The best homemade sloppy joe recipe! Made from scratch, this recipe strikes the ideal balance between meat, sauce, and tons of flavor for perfectly sloppy, sloppy joe sandwiches. Ready in less than 30 minutes, this will be a weeknight dinner favorite the whole family will love.
Skip the canned sauce and get ready for the best sloppy joe you’ve ever had! This homemade version is one of many American favorites and absolutely delicious. Even though it’s made from scratch, it’s still quick and easy to put together on a busy weeknight.
This recipe is definitely a far cry from the school cafeterias of your childhood. There’s no mushy mystery meat or overly acidic sauce. These are super meaty, filling, and are way better than anything from a can!
If you want a recipe that doesn’t require a pile of dishes or a trip to the store, sloppy joe sandwiches are the perfect solution! Made all in one pot, the sloppy joe sauce is made with browned ground beef, onion, and a tangy tomato sauce and served on a buttery toasted bun.
Plus, you can whip these up in a hurry with what you already have in your pantry!
Easy Sloppy Joe Recipe
Sloppy Joes are classic comfort food for families! They are fast, convenient, and delicious. Plus, these ingredients are always on hand. Simple ingredients mean a happy mom and full bellies!
One of the greatest things about this recipe is the cost! Not to mention, it’s such a simple weeknight meal. Plus, you can easily omit different ingredients to customize the recipe to your preference and the ingredients you have on hand.
What are sloppy joes?
Sloppy Joes are a “loose meat” sandwich, made with ground beef and a slightly sweet, but savory tomato-based sauce. The sauce is then poured over a hamburger bun to make a delicious sloppy joe sandwich.
What is the original sloppy joe?
The original Sloppy Joe recipe was created around 1930 in a café in Sioux City, Iowa where a cook named Joe added tomato sauce to his “loose meat” sandwiches. The rest is history!
Sloppy Joes became even more popular sometime in the 1950s. Mainly because it was an easy family meal made with inexpensive ingredients that could be stretched with “filler” ingredients, like bell peppers, extra onion, additional ground meat, etc.
Today, the same remains true. A Sloppy Joe sandwich is a simple meal that’s filling, cheap, and enjoyed by the whole family!
Sloppy Joe Ingredients
(See the recipe card for complete details)
You only need a few simple pantry ingredients to get started.
Onion: Yellow or white onion is preferred. If you have kiddos that detest onions, you can simply omit this ingredient entirely.
Meat: I recommend 85-90% lean ground beef so you don’t have to drain the grease. You can also use ground turkey or ground chicken. Other recipes note that these can also be made vegetarian with lentils or meat alternatives.
Sloppy Joe Sauce: The sauce is made with tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, yellow mustard for a bit of tang, brown sugar for sweetness, and seasoned with salt, pepper, and garlic for the best savory sauce.
Optional Additions: Additional veggies will add more flavor and nutrition. Plus, the kids will never know as they will be camouflaged by the sloppy joe sauce! In addition to onion, try green pepper, celery, carrots, or other veggies to stretch the meat a little further.
How to Make Homemade Sloppy Joes
(See the recipe card below for full instructions and notes.)
Make the Sloppy Joe Sauce
Brown the meat over medium-high heat with the onion and garlic. Drain if needed and return to the pot. Then, season with salt and pepper. Sauté additional add-ins as needed.
In a large bowl, mix together the sauce ingredients: Worcestershire sauce, mustard, water, brown sugar, and tomato sauce. Give it a good whisk until all the ingredients are incorporated.
Pour the sauce over the ground beef, stir, and simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Broil the buns while you wait for the sauce to finish.
Make the Sloppy Joe Sandwiches
To assemble the sandwiches, add a scoop of the sauce mixture to a toasted hamburger bun and serve. The toasted, buttered buns are key to the best sloppy joe sandwich!
Toasting buns only takes a minute or two under the broiler, so stay close by.
You can also serve the sloppy joe mixture on slider buns, Texas toast, sandwich bread, or even over a hot dog!
What goes with Sloppy Joes?
Here are a few of the best side dishes for sloppy joes…
- Air Fryer French fries
- Baked Mac and Cheese
- Baked Beans
- Air Fryer broccoli
- Air Fryer potatoes
What is the difference between a sloppy joe and a Manwich?
Manwich is just the marketed version of the sloppy joe sauce. The canned version of this sauce is basically the same but marketed as “easier” than homemade.
Do you drain the fat from ground beef for sloppy joes?
If you are using lean ground beef, there shouldn’t be an excess of grease to be drained. If needed, transfer the ground beef to a colander to drain. Then, return the beef mixture to the pot and continue with the recipe.
What’s the difference between a sloppy joe and a sloppy Jane?
A Sloppy Jane is an alternative to a Sloppy Joe, using ground turkey instead of ground beef. This is an easy way to make this recipe slightly healthier.
Homemade Sloppy Joe Recipe
- 1 small onion (finely chopped)
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
- ¼ cup water
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 15 ounce can tomato sauce
- 1 pound lean ground beef (85%-90% lean)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper (or to taste)
- 3 garlic cloves (minced)
- 4 hamburger buns (toasted if desired)
- Over medium-high heat, heat olive oil in a large skillet or dutch oven. Add the ground beef and brown for about 5 minutes until cooked through and longer pink, breaking it up with a spatula.
- Add the onion and garlic. Cook another 5 minutes until the onion is tender and beef is browned. Drain the beef if needed and return it to the pot.
- In a large bowl, combine the Worcestershire sauce, mustard, water, brown sugar, and tomato sauce. Stir to combine.
- Pour in the sauce over the ground beef, stir, and bring to a light boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered for about 10-15 minutes.
- While the sauce finishes, broil the buns while you wait. Toasting buns only takes a minute or two under the broiler, so stay close by.
- To assemble the sandwiches, add a scoop of the sauce mixture to a toasted hamburger bun and serve.