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

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!

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

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

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The Best Sloppy Joes are easy to make and so delicious! Triple or quadruple the recipe for parties, backyard barbecues, and giant family vacations.
5 from 18 votes
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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.

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.

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

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48 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.

    • 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. :)

  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. Iam sorry I went to your web site for the recipe for sloppy joes. I only wanted the recipe for the sloppy joes , but ended up with 18 pages of comments, pictures of other products I am not interested in and other crap. What a waste of paper time and money, Wont be using your site again.Thank you very much!!!!!!!!!!!

    • I’m sorry about that, Bruce. There is a “print recipe” button right at the top of the page so you can print the recipe without even scrolling or anything. It sounds like you printed the whole blog post, not just the recipe (there is also a Print Recipe button within the recipe card, but clearly you didn’t find it). But nevermind, I understand you won’t be back and I’m sorry again!

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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! :)

  18. 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!

  19. 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!

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

  21. 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!

  22. 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. 

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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!

  27. Best recipe ever for sloppy joes!

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

  29. 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!

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