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Homemade Sloppy Joes ~ Freezer Friendly!

My friends continually ask me for my homemade sloppy joes recipe. Requests like this make me a very happy lady.

I mean, one of the best food compliments is when someone asks for your recipe, right? And I love that this sloppy joe recipe recipe is humble, simple, and kid-approved.

What IS a sloppy joe, anyway?

The origins to this tasty sandwich are somewhat elusive. 

The simple answer is, a sloppy joe is a sandwich is made with ground beef, tomato sauce, and some seasonings.

But where did it come from?

Some say the sloppy joe recipe came from a cafe in Sioux City, Iowa. A cook named Joe added tomato sauce to his loose meat sandwich, creating the Sloppy Joe.

Now I’m confused. Iowa folks, help me out.

Isn’t that a Maid Rite sandwich? Or is that something entirely else?

Others say that the original sandwich began at a restaurant in Key West, called Sloppy Joe’s Bar. 

And, somewhere I also read that the sandwich concept came from Cuba at a place called Sloppy Joe’s saloon.

I think it’s clear we’re not going to get a straight answer here.

Let’s move on, because it doesn’t really matter WHERE it came from, the point is, you should make this and then eat it.

Homemade Sloppy Joes as a Freezer Meal

That’s right, as an added benefit, homemade sloppy joes make an awesome, ready to heat freezer meal.

Make a double recipe of this and freeze the leftovers in a gallon sized, ziplock type bag.

BOOM. Done.

You’ll thank me later when you’re freaking out about what’s for dinner because your family is running in five different directions.

I feel your pain.

Pull this out of your freezer, drive right on past the golden arches and eat the joes.

Does that sound too bossy???

Pair them with some chips and fresh fruit and you’re good to go!

Oh, and one more thing…

You’ve gotta serve homemade sloppy joes on cheap white buns, too. No fancy brioche, or sesame buns. Basic is best.

homemade sloppy joe recipe

Full disclosure: This was one of the very first recipes I posted to This Farm Girl Cooks in 2016. I am keeping this photo on the post for prosperity.  Long live the upside down sloppy joe!

If you want to make a healthy sloppy joe, you could of course, substitute ground lean turkey in for the beef. But nothing quite beats the taste of the original.

I mean, in my humble opinion.

Other recipes you’ll like:

So give this a try and tag me at #thisfarmgirlcooks when you make a recipe! I’d love to see what you’re making, and feature you in a future newsletter 🙂

Yield: 6 servings

Homemade Sloppy Joes

homemade sloppy joe recipe

Homemade sloppy joes are a kid approved recipe perfect for busy nights. Even better, this sandwich is freezer friendly, so go ahead and make a double batch!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes


  • ½ medium onion, , diced
  • 1 T oil, (optional)
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 celery stalk, , diced
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp yellow mustard
  • 1 tsp white vinegar


  1. Heat large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil (optional) and cook onion until it begins to soften, about 2-3 minutes. 
  2. Add ground beef and cook until browned, stirring occasionally. Drain the onion and ground beef mixture and return to the pan. 
  3. Add remaining ingredients and cook on low for 20-30 minutes until flavors combine. Serve on soft white hamburger buns. Enjoy!


  1. Label a gallon sized freezer bag. Cook ground beef and drain fat. Allow to cool and add to the freezer bag. Add remaining ingredients to the freezer bag. Remove excess air and lay flat to freeze.


  1. Thaw. In a large skillet, simmer contents of freezer bag for 20-30 minutes until vegetables are tender and flavors combine.


This freezes well - go ahead and make a double batch!

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1 grams

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 187Unsaturated Fat: 0g


Tag me on Instagram at @ThisFarmGirlCooks or leave me a comment & rating below.


homemade sloppy joe sandwich recipe

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Tuesday 12th of October 2021

Do you have a maid rite style ground beef sandwich that you like? That was one of the things we missed the most while living far away.

Deanne Frieders

Wednesday 20th of October 2021

I don't have a recipe (yet) but will add that to the list of recipes. Sounds perfect!

Roxanne Trimble

Saturday 2nd of October 2021

Bred and born Iowan. Sloppy Joes have a tomato based sauce of some sort. The sloppier the better. Maidrite are a loose meat sandwich with no sauce. Western Iowa uses the term Taverns and I am not sure if the are sauced or not.

Friendly Freezer Meal Ideas – Joyful Messes

Monday 24th of May 2021

[…] Take a look at the recipe here […]

Linda Krausch

Thursday 14th of May 2020

As a replaced Iowan a Sloppy Joe and a Maid-Rite are two different things. Sloppy joe is a tomato sauce based and Maid-Rite is loose meat topped with mustard and dill pickles. Really miss the Maid-Rite and breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches.

Deanne Frieders

Thursday 14th of May 2020

I love pickles on my sloppy joes so many I'm really from Iowa!! ;) We love a breaded pork tenderloin around here too!

A Kansas Farm Mom

Tuesday 23rd of January 2018

You said my favorite words "Freezer Friendly." With calving season rapidly approaching, I am stocking the freezer with meals that reheat quickly. This will be added to the list to make! Thanks for adding it to the #Celebrate365 party.

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