This Sloppy Joe recipe is quick and easy comfort food that the whole family will love! These sandwiches are perfect for busy weeknights.
It's really simple to make Sloppy Joes from scratch! I know some people buy the canned sauce, but making it in your own kitchen tastes much better, and you're also able to adjust the ingredients to your liking as needed.
This recipe is fuss-free and uses simple everyday ingredients that you're likely to have on-hand already. You'll love the sweet and savory flavors!
What do Sloppy Joes taste like?
Everyone seems to make a slightly different version of Sloppy Joes... whether it's the recipe they grew up with or something they've tweaked over the years. Mine are on the sweet side (but not too sweet - this recipe uses ketchup but does not add any extra brown sugar). I also add smoked paprika for my special twist. The sauce is sweet, tangy, and a bit smoky... sort of like BBQ sauce.
How to make Sloppy Joes (overview):
Brown the beef and get a nice crust on it, then add in the onions and green bell pepper and continue cooking until they've softened. Add in the homemade Sloppy Joe sauce ingredients and simmer for 5 minutes or so, until the sauce has reduced to your liking. Serve in toasted buns. (Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below)
Recipe notes & tips:
- This recipe is kid-friendly. If you're concerned about the crushed red pepper flakes, omit them. They don't make the dish particularly spicy, but they do add a little bit of kick. Double them for more heat, or even add a couple dashes of hot sauce or some cayenne pepper if you like spice.
- I recommend using lean ground beef so you don't need to drain a lot of excess fat (and it's a nice balance between leanness and flavor). You can sub ground turkey if you prefer (it'll be drier and less flavorful than beef), so be sure to add a tablespoon or so of olive oil when you're cooking the meat in step 1.
- Brioche buns are my go-to lately for anything like burgers or Sloppy Joes, but hamburger buns or whatever looks good at the store will work!
- Leftovers will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days.
- To reheat, cover in a saucepan over low heat until it's warmed through, or microwave in intervals. You may need to add a splash of water when reheating.
- You can freeze the Sloppy Joe mix for up to 2-3 months.
What to serve with Sloppy Joes?
I love them in brioche buns (be sure to toast the bun so it doesn't get soggy!) with pickles on the side, but you could even serve the meat mixture over top of spaghetti or other pasta. Sloppy Joes can be topped with some grated cheddar or other melty cheese if that's your thing.
More delicious ground beef recipes to try:
Questions about this Sloppy Joe recipe? Let me know in the comments below.
Easy Sloppy Joe Recipe
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1/2 medium onion chopped
- 1/2 green bell pepper chopped
- 3/4 cup tomato ketchup
- 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika see note
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes optional
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon white or apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup beef broth or water
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Add the ground beef to a skillet over medium-high heat and break it up a little bit with your spoon, leaving large chunks. Let it cook, undisturbed, for about 8 minutes, or until it forms a nice browned crust. Give it a stir/flip it and cook for another 5 minutes or so. If there's a lot of excess fat in the skillet, spoon it out (leave about a tablespoon or so in there).
- Stir in the onions and green bell pepper and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for another 5 minutes. As it cooks, break the beef up into smaller pieces with your spoon.
- Reduce the heat to medium. Stir in the ketchup, mustard, garlic powder, smoked paprika, red pepper flakes, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, and beef broth. Let it cook for another 5 minutes or so, stirring often, until the sauce thickens up to your liking (don't let it get too dry).
- Give it a taste and season with salt & pepper as needed. If you want really sweet Sloppy Joes, add in some brown sugar (I don't add any since I think the ketchup is sweet enough).
- Serve in toasted buns. To toast the insides of the buns, heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, then add the buns and watch them closely until the insides have browned nicely (you'll need to do this in batches).
- I add smoked paprika to these Sloppy Joes to give them a nice smoky flavor. You can leave it out if you prefer.
- If you want a shortcut or prefer not to add the onion and green bell pepper, you can leave them out.
- Recipe serves 4-6 depending on how much you stuff the sandwiches.
- Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information. Buns are not included (calories vary a lot depending what you buy).