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EASY Sloppy Joe Recipe

This easy sloppy joe recipe is hearty, saucy and a family friendly dinner everyone will love. favorite. Ground beef is simmered in a homemade sauce then served on a toasted hamburger bun.

Other favorite easy dinners include meatball sub, turkey sloppy joes and homemade Philly cheesesteak.

Easy Sloppy Joe Recipe on a plate.
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The Best Homemade Sloppy Joes

This is one of those dishes that almost everyone grew up eating, it’s not the prettiest but delicious! This sloppy joe recipe was a childhood favorite in our house, as well as meatloaf, chicken pot pie and pot roast.

Making these sloppy joes from scratch is a classic 30-minute meal like easy salisbury steaks that’s hearty, flavorful, economical and family-friendly. My kids love these sloppy joes as well as my goulash recipe!

Sloppy Joe Ingredients

Below are the main ingredients for sloppy Joes, but feel free to sneak in even more veggies if you’d like. We love to serve them on fresh hamburger buns!

Sloppy Joe Ingredients on the counter.

Find the full printable recipe with specific measurements below.

  • Ground beef: I use 80-90% lean ground beef. It still has enough flavor, without being overly greasy. You could also use ground turkey.
  • Onion: I prefer to use a white or yellow onion when making sloppy joes. If you don’t have an onion on hand, feel free to add 1/2 teaspoon onion powder.
  • Red bell pepper: Diced red bell pepper is my go-to veggie to add in. Feel free to add in others like chopped yellow bell pepper, a green bell pepper, celery or chopped carrots.
  • Minced garlic: Fresh minced garlic adds so much flavor. You could also use 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder if you don’t have fresh garlic on hand.
  • Ketchup: This gives the sloppy joes that famous red color and tangy taste. The bulk of the sauce is made of ketchup.
  • Brown sugar: You don’t need a lot…just enough to balance out the acidity from the ketchup and add a slight hint of sweetness.
  • Mustard: Plain yellow mustard works best.
  • Worcestershire sauce: Adds a savory umami flavor to the sauce. If you want to take up the heat, dd a pinch of red pepper flakes.

How to Make Sloppy Joes

Showing how to make a sloppy joe in a 4 step collage.
  1. Cook. Brown the beef in a large skillet with chopped onion, red bell pepper and garlic. Drain any excess grease from the meat mixture.
  2. Mix. Add in the ketchup, brown sugar, mustard and Worcestershire and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Simmer. Cover and let simmer for 10 to 20 minutes (stirring occasionally). If more liquid is needed, add more ketchup or a couple Tablespoons of water.
  4. Serve. Add mixture to toasted hamburger buns and serve with your favorite sides (we love homemade french fries or mac and cheese). Potato chips and pickles also make a great side.

Cooking Tips

  • Thickening the sauce. The sauce will thicken as it simmers. If your sloppy joes have too much liquid after simmering, add in corn starch. Mix a Tablespoon of both cornstarch and water together in a small bowl then add mixture to the sauce and stir.
  • Toast the buns. This makes all the difference! Not only does it give a nice flavor, but it helps soak in the sauce without getting soggy. I love to toast mine on a buttered griddle for a few minutes until golden.
  • Crockpot. Sloppy joes are easy to make in the slow cooker. Once the meat is browned in a skillet, just add all the ingredients and cook on low for 4-6 hours or high 2-3 hours.
  • Repurpose leftovers. Use leftovers to make a whole new dish! Serve over a baked potato or on top of nachos.
Easy sloppy joe mixture cooking in a skillet.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is it called a sloppy joe?

Many claim that the original sloppy joe sandwich was actually invented by a cook named Joe in an Sioux City, Iowa cafe in the early 1900’s. He created a “loose meat” sandwich made of beef and tomato sauce, which is now known as the sloppy joe.

Over the years, the dish has evolved and now typically includes beef, tomato sauce or ketchup, veggies, mustard, Worcestershire and other seasonings.

What is the sloppy joe sauce made of?

The sauce is made of ketchup, water, brown sugar, mustard and seasonings.

What’s the difference between a sloppy joe and a sloppy Jane?

A sloppy jane is a ground turkey sloppy joe instead of cooked with ground beef.

Is Manwich the same as sloppy joe?

Manwich is the name of a canned sloppy joe mix. The can contains seasoned sauce that can be added to the cooked ground beef.

Storage + Freezing Leftovers

Store leftovers in airtight container for up to 3 days.

This recipe makes a great freezer meal. I love to double the batch and freeze half for a busy night. Let the meat cool, then place in a freezer bag (make sure to seal out any air) and freeze for up to 3 months.

To reheat, let thaw in the fridge overnight. Reheat in a skillet or microwave until warm. Add more water and seasonings if needed.

Sloppy joe on a white plate.

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Sloppy joe on a white plate.

Sloppy Joe Recipe

4.94 from 30 votes
↑ Click stars to rate now!
Author: Jamielyn Nye
A nostalgic, economical and easy recipe that feeds the whole family. These easy sloppy joe recipe is hearty, savory and have the best flavor!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6



  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • cup chopped onion
  • cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ¾ cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar , more to taste (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce , more to taste
  • water
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 4-6 hamburger buns , toast if desired


  • In a large skillet over medium heat brown the ground beef with onion and red pepper. Sprinkle salt and pepper over top. Drain any grease from the meat mixture. Add garlic the last minute of cooking.
  • Add in ketchup, brown sugar, mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Cover and simmer on low for 10-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add more ketchup or water if you need more liquid. 
  • Serve warm on fresh hamburger buns.


Hamburger buns: We love to use brioche buns or make homemade hamburger buns.
To toast your hamburger buns, heat 1-2 Tablespoons of butter on a griddle over medium heat. Then place the hamburger buns on and cook 1-3 minutes, or until the bottoms are lightly toasted. This will add great flavor and prevent the buns from getting soggy. 
Tomato sauce: If you prefer to use tomato sauce, you can swap it for the ketchup to make it less sweet. Add in extra seasonings to taste. 
Storage: Store leftovers in a covered airtight container for up to 3 days. Freeze in a zip top bag up to 3 months. 


Calories: 229kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 47mg | Sodium: 481mg | Potassium: 421mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 415IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 59mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American

Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!

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