Sloppy Joes

Prep 5 mins
Cook 20 mins
Total 25 mins

This Sloppy Joe recipe is classic comfort food that is ready in under 20 minutes! Your family will ask you to make these homemade Sloppy Joes again and again!

If you are looking for more comfort food recipes like this, check out these other favorites: Homemade Chicken and Dumplings, Instant Pot Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo and Dill Pickle Chicken.

Sloppy Joes on a white plate.

EASY HOMEMADE SLOPPY JOES

Sloppy Joes are something we all have a special place in our heart for. They are one of the all time classic American comfort foods that take most of us back to childhood with each bite. Your whole family is going to love this delicious and quick dinner recipe!

This easy homemade version is made in one pot, which makes clean up a breeze. It is also a great recipe to make it ahead and reheat when you are ready to serve.

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Toasted buns with sloppy joe being put inside with a spoon.

WHAT ARE SLOPPY JOES AND WHY ARE THEY CALLED SLOPPY JOES?

Sloppy Joes are ground meat mixed with a tomato based sauce, then served on a hamburger bun. They are intentionally messy, and that’s half the fun of it! We start to eat it with the bun it’s on, but always end up finishing it with a fork.

There are a couple different stories about the origins of sloppy joes. Some claim they came from a small cafe in Sioux City, Iowa during the 1930’s. The head chef (whose name was Joe) added a tomato-based sauce to some loose meat and turned it into a sandwich one day. And voila, the sloppy joe was born.

There’s also speculation that this dish came from the depression era because of its simple and cheap ingredients.

Either way, they must have been very popular because the concept is still around today and I’m glad it is, because I love them!

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A MANWICH AND A SLOPPY JOE?

Manwich is a canned, pre-made sauce many people add to cooked meat to make sloppy joe type sandwiches. It is basically spiced up tomato sauce. Sloppy joes are a little different. Sloppy joe sauce is sweet and tangy, giving it a unique, customized, delicious flavor. 

Ingredients for sloppy joe recipe.

HOW TO MAKE SLOPPY JOES

You’ll start your sloppy joes by combining the ketchup, dijon mustard, worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, red wine vinegar and tomato sauce. The Worcestershire sauce really gives these sloppy joes a savory flavor. Set aside.

Next, you’ll saute the garlic until it’s fragrant and add the onion and cook until it’s translucent, or about five minutes.

To the onion and garlic mixture, add the ground turkey, breaking it up while it cooks.

Add in the chili powder, crushes red pepper, salt and pepper and stir to combine, for two minutes. Next, you will add in the ketchup mixture and stir to coat the meat. Simmer for five minutes.

While the sauce is simmering, throw your hamburger buns into the oven, cut side up, with the broiler on. This will toast the buns and give your sloppy joe sandwich a nice crunch.

Sloppy Joe recipe in a sauce pan with buns on side.

TIPS FOR THE BEST SLOPPY JOES

  • Watch the sloppy joe sauce: You’ll want to watch your sauce to make sure it doesn’t reduce too much, but that it stays at a nice consistency. If it’s too runny, your sandwich will be too messy. If it’s too dry, it won’t have the right texture.
  • Toast your hamburger buns: I know you’re thinking that you don’t have to toast the buns. Don’t skip this step! It makes all the difference, I promise!

WHAT TO SERVE WITH SLOPPY JOES

When I think of what to serve with sloppy joes, I think of fun, classic sides like finger foods or something you’d see at your neighborhood Fourth of July barbecue. Some of my favorites are these Baked Sweet Potato Fries, the Best Baked Beans, or something as simple as potato chips!

Sloppy Joes sandwich being held in hand.

HOW TO STORE LEFTOVER SLOPPY JOES

Sloppy joes leftovers will last in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to five days.

You can also freeze sloppy joes for up to three months. Just cook your sloppy joe filling as you normally would, let it cool, package it up in a freezer friendly container and throw it in the freezer. (If using a Ziploc bag don’t forget to lay it flat so it saves space!)

When you are ready to use it, thaw the cooked sloppy joes in your refrigerator and then heat it up for a quick meal!

HOW TO REHEAT SLOPPY JOES

This recipe reheats wonderfully! Sloppy joes can be easily reheated on the stove in a large saucepan. Add in a little water and mix well, until it is heated through. Serve as usual.

You can also reheat your sloppy joes in the microwave using a microwave safe container. Heat on medium heat for two minutes and stir. Repeat if necessary, depending on how much you are heating up. Just make sure you cover the sloppy joes with a paper towel to avoid a mess in your microwave!

Close up image of sloppy joes

I know your family is going to love this Sloppy Joe recipe as much as we do. Serve them up and watch them disappear. And then the next time, do like me and make and a double batch and freeze the extra for an effortless homemade dinner later in the month. 

Please leave a review or comment below letting me know how this recipe turns out for you!

Yield: 6 Sloppy Joes

Sloppy Joes

Close up image of sloppy joes

This Sloppy Joe recipe is classic comfort food that is ready in under 20 minutes! Your family will ask you to make these homemade Sloppy Joes again and again!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 16 oz lean ground turkey (ground beef or chicken can also be used)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 6 hamburger style buns

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together ketchup, dijon mustard, worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, red wine vinegar and tomato sauce. Set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large heavy bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add onion and cook, stirring as needed, for 5 minutes or until translucent.
  3. Add ground meat of choice and cook until browned through, breaking it up with a spatula/spoon as it cooks.
  4. Add chili powder, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper. Cook 2 minutes more and then add the ketchup mixture, stirring to evenly coat the meat. Simmer for 5 minutes more, or until thickened.
  5. While sauce thickens, lightly toast your buns under the oven broiler, cut side up, for 2 minutes.
  6. Divide sloppy joe mixture evenly among toasted buns and serve immediately!

Notes

Recipe Note: This reheats wonderfully! Pop it into a airtight container and save the leftovers for lunch tomorrow! Or freeze them!

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6 sloppy joes

Serving Size:

1 sloppy joe

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 297Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 54mgSodium: 942mgCarbohydrates: 31gFiber: 2gSugar: 8gProtein: 30g

*calculated using ground turkey.

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Comments

38 Responses
  1. Joe

    We made these last night with ground beef and perviously with ground chicken. Both were delicious, but I preferred them with beef. More classic.

  2. Whitney

    I made these for dinner a few weeks ago – so yummy!! Thank you for sharing your recipe! Also, feel free to check out my own food blog, if you’d like. =)

  3. Britt

    I tripled the sauce quantities, added a bit more worcestershire,spices and tomato sauce (on top of using your ketchup substitution suggestion) and turned this into a meat sauce for roasted spaghetti squash! it tasted kind of like bbq pasta. . . in an amazing way! i’m a new reader, but already a devoted one! keep the fantastic recipes coming 😀

  4. Mercedes

    OMG!!! This recepie rocks! You saved me from making some goo with the ground turkey that was being held hostage in my fridge. My husband LOVED them! Thank you!!!! 🙂

  5. Steph

    I made these the other day…really good and easy to make! I ended up adding more chili powder, worcestershire sauce and tomato paste and reduced the ketchup by about half. What’s so great about this recipe is you can really adjust it to your liking and not have to worry about it turning out wrong. Thanks for the recipe!!

    p.s. I think you meant to put tomato sauce instead of the second tomato paste in the directions 🙂

    1. Jessica

      Awesome! I agree, that is totally the best part. I like being able to make it my own…or switch out ingredients if I happen to run out of something and don’t want to go to the store. 🙂

      Thanks for that! I did mean tomato sauce!! haha

  6. Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking

    Delish looking sloppy joes! I’ve got to try making them with turkey! These look great, Jessica.

  7. Nikki

    We just had sloppy joes (not turkey, though) last night. I love topping mine with some sloppy coleslaw, too!

    And, I’m glad I’m not the only one who has no clue if I need to preheat my broiler or not… 😉

  8. Nicole, RD

    I never had them growing up, either. And obviously they weren’t “cool”…but now? LOVE LOVE LOVE’em!!!

  9. Paula

    Love that you use the term “ass-friendly” and love the sound of these sloppy joes. As a side note, I purchased Hamburger Helper once when my kids were younger and still at home….never again!!

  10. Joanne

    My mom definitely relied on some traditional staples to feed us during the week….I think we had rice-a-roni daily. ugh.

    I would have much preferred these from-scratch sloppy joes! They get a bad rep but they really can be tasty!

  11. Julie @ Sugarfoot Eats

    One of my BFF’s always hosted a Friday night dinner party. When it was my birthday, she asked what I wanted for Friday night B-day dinner. I seriously asked for sloppy joes & tater tots!! 🙂

  12. Rebecca

    That sounds really good! I’ll have to try it this next week. However, for some unknown reason, ketchup makes our little girl vomit. So any ideas what I can use instead of ketchup? Thanks!

    1. Jessica

      Oh no that stinks!

      I think you could just add in an extra 3 tablespoons tomato sauce and an extra 1 tablespoon tomato paste. That way, it’s the same texture as the ketchup and also still tomato-y.

      Let me know if you try it and what happens! 😀

  13. Erin @ Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts

    We don’t have sloppy joes often, but always love when we do! I often use turkey as well or half turkey/half lean ground beef!

  14. Bee (Quarter Life Crisis Cuisine)

    Manwich sloppy joes are one of my ultimate comfort foods. On a butter grilled bun, they just can’t be beat. I would love to try a homemade version–and turkey is certainly “ass friendly” haha!–but I know Manwich will always have a place in my heart 🙂

  15. Gina @ Running to the Kitchen

    We never had sloppy joe’s either growing up and I seriously hated my mom for it thinking we were totally missing out. Obviously, she was right. Hate when that happens…
    PS- I loved #11 in your Dear baby sister post. So flipping true! ha

  16. Jen @ BeantownBaker.com

    I grew up in the opposite kind of a house. Sloppy Joes were a regular. I haven’t had one in YEARS.

  17. Becki's Whole Life

    I love sloppy joes and I have to say they were definitely in the rotation at my house growing up. Especially if my dad wasn’t going to be home because he was definitely a meat starch veggie meal guy.

  18. branny

    Mmm, I can’t take my eyes off the sweet potato fries. My mom didn’t make these growing up either and I didn’t eat lunch in the school cafeteria so I was an adult the first time I had them. Nowadays I make sloppy joes with lentils which might lighten them up a little more. These look great, though.

    1. Jessica

      I love the idea of using lentils…but the hubs isn’t a huge fan of them. :-/

      P.S. I know. Sweet Potato Fries rock my socks!

  19. Kathryn

    I’ve never had a sloppy joe but always been quite intrigued by them, maybe I shall have to lose my sloppy joe virginity!

  20. Blog is the New Black

    We had real dinners, too…. hamburger helper slipped in there once in awhile, though! 😉 This looks great!

  21. Alaina @ Fabtastic Eats

    oh my! I love sloppy joes! I always forget about them! I love even more that youve healthified them! I cant wait to throw these on the table sometime soon! YUM!

  22. Heather of Kitchen Concoctions

    I spy fabric from your instagram pic! I love the yellow! I always use ground turkey for almost everything I make. I never miss the beef!

  23. Averie @ Averie Cooks

    I love sloppy joe sauce…it’s the best! Random fact, Manwich (until you add the meat) is vegan. I love manwich but not meat. Lol. Seriously these look so good and I bet it felt good to step back from the mini donuts for a minute and make something savory.

    1. Jessica

      Oh girl! You are so right!

      I turn in the manuscript this weekend and I will be so happy to be back to anything but 100 mini donuts haha 🙂

  24. Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious

    I’ve made turkey sloppy joes before and you’re right, you don’t even know that the meat isn’t there! Can’t wait to give your version a try and stuff myself with this “ass friendly” dish 🙂

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Jessica
I'm a trial & error, self taught, sugar addict who thankfully learned how to survive in the kitchen! I am also a wife, mama of 3.
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