Homemade Sloppy Joes

Sloppy Joes are nostalgic for so many people. Whether you remember your own mom making them or looking forward to sloppy Joe day at the school cafeteria, chances are you have some memory of them.

Homemade Sloppy Joes are so easy to make! Use my special sweet heat sloppy Joe sauce recipe with ground pork, beef, chicken or even turkey! #homemadesloppyjoes #sloppyjoesauce #sloppyjoerecipe www.savoryexperiments.com

I was the kid who refused to eat school lunch and quite frankly, I also refused to eat sloppy Joes out of a can, so the only sloppy Joes I know are homemade.

To be honest, it had been years since I ate a sloppy Joe, at home or otherwise, but I was on a nostalgic food kick after I made my Homemade Franks and Beans (Beanies and Weenies to some). Turns out it they have a lot in common with this sloppy Joe recipe too.

What is that? Well, they taste good because they have a good amount of sugar in them. I’m not going to lie or beat around the bush here. And since I am the only one of my friends not on a keto, paleo or Whole30 diet, I don’t really care! (No offense to those that are…)

Sloppy Joe sauce uses just a handful of ingredients: ground beef, ketchup, green bell pepper, onion, mustard and brown sugar. My sloppy Joe recipes takes this up and notch with fresh garlic, robust Worcestershire sauce and one secret ingredient…

Are you ready for it? SAUSAGE!

I also like to keep my bell pepper and onion semi-firm, not completely sweating them down. It gives the sloppy Joe sandwich a little crunch.

After sloppy Joe sauce hits it, they won’t be able to tell!

Sloppy Joes are perfect for an easy weeknight meal, but also to serve at a party. While they are best cooked on the stove, you can transfer the mixture to a slow cooker and keep it on warm, allowing guests to make their own full-size or slider-size sandwiches.

Why You’ll Love These Easy Sloppy Joes

Ground meat coated in a flavorful, tangy sauce that’s perfect on a bun- what’s not to love! 

  • Real ingredients – Sure, opening a can of Manwich is easy, but do we really know what’s in there? With this easy recipe you certainly do.
  • Flavorful sauce – Both tangy, sweet and a little spicy, this homemade sauce is way better than the canned stuff.
  • Family favorite – Loved by both kids and adults, grab plenty of napkins because this messy sandwich is always a hit.
Homemade Sloppy Joes are so easy to make! Use my special sweet heat sloppy Joe sauce recipe with ground pork, beef, chicken or even turkey! #homemadesloppyjoes #sloppyjoesauce #sloppyjoerecipe www.savoryexperiments.com


 

Ingredients

With simple ingredients, most of which you might already have on hand, you’re well on your way to making this easy dinner.

  • Lean ground beef – Use lean beef so that you avoid having too much excess grease after cooking it. Of course, ground turkey or ground chicken can be swapped.
  • Sweet Italian sausage – Yep, I mix ground beef with Italian sausage. This not only adds flavor to the mix, but textural variety. 
  • White onion – Make sure to dice the onion into small pieces so it blends well with the meat, especially for little eaters.
  • Green bell pepper – Green pepper adds a nice crunch to the meat mixture, but if you have picky eaters you can feel free to leave it out. 
  • Ketchup – I like the sweetness this adds rather than using tomato sauce. You can use your favorite brand or make your own homemade ketchup
  • Yellow mustard– This style of mustard brings bright and tangy flavor to the sauce. Dijon or a spicy brown makes things even more interesting.
  • Brown sugar – Brown sugar adds just a touch of rich sweetness. Dark can be used for a heavier molasses undertone.
  • Worcestershire sauce – Using Worcestershire sauce is a great way to add depth to the sauce. You can even try making your own.  
  • Salt and pepper – I like to use white pepper instead of black pepper because I like that it’s a bit more mild. I also use Kosher salt. Be aware that different salts measure differently. 
  • Ancho chili powder – If you want yours to have a little bite, feel free to add additional chili powder, hot sauce or even crushed red pepper flakes.
  • Bacon –  Yep, crispy bacon dons the top of my homemade sloppy Joe. I just put mine on the sandwich, but you can incorporate into the meat mixture also.
  • Sesame seeds buns – You just can’t got wrong with a soft sesame seed bun to make this loose meat sandwich.
Homemade Sloppy Joes are so easy to make! Use my special sweet heat sloppy Joe sauce recipe with ground pork, beef, chicken or even turkey! #homemadesloppyjoes #sloppyjoesauce #sloppyjoerecipe www.savoryexperiments.com

How to Make Homemade Sloppy Joes

Making the best sloppy joes is as simple as 1, 2, 3!

  1. Prepare skillet. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Coat with cooking spray. 
  2. Cook meat. Cook ground meat, breaking apart as it cooks. Heat until fully cooked. Remove to a paper towel lined plate or tray to drain. Set aside. 
  3. Cook vegetables. Add chopped onion and green peppers. Sauté until just soft. 
  4. Add remaining ingredients. Add ketchup, yellow mustard, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, white pepper, Kosher salt and ancho chile powder. Stir well. 
  5. Combine. Incorporate ground meats into the sauce, stirring until combined and heated all the way through. 
  6. Add to bun with bacon. Serve on a sesame seed bun and top with crispy bacon. 
Homemade Sloppy Joes are so easy to make! Use my special sweet heat sloppy Joe sauce recipe with ground pork, beef, chicken or even turkey! #homemadesloppyjoes #sloppyjoesauce #sloppyjoerecipe www.savoryexperiments.com

What to Serve with Sloppy Joes

You can serve this easy meal with just about anything you’d like to. It’s usually thought of as a main meal, so serving it with a few sides is what we usually do.

This is a great recipe to serve with things like tater tots, french fries or even sweet potato fries. If you’d like to throw in a vegetable, cooked carrots, broccoli or even a side salad work great. Of course, don’t forget about the toasted bun!

Variations

There are plenty of ways you can make this sloppy joe mixture your own.

  • Meat – Instead of ground beef and sausage try using ground turkey or ground chicken. You can also use your favorite plant-based alternative.
  • Cheese – Try adding a slice of cheese to your classic sloppy joes. A slice of cheddar, American cheese, Monterey Jack, provolone, or even parmesan cheese would be delish. 
  • Heat – Add some spiciness to your sloppy joes recipe with hot sauce, chili powder, cayenne pepper powder, or crushed red pepper flakes. 
  • Vegetables – Sneak some extra veggies into this meaty sandwiches by dicing up some carrots or mushrooms and adding them to the mixture.
  • Crunch – Don’t knock it until you try it, but I like to add potato chips, yes, potato chips to my sandwiches!
  • Sauce – If you want a less sweet sauce, try using tomato paste instead of ketchup. You can also use bbq sauce for a different flavor.
  • Bun – Mix up your buns! Pretzel buns or brioche buns are great options for this best sloppy joe recipe.
Homemade Sloppy Joes are so easy to make! Use my special sweet heat sloppy Joe sauce recipe with ground pork, beef, chicken or even turkey! #homemadesloppyjoes #sloppyjoesauce #sloppyjoerecipe www.savoryexperiments.com

Storage and Freezing

Storage: Store any leftovers of this delicious sloppy joe recipe in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Make sure to store the buns separately from the sloppy joe meat.

Freezing: The meat can also be frozen for up to six months. Make sure to put in a freezer bag or other airtight container.

Homemade Sloppy Joes are so easy to make! Use my special sweet heat sloppy Joe sauce recipe with ground pork, beef, chicken or even turkey! #homemadesloppyjoes #sloppyjoesauce #sloppyjoerecipe www.savoryexperiments.com

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are they called sloppy Joes? 

Legend goes that the cook that invented them, a man by the name of Joe, added ketchup to his ground beef sandwiches. That sandwich was sloppy… hence the sloppy Joe.

What is the sloppy joe sauce made of?

While every recipe is different, this one is made from ground beef, sausage, bacon, vegetables, spices and sauces.

What is the fancy name for Sloppy Joes?

I don’t know about fancy, but I’ve sometimes heard it referred to as Manwich. That’s the most popular brand of canned sloppy joe sauce.

Homemade Sloppy Joes are so easy to make! Use my special sweet heat sloppy Joe sauce recipe with ground pork, beef, chicken or even turkey! #homemadesloppyjoes #sloppyjoesauce #sloppyjoerecipe www.savoryexperiments.com

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Homemade Sloppy Joes are so easy to make! Use my special sweet heat sloppy Joe sauce recipe with ground pork, beef, chicken or even turkey! #homemadesloppyjoes #sloppyjoesauce #sloppyjoerecipe www.savoryexperiments.com

Homemade Sloppy Joe Recipe

4.75 from 4 votes
Homemade Sloppy Joes are so easy to make! Use my special sweet heat sloppy Joe sauce recipe with ground pork, beef, chicken or even turkey! 
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 10

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Coat with cooking spray or add 1 teaspoon of a neutral oil.
  • Brown the ground beef and bulk sausage, breaking it apart as it cooks. Heat until fully cooked. Remove to a paper towel lined plate or tray to drain. Set aside. 
  • Pour off the excess fat, leaving enough to coat the bottom so your vegetables don't stick. 
  • Add the chopped onion and green peppers. Saute for 3-4 minutes or until just soft. 
  • Stir in the ketchup, yellow mustard, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, white pepper, Kosher salt and ancho chile powder. Stir well. 
  • Incorporate the ground meats into the sauce, stirring until combined and heated all the way through. 
  • Serve on a sesame seed bun and top with the crispy bacon. 
  • If you've tried this recipe, come back to let us know how it was in the comments or star ratings.

Video

Notes

You can use any mixture of ground meat you’d like: chicken, pork, beef or even turkey. 

Nutrition

Calories: 614 kcal, Carbohydrates: 41 g, Protein: 27 g, Fat: 36 g, Saturated Fat: 12 g, Cholesterol: 92 mg, Sodium: 1480 mg, Potassium: 591 mg, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 16 g, Vitamin A: 335 IU, Vitamin C: 13.2 mg, Calcium: 120 mg, Iron: 4 mg
Author: Jessica Formicola
Calories: 614
Course: Main Course, Main Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: homemade sloppy joes, sloppy joe recipe, sloppy joe sauce
Did you make this recipe?I’d love to see your recipes – snap a picture and mention @savoryexperiments or tag #savoryexperiments!
Jessica Formicola in her ktichen

About the Author

Jessica Formicola

Jessica the mom, wife and food lover behind Savory Experiments. She is obsessed with butter, salt and bacon and spends all her time in the kitchen and behind a camera. Jessica is a contributor to PopKitchen by Parade, Better Homes & Gardens, The Daily Meal Food + Travel and more!

Read More About Jessica

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Questions and Reviews

  1. Love the idea of sloppy joes. These look juicy and enticing. I often make them but a vegetarian version and they are always a super hit.