Homemade Sloppy Joe’s
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Homemade Sloppy Joe’s — The BEST and most flavorful homemade Sloppy Joe’s that the whole family will ADORE! So EASY, ready in 20 minutes, and can be made with either ground beef or ground turkey to keep them HEALTHIER! Perfect for get-togethers, parties, or a fast family dinner on busy weeknights!
Homemade Sloppy Joe’s Recipe
When I was growing up, Sloppy Joe’s were a staple in our house. My mom used jarred sauce and I loved every sloppy, messy second when I was devouring my sandwiches.
I created this homemade Sloppy Joe recipe so that you can enjoy all the fabulous flavors of Sloppy Joe’s, but without the Manwich. I promise you and your family are going to adore the homemade taste and won’t miss the salt, sugar, and additives in the canned stuff.
Homemade Sloppy Joe’s are so easy, ready in less than 20 minutes, and made in just one skillet on the stovetop, which means for fast and easy cleanup.
Best of all, they are kid and picky-eater approved, making Sloppy Joe’s a no-brainer meal on those busy weeknights.
Of course, they are a classic summertime get-together favorite for Memorial or Labor Day Weekends, or gradations. And calling all game-day fans and hosts, these are a crowd favorite that everyone loves!
Sloppy Joe Ingredients
This recipe uses a homemade sloppy joe sauce, which takes just a few minutes to whip up.
To make these mouthwatering Sloppy Joe’s, you’ll just need the following easy-to-find ingredients:
- Olive oil
- Ground beef (or ground turkey, chicken, or pork)
- White or yellow onion
- Green bell pepper
- Tomato sauce
- Tomato paste
- Light brown sugar
- Worcestershire sauce
- Garlic powder
- Kosher salt
- Black pepper
- Buns, for serving
How to Make Sloppy Joe’s From Scratch
Sloppy Joe’s are so fast and easy to make! Here’s an overview of how the sandwiches come together.
Step 1: Begin by adding the oil, beef or turkey, onion, and green bell pepper.
Step 2: Break up the meat as it cooks, stirring occasionally, and cook until it’s browned and cooked through. The onions and peppers will be softened.
Step 3: Drain the mixture well, and add all the remaining ingredients, minus the buns.
Step 4: Let the mixture simmer for 5 to 8 minutes, slice the buns, and when you’re ready add the meat mixture and dig in.
What’s the Best Ground Beef for Sloppy Joe’s?
I have made homemade Sloppy Joe’s with ground beef, ground turkey, ground chicken, and even ground pork.
For those wanting very traditional Sloppy Joe flavor and texture, go with ground beef. I recommend lean ground beef in the 85-93% range.
Can I Use Ground Pork?
Ground pork isn’t as common to have laying around, but the Sloppy Joe’s are nice and flavorful if you use ground pork.
Although pork is “the other white meat,” it seems to have a mouthfeel closer to ground beef so if you’re a beef fan but want a leaner option, you can give it a whirl.
Can I Use Ground Turkey or Chicken?
If you don’t eat red meat or you’re wanting to make a healthier version of Sloppy Joe’s I recommend using ground turkey. However, because turkey is so lean, I recommend adding the upper recommended range for the quantity of olive oil.
Also take care not to over-brown or overcook the turkey as it will just dry out more and the texture can get a little odd.
If you’re deciding between ground turkey and ground chicken, I personally like ground turkey better in general than ground chicken. For example, I prefer and use it in my Turkey Chili recipe as well as in this Turkey and Vegetable Stir Fry.
Although if you have ground chicken on hand or you’re just a ground chicken person, go for it. There’s enough sauce and other flavors going on that truth be told it will be just fine.
How to Serve Sloppy Joe’s
For this Sloppy Joe recipe from scratch, I used a classic hamburger bun with sesame seeds on top, but you can use your favorite buns from seeded to non-seeded. Or try a Kaiser roll, pretzel roll, or really whatever you enjoy.
For those who are gluten-free, trying to keep their carbs down, out of buns, or whatever the reason, baked sweet potatoes topped with the Sloppy Joe meat mixture are awesome!
Something about the natural sweetness from a roasted sweet potato that’s perfectly complemented by the slight sweetness that the saucy Sloppy Joe mixture has. Give it a try!
These Cheesy Stuffed Sweet Potatoes would be a great jumping off point. Just add a little Sloppy Joe meat on top and dig in! Don’t forget to add cheese because it really makes the recipe pop.
Sloppy Joe’s Hot Dogs
Another serving option that comes to mind is making an amped up ‘chili dog’. Take it a step further and make a ‘sloppy dog’ by adding the Sloppy Joe’s meat mixture over a grilled hot dog, bratwurst, sausage, or kielbasa.
The sauce soaks into the hot dog-style bun and the flavor combo is just perfect albeit decadent.
Hey, at least you’re getting your protein in!
Can I Make Sloppy Joe’s In a Slow Cooker?
I recommend making them on the stovetop as recommended because it’s so fast and easy.
However, if you want to keep the mixture warm for a party, event, potluck, or something to that nature, I would transfer the cooked Sloppy Joe’s mixture into your Crock-Pot and set it to low to keep it warm.
Feel free to make a double-batch if you’re feeding a larger family or group. Double everything, easy as that.
Sloppy Joe’s are of course great when fresh, but like most red sauce-based dishes, the flavors develop over time so don’t be surprised if your reheated leftovers taste as good or better than when you made the dish!
The meat mixture will keep for up to 5 days in the fridge.
Can Sloppy Joe Meat Be Frozen?
Yes, the homemade sloppy joe sauce and meat mixture freezes incredibly well. Let it cool to room temperature, then freeze for up to three months.
When ready to use, thaw overnight in the fridge. Then, reheat gently on the stovetop.
What to Serve with Sloppy Joe’s
For me, the whole point of making Sloppy Joe’s from scratch is to get dinner on the table quickly. So I see no need to fuss with complicated sides!
Here are some side dishes you can serve with the Sloppy Joe’s:
- Classic Mashed Potatoes
- Apple Cranberry Spinach Salad
- Crispy Parmesan Ranch Potatoes
- Roasted Mixed Vegetables
- Broccoli Salad
- Homemade Seasoned Fries
Tips for the Best Sloppy Joe’s
Although some may not be familiar with how and why sugar is included in a Sloppy Joe’s recipe, it’s because sugar helps neutralize the acidity of all the tomato-based ingredients, including the tomato sauce, tomato paste, and ketchup.
It’s akin to why many Italian cooks will add a pinch of sugar to their tomato-based sauces, like marinara or pomodoro sauces.
Therefore, I recommend definitely adding the brown sugar for classic Sloppy Joe’s flavor.
And if you’re like me who remembers Sloppy Joe’s as a childhood favorite, I guarantee that those jarred and canned sauces that you probably ate, are full of sugar.
So don’t be shy if you like your Sloppy Joe’s sauce to read a little sweeter, add another tablespoon or so of brown sugar.
Because the meat mixture keeps so well with Sloppy Joe’s, feel free to make a double batch and freeze half for those nights when you know you’re not going to have time, or desire, to cook!
- 1 to 3 tablespoons olive oil*
- 1 pound lean ground beef (can be made with ground turkey, ground chicken, or ground pork)
- 1 small white or yellow onion, diced small
- ½ cup small diced green bell pepper
- 8 ounces tomato sauce (basic tomato sauce, not spaghetti sauce or anything fancier needed)
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoon ketchup
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar, packed; or more to taste
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- Hamburger buns, for serving
- To a large skillet, add the oil, ground beef, onions, green peppers, and cook over medium-high heat to brown the beef and soften the vegetables. Crumble the beef as it cooks and stir mixture frequently to ensure even cooking, approximately 5 to 8 minutes.
- Drain the mixture very well** (see Notes).
- Add the tomato sauce, paste, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, salt, pepper, stir to combine, and bring to a simmer.
- After mixture is simmering, reduce the heat to medium-low or low, and allow it to simmer for about 5 to 8 minutes, or until it's thickened a bit and is as thick as desired (mixture will also thicken up as it cools).
- Serve immediately in buns. Sloppy Joe's meat mixture will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
*If you're using ground turkey or ground chicken, I recommend adding 2 to 3 tablespoons since they are very lean proteins that tend to dry out; with ground beef or ground pork, you can get away with less oil.
**Because I personally prefer sloppier Sloppy Joe's with more moisture and sauce, I drain the mixture well, but I don't squeeze out every last drop of natural juices and oils. Suit yourself and your preferences with how well you drain it, ranging from well to very well.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 219Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 50mgSodium: 361mgCarbohydrates: 10gFiber: 1gSugar: 5gProtein: 18g
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