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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. 
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 294kcal


  • 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


  • 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 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 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.



  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.


Serving: 1sandwich | Calories: 294kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 40mg | Sodium: 412mg | Potassium: 292mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 77IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 92mg | Iron: 3mg