This is the best homemade sloppy Joe recipe, made with real ingredients and the perfect balance of flavors and texture. Use ground beef or ground turkey. Such a delicious, quick and easy dinner in only 20 minutes!
When you’re tired and hungry with mouths to feed, it’s hard to beat a classic like Sloppy Joes! Always a family-friendly option. Skip the store-bought canned sauce and make them from scratch. So much better and still so easy!
What is the difference between a Sloppy Joe and Manwich?
Manwich is the brand name of a canned seasoned sloppy joe sauce. It came to market in 1969 and was pitched as a quick, easy meal for the entire family, because you simply add it to cooked ground beef in a skillet. I’ve actually never had it, so I can’t compare my recipe to that sauce. But I do know that anything from scratch is going to be better than anything from a can.
The thing is, homemade Sloppy Joes are just as easy, so why not go with real ingredients and an end result that will taste amazing!
How to Make Sloppy Joes
You simply brown some ground beef in a skillet, add in spices and sauce ingredients, combine, simmer, scoop onto toasted buns, and done! What takes a sloppy Joe from 1 to 10 is the type of spices and ingredients you use.
I’ve made a lot of versions over the years, but this one is by far our favorite. It’s sweet, tangy, rich, with a little zip; the perfect balance of flavors and thick consistency. Nothing fancy, just simple pantry ingredients and just plain tasty.
Sloppy Joes Recipe Variations
This sloppy Joe recipe is the way I love it, but can easily be modified to suit your taste buds.
- Health conscience? Use ground turkey instead of beef.
- Swap out the ketchup for BBQ sauce.
- Too sweet? Cut back on the brown sugar.
- Like it spicier? Stir in some chopped jalapeños.
- Want it richer? Use beef or chicken broth instead of the water.
- Hate vegetables? Omit the onion and bell pepper.
- Fill a hollowed out bun with sloppy Joe meat, top with cheese, and stick it under the broiler for a couple minutes.
- Instead of a bun, top a baked potato with the sloppy Joe mixture! Yummy!
- Have a crowd or want leftovers for the next day? Easily double the recipe.
Can I Make Sloppy Joes in a crockpot?
Yep! Brown the beef, onion, and bell pepper in a skillet, then add to your crock pot along with all the other ingredients. Cook on LOW for about 4 hours or HIGH for 2. Cooking in the slow cooker will result in a softer texture than sloppy joes made in the skillet, though.
Can I Freeze Sloppy Joe Meat?
Yep! Make sure the cooked meat mixture is completely cooled, then add to freezer-safe containers (the entire batch or individual portions) and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and reheat before serving.
These easy Sloppy Joes, along with my Philly Cheese Steak Sloppy Joes, and Chopped Cheeseburgers are requested all the time by my family and a testament to how much we love a loose meat sandwich. Meaty, messy, and delicious in every bite!
Watch the video for this Sloppy Joe Recipe
Easy Homemade Sloppy Joes
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 small sweet onion , diced
- 1/2 small green bell pepper , diced
- 2 cloves garlic , minced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons yellow mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Toasted buns , for serving
- Warm oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef, onion, and bell pepper; breaking up the meat into crumbles with a wooden spoon. Cook for about 5 minutes until beef is cooked through and vegetables are tender. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Drain off grease.
- Stir in tomato paste until thoroughly combined.
- Add in ketchup, water, brown sugar, Worcestershire, mustard, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Stir well to combine.
- Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes until mixture has thickened.
- Remove from heat and serve on toasted buns and enjoy!
- Nutritional information does not include the buns.
- For recipe variations, please refer to the full article.