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.


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!


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


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!


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


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.


  • 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


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
4.95 from 20 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
  • 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)
  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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37 comments on “The BEST Homemade Sloppy Joes”

  1. I need nutrition facts

  2. 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. 

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

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

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

  6. 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! 

  7. Delicious! It will be a new favorite. 

  8. 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!

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

  10. 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

  11. 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

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

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

  14. 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. 

    • Depending on the fat level in your beef you may not need to drain it, but feel free to switch the recipe up if you want. I write the recipes how I cook, and the butter and oil add flavor to the skillet.

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

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

  17. 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:)

  18. 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!

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

  20. 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. 

  21. 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!

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

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

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

  25. Such a great weeknight dinner! So delicious!

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

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

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

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

  30. My boys will love this!

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