When I'm looking for a no-fuss, easy dinner recipe the whole family will eat I reach for this Old Fashioned Sloppy Joe Recipe.
Not only is it an easy meal ready in under 30 minutes, but it also makes an awesome freezer meal that you can thaw and reheat on busy weeknights!
Old Fashioned Sloppy Joe recipe
My friends continually ask me for my homemade sloppy joes recipe because it's humble, simple, and picky eater approved. And many times, when I can't decide what to make for supper, I think of recipes with ground beef.
Now, I 100% realize you can easily open a can of Manwich. If the canned stuff is your thing, go for it!
But I grew up eating the old fashioned, homemade version of sloppy joes and here's a little secret....it's not hard to make.
The ingredients you need for the sweet and tangy sauce that is the sloppy joe? Everything is in your fridge or pantry, friends!
Why you'll love these easy sloppy joes
Much like chili, the flavor of these is even the better the next day. You can cook up a batch of sloppy joes on the weekend and serve them later in the week!
You know I love to save on dish washing when possible. With this recipe, everything goes into the skillet used to brown the ground beef. It's a beautiful thing.
You can stretch leftovers is a variety of ways. So go ahead, make a double batch!
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 in the early 20th century. . . A cook named Joe added tomato sauce to his loose meat sandwich, creating the Sloppy Joe.
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.
My kiddos call anything before 1990 the olden days, so let's just say sloppy joes have been around a long time. Any sandwich that stands the test of time has gotta be a good one!
Simple ingredients; you know they're one of my favorite things!
- white onion
- celery - yes, I realize many recipes call for bell pepper but we have some picky eaters in our household. It's easier to seal the dinner deal with celery.
- ground beef - If you're using super lean ground beef, or even ground turkey, add a tablespoon of olive oil to keep things from drying out. I'll add a note for you in the printable recipe card below so you remember!
- tomato sauce
- tomato paste
- Worcestershire sauce
- brown sugar - adding a little bit of brown sugar gives just enough sweetness to set off the tangy sloppy joe sauce. You can adjust the amount as you see fit.
- yellow mustard
- buns for serving - oooh the possibilities! You can use plain old cheap burger buns, pretzel buns, brioche buns...any of these are a great compliment to sloppy joe meat!
How to make Homemade Sloppy Joes
Step 1: Cook the onion, garlic and green pepper in a skillet on your stove top. You can hit it with a little salt and pepper, if you'd like. Add the ground beef, breaking into pieces with a wooden spoon as it cooks.
Once the ground beef mixture is cooked through, drain grease from the pan.
Step 2: Make the sauce mixture. Like I said, we are using the least amount of dishes possible here, because no one loves dish pan hands!
So we're making the sauce by adding the tomato sauce, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar and mustard. Simmer uncovered for several minutes to let the flavors combine.
To serve, spoon the meat mixture onto the buns of your choice!
- use ground pork or ground turkey in place of the beef
- make the mixture and let it simmer in the slow cooker while you're running people and things around.
- add a tablespoon of chili-garlic sauce for a little zing (if you have it, you know you're trying to figure out how to use it up!)
- add some shredded cheddar cheese so it melts on the meat. Add the bun tops and serve!
To make sloppy joes in the slow cooker
Cook the vegetables and ground beef in a skillet as instructed; then transfer to your slow cooker. Add the remaining ingredients and cook for 4-5 hours on low.
To thicken the sauce, remove the lid and cook for 30 minutes or so until thickened.
How to store leftover sloppy joes
Assuming you have leftovers (and you should, because I told you to make a double recipe), you can refrigerate the leftover meat in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
How to freeze leftovers for later
Super easy, again! You can put leftover sloppy joes in a freezer safe container, and freeze them for 3-4 months.
To reheat from frozen simply thaw and reheat in a skillet. You may need to add a touch of water to help loosen things up.
Ways to use leftover sloppy joe meat
If you bought into my excitement, you, are gonna be SO happy next time you're freaking out about what's for dinner. Because you have this easy recipe for classic sloppy joes at your disposal.
You'll drive right paste the golden arches. You'll skip the Casey's pizza (which yes, Casey's you are indeed delicious). But tonight is made for sloppy joes.
You'll come home and make use of your sloppy joe leftovers with things like: sloppy joe stuffed sweet potatoes or baked potatoes, sloppy joe nachos or Sloppy Joe quesadillas (use this taco quesadilla recipe as a guideline.
What to serve with old fashioned sloppy joes
First of all, it has to be potato chips. Yes, french fries are delicious, but save them for the burgers.
Other recipes you’ll like:
- One Pot Chili Mac and Cheese
- Crockpot Hamburger Helper
- Homemade Beefaroni
- Individual Lasagna Cups
- Classic Chili for a Crowd
- 23 Easy Dinner Recipes for Families
Old Fashioned Sloppy Joe Recipe
- 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup white onion finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- ½ cup chopped celery (or equivalent of green pepper chopped
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 1 ½ lbs. ground beef 80% lean/20% fat (or greater
- 1 15 ounces tomato sauce
- 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1-2 Tablespoons brown sugar adjust amount depending on personal preference
- 1 Tablespoon yellow mustard
- 4-6 Hamburger buns
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, minced garlic, and celery. Season with salt and black pepper, to taste, and stir to combine. Sauté for 4-5 minutes, or until the vegetables soften and start to develop some color.
- Add the ground beef and break into small pieces with a spatula. Cook over medium low heat until the meat is thoroughly browned, approximately 5-6 minutes. Remove from heat and carefully drain any excess fat from the skillet.
- Return to heat and add tomato sauce, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar and mustard. Simmer, uncovered, until heated through and slightly thickened, about 5-8 minutes.
- Spoon some of the warm meat sauce onto the bottom portion of each bun. Cover and serve with your choice of sides.