When it comes to easy homemade dinners, it doesn’t get any better than the best Sloppy Joes, my family’s most requested recipe. Every bite is meaty, messy, and delicious.

The best sloppy joes on a plate with pickles and chips.

Sloppy Joes take me back to the good old days of summer vacations. Every year my mom would make a giant batch of this recipe, freeze it, and stow it in the car during our annual trip to northern Wisconsin. When we got to the cabin, dinner was already made. All we had to do was toast up some buns and set the table. Summer meant lots of Sloppy Joe sandwiches, which was fine by me.

Of course, you can fiddle with the recipe. Make it spicy, with some green chilies. Keep out the sugar if you prefer things less sweet, or add some smokiness with a little BBQ sauce. Fill it full of hidden veggies, or leave it as-is. Throw in some ground turkey, lamb, or venison. There’s simply no wrong way to make a Sloppy Joe.

Recipe ingredients:

Sloppy joe ingredients labeled and in various bowls.

Ingredient notes:

  • Ground beef: Or substitute ground turkey or venison.
  • Onion: Finely chopped celery and bell peppers are great too!
  • Brown sugar: Even a tablespoon is too much for some people. If you don’t like the sound of brown sugar in your Sloppy Joe, please leave it out!
  • Worcestershire sauce: In a pinch, you can substitute soy sauce.

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. Depending on the amount you’re making, you need a Dutch oven, large saucepan, or big pot. To start, over medium-high heat, brown the meat and onion together until the meat is almost cooked through–about 5 minutes or so.
    Ground beef and onion cooked in a sliver skillet.
  2. While the meat is cooking, mix together the tomato sauce, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, vinegar, and brown sugar in a separate bowl. Season the sauce with some salt and pepper.
    The best sloppy joe sauce ingredients in a clear glass bowl.
  3. Pour the sauce over the meat in the pot, stir well, and turn down the heat to a simmer.
    The best sloppy joe sauce being added to cooked ground beef and onion mixture.
  4. Let the meat simmer in the sauce for 20 minutes or so. Longer if you want drier, less sloppy Joes.
    The best sloppy joe meat in a sliver skillet.

Recipe tips and variations:

  • BBQ sauce. Your favorite barbecue sauce (or my favorite bbq sauce, based on Sweet Baby Ray’s) can be added instead of ketchup for a smoky version of a classic Joe.
  • Spicy: If you love some heat, throw in a tablespoon of ancho chili powder, a teaspoon of ground cumin, or a half teaspoon of chipotle powder. Or, splash on your favorite hot sauce to taste.
  • Slow cooker: In a skillet, brown the ground beef. Drain well and add the bottom of a slow cooker. Add all the other ingredients (except the buns), cover, and cook on LOW for 6-7 hours, or HIGH for 3-4 hours.
  • Freezer: Cool completely, then add to freezer containers (one big batch or individual portions), label and date, and freeze for up to 4 months. When you’re ready to eat, let the Sloppy Joes thaw overnight in the fridge and reheat on the stove (or reheat from frozen).
  • Casserole: For a fork-friendly version, try my One Pot Sloppy Joe Casserole.

The best sloppy joes with chips and pickles on blue plates.

More classic recipes:

The best sloppy joe sandwich on a white plate.

The Best Sloppy Joes

When it comes to easy homemade dinners, it doesn’t get any better than the best Sloppy Joes, my family’s most requested recipe. Every bite is meaty, messy, and delicious. 
5 from 132 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Servings 8 servings
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Calories 294

Ingredients 

  • 1 pound ground beef (see note 1)
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped (see note 2)
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar (see note 3)
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (see note 4)
  • 1 teaspoon dried mustard
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 Sandwich buns, split

Instructions 

  • 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.
  • Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk together tomato sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire, mustard, and salt and pepper to taste (I like ¼ teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon pepper). 
  • Pour sauce ingredients over drained beef and stir until evenly coated. Simmer uncovered 20 minutes, stirring occasionally (cover if you prefer a sloppier Sloppy Joe). Serve in buns.

Recipe Video

Notes

  1. Ground beef: Or substitute ground turkey or venison.
  2. Onion: Finely chopped celery and bell peppers are great too!
  3. Brown sugar: Even a tablespoon is too much for some people. If you don't like the sound of brown sugar in your Sloppy Joe, please leave it out!
  4. Worcestershire sauce: In a pinch, you can substitute soy sauce.
  5. BBQ sauce. Your favorite barbecue sauce (or my favorite bbq sauce, based on Sweet Baby Ray's) can be added instead of ketchup for a smoky version of a classic Joe.
  6. Spicy: If you love some heat, throw in a tablespoon of ancho chili powder, a teaspoon of ground cumin, or a half teaspoon of chipotle powder. Or, splash on your favorite hot sauce to taste.
  7. Slow cooker: In a skillet, brown the ground beef. Drain well and add the bottom of a slow cooker. Add all the other ingredients (except the buns), cover, and cook on LOW for 6-7 hours, or HIGH for 3-4 hours.
  8. Freezer: Cool completely, then add to freezer containers (one big batch or individual portions), label and date, and freeze for up to 4 months. When you're ready to eat, let the Sloppy Joes thaw overnight in the fridge and reheat on the stove (or reheat from frozen).
  9. Casserole: For a fork-friendly version, try my One Pot Sloppy Joe Casserole.

Nutrition

Serving: 1sandwichCalories: 294kcalCarbohydrates: 29gProtein: 14gFat: 13gSaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 40mgSodium: 412mgPotassium: 292mgFiber: 1gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 77IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 92mgIron: 3mg
Tried this Recipe? Pin it for Later!Mention @CulinaryHill or tag #CulinaryHill!
Culinary School Secrets
Pro-level tricks to transform your cooking!

Meggan Hill

I’m the Executive Chef and head of the Culinary Hill Test Kitchen. Every recipe is developed, tested, and approved just for you.

You May Also Like

Leave a Reply

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

Recipe Rating




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

Comments

  1. I made this tonight for a last minute family (low-key) dinner – IT WAS AMAZING! Thank you for publishing this recipe! 5 stars

  2. 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!5 stars

  3. 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.5 stars

    1. 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!

  4. 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!5 stars

    1. 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!!

  5. 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. 5 stars

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

    1. 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!

  7. 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.5 stars

    1. Thank you so much Jeanne!!! I imagine it was a quite a change from what you’ve been eating in Singapore. So happy you and your husband enjoyed these! Thanks again and take care. :)

  8. I have a spatchcocked chicken brining for roasting today, but these are definitely on deck for tomorrow – drool.5 stars