Slow Cooker Sloppy Joes

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Slow Cooker Sloppy Joes — The perfect combination of sweet, tangy, optional spiciness, and so juicy! Whether you want to prep them before work for an easy weeknight dinner that’s waiting, serve them at a summer holiday party, or for tailgating or a game day event, they’re a classic family FAVORITE recipe and so EASY! (Stovetop directions also provided.)

Slow Cooker Cheesy Sloppy Joes - Homemade sloppy Joes just got even better because they're cheesy! The perfect combination of sweet, tangy, optional spiciness, and so juicy! Whether you want to prep them before work for an easy weeknight dinner that's waiting, serve them at a summer holiday party, or for tailgating or a game day event, they're a classic family FAVORITE recipe and so EASY! Stovetop directions also provided.

Easy Sloppy Joes in a Slow Cooker

One of my favorite childhood meals were sloppy Joes, complete with a jar of Manwich and piled on thick on top of a good ‘old white hamburger bun! Great memories!

My love of sloppy Joes is still there but I one-upped classic sloppy Joes and instead made cheesy sloppy Joes in the slow cooker.

Cheese on sloppy Joes? Yes, really! As we all know, everything truly is better with cheese, sloppy Joes included.

Slow Cooker Cheesy Sloppy Joes - Homemade sloppy Joes just got even better because they're cheesy! The perfect combination of sweet, tangy, optional spiciness, and so juicy! Whether you want to prep them before work for an easy weeknight dinner that's waiting, serve them at a summer holiday party, or for tailgating or a game day event, they're a classic family FAVORITE recipe and so EASY! Stovetop directions also provided.

This homemade recipe for cheesy sloppy Joes, or cheeseburger sloppy Joes as they’re sometimes called, is super easy and convenient. I have provided both stovetop and slow cooker directions in case you’re partial to one or the other.

The sloppy Joes meat sauce recipe is a little sweet thanks to the ketchup and brown sugar, a little tangy from the vinegar, a little smoky from the barbecue sauce, and optionally a little bit spicy from pickled jalapeños. 

Best of all, it’s all homemade and a guaranteed family favorite classic recipe that everyone will be begging you to make, over and over.

Slow Cooker Cheesy Sloppy Joes - Homemade sloppy Joes just got even better because they're cheesy! The perfect combination of sweet, tangy, optional spiciness, and so juicy! Whether you want to prep them before work for an easy weeknight dinner that's waiting, serve them at a summer holiday party, or for tailgating or a game day event, they're a classic family FAVORITE recipe and so EASY! Stovetop directions also provided.

Ingredients in Slow Cooker Sloppy Joes

To make homemade slow cooker sloppy Joes, you’ll need a variety of common and easy to find fridge and pantry ingredients including the following:

  • Lean ground beef
  • Pork sausage
  • White or yellow onion
  • Green bell pepper
  • Garlic
  • Canned tomato sauce
  • Ketchup 
  • Barbecue sauce
  • Light brown sugar
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Yellow or Dijon mustard
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Pickled jalapeno peppers, optional for spiciness
  • Shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
  • Buns, toast, Texas toast, etc., for serving

Note: For a more complete listing of ingredients with amounts, scroll down to the recipe card section of this post.

Selecting the Cheese

I recommend grating your own cheese from a block rather than buy shredded cheese in a bag because bagged cheese is more resistant to smooth and even melting.

How to Make Sloppy Joes in a Slow Cooker 

Making Crock-Pot sloppy Joes is so easy and great for when you want to have a hot meal waiting after a long day at school, work, or away from home.

Simply do the following:

  1. To a large skillet, add the ground beef, sausage, and saute until done and no longer pink.
  2. Add the onion, peppers, garlic, and saute until softened.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a large 7 to 8-quart slow cooker and add the tomato sauce, ketchup, BBQ sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire, salt, pepper, optional jalapenos, stir and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 6 hours.
  4. After slow cooking for 4 to 6 hours, if desired stir in shredded cheese until it melts. Or just sprinkle cheese on top of the sloppy Joes meat on your bun and dig in! 
Slow Cooker Cheesy Sloppy Joes - Homemade sloppy Joes just got even better because they're cheesy!The perfect combination of sweet, tangy, optional spiciness, and so juicy! Whether you want to prep them before work for an easy weeknight dinner that's waiting, serve them at a summer holiday party, or for tailgating or a game day event, they're a classic family FAVORITE recipe and so EASY! Stovetop directions also provided.

Recipe Tips and Tricks

BBQ sauce: Use your favorite brand or type of barbecue sauce. We like Sweet Baby Ray’s.

Bell peppers: As for the bell peppers, green peppers are more traditional in sloppy Joes but you also use red.

Mustard: It’s up to you whether you want to use yellow or Dijon mustard. Yellow is more customary.

Pickled jalapeños: The pickled jalapeno peppers will make the sloppy joes meat sauce spicier and therefore are optional.

Slow Cooker Cheesy Sloppy Joes - Homemade sloppy Joes just got even better because they're cheesy! The perfect combination of sweet, tangy, optional spiciness, and so juicy! Whether you want to prep them before work for an easy weeknight dinner that's waiting, serve them at a summer holiday party, or for tailgating or a game day event, they're a classic family FAVORITE recipe and so EASY! Stovetop directions also provided.

Make-Ahead Instructions

Feel free to turn your slow cooker down to the “warm” setting and let the sloppy Joes meat mixture hang out there and keep warm for a few hours if you’re making this for a party where folks can serve themselves, as desired, with the warm sloppy Joes sauce.

You can also make the entire recipe a day or two before serving, then transfer the mixture back to your Crockpot and turn to “Low” to reheat later on.

Slow Cooker Cheesy Sloppy Joes - Homemade sloppy Joes just got even better because they're cheesy! The perfect combination of sweet, tangy, optional spiciness, and so juicy! Whether you want to prep them before work for an easy weeknight dinner that's waiting, serve them at a summer holiday party, or for tailgating or a game day event, they're a classic family FAVORITE recipe and so EASY! Stovetop directions also provided.

Recipe FAQs

Can I Make Sloppy Joes on the Stove?

I know many people adore their slow cookers, but for me I almost always find it easier to do things on the stove. I know, I know — but I just find it tricky to plan ahead for dinner 4 or 6 hours in advance! If you’re like me and want to make these sloppy joes on the stove in about 20 minutes, follow my Classic Sloppy Joes recipe instead for detailed instructions on how to do so.

What Kind Of Buns are Best for Crockpot Sloppy Joes?

You can serve your slow cooker sloppy Joes on a variety of buns. Basically, pick-a-carb: hamburger buns, hot dog buns, Texas toast, regular bread, Kaiser rolls, or Hawaiian rolls.

What’s the Best Meat for Sloppy Joes? 

When I make sloppy Joes in the Crock-Pot, I use whatever protein I’m in the mood for or have on hand. Feel free to select from whatever singular protein or combination thereof that you desire, including the following:

-Exclusively 2 1/2 pounds ground beef
-1 1/2 pounds ground beef + 1 pound ground pork sausage
-1 1/2 pounds ground beef + 1 pound ground turkey or chicken

I do not recommend using exclusively ground turkey or ground chicken because they are very lean. However, if you are determined to go this route, when you’re browning the protein, you’ll need to add 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil or they’ll dry out. Slow Cooker Cheesy Sloppy Joes - Homemade sloppy Joes just got even better beuase they're cheesy! The perfect combination of sweet, tangy, optional spiciness, and so juicy! Whether you want to prep them before work for an easy weeknight dinner that's waiting, serve them at a summer holiday party, or for tailgating or a game day event, they're a classic family FAVORITE recipe and so EASY! Stovetop directions also provided.

Can I Halve or Double This Recipe?

Yes by all means, feel free to either halve or double this easy slow cooker cheesy sloppy joes recipe based on whether you’re feeding a smaller group or a big one.

Doubling the recipe is great if you’re planning to serve these for a get together like Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, graduation parties, tailgating or game day parties.

Can Sloppy Joe Meat Be Frozen?

Yes, this homemade cheesy sloppy joe sauce and meat mixture freezes very well. Let it cool to room temperature and then you can freeze for up to three months. When ready to use, thaw overnight in the fridge. Then, reheat gently on the stovetop. You can even plop it back into the slow cooker again if you’re trying to just keep it warm for a few hours for an event where it would be more handy that way.

Do I Have to Add Brown Sugar to the Sloppy Joe Sauce?

Although some folks may not be familiar with why sugar is included in a Sloppy Joe’s recipe, I will explain. It’s because sugar helps neutralize the acidity of all the tomato-based ingredients, including the tomato sauce, ketchup, and barbecue sauce.

For example, this is 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 and can remember Sloppy Joes as a childhood favorite, I guarantee that those jarred and canned sauces that you probably ate are full of sugar. If you like your Sloppy Joes sauce to read a little sweeter, add another tablespoon or so of brown sugar.

What to Serve with Sloppy Joes

When I think of Crockpot sloppy Joes, I always think of quick and easy dinners or casual summer get-togethers or tailgating.

Therefore, they go well with other simple salads and sides including the following:

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Slow Cooker Sloppy Joes

By Averie Sunshine
Homemade sloppy Joes just got even better beuase they're cheesy! The perfect combination of sweet, tangy, optional spiciness, and so juicy! Whether you want to prep them before work for an easy weeknight dinner that's waiting, serve them at a summer holiday party, or for tailgating or a game day event, they're a classic family FAVORITE recipe and so EASY! Stovetop directions also provided.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 16
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Ingredients  

  • 1 ½ pounds lean ground beef, 85 to 93% lean recommended*
  • 1 pound pork sausage*
  • ½ cup onion, chopped
  • 3 to 5 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 small green bell pepper, seeded and diced small (red bell pepper may be substituted)
  • 15 ounces canned tomato sauce
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • ½ cup barbecue sauce
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard, Dijon may be substituted
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • ½ teaspoon pepper, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons canned pickled jalapeño peppers, optional for spiciness
  • 1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided or as desired*
  • Hamburger buns, Texas toast, hotdog buns, etc., for serving

Instructions 

  • To a large skillet, add the ground beef, sausage if using, and saute over medium-high heat until the proteins are no longer pink and are cooked through, about 5 to 7 minutes. Crumble and stir while sautéing to ensure even cooking. If desired or if there is a lot, you can drain off any grease.
  • Add the onions, peppers, and saute for about 5 minutes, or until the vegetables have softened; stir frequently.
  • Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute, or until fragrant; stir constantly.
  • Stovetop – At this point if you want to continue making this on the stove, keep going by adding the remaining ingredients, except the cheese, simmer for 10 minutes, and then stir in to melt it.
  • OR to make in a Slow Cooker transfer the meat and vegetable mixture to a large 7 to 8-quart slow cooker (spray the bottom with cooking spray for easier cleanup), add the tomato sauce, ketchup, your favorite barbecue sauce, light brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, optional jalapeños, stir to combine, cover with the lid, and cook on HIGH for 4 hours or on LOW for 6 hours.
  • You can either stir in about 1 cup of cheese right into the meat mixture until it melts, plus top each sandwich with a bit more cheese if desired. OR you can skip stirring the cheese in and only sprinkle it on top. Your choice – first way is much cheesier than the second.
  • Serve on top of your favorite carb such as a hamburger bun, hot dog bun, Hawaiian roll, Kaiser roll, Texas toast, or go low-card and serve like a lettuce wrap in butter lettuce or Romaine lettuce leaves.
  • The recipe will make about 16 smaller sandwiches or 8 larger ones. Extra sloppy Joes meat will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 4 months. Reheat gently on the stove, microwave, or in the slow cooker before serving.

Notes

*Feel free to select from whatever singular protein or combination thereof that you desire including the following:
  • Exclusively 2 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef + 1 pound ground pork sausage
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef + 1 pound ground turkey or chicken
Tip: I do not recommend using exclusively ground turkey or ground chicken because they are very lean. However, if you are determined to go this route, when you’re browning the protein, you’ll need to add 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil or they’ll dry out.
**I always recommend grating your own cheese from a block rather than buy shredded cheese in a bag because bagged cheese is more resistant to smooth and even melting.

Nutrition

Serving: 1, Calories: 307kcal, Carbohydrates: 17g, Protein: 21g, Fat: 17g, Saturated Fat: 7g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 9g, Cholesterol: 73mg, Sodium: 789mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 10g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Please note: I have only made the recipe as written, and cannot give advice or predict what will happen if you change something. If you have a question regarding changing, altering, or making substitutions to the recipe, please check out the FAQ page for more info.

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Comments

  1. Step 3: Transfer the mixture to a large 7 to 8-quart slow cooker and add the tomato sauce, ketchup, BBQ sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire, salt, pepper, optional jalapenos, stir and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 6 hours.

    1. How much salt and pepper?
    2. Will it fit in a 6 quart crock pot?

    Thanks! : )

    1. 1/2 teaspoon each, or to taste (I updated the recipe)

      Probably yes, it will be fuller, therefore things will cook slower, so you may need to extend the overall cooking time a bit.