The Best Sloppy Joes

The Best Sloppy Joes are easy to make and so delicious! Triple or quadruple the recipe for parties, backyard barbecues, and giant family vacations. Scroll down for the video and see how fast you can make it!

Sloppy Joes are the first meal we eat every year at the cabin up north.

Mom always makes a huge batch and freezes it for the drive (6 hours in to the middle of nowhere), and then we throw it on the stove and everyone chows down once we’ve unloaded.

The Best Sloppy Joes - A photo of five sloppy joes on a dark blue background - for full written recipe click photo.

Sloppy Joes are great because they are just about the easiest thing around to make and you can feed a crowd (in our case, 10 adults and 6 children under 6 all crammed in to a log cabin).

Whether you’re looking for an easy weeknight dinner or a satisfying main dish for your next summer potluck, look no further!

MY LATEST RECIPES

Start by browning the meat with the onion, then drain well. If you’re using any beef leaner than 90%, you may not have to drain the meat at all.

While that’s cooking, whisk together all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Technically you could just mix everything in the pot, but I like to get the sauce flavors blending ASAP.

That way, 20 minutes on the stove top is all it takes and these are done!

It’s always good to add cheese to your sandwich. Ideally you’d cut a “wonk” (AKA a giant thick slice) from a 5-pound block of Wisconsin cheddar, but American cheese (or anything else) works too.

The Best Sloppy Joes - a photo of one sloppy joe with cheese on a dark blue background - for full written recipe click photo.

Save The Best Sloppy Joes to your “Main Dishes” Pinterest board!

And let’s be friends on Pinterest! I’m always pinning tasty recipes!

The Best Sloppy Joes are easy to make and so delicious! Triple or quadruple the recipe for parties, backyard barbecues, and giant family vacations.
4.99 from 50 votes
Print

The Best Sloppy Joes

The Best Sloppy Joes are easy to make and so delicious! Triple or quadruple the recipe for parties, backyard barbecues, and giant family vacations.

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 343 kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 Sandwich buns, split

Instructions

  1. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, combine beef and onion. Cook until the meat is mostly browned, about 5 minutes. Drain well.

  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk together tomato sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, vinegar, Worcestershire, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. 

  3. Pour sauce ingredients over drained beef and stir until evenly coated. Cover and simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve in buns.

This post contains affiliate links. For more information on my Affiliate and Advertising Policy, please click here.

The Best Sloppy Joes are easy to make and so delicious! Triple or quadruple the recipe for parties, backyard barbecues, and giant family vacations.

More recipes you'll love...

99 comments

  1. I can’t believe I have never thought to add cheese to my sloppy joe. These look great. The messier the better!

  2. I have a spatchcocked chicken brining for roasting today, but these are definitely on deck for tomorrow – drool.

  3. I’m a Texan living in Singapore. This was a taste of home. Yum! My husband raved about these. Thanks for the recipe. Subbed Dijon for the dry mustard. Didn’t add cheese. Buttered and grilled the bun first. I’m a Pinterest follower now. Shared on Facebook.

  4.  Was excellent! I added bacon and diced onions. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Would like to make these…any special change if I wanted to double the recipe?
    Thanks :)

    • No changes, Bonnie! Just double everything. :) And that’s a good call, doubling it. I hope you love it as much as I do! Take care!

  6. This. Was. A. Maze. Ing. So good. I tripled the recipe for us, 2 grown kids, son-in-law and 5 grandkids. Our daughter said we just wrecked sloppy joes for her. No more packaged mix for her! Everyone loved it. Only down side…no leftovers :(
    Thank you for a great, quick and pretty darn cheap, keeper. 

  7. Excellent! I adjusted the seasonings to taste.My adjustments…1/2 a minced onion,1/2 diced green pepper saute then add 1lb organic grass fed beef.salt pepper and worchestire.In a small bown combine 8oz can tomato sauce 1/2 c ketchup 1tbsp worchestire 1 tbsp brown sugar, 1 tbsp yellow mustard salt and pepper to taste,pour over beef and simmer 20 minutes.I like Manwich,but try and avoid any processed food.This KILLS Manwich!! So good,My Husband licked His plate! He is very picky! Thank you,really is the best sloppy joes!

    • Thank you so much Michelle! I love that you added green pepper. I like that a lot (my mom always added that) but my husband isn’t a fan, so I miss out. And hooray for grass fed beef!!! Anyway, this all makes me really happy and I really appreciate that you tried it and so glad you liked it. And I’m glad you made it your own, too. :) Take care!!

  8. I just made this sloppy joe recipe. This is by far the best I’ve ever made! So delicious and so easy to make. I can’t wait to serve my sandwiches for tomorrow’s lunch.
    Thank you for sharing this.

    • Thank you so much Jeanne! I really appreciate your kind words and I’m so happy you liked the sloppy joes. I agree – it’s the best! But I’m biased. :) Thanks again and take care!

  9. I just served them for mu husbands Birthday party,I made 5 lbs of meat,and about 20 people showed up(there was plenty of other food too) That was destroyed,and recieved MANY compliments!! eVEN mY gRANDMOTHER LOVED IT…THANKS AGAIN!

  10. I made this tonight for a last minute family (low-key) dinner – IT WAS AMAZING! Thank you for publishing this recipe! 

  11. This looks so good! I plan to try it this weekend for a camping trip. The group you talk about up at the cabin is exactly the size I’m planning for this weekend. Do you know how large of a batch you would make? Triple?

    • Hi, Kandace! I would say triple AT LEAST. I think my mom quadruples the batch, but that way we can eat leftovers for a few days. Leftovers might not work as well camping! But I’d still say triple it, it’s so good I personally eat at least 2 sandwiches immediately. I hope you love it!

  12. So so good! First time making this recipe and everyone loved! Thank you!

    • Thank you so much Jill! So grateful for your support. And glad it was a success! Thanks again and take care. :)

  13. Hey there. I am going to make this for my baby shower!!! I was wondering if it would be alright to cook everything the night before and then just heat it up the day of? Am I going to lose any of the goodness?

    • Hey Jacqui! DO IT! It will actually taste better if you do it that way. That’s the genius of the recipe! My mom always does that for our trip up north to the log cabin. She makes it ahead, freezes it solid so it survives the 6-hour car ride, and then we heat it up when we get there and it’s THE BEST. I hope you love it! Thank you for your question and for visiting the site. :) Take care!

  14. The sauce is amazing, I tried it before I added it to the mixes, only thing I felt missing was a bit of garlic. It tasted amazing with both the lentil, onion, and pepper mixture and the meat and mirepoix mixture.

  15. Hi, I’m going to make this tonight. Do you think apple cider vinegar would be a good substitute for white vinegar?

    • Hi Anne, yes! Absolutely. It’s a great substitution and one I’ve made myself many times. I’ll add that info to the recipe. Thank you for your question, and I hope you like the recipe! Take care.

  16. Looks delicious. Just curious the reason for the ketchup? I have a huge pot of fresh thick tomato sauce I just made from tomatoes from my garden and thought I would pressure can some sloppy joe sauce in jars to have on hand. I have ketchup but just wondering if I really need it with all this fresh sauce I have?

    • Hi Cathy! I’d say the ketchup adds sugar, for better or for worse. It’s definitely NOT required, you could certainly substitute your amazing fresh tomato sauce! It will taste great and be healthier. Obviously ketchup adds its own flavor, but that doesn’t mean it’s required. Consider this recipe a blank canvas for your own (and probably better) ideas! :)

    • Had to let you know I made these in the summer with my garden tomato sauce and did use the ketchup. Canned about 12 jars of this and we are out. Just thawed out 50 pounds of tomatoes from the garden and I am making an even bigger batch to can this time around. Gave a few away as gifts at Xmas and am already getting orders for more. I gave them the recipe and told them they are on their own this time. Thanks again!!

  17. These were delicious! Only thing I added was some sauted chopped bell pepper and a tbsp of molasses in the sauce to cut the acid in the tomato. Turned out to be a winner. Husband ate left overs with chips so had to be good. Thanks for sharing!

  18. Confession: I love to cook & bake from scratch, but when it comes to sloppy joes I take the Manwich way out. Except for when my kids beg for them at 7:00 at night & I’m fresh out of Manwich, I went with plan B…do a Google search for best sloppy joe recipe! Yours popped up right away. And although I substituted a jar of sweet chili sauce for the tomato sauce, & a packet of Lipton beefy onion powder mix for a real onion, I followed the rest of the recipe to a tee. The result was outstanding, & I’ll never buy another can of Manwich again!

    • THIS IS THE BEST STORY EVER!!! I can just picture you rummaging through your pantry to find anything you can to make it work, and you obviously did the job. Your version is probably better than mine! So exciting. Thanks for sharing Kristin!

    • Ahhhh! Now there’s a real cook – digging through the pantry and the spice rack to see what you come up to make this recipe work when you don’t have all the ingredients called for. Remember, a recipe is just one person’s idea of how to make a dish. Never be afraid to be creative!

    • I totally agree with you Brian! I always consider a recipe a starting point for negotiations. I love when people can tweak a recipe based on their own ingredients and taste because let’s face it – people are different! They like different flavors! Different amounts of spice or sugar! Whatever it is. I wish I could hold everyone’s hand and tell them it will be okay if they change something out in a recipe. :D Thank you for being such a lovely soul!

  19. Might make these tonight for my wife and I. Sounds good. Thanx

  20. I want to make this tonight, but I bought tomato paste instead of sauce thinking I was making a different recipe, then stumbled upon yours and it looks so much better! Think it would be ok to substitute? Should I maybe add water? Thanks!

    • Hi Savannah, I’m so sorry I didn’t respond to you in time! I hope you were able to proceed. Tomato paste is fine, and yes you could thin it with water if you like. It’s a very forgiving recipe and it’s REALLY hard to screw up, ha ha! I hope it worked for you. Take care and thanks for the question!

    • It came out delicious! Thanks for the recipe!

  21. Okay, I’m never using Manwich again, this recipe is perfection! I had some beef that needed to be cooked but I’d totally forgot to grab a can of Manwich at the store. I googled a recipe and this came right up. I checked my pantry and whatever I didn’t have, I subbed very easily: onion powder, yellow mustard for the ground, and A1 for the worcesterire (even though as I was putting everything  away, I saw a bottle of it in fridge lol), and I added garlic powder. Per.fec.tion! My family loved it. 

  22. i wanted to try this recipe but the ingredients confused me because here in australia tomato sauce and ketchup are the same thing, so i was wondering if tomato paste here is tomato sauce there? btw it looks amazing

    • Hi Raf! Tomato paste is a thicker version of tomato sauce. In the US, ketchup has vinegar and sugar in it where as tomato sauce is just plain tomato (like tomato paste but more watered down). If you have tomato paste, you could certainly substitute that and just add some water (maybe 1/2 cup?) to thin out the paste. I hope that makes sense, let me know if it not. It’s REALLY hard to mess up the recipe though, so I think you’ll be okay! I appreciate your kind words and hope you give Sloppy Joes a try! Thank you so much!

    • Tomato puree would be the equivalent to tomato sauce in Australia.

    • Hi Raf. I’m from Canada and now live in Australia. What I’ve found to be closest to tomato sauce .. North American style .. is Passata. Recipes with tomato sauce listed really confused me as well when I first moved here :)

  23. We are going to try this recipe tomorrow night but I think it will make more than we need. Do you just put the filling into a freezer bag and freeze and then reheat and add to buns when needed?

    • Hi Erin, yes absolutely! My mom always makes this for our up-north adventures and she actually just sticks the whole pot in the freezer and freezes it rock solid – that way it can survive the 6-hour trek up north. But I digress – a freezer safe bag is fine! Great, even. Thank you for your question and take care.

  24. Can this be made in a crock pot?  If so any adjustments?

    • Hi Cindy, yes to a crockpot! I probably wouldn’t make any adjustments. I’d brown the beef and onion first and combine it with all the other ingredients in the crockpot. Then you just heat it for however long it takes to get hot. If you wanted to speed that process up, combine all the ingredients with the beef and bring it to a boil and then transfer it to the crock – basically just keeping it warm. But then you don’t have to wait for your crockpot to bring everything up in temperature. Depends on your schedule though. I hope this helps! Thanks.

  25. This looks so good.   Do you think you can add celery in the mixture?  I’ve made sloppy joes with celery before, and my kids loved it.   

    • Yes! My mom *always* does. The only reason I don’t have it in the recipe is because my husband doesn’t like the texture of celery in it. Or, at one point he did. I feel like if he read this right now he’d be like… what do you mean I don’t like celery?! So yes, please add it. It’s also good with green pepper if that’s your jam. I hope you love it! Thanks Kim!

  26. Best recipe ever for sloppy joes!

  27. Made this tonight for a quick pre trick or treating dinner!! It was a huge hit!! 

  28. This is now my “go to” recipe for sloppy joes. I made the recipe for my husband and me to try [yum] and then made the recipe x 5 to take to work. I had 32 buns and it’s amazing but it came down to one bun left and just enough mixture to make one sandwich. One suggestion is to use frozen chopped onions. I use them in most recipes and it really saves time and mess. With using frozen onions this recipe is just measure, mix and cook. After cooking the hamburger and onions, I added everything to the skillet without mixing it all separately in a bowl. Thanks!

    • Gayle, the frozen chopped onions are GENIUS! Such a good idea, it’s the perfect recipe for that. Thank you so much! And I’m glad you like the recipe. Makes my heart sing!

  29. My husband and I tried this and it was excellent. Definitely a do again.

    • Thank you so much Nancy, I appreciate your kind words and I’m glad your husband agrees. I could literally eat this every day! Take care and thanks again.

  30. Hi! I’m in England and I really want to make this for my kids but our shops don’t sell cans of tomato sauce.

    We call ketchup ‘tomato sauce’, and it only comes in bottles. We have something called Passata which comes in a carton or glass jar which people cook with. Would that be a good substitute? Then there’s tomato purée that comes in tubes but I know that would be way too concentrated. I hope you can help! Thanks!! 

    • Hi Portia! Passata is really close to tomato sauce! We have it here too. I would use that and hopefully you love it. Please report back if you can – I’d love to know what you thought! Thank you so much for trying my recipe. :D

  31. Omg I’ve just made them and they were so good! All my kids loved them and it’s not easy to please them all! The passata worked fine too instead of the tomato sauce. I’ll definitely make these again! 

  32. This was awesome, I think it’s even better than the can stuff. Thanks so much for sharing

  33. Made the Joe’s ,great used half turkey burger and half 85% ground round really good no one knows that is has turkey burger in it and cuts fat great Don

  34. Megan, this recipe is amazing. My husband “Mr. Picky” said this is amazing. I made it for today (New Years Eve) I’m sure my kiddos and grands will love it. I have it on my screan so it’s just a click away. Thanks again. Mary from Shawano Wisconsin

    • Hi Mary!!! Have you guys warmed up yet? I was in Wisconsin for 2 weeks and it was SO STINKIN’ COLD (I was in Waukesha and Racine). But fun and lovely also. :) Anyway, thank you so much for trying my recipe and I’m excited and relieved that your husband gave his approval. I appreciate that you came back to leave a comment and I hope it’s a success for tonight. Happy new Year Mary! Take care.

    • Wisconsin had 2 warm days this weekend.lol It was in the 40’s, but today back in the low 20’s. We are waiting eagerly for March. Take care Megan and happy you enjoyed Wi while you were here. We have family in Milwaukee.

  35. This just tastes like beef smothered in ketchup. Was extremely disappointed with this recipe. 

  36. I like to use the Heinz Ketchup that has the Tabasco sauce in it……….and that really gives the flavor profile a bit more depth for my tastes w/out being hot to taste. This recipe is super easy and so tasty.

  37. This was just ok, I added celery, white beans, an extra tablespoon of brown sugar and a splash of Frank’s red hot sauce, then it was perfect 

  38. It was my turn to make dinner for our Girls High School Soccer Team – we always have a team dinner the night before a home game. I wanted to do something other than the usual spaghetti or pizza. I prepared this during the day and then put it in the crock pot to keep warm. My husband was my “taste tester” and he asked me to keep the recipe so that I can make it for our family as well. The soccer team (and the coaches) loved it! There was nothing left to bring back home and I saw several of the girls going back for seconds!

    I did not make any variation to this recipe and it was DELICIOUS! Thank you!

    • Thank you so much Marci! You made my day/week/month/life! I am so glad the recipe was a hit. Thank you so much for coming back to leave a review, it means a lot! Take care and thanks again. :D

  39. Made these tonight and they were great! Finally found a good recipe. Thanks for sharing!

    • HIGH-FIVES SASHA! This makes me so happy. “Finally found a good recipe.” Please put this on my tombstone. Thanks so much and take care!

  40. I stumbled on this recipe and decided to try it due to all the positive reviews. 1 warning though. I substituted dry mustard for Dijon. The problem there is that Dijon has vinegar in it so at first try the sauce was terrible. I added more ketchup and brown sugar to try and even out the vinegar taste. Once I did that, however the sloppy Joe’s were amazing. My 14 year old daughter, who’s very picky said these were the best ones I’ve made. This recipe is very similar to what I normally do, but this ones far better! And SO simple. Just watch out for that added vinegar taste if your subbing out the dry mustard. Thanks for sharing this recipe! It’s a definite keeper!

  41. I’ve never made “from scratch” sloppy joes and I decided to try this tonight because of all the good reviews. I have to say that for us, it’s not the right recipe. It’s way too sweet for my family’s taste. I only used 1/2 the brown sugar, too. I didn’t realize how much sugar ketchup would have in it and how it would intensify as it cooked down (I use Heinz No Salt ketchup). I had to make a lot of corrections so that it wouldn’t get thrown out, such as doubling the mustard and vinegar, adding chili powder and Frank’s Hot Sauce, then after it cooked down the first time, added 1/2 cup of water and let it cook down again.

    I don’t mean this review to criticize your recipe. For those who like the sweeter taste I’m sure it’s lovely, and it certainly is easy. This just isn’t the one for those that are more sweet sensitive.

  42. We ate this for dinner last night and it was a hit! Never buying canned again. Thank you!

    • This is amazing, thank you so much Caroline! I’m glad you liked it. :) Take care and thanks again!

  43. This is such a great recipe Meggan! Thank you! As a Wisconsin girl myself, I loved to see the Wisconsin cheddar mentioned :) My husband loves this recipe and it tastes really similar to what I grew up on! We are having this for the second time in a week because we just can’t stop craving it!

  44. I made Sloppy Joes using your recipe and added green peppers.  EVERYBODY loved them.  These were so easy to prepare.  Thanks!

  45. I have usesd this recipe twice. both times i added the small red, yellow & orange sweet peppers to the onion. My family like so many others says “no more Manwich” so much better. I can never make a big enough pot everyone wants to take the leftovers for lunch. Thank you so much for sharing. And I agree with you about not being able to mess this recipe up you just follow your basic recipe and add what your family likes. We love it. Tell your Mom.

    Lisa

  46. How much ground beef?

  47. It cracks me up when people worry about adding or subtracting a seasoning (onion/garlic) use tomato sauce or soup etc. I’m a kitchen sink cook. Whatever’s handy goes in. The more stuff the merrier! Just taste as you go along basically. Don’t think I ever used an actual recipe for Joe’s. Even the chicken gumbo soup instead of tomato for “super burgers” like I had as a kid in the 40’s works great!. So guys, ad lib it and have fun!

  48. That’s “in the 50’s, not 40’s”. Just added 10 years to my age!

  49. I usually hate sloppy joes, but wanted to make something quick for the family and I LOVE this recipe. It isn’t too sweet or too vinegary. It’s just perfect. I did sub Dijon mustard for the dry mustard and apple cider for the white vinegar, but this is a keeper.

  50. This is way too sweet! How do I cut the sweetness down quickly before I try and serve this to my family? I followed the recipe to a T! Help! What do I do? Tripled the recipe cuz I thought it’d be good based on all the comments. 

    • Hi Elizabeth, you can add tomato paste to cut the sweetness. You may have to simmer longer to thicken. I’m sorry it was too sweet for you. It must be the ketchup, I’m guessing it’s not to your taste. Sorry about that! Yes most of the people who try the recipe seem to like it, but we all have our own individual preferences for food of course. Good luck and sorry about that!

    • I did a quick google search which recommended lemon juice, which I just happened to have, and that did it! Now it tastes great! (Minus the salt which I added just a little too much of.) We’ll see if my family likes it! I think it tastes great now! I think I’m so used to eating manwich so the flavor was alien to me. Lol. I change my rating to 5 stars! 

    • Oh my gosh, you didn’t need to change your rating! The 2-star rating reflects how well my recipe served you, LOL! I’m glad you tried lemon juice and that it worked. I feel like I should have known that, but now I do. I will add a note to the recipe. I really appreciate your kindness and honesty and I’m glad you fixed the recipe. Take care!

    • I’ve subbed barbeque sauce for half of the ketch and cut the he sugar by half, because my family (I don’t eat meat so can’t really comment) tends to like things a little hotter. They LOVED it. Just a thought. 

    • …please pardon the typos…should’ve edited Before hitting POST. They LOVED it. 

  51. Hi Megan,
    This is Mary from Wisconsin. Yes, we got hit hard with the white nasty stuff. 31″ to be exact. You must have been sending someone else a response, but I accidentally received it. Your sloppy joe recipe is to die for. My husband was the picky eater and absolutely loved your recipe.
    Take care and hope you have no need to come to Wisconsin anytime soon. So sick of snow, I’m over this. Possibly 50s and 60s this weekend though. Again take care!
    Mary Reyes

  52. great recipe! opted to try yours over many others on the internet based on half the amount of ketchup and less sugar than other recipes. i ended up modifying the recipe slightly. added 2 garlic cloves(minced) instead of regular salt, I used 1/2 tsp (ish) of celery salt. used 2tbsp Worcestershire sauce instead of 1, a few tbsp of red wine. seemed like it was missing a little something in the end so I added 1-1/2 tsp of liquid smoke and it was perfect! thank you very much!

  53. I was browning some ground beef to make sloppy joes last week & found I did not have my trusty package of sloppy joe mix. I did not want to go to the store so I found your recipe online. I had all the ingredients on your list so I decided to give it a try. The extra 3 minutes to make this from scatch is so worth it. These sloppy joes were way beyond my old way of making them. I will never buy the packaged mix again. I served mine open faced on hamburger buns with a slice of colby jack cheese melted on top. I will be back to try some of your other recipes.

    • Dear Roger, THANK YOU! You made my day. And you ate it just like we do in Wisconsin – with a slice of Colby jack. :) And I’m glad it was easy for you to make. I really appreciate you! Have a great rest of your weekend.

  54. so im not done making the accual sloppy joe 
    but i tried the sauce 🤤👌it will be good 
    we having a small party so i tripled the size 

  55. I have prepared this recipe numerous times. It is a crowd pleaser. I add diced cellery(finally chopped)or a little crunch.

  56. Makes 6 servings but recipe calls for 8 buns?

    • Typo. Makes 8 servings!!! Sorry about that. I should say, it makes 8 servings on those cheap junky white buns… if you are doing something more substantial, like kaiser rolls, you might only get 6.

  57. I just made it and it was delicious.

  58. Found this recipe while on a mission trip with my church to Cumberland, MD. Had an awesome time with two friends preparing the sloppy joes as the main course for dinner in the kitchen of the Bruce Outreach Center in Westernport, MD. Bookmarked this site for future meal ideas. Awesome recipe, everyone loved the sloppy joes.

  59. Meggan, my husband is from Wisconsin Rapids and he calls this recipe barbecues! I had always called it sloppy joes growing up. Just like macaroni in his chilli recipe!

    • Toria, this makes my day! LOL! I know exactly where Wisconsin Rapids is and used to have my cross country State meets there in high school. :D Have a lovely weekend!

  60. I made this with ground turkey and it was Delish!!!! I won’t be buying canned sloppy joe mix any more.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

thanks for stopping by!

y’all come back now, ya hear?