppy joe mix yourself. You’re already cooking the meat in the pan either way, so it’s not very much trouble to mix up the sauce too.
The ingredients for homemade sloppy joes are common, easy to find ingredients that you might already have!
Complete list of ingredients and amounts can be found in the recipe card below.
- Ground Beef – I like to use lean ground beef to make these. Less of it cooks away, meaning there is more to enjoy. Any type of ground beef, turkey, or other ground meat can be used too.
- Bell Pepper and Onions – These diced vegetables add moisture and tons of flavor to the meat. Dice them finely to avoid any large chunks in your sandwiches.
- Garlic – Fresh minced garlic is another flavor star in this recipe. Packaged minced garlic is a wonderful shortcut here. It keeps in the fridge for a long time.
- Ketchup – This is the main ingredient for our homemade sloppy joe sauce. Sweet, rich, and a beautiful red color, ketchup does a lot for this recipe.
- Brown Sugar – This is a sweet and savory recipe. Brown sugar adds not only sweetness, but a richness too.
- Seasonings – Mustard, Worcestershire Sauce, Salt, and Pepper are the final touches to a perfect sloppy joe sauce.
- Rolls – any type of soft roll will work with these. Seeded hamburger rolls, brioche buns, or your favorite style.
How to Make Sloppy Joes
- Cook Beef: Heat a dutch oven or skillet over medium high heat, add oil, and cook ground beef, breaking it up with a wooden spoon until it’s no longer pink. Drain off excess grease.
- Add Vegetables: Add bell pepper and onion, and cook for about 3 minutes, or until softened.
- Cook Garlic: Add minced garlic to the pan and cook briefly, being careful not to burn.
- Make Sauce: Add ketchup, water, brown sugar, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. Stir well to combine, and cover with a lid.
- Simmer: Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until you reach your desired consistency. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
- Serve: Remove from heat. Serve sloppy joe mix over toasted hamburger or brioche buns. Potato chips make an easy side!
Toast the Buns! Butter the buns and toast them in a hot pan on the stovetop, or under a broiler. It makes so much of a difference to the final sandwich.
Homemade Sloppy Joe Tips:
- Don’t burn the garlic. Any time garlic is added to a hot pan, be sure to only cook it for about 30 seconds, and be ready to add in the rest of the ingredients quickly. Any longer than that and you risk burning the garlic, which can make your dish taste bitter.
- Make it Spicy. If you want your homemade sloppy joes to have a bit of a spicy kick, consider adding some heat. Hot sauce, crushed red pepper, or a pinch of chili powder can all work to give you a spicier sandwich.
- Don’t Overcook. Watch your sauce while it cooks to be sure that it doesn’t reduce down too much. These are sloppy joes, you want them to be saucy.
How To Serve Homemade Sloppy Joes
Sloppy Joe’s on soft, toasted buns are perfect with a side of chips, french fries, or some vegetable sticks.
You can even skip the rolls, and enjoy this sloppy joe on another starchy base. You might like to eat the sloppy joe mix on top of Oven Baked Fries, Air Fryer Roasted Potatoes, Homemade Naan Bread, rice, or pasta.
It seems (from my extensive internet research, lol) that this dish was originally developed by a cook named Joe in Iowa. He added tomato sauce to a loose meat sandwich, and history was made!
Leftover sloppy joe filling can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Allow to thaw before reheating and serving with fresh rolls.
This recipe works really well in the crockpot! Brown your meat and vegetables before adding to the slow cooker with the rest of the ingredients. Cook on low for 4 hours or on high for 2 hours. You might find that the meat softens more when slow cooked, but if you enjoy that, then go for it!
If you feel that your sloppy joe sandwich is missing something, you can consider adding toppings! Some people like to add freshly sliced onions, pickles, or cheese. Add what sounds good to you!
Homemade sloppy joe sandwiches are much easier to make than you think, and tastier and healthier than making them with canned sauce! Pin this recipe so you can make it whenever you like.
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 pound ground beef
- ¼ cup green bell pepper finely chopped
- ½ cup yellow onion finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 ½ cup ketchup
- ¼ cup water
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
- ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- salt and pepper
- Heat a dutch oven or a skillet over medium high heat, add oil, and cook ground beef breaking it up with a wooden spoon until it’s no longer pink. Drain fat if it produces a lot of grease.
- Add bell pepper and onion, and cook for 3 minutes.
- Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
- Add ketchup, water, brown sugar, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. Stir well to combine, and cover with the lid.
- Reduce heat, and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until you reach the desired consistency. Taste and adjust seasonings (salt and pepper) to your preference.
- Remove from heat, and serve over toasted brioche or hamburger buns with potato chips on the side.
- If you want your homemade sloppy joes to have a bit of a spicy kick, consider adding some heat. Hot sauce, crushed red pepper, or a pinch of chili powder can all work to give you a spicier sandwich.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.
© Little Sunny Kitchen