Stay away from the canned sauce and try out this delicious homemade Sloppy Joes recipe. This is truly going to be the best Sloppy Joes you’ve ever had in your life! Plus, it’s incredibly easy to make too!
There aren’t many dinners that are as quick and easy to make as Sloppy Joes! It’s saucy, beefy, and incredibly satisfying. It’s the perfect blend of ground beef and a delicious, hearty tomato sauce.
Making these homemade Sloppy Joes is so easy that you can whip it up in a heartbeat and don’t need to use a slow cooker either! It’s incredibly delicious and can be all cooked on a stovetop.
Make the best Sloppy Joes ever by using simple, pantry-staple ingredients. It's quick to make, you'll have it on the dinner table in almost 30 minutes!
Want to learn how to make it? Let’s get started!
What are Sloppy Joes?
Sloppy Joe is a delicious, hearty sandwich with three main ingredients. The first is ground beef which makes the base of this tasty sandwich. The next ingredient is a sweet, tomato-rich sauce that is made of ketchup, tomato paste, and spices. And it’s all piled on top of the last ingredient, which is a white bun.
It’s a family favorite, and kids seem to absolutely love it! They're a favorite in school lunchrooms around the country. They're also popular among families at mealtime because Sloppy Joes are simple and cheap to make.
Many people find the name 'Sloppy Joes' to be quite humorous. Did you know that Sloppy Joes are called by a different name in different parts of the US? Yep, that's right!
Sloppy joes are also known as Barbecues, Dynamites, Gulash, Sloppy Janes, Slushburgers, Steamers, Wimpies, and Yum Yums.
Why Are Sloppy Joes Called That?
Sloppy Joes are widely said to have been developed by a cook in Sioux City, Iowa. Joe, as he was called, modeled his dish on the loose meat sandwiches that were popular in the 1930s.
While sandwiches were generally composed of seasoned ground beef on a bun sometimes topped with ketchup, mustard, and pickles, Joe changed things up.
His addition of tomato sauce introduced the 'sloppy' part into this well-known sandwich. It, then, evolved into an affordable comfort food staple that is still available today.
Popular Sloppy Joe Variations
Different parts of the country have their own spin on the Sloppy Joe. Rhode Island has a variation dubbed the 'Dynamite,' which includes onions and peppers, while New Jersey differs totally.
In fact, their version is more akin to a triple-decker sandwich, with piles of deli meat and cheese sandwiched between thin pieces of rye, all held together with Russian dressing and mayo-slathered coleslaw.
To most of the country, though, the Sloppy Joe is still what cook Joe's original creation was from Sioux City.
But that hasn't stopped us from experimenting with new ideas. There are numerous variations, particularly when it comes to the ground beef itself.
To appeal to those who don't eat red meat, there are numerous recipes for Turkey Sloppy Joes and even Vegetarian Sloppy Joes.
However, as all-American as the Sloppy Joe appears to be, it surely shares DNA with meals from other countries. In India, for example, pav rolls are piled high with curried meat (keema), while the Shaanxi Province of China enjoys buns stuffed with stewed beef or lamb.
What’s the Difference Between Sloppy Joes and Hamburgers?
A Hamburger can be topped with whatever toppings you like, but the meat is a single solid patty. It is served on a hamburger bun.
A Sloppy Joe is similar to a hamburger in that it is made with ground beef, but the addition of tomato sauce makes the consistency very loose.
In short, a Hamburger is a single patty, but a Sloppy Joe is ground beef that has not been shaped into a single patty.
Is Sloppy Joes and Manwich the Same Thing?
As much as we'd want to think this is a reference to Sloppy Joes being a man's favorite sandwich, it actually refers to a brand of canned Sloppy Joe sauce introduced in 1969 by ConAgra Foods and Hunt's.
Manwich is a branded variation of Sloppy Joe sauce that may be found in grocery stores. It's intended to make Sloppy Joes simple to prepare, but the truth is that they're simple to prepare even without a can of sauce!
It also turns out way more delicious and even healthier! In terms of nutrition, the homemade version has a lot less sodium and calories than the store-bought Manwich sauce.
What You Need to Make Sloppy Joes at Home
Making Sloppy Joes at home is cheap and easy. You only need simple ingredients to whip this delicious weeknight dinner. Let’s look at what these ingredients are:
Ground beef: This is one of the three most important ingredients to make Sloppy Joes. The better the quality, the more delicious your sandwiches will turn out in the end.
Shredded carrot: Carrots add a delicious flavor and complement the slight sweetness in this recipe.
Onion: Onions bring out the flavor of the meat unlike any other vegetable or aromatic out there!
Tomato paste: This makes up the base of our delicious Sloppy Joes!
Ketchup: We’ll also be adding ketchup to it so that the delicious sweetness of this recipe comes through.
Brown sugar: To enhance the sweetness, a little bit of brown sugar will be used.
Spices and seasonings: This is where the magic happens! We’ll be using a few pantry-staple spices and seasonings to make this delicious ground beef dish. We’ll be needing black pepper, mustard powder, paprika, garlic powder, red chili powder, and cumin. Season with salt to bring out all the flavors.
Water: We’ll be adding water so that the ground beef doesn’t burn and is cooked properly all the way through.
How to Make Sloppy Joes – Step-by-Step
Here’s a step-by-step process of how to make Sloppy Joes at home tonight! Trust me it’s easier than you think! Let’s learn how to make it:
Cook the beef and add carrots: Next, Add the beef and cook until its color changes and the beef is no longer pink in color. Add the carrot and cook for approximately 3 minutes.
Add rest of the ingredients: Now add all the rest of the ingredients and stir it all in. Simmer on medium-low until the beef is cooked and only a little sauce is left.
Ready to serve: Serve Sloppy Joes on burger buns or have it with dinner rolls. We also love having it with sweet potato fries. To find out what else goes with Sloppy Joes, check out the section further down in the post.
Tips and Variation Ideas for Making the Best Sloppy Joes Ever
Here are a few useful tips that will give you the tastiest Sloppy Joes you’ve ever had:
- Make sure to follow my recipe to a T to get the right consistency of Sloppy Joes. If you cook it for too long, it’ll reduce the sauce way too much and you’ll have a very dry Sloppy Joe mixture. On the other hand, if you add too much sauce the consistency will be way too loose.
- This is the perfect base recipe to customize according to your preferences! You can add different veggies such as bell peppers, celery, zucchini, and even mushrooms to your Sloppy Joe recipe. Some people also prefer adding a few cloves of garlic.
- You can make it a bit spicier by simply adding some crushed red pepper flakes to your Sloppy Joes.
- To add a little zing, try adding a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to your recipe. You can also try adding a teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce for an extra savory undertone.
- I prefer using lean ground beef for this recipe, but you can add ground beef with higher fat content too. It’s a truly versatile dish that can be customized to your liking.
- If you don’t want to use beef or don’t have it at home, you can even use ground turkey or chicken to make it!
What Goes with Sloppy Joes?
Slopping Joes is an incredibly delicious dish that tastes amazing! For this reason, many other side dishes go incredibly well with it. Here are some ideas on what to pair with Sloppy Joes:
- Baked Beans
- Potato Chips
- Tater Tots
- Potato Salad
- Macaroni and Cheese
- Dill Pickles
- Pasta Salad
- Garlic Bread
- Onion Rings
- French fries
How Do You Store Sloppy Joe Meat?
Let the Sloppy Joe meat cool to room temperature then cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days in an airtight container.
To freeze it, you can store it in an airtight container or freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to use it, just thaw it in the refrigerator overnight. Alternatively, you can also thaw them in the microwave if you’re short on time.
Best Sloppy Joes Recipe Ever
- 400 gm ground beef
- ⅓ cup shredded carrot
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 6 oz. tomato paste
- 3 tablespoon ketchup
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ teaspoon brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon mustard
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon red chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon cumin
- 1 cup hot water
- In a hot pan add the butter and olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook until onion is translucent.
- Add the beef and cook until no longer pink in color. Add the carrot and cook for 3 minutes.
- Add all the rest of ingredients and cook on medium-low until the beef is cooked and have little sauce left.
- Serve on burger buns or have it with dinner rolls.
- You can go for lamb meat or a mix of both beef and lamb.
- Instead of chips, you can try my Roasted Potatoes recipe.
- For more flavor use Beef or chicken bouillon. Or instead of water use chicken or beef broth.
- Make my no-knead dinner rolls or Brioche to serve with this Sloppy Joes.
- My Coleslaw recipe goes really well with this dish.
- This post was originally published in 2017.