The BEST Homemade Sloppy Joes

Step away from the canned sauce and give these homemade sloppy joes a try! They’re truly the best version of a childhood favorite!

Perfect for quick dinner, these family-favorite homemade sloppy joes are ready in 30 minutes or less!  The silky rich sauce is ultra flavorful with a zesty kick! #sloppyjoes #weeknight

As we head into the upcoming holiday season, I’ve been thinking about family-friendly meals.  You know, those meals that your kids always want to eat.  In our house, this Creamy Baked Mac and Cheese is number one on our list… with these sloppy joes being number 2!  With two little ones myself, I know ALL too well how frustrating it is to cook a meal and have them promptly turn up their noses and say it’s “gross”. *facepalm*

I’ve always been a fan of classic sloppy joes.  There’s something so innately satisfying about the sweet and savory combination and messiness of it all!  And I know you all love them too, since I’ve been getting a lot of requests for sloppy joe recipes.

Sloppy joe recipe in skillet

I’ve made a LOT of sloppy joe recipes lately, trying to come up with the perfect one.  Some were too sweet, others too spicy.  Well guys, I finally got it.  The perfect balance.  This sloppy joe recipe is sweet, tangy, zesty and savory, with the perfect texture and consistency.

HOW TO MAKE HOMEMADE SLOPPY JOES

Homemade sloppy joes are incredibly easy to make, and come together in one skillet in about 20 minutes or so.  Browned beef is mixed with onion and green pepper and simmered in a sweetened tomato/ketchup sauce.  The secret is in finding the right seasoning for the sauce!

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MANWICH AND SLOPPY JOES?

Technically Manwich is a pre-made sauce that’s used to make sloppy joes.  I’m not sure exactly what’s in it, and have never tried it myself, so I can’t say that my recipe tastes similar or not.  Manwich is marketed as a easy way to make sloppy joes… but in reality, homemade sloppy joes are JUST as easy to make!

The best sloppy joe recipe on bun with potato chips

HOW DID SLOPPY JOES GET THEIR NAME?

From what I can glean from the good ol’ internet, a cook named Joe in a cafe in Sioux City, Iowa added a tomato sauce to a loose meat sandwich.  It must have been a favorite and took off!

WHAT CAN I DO WITH SLOPPY JOE MEAT?

Number one, slap some on a toasted bun!!  After that, here are some of my favorite things to do:

  • Spoon some over some crispy waffle fries.  Bonus points if you also melt some cheese over the fries before adding the sloppy joe meat!
  • Add some to a grilled cheese.
  • Roll up in crescent roll dough and bake at 375 F degrees for about 12-15 minutes.  Cheese makes a great addition to these as well!
  • Add some on top of a burger.

Sloppy joe sandwich on wooden plate

CAN YOU MAKE SLOPPY JOES IN A CROCKPOT?

You can!  Just brown the beef and add all the remaining ingredients (no buns though), and cook on LOW for about 4-6 hours, or HIGH for 2-3 hours.  This will have a softer texture than skillet sloppy joes though.

PRO TIPS FOR MAKING HOMEMADE SLOPPY JOES:

  • Before you get started, toast your buns.  Toasting the bun makes ALL the difference, and only takes a few minutes.  Crank up the heat under the skillet to high, and add a drizzle of vegetable oil.  When the oil is hot, add the buns, then place the buns cut side up on a cooling rack after they’re toasted.
  • Watch the sauce so that it doesn’t reduce too much.  When too much of the sauce reduces, it gives you a dry sloppy joe mixture.  Everyone likes theirs a little differently, but for me, I cook it down so that I can see the bits of meat, and when I drag my spoon through the sauce, it leaves a trail where the sauce is parted.  If the sauce immediately flows back into that trail, it’s too liquid-y.  I want a few seconds before the sauce covers the trail, which gives me a saucy consistency that’s not too liquid.
  • Choose your favorite type of bun.  I usually go for either a pretzel bun (like I did in these Beer and Chorizo Sloppy Joes!), or a brioche bun.

Grabbing a sloppy joe sandwich

SHOP THE RECIPE:

Perfect for quick dinner, these family-favorite homemade sloppy joes are ready in 30 minutes or less!  The silky rich sauce is ultra flavorful with a zesty kick! #sloppyjoes #weeknight
Print
4.91 from 40 votes
The Best Homemade Sloppy Joes
6 servings
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
25 mins
 

Step away from the canned sauce and give these homemade sloppy joes a try! They're truly the best version of a childhood favorite!

Calories: 266 kcal
Ingredients
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1/3 green bell pepper, minced
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2/3 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard
  • 3/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • dash of hot sauce (optional)
Instructions
  1. Heat butter and oil in large skillet over MED/MED-HIGH heat.  Add beef and brown, breaking apart into crumbles as it cooks, about 5 minutes.  Drain.

  2. Add onion and bell pepper to same skillet and cook 2-3 minutes, until soft.  Add garlic and cook 30 seconds or so, until fragrant.  Add beef back to the skillet and add tomato paste.  Stir well.

  3. Add ketchup, water, brown sugar, mustard, chili powder, Worcestershire sauce, salt, red pepper flakes (if using), and black pepper.  Stir well to combine.

  4. Cook over MED heat for 10-15 minutes, until mixture has thickened to your liking.  Remove from heat and serve over toasted buns.

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Perfect for quick dinner, these family-favorite homemade sloppy joes are ready in 30 minutes or less!  The silky rich sauce is ultra flavorful with a zesty kick! #sloppyjoes #weeknight

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71 comments on “The BEST Homemade Sloppy Joes”

  1. As a longtime Manwich lover, I will be making these again next time I have a craving for Sloppy Joes. So. Much. Better. DELICIOUS!  Thank you for sharing. 

  2. Didn’t have manwich sauce in the cabinet. Don’t need it ever again now! Everybody gobbled it up with not a single spoonful left. I’m surprised it was so easy and yet so good. Definitely a keeper!

  3. For me it was a good base for Sloppy Joes.  I quadrupled the recipe since we have bottomless pits aka kids. So I added a whole 28 oz. box (yes box) of tomato sauce and cranked the heat so that I could evaporate the water. I played with the same ingredients called for and came out with a pan of sj’s we liked. That’s why the 4 star rating from me. I like the ideas on what else to do with the meat too. We’ll see if there’s anything left to try them. 

  4. I just made this! ( I USED 8 POUNDS of beef. I used all the ingredients ×8 )Wow! Great recipe. I did however add two more table spoons of brown sugar Now I’m taking this awesome sloppy joes to feed 26 kids-after their school play practice.
    Thank you for sharing.

  5. This was a pretty legit grown-up take on the SJ! My wife declared it a keeper, my two year old devoured his small portion and even I, a sloppy joe non-believer, was won over. To be fair, a few modifications were made: 50/50 blend fresh ground chuck and ground pork, a skosh less sugar and a skosh more Worcestershire, and a dash of oregano. Everything else as written and will remain so. Served alongside, and, eventually mixed with, some tots and slaw.

  6. I love this sloppy joe recipe! I first found it about over a month ago and I’ve made it at least 5 times. It’s the best sloppy joe I’ve ever tried and my partner loves them too. He says it tastes just like Manwich.. (only better!!). Thank you for sharing!

  7. Great.  Easy to make.    Will make fir the next group get together.  

  8. Fantastic

  9. Great recipe! Best sloppy Joe I’ve ever had. Love the idea of buttering and grilling the rolls! It was a little too sweet, but I kinda eyed the sugar. I didn’t use hot sauce, because I’m a big baby when it comes to hot food. The pepper flakes gave it enough spice for me. Will definitely make again! Thank you!

  10. I made this for dinner last night. It was very good. I personally don’t like ketchup in my recipes but when in Rome… for me it could have used a little more spice, such as minced hot peppers, hot sauce, chili or cayenne pepper powder, but my wife and daughter don’t like anything spicier than black pepper. It must have been good because they each wen back for seconds.

    I served this on homemade sesame pretzel buns which were absolutely wonderful and made the meal. Will be making this again, albeit probably with some tweaks.

  11. Can I just say…FABULOUS!  The only thing I omitted was the red pepper flakes and my family almost licked the pan! 

  12. Excellent! Way better than the canned stuff! I used ground turkey… my husband raved!!!! 

  13. Best ever sloppy Joe’s! So balanced. If you have a trued and tested meatloaf recipe, I would love to have it!

  14. Rcipe looks amazing.  But the ads and amount of scrolling I have to do to find anything is unbelievable

  15. Granddaughter asked me to make sloppy joes for her birthday and some friends. The BEST ever. We didn’t want to share so will be making it again for us this weekend. Who knew you could get excited about sloppy joes. I will be checking other recipes on your sight. Thank you for making me a super Gram 

  16. Seriously the best sloppy joe recipe. I’m taking care of my daughter just out of the hospital and she asked for sloppy joes. I found this recipe and tried it and it turned out perfect! Her fiancé was like Sloppy Joes? Who asks for sloppy joes? Like I remember having to eat those in high school at lunch but… well he ate two piled high and declared he got the leftovers too!! Thanks!

  17. I wonder how this would be with chicken instead of burger.

  18. I tripled this recipe for 4 hungry teenagers and 2 adults, there was barely any left for lunch the next day! People were coming up and just scooping it onto the plate and eating it without buns. I mixed the ingredients from the ketchup to the salt in a separate bowl and blended it together before pouring it into the skillet and it was just so good. Thank you!!

  19. I heard of a sloppy joe recipe using taco seasoning. Do you have that recipe?

  20. Tasty recipe. I made a double batch of the sauce by itself because I used died leftover brisket instead of hamburger. The only things I did differently were leaving out the tomato paste because I didn’t have any and used stone ground mustard. There may have been a few extra shakes of westchester sauce because I like the stuff.

  21. In a pinch I found this recipe. I did not have enough onions or cstup so I substuted the catcup for tomato sauce and onions I used a tablespoon of dehydrated onions and used 1 teaspoon of garlic powder instead of fresh. This actually turned out pretty good.

  22. Great alternative to the canned version, way better actually! I will definitely make it again, maybe with a smidge less sugar. For five servings using drained 80/20 ground beef, I calculated 233/calories per serving not counting bread. Not bad for “comfort food”!. Thanks for the recipe! 

  23. Great recipe! I doubled it and served them on homemade hamburger buns. Family of 5 all enjoyed, my 8 yr old put cheese on hers, the rest of us prefer more kick.

    The only modifications I made were that I took another reviewers suggestion and added a splash of apple cider vinegar, and I subbed carrots for the green peppers (my husband can’t eat nightshades).

  24. Made this recipe last night measured precisely. Best yet Sloppy Joes! The red pepper flakes and chili powder add just enough zest to make your mouth happy. Next time, instead of using salt, I will use a squeeze of lemon. Make this!!!😀

  25. Was delicious on a fresh grilled brioche bun. Added 4 wickles pickles to each bun. Perfect!!!

  26. These were just what I was looking for! These had a great depth of flavor that is impossible with a can. This will be a keeper! Thank you!

  27. Have to tell the truth…I didn’t measure the ingredients but made it to taste. I did use your ingredients for the base. Added a bit of apple cider vinegar for extra tang and a sprinkle of paprika for a bit of extra kick. They were pretty dang good if I say so myself!!
    Thanks so much for sharing this recipe!!

  28. Awesome. Thank you!!

  29. I need nutrition facts

  30. It was good. Not exactly like the one from my childhood but still really good. Added another tbsp sugar, 4 tbsps of Worcestershire sauce and 1/3 of BBQ sauce. The BBQ also darkens it a lot more. I substituted hamburger buns with hotdogs buns. It’s less messier that way. 

  31. Some very discerning sloppy joe lovers declared this the best they’d ever had.

  32. Excited to make these for an upcoming ski trip! Can I make ahead and freeze or would you not recommend?

  33. Can I substitute green bell peppers for canned green chillies

  34. I make internet recipes alllll the time and have never left a review. This my friends warrants a review. AMAZING! Just make it. At least double it because it’ll go fast! 

  35. Delicious! It will be a new favorite. 

  36. Simply D-lish!  Made it “as is”, Absolutely wonderful, you get full control of your ingredients (i.e. no high fructose corn syrup like Manwich).  For the hot sauce I used my favorite local favorite.  Went light on the onions to suit family.  Even better the next night (or I was anticipating it more, not sure which).  Thanks for this great recipe!

  37. What could be a substitute for Ketchup?? I’m out 🙁 
    Thanks in advance!

  38. Used some of my husband’s homemade red sauce (we use organic products) instead of paste and ketchup and water. doubled everything. I used red pepper instead of green. I also used powdered mustard rather than prepared.
    Other than that, I left the recipe alone 😉
    This will be the way to go for my house from now on! So much better than processed sloppy Joe sauce filled with preservatives

  39. These were great, made them for super bowl, used red pepper in place of green, and followed the recipe exactly as written—-Thank you for a great recipe

  40. Yep this recipe is delish, I’ll make it anytime!!!

  41. I will be trying this for the superbowl
    . Will serve on a pretzel roll. Looking forward to it.

  42. Kinda wondering why you’d need butter & olive oil to brown fatty hamburger when you drain it off. Butter and olive oil cost too much to be pouring it out. I understand using it for flavor maybe after the meat has been browned and drained. 

  43. The only change I made was to add beef broth in place for water for a richer flavor yummo!!!

  44. Fabulous! Served ours in fry bread and I think we have a new favorite meal. 

  45. This turned out great! I was a bit short on the ketchup and used BBQ sauce and it still come out AWESOME—hubby was super impressed! Great recipe:)

  46. My husband said “best sloppy Joe’s ever”. Not too sweet and not too tangy. Perfect consistency, not too watery …it didn’t ruin the bun with juice.

    I added 1 additional Tbsp of tomato paste and used the whole onion since my family likes onion. We browned the onion, garlic, and beef together and it was great. Thanks for this! It’s going in my fav recipes!

  47. Very nice. Needed a recipe for some veggie crumbled we had in the house and this worked great! Quick, easy, and tasty.

  48. I liked it quite a bit. I found it a bit sweeter than I prefer and the chili flavor wasn’t as strong as I like (and I’d already increased from 3/4 teaspoon to a full teaspoon.  I will make again but debating on either omitting the brown sugar or finding a less sweet substitute for the catsup (The hint of brown sugar adds a great flavor note) . I’ll also increase the amount of chili powder to at least 1 1/2 teaspoons. 

  49. I tried this recipe today only using red pepper instead of green . Also doubled the recipe and it came delicious. Thank you, everyone loved it . Definitely be making it again soon!

  50. I just made this. Like now. Everyone LOVED it!

  51. Not gonna lie, these look really special. I just got super hungry!

  52. Better than Manwich!  I didn’t have Worcester so subbed soy sauce.  Delicious!

  53. Such a great weeknight dinner! So delicious!

  54. Yum! I grew up on sloppy joes…can’t wait to try your recipe!

  55. Looks incredible! Love how easy to make this tasty and flavorful recipe, it’s just perfect!

  56. Homemade versions are always so much better! So much more flavor!

  57. Homemade sloppy joes are the best! I can’t wait to try your version!

  58. My boys will love this!

  59. I love the other ideas for using sloppy joe meat – I bet it makes for epic loaded fries!