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The BEST Sloppy Joe Recipe

Saucy, beefy and so satisfying. We’re convinced this is the BEST recipe for a homemade Sloppy Joe. Ground beef in a hearty tomato sauce served on toasted hamburger buns is a great idea for lunch or dinner.

There’s no match for a warm homemade sandwich, from Grilled Cheese to our famous Philly Cheesesteak. This Sloppy Joe Recipe is definitely at the top of our list.

Sloppy joe sandwich on a plate with chips and pickles.

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This delicious sloppy joe recipe is such a simple recipe and so inexpensive to make, a budget-friendly family dinner. The tender and juicy ground beef are sauteed with green peppers and onion then cooked in a hearty tomato sauce.

Having some go-to ground beef recipes like Cheeseburger Sliders, Taco Salad, or Sloppy Joes will make dinner time a breeze. If you have some ground beef in the freezer and need an easy meal idea, this is a must-try.

Sloppy Joe Ingredients

  • Ground Beef – use lean ground beef (85-90% lean). If using a higher fat content, you will need to skim off the extra fat once the beef is cooked.
  • Bell pepper – we used green, but you can substitute a different color in a pinch.
  • Onion & Garlic – these aromatics add great flavor and disappear into the sauce so picky eaters won’t complain.
  • Homemade Sauce – just a few simple pantry ingredients will make a sauce that’s better than any store-bought sauce. The combination of tomato sauce, brown sugar, yellow mustard, and Worcestershire hits all the right flavor notes; sweet, savory, and tangy.
Ingredients for making sloppy joes

How to Make Sloppy Joes

  1. Chop veggies – Finely chop the onion and green bell pepper.
  2. Make sauce – In a bowl, combine worcestershire sauce, yellow mustard, water, brown sugar, and tomato sauce.
  3. Saute beef – In a deep skillet, heat oil over med/high heat. Add the ground beef and break up as it is being cooked. Season with salt and pepper and add in the finely chopped onion and green pepper. Cook until vegetables are tender.
  4. Add sauce – Add in the garlic and cook until fragrant. Pour in the sauce and cook over medium high heat until the sauce comes to a soft boil.
  5. Simmer – Reduce the heat to low and cook for 10 minutes, add more salt and pepper if needed.
  6. Serve – spoon the saucy beef mixture on toasted buns and serve as sandwiches.

Pro Tip: If you prefer a spicy Sloppy Joes, add some hot sauce or sriracha to the sauce.

Step by step collage of how to make homemade sloppy joes from scratch.

To Serve

There are so many different ways to enjoy a sloppy joe. You’ll make to try them all:

  • Classic – Serve this with toasted hamburger buns for the classic sloppy joe recipe.
  • Grilled Cheese – Add the meat mixture when making a Grilled Cheese for a hearty sandwich.
  • Pizza – Add on homemade pizza dough and top with cheese for a delicious sloppy joe pizza recipe.
  • Loaded fries– There is nothing better than loaded fries, top your fries with some cheese and sloppy joe filling.
  • Chili dogs – Add the meat sauce to your hot dogs.
  • Baked potato – Take loaded baked potato to the next level by topping with this meat sauce.
Sloppy Joes in-between toasted sandwich buns toasted to perfection.

Common Questions

What type of ground beef do I use?

For this recipe, you want to use 85% or 90% lean ground beef.

Can I make this recipe in a slow cooker?

These EASY sloppy joes are GREAT to make in the crockpot. Once the meat is browned on a skillet, just add it along with all the other ingredients into the crockpot and cook on LOW for 4-6 hours or on high for 2-3 hours.

What is the difference between a sloppy joe and Manwich?

This sloppy joe recipe is homemade and made from scratch. Manwich is a pre-made store-bought sauce used to make sloppy joes.

How can I spice up my sloppy joe?

If you like spicy foods, add some jalapenos along with the green peppers.

Make-Ahead

  • Refrigerating – Let the meat sauce cool to room temperature then cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days in an airtight container.
  • Freezing – Once the mixture is cooled, add to freeze-friendly containers or freezer bags and freeze for up to 2-3 months. When ready to use, thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Reheating – A general rule of thumb is that it’s best to reheat a recipe the same way it was cooked. Warm the meat sauce on the stovetop in a skillet or saucepan until hot. You can microwave, but use a microwave shield to catch messy splatter.
Sloppy joe meat sauce made ahead

Love Ground Beef Recipes? Try these:

The BEST Sloppy Joe Recipe

4.99 from 109 votes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Sloppy Joe sandwich served with chips and pickles

The BEST recipe for a homemade Sloppy Joe! Ground beef in a hearty tomato sauce on toasted hamburger buns. The perfect recipe for lunch or dinner.

Author: Valentina Ablaev
Skill Level: Easy
Cost to Make: $10-$12
Keyword: sloppy joe recipe, sloppy joes
Cuisine: American
Course: Lunch, Main Course
Calories: 365
Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 small green bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
  • 1 Tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 lb lean ground beef, 85%-90% lean
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp salt, or to taste
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 hamburger buns, toasted if desired

Instructions

  1. Finely chop the onion. Seed and finely dice the green pepper.

  2. In a bowl, combine the Worcestershire sauce, mustard, water, brown sugar, and tomato sauce.

  3. Place a large skillet or dutch oven over medium/high heat. Add olive oil and ground beef. Saute the beef for about 5 minutes until cooked through and longer pink, breaking it up with a spatula. Season with salt and pepper and add in the diced peppers and onion. Cook another 5 minutes until the veggies are tender and beef is browned.

  4. Add the minced garlic and saute 30 seconds until fragrant, stirring constantly. Add in the sauce and bring to a light boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve on toasted buns for Sloppy Joe Sandwiches.

Nutrition Facts
The BEST Sloppy Joe Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 365 Calories from Fat 99
% Daily Value*
Fat 11g17%
Saturated Fat 3g19%
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 5g
Cholesterol 70mg23%
Sodium 1197mg52%
Potassium 916mg26%
Carbohydrates 35g12%
Fiber 3g13%
Sugar 12g13%
Protein 31g62%
Vitamin A 521IU10%
Vitamin C 23mg28%
Calcium 119mg12%
Iron 6mg33%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Valentina Ablaev

I am Valentina, the creator behind the food blog Valentina’s Corner where I share our family’s favorite recipes. When I am not in the kitchen, I enjoy spending quality time with my husband and 5 children. We invite you to join us on our blogging journey!

Read more posts by Valentina

Read comments/reviewsAdd comment/review

  • M. Shelton
    November 24, 2021

    I just add a little extra brown sugar and a few shakes of hot sauce. And I used dry onion and garlic in place of fresh. Oh and a orange pepper because I’m making it the night before Thanksgiving and I’m not going back to the store for a green pepper.
    lol. Thanks for sharing, it turned out great.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      November 24, 2021

      You’re welcome! I’m so happy you enjoyed it, M! Happy Thanksgiving!

      Reply

  • Susan Hash
    November 22, 2021

    I’m glad I saw other comments about it being too watery because mine was too and I followed the recipe verbatim. I almost didn’t add the water because it actually already looked too soupy before that. BUT, the flavor was good. I did use chicken instead of beef and wonder if that might have made the difference.

    Reply

    • Natasha
      November 23, 2021

      Hi Susan, that could have made a difference using chicken instead of beef, especially if the amount was different. Also, make sure to use a large skillet since a smaller saucepan doesn’t have as much surface area to evaporate liquid the same way which could cause it to be watery. I’m not sure what else it would be. I haven’t had this turn out watery before.

      Reply

  • Audrey
    November 21, 2021

    Besides omitting the bell pepper, I did not change any other ingredient. All I could taste was mustard. My family thought it tasted weird. That’s WAY too much mustard. Let me know if you know a way to counteract this terrible flavor.

    Reply

    • Natasha
      November 22, 2021

      Hi Audrey, 1 tsp of mustard should not be overpowering. Did you possibly add 1 Tablespoon by mistake? Also, did you make sure to add everything else as stated which helps to balance the flavors?

      Reply

  • Ruben
    November 20, 2021

    Recipe is too bland tasting like tomato and water (go figure)It is a good base but I found myself adding more seasoning plus ketchup and more brown sugar. I’ve always enjoyed a little more sweetness. What exact brand of tomato sauce are you using?

    Reply

    • Natasha
      November 23, 2021

      Hi Ruben this works with a variety of brands of tomato sauce, just make sure to use tomato sauce and not marinara which is thinner and less concentrated.

      Reply

  • J Ren
    November 19, 2021

    Agree that it is bland and definitely watery. Too much liquid and a recipe with ketchup is for sure the way to go.

    Reply

    • Natasha
      November 22, 2021

      Hi, normally this should not be watery. Did you use a smaller saucepan versus a skillet? A skillet has a larger surface area to simmer off any excess liquid. Or were any substitutions or changes made in ingredients or the process?

      Reply

  • Miss Paula
    November 14, 2021

    Bland and watery (and I didn’t even add the water called for).

    Reply

    • Natasha
      November 14, 2021

      Hi Paula, I’m not sure why it would be watery unless a different type of tomato product was substituted with a higher liquid content?

      Reply

  • Monica
    November 14, 2021

    This was so easy to make and so delicious! I will definitely be using this as my go to recipe!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      November 14, 2021

      I’m happy to hear that, Monica. I hope you’ll love all the recipes that you will try!

      Reply

  • Cheri
    November 5, 2021

    I just made this. It was really goid. I added basil, chili powder, and paparika. Yummy. Everyone loved it.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      November 5, 2021

      Thank you so much for sharing that with me, Cheri!

      Reply

  • Dawn
    November 3, 2021

    Another hit Natasha….thanks for sharing. This will be a keeper recipe in our home. I always trust your recipes

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      November 4, 2021

      I appreciate your trust and support, Dawn. Thanks a lot!

      Reply

  • Sara
    November 2, 2021

    Faulty recipe. You indicated to mix the diced onions a green pepper to the sauce. The you instructed to add vegs to cooked meet. Confusing

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      November 2, 2021

      Hi Sara, the only mention of “vegetables” in this recipe is when we say: “Cook until vegetables are tender.” Do you recall what step you see that in?

      Reply

  • Ron
    November 2, 2021

    I love sloppy joe’s and this recipe was spot on!! I added a red pepper to it “so it wasn’t wasted ” gave half to my Sister and her grandchildren devoured it.. I’m gonna try it on hotdogs for lunch

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      November 2, 2021

      Sounds great! Thanks for sharing your experience trying out this recipe, Ron.

      Reply

  • Cheryl Gratton
    November 1, 2021

    This is very close to a sloppy joe recipe I found some years ago, and reminds me of my childhood – much better than Manwich! In my recipe, ketchup is used instead of tomato sauce, and no water is added. That might be helpful for those complaining about lack of flavor or being too watery. Also, I like to let it simmer in an open pan for at least a half hr, sometimes more. I try to resist stirring it for a bit, as that adds a nice carmelized flavor – I found this out when I forgot to stir it once. I might try it with the tomato sauce one of these times, since it would be cheaper and healthier. Thanks, Natasha!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      November 2, 2021

      What a great suggestion, Cheryl. Thank you for sharing that with us, I’m sure that will be helpful to a lot of people here. We appreciate your input!

      Reply

  • Matt Smith
    October 27, 2021

    Sauce was super bland. I had to really do a lot to give it some zip. Not sure how this had 5 stars.

    Reply

    • Natasha
      October 28, 2021

      Hi Matt, I’m sorry to hear it didn’t meet your standards. Did you possibly change any of the ingredients or make any substitutions?

      Reply

  • Vivian
    October 23, 2021

    It was delicious. Perfect sweetness and tangy-ness. Brought to a dinner and everyone loved it.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      October 23, 2021

      I’m so happy to hear that! Thank you for sharing your great review, Vivian!

      Reply

  • Staci Samuels
    October 20, 2021

    Couldn’t find the recipe I normally use so I thought I’d try this one. I followed the exact recipe and it tasted like plain tomato sauce. Very bland.

    Reply

    • Natasha
      October 21, 2021

      Hi Staci, This is normally rich in flavor, but this is a very simple recipe so every ingredient is important for the best taste. Make sure not to omit any of the ingredients and be sure to season to taste at the end to make sure there is enough salt.

      Reply

  • Tracey
    October 17, 2021

    I used to use the canned/jarred sloppy joe sauce but just couldn’t bring myself to eat it anymore. I longed for a great recipe for homemade. I can’t wait to try this! I take dinner to our son’s house every Sunday during football season. Today it’s your Shrimp Fajitas (a HUGE favorite in my household!). Next week it will be this recipe for Sloppy Joe. Can’t wait to give it a try!! Thanks, Natasha!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      October 17, 2021

      Sounds like a good plan, Tracy. I hope it becomes a hit!

      Reply

  • Daffydil
    October 14, 2021

    Tastes fine, but in desperate need of thickening. Had to find a can of tomato paste for that.

    Reply

  • Tim
    October 13, 2021

    Can confirm, best sloppy joe recipe! Made a 3x batch ahead of time then brought on a camping trip to share with friends and it was a hit. Cook time to simmer off the water was waay more than 10 min in my case so I’d add less next time, but was well worth it and came out great!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      October 13, 2021

      Hello Tim, wonderful to see your good comments and feedback. I’m happy that you enjoyed this recipe! Thank you for sharing that with us.

      Reply

  • Melissa Elliott
    October 6, 2021

    Made this today with plant based burger. My family loved it! Thank you.

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      October 6, 2021

      You are welcome, Melissa. Happy to know that your family enjoyed it!

      Reply

  • Kathy
    October 4, 2021

    I failed to plan for dinner today and went looking for a sloppy joe recipe since I had half a package of buns that needed to be used. When I saw Natasha’s Kitchen I knew it was the one I’d try. I have used your Dutch Oven beef stew and meatloaf recipes to rave reviews from my family. And here’s another keeper.

    Reply

  • Janie B
    September 28, 2021

    I have tried a couple of sloppy joe recipes in the past but to be honest have always preferred and gone back to the canned version because I love it, it’s easy & it reminds me of my childhood. But when I went to make dinner tonight I realized I was out & I found your recipe through a Google search. O-M-G was it ever delicious!! I will finally be ditching the canned stuff…this recipe blew it out of the water. Thank you so much and I look forward to trying some of your other recipes in the future.

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      September 28, 2021

      You are very welcome, Janie. I’m happy to know that you loved this recipe, you finally found your new go-to-recipe!

      Reply

  • Don
    September 28, 2021

    When we eat our Sloppy Joe’s we always put a scoop on the bun and top with potato chips and then the top of the bun. Also some chips on the side to scoop up the sloppy joe that falls out of the bun. Yum!

    Reply

  • Zane
    September 27, 2021

    The all time worst sloppy Joe recipe I’ve found so far. Way to soupy ( definitely skip adding the water), and not much flavor beyond the burger.

    Reply

    • Natasha
      September 27, 2021

      Hi Zane, as you can see in the photos, it should not be soupy or water. Make sure your sauce is at a simmer for the full 10 minutes. Also, if you use a smaller or narrower/taller pot, it will require a longer simmering time since there is less surface area. I hope that helps for next time.

      Reply

  • Connie
    September 18, 2021

    Thanks to you, Natasha, we enjoyed your Sloppy Joe recipe on a rainy Florida evening! We haven’t ate this sandwich in years so it was it was like taking a step back in time. And…it even tasted better the next day for lunch. Thanks so much for posting this great recipe.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      September 18, 2021

      You’re welcome! I’m so happy you enjoyed it, Connir!

      Reply

  • Rick Johnson
    September 15, 2021

    I must try this!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      September 16, 2021

      Please let us know how it goes.

      Reply

  • Anissa Marie Castillo
    September 15, 2021

    Just made this today. Was so quick, easy, and delicious. I love using your recipes because they are simple and not too complicated. I have yet to find a recipe of yours that I do not like. Hoping to make your chicken scampi recipe tomorrow. I’m sure it’ll taste amazing.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      September 15, 2021

      Thank you for your wonderful feedback! The Shrimp Scampi is so good, and I hope you love it!

      Reply

  • Wendy A. Keady
    September 14, 2021

    I use ketchup instead of tomato sauce. I don’t use worcestershire but instead a tablespoon of horseradish. Gives it a little kick!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      September 14, 2021

      Nice, thanks for sharing that with us, Wendy.

      Reply

  • Cynnamon Stanford
    September 14, 2021

    This was much better than the canned variety. I always add noodles and corn to sloppy Joe leftovers top with mashed potatoes and cheese then bake, makeshift Shepherd’s Pie.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      September 14, 2021

      That’s a great idea!! Thank you so much for sharing that with me.

      Reply

  • Krystle
    September 14, 2021

    The homemade sauce is a game changer. A new family favorite in our house!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      September 14, 2021

      It really is the best!!

      Reply

  • Nicolette Castillo Constance
    September 14, 2021

    Hi Natasha Kravchuk
    I enjoy your recipes so much,I like your frosting and more I always watch on youtube to see many more…Have a bless day.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      September 14, 2021

      Thank you for that wonderful compliment, Nicolette! I’m so glad you’re enjoying my videos!

      Reply

  • katerina @ diethood.com
    September 14, 2021

    My kids would love these!! SO GOOD!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      September 14, 2021

      That is the best when kids love what we moms make. That’s so great!

      Reply

  • Natalie
    September 14, 2021

    We love sloppy joe’s!! Thank you for this easy & delicious recipe!! It’s great any night of the week & all year long!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      September 14, 2021

      You’re welcome, Natalie! Thank you for your great review!

      Reply

      • Ewa
        October 8, 2021

        I just made this sloppy joe and is delicious with brioche burger buns. Thank you.
        Lat week , I did your apple pie and my husband said that this is the best pie he has ever ate.
        Thank you again.

        Reply

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