Skip the canned stuff, this homemade Easy Sloppy Joe Recipe is by far the BEST! Jam-packed with tender ground beef, peppers and onions in a lightly sweet and smokey sauce piled high on a toasted bun.
Sloppy Joes are a comfort food classic. It’s one of those meals I used to look forward to as a kid, and still do to this day. There something about the messy ground beef mixture and buttery toasted bun that brings back great memories and fills me up.
Put down the canned sloppy joe mixture and try this homemade version instead.
I’ve worked on this recipe for years, perfecting the sweet/spicy/smokey balance and it’s right where we like it. That being said, if you’re more into one flavor profile over the other, it’s a very easy sauce to customize to your liking.
How To Make Homemade Sloppy Joe Recipe
We’re going to start off with your basic ground hamburger. I like to use a more lean ground beef along with finely diced onion and green bell pepper to give the sloppy joe’s a little more body.
BROWN THE HAMBURGER Break up the ground beef in a hot skillet along with the finely diced bell pepper and onion, until the ground beef is cooked through and no longer pink. Drain off any fat.
MAKE THE SLOPPY JOE SAUCE Return the skillet to the heat and add in a little garlic and cook until fragrant. Then simply add in the remaining sauce ingredients and let simmer for about 10 minutes to really let the flavors blend.
TOAST THE BUNS In my opinion, a Sloppy Joe is best served on a buttery, toasted hamburger bun. Toasting the bun allows the Sloppy Joe mixture to not soak into the bread, (creating a soggy mess) but rather gives a little more crunch and texture to the sandwich.
Easy Sloppy Joe Sauce
Like I mentioned earlier, I’ve made this sauce a bunch of times and have created, what I feel, is the perfect balance of sweet and smoky with just a touch of spice. If you prefer one over the other, feel free to increase to your liking.
INGREDIENTS NEEDED –
- Ketchup – the base of the sauce (you can use a lower sugar ketchup to reduce sweetness)
- Tomato Paste – for a deeper flavor
- Beef Broth – you may substitute with water if desired
- Brown Sugar – increase a little at a time if you prefer a sweeter sauce
- Chili Powder – increase this if you like a more smokey flavor
- Mustard – this adds a nice tang to the sauce, increase this for more
- Worcestershire Sauce – increase for a more rich flavor
- Red Pepper Flakes – add more if you like a little extra heat
- Salt & Pepper
Sloppy Joes are great for busy families because they cook up in less than 20 minutes and are definitely kid-friendly. I can feel good about it because I’m making the sauce and I’ve snuck in those extra veggies and the kids eat it up happily!
How To Serve
This might seem like a no-brainer, but the BEST way to serve a classic Sloppy Joe recipe is on a toasted hamburger bun. I either cook them in a skillet or on a griddle right when I’m making the quick sloppy joe mixture, or pop them in my toaster oven. The toasted bun adds so much more texture to the Sloppy Joe. It’s a game changer.
The BEST way to serve a classic Sloppy Joe recipe is on a toasted hamburger bun!
You can also serve the Sloppy Joe mixture stuffed in a quesadilla or grilled cheese (YUM!), on top of a bed of greens, or sprinkled on some nachos.
PRO TIP – try adding a slice of cheddar cheese on top of the hot sloppy joe mix!
Side Dish Ideas –
You can’t go wrong with these classics served alongside this tasty sloppy joe recipe!
Can You Make In Crock Pot?
The answer is YES! You can easily make this Sloppy Joes recipe in the slow cooker, and it’ll deepen the flavor of the sauce so much more. Just brown the ground beef along with the bell peppers and onions, then add it all to the slow cooker and simmer on LOW for 3 hours.
More Sloppy Joe Recipes To Try
I’ve been a fan of Sloppy Joes for a long time! Here are a few more tasty, kid-approved Sloppy Joe recipes for you to try…
I can’t wait for you to give this recipe a try! I’m confident you’re going to fall in love with it as much as we do!
Easy Sloppy Joe Recipe
- 1.5 lbs lean ground beef
- ½ onion, finely chopped
- ½ green bell pepper, finely chopped
- 2 tsp garlic, minced
- ⅔ cup ketchup
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- ½ cup beef broth, or water
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp yellow mustard
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- pinch red pepper flakes
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 6 hamburger buns, toasted
- Brown the ground beef, onion and bell pepper in a large skillet over medium heat, until beef is crumbled and cooked through. Drain off any excess fat and return skillet to stove top over medium heat.
- Add in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add in the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
- Let mixture simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes, to allow flavors to blend. Taste and adjust seasonings to your taste preference if desired. (see notes for tips) Serve over a toasted bun. Enjoy!
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