The Best Homemade Old Fashioned Sloppy Joes Recipe

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We have added a spicy twist to an Old Fashioned Sloppy Joes Recipe, and it’s sure to become a favorite!

This classic American dish perfectly blends savory beef, tangy sauce, and soft buns, making it a comfort food for many.

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While you may prefer to skip to the recipe card, we suggest reading the entire blog post to avoid missing valuable tips and substitution suggestions and to ensure you have the necessary ingredients, equipment, and understanding of the steps and timings.

Old Fashioned Sloppy Joes Recipe

Sloppy Joes are a quick and easy weeknight meal, and as an added bonus, they taste even better the next day thanks to the tomato-based sauce.

For our non-American readers, a Sloppy Joe is a hot sandwich with a tangy meat sauce served between toasted hamburger buns.

Easy Sloppy Joes are great for a retro-themed dinner party (check out our dinner party menu suggestions further down this page).

Or why not serve in slider buns for a game night or casual cocktail party!

Sloppy Joes & Side Dishes

The Best Sloppy Joe Recipe

The classic recipe is to have been invented in the early 20th century by a cook named Joe in Sioux City, Iowa.

He decided to mix things up a bit by jazzing up his “loose meat sandwich” with a splash of tomato sauce.

And just like that, a sandwich legend is born, and it’s forever known as the Sloppy Joe. How’s that for a culinary plot twist?!

It’s fascinating how a simple recipe has stood the test of time and continues to be a family favorite across generations.

Our way of jazzing up an old-fashioned recipe is adding garlic-chili sauce which adds spicy warmth and richness to the mixture. You can leave this out for your picky eaters and use BBQ sauce instead.

We love classic American recipes here on The Purple Pumpkin Blog, and if you do too, you might like to try our New England Clam Chowder, Warm Spinach Artichoke Dip, Carolina Red Rice, and Buffalo Chicken Wings.

Old-Fashioned Sloppy Joes Recipe

Ingredients & Equipment Used In This Recipe

The ingredients and tools in this recipe are conveniently linked to online retailers like Amazon or Amazon Fresh.

Ingredients Needed For This Homemade Sloppy Joe Recipe

  • Fresh ProduceOnion, Garlic, Green Bell Pepper
  • ProteinGround Beef (Beef Mince)
  • Chilled & DairyUnsalted Butter
  • PantryOlive Oil, Sea Salt, Black Pepper
  • Tomato Sauce – In the UK, use passata, not ketchup!
  • Tomato PasteAlso known as Tomato Purée.
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Brown Sugar
  • Dijon MustardYellow mustard is the traditional choice for Sloppy Joes and can be used here in lieu of the Dijon mustard.
  • Garlic Chili Sauce
  • Hamburger Buns
  • For ServingPickles, Potato Chips, French Fries, Sweet Potato Fries, Waffle Fries, etc.

The complete list of ingredients with measurements is on the recipe card at the end of this post.


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Equipment Needed For This Recipe

The Purple Pumpkin Blog uses both cups and weighted measurements in its recipes, making American cups and kitchen food scales valuable tools for trying all the recipes. We provide US customary, imperial, and metric measurements. Still, it’s important to note that while you can combine cup measurements with weighted measures, never mix US customary/imperial (pounds, ounces, pints, etc.) with metric (kilograms, grams, liters, etc.).

35-Minute Recipe The Best Sloppy Joes

Dinner Party Menu Suggestions

You’ve made the main dish, but what about the rest of the courses?

Here are additional recipes to create a menu for a casual dinner party:

Homemade Old Fashioned Sloppy Joes Recipe

How Do I Make Sloppy Joes?

The printable recipe card with the ingredients list and instructions can be found at the end of this post.

Number of Servings: 4-6
Prep Time: 15 minutes | Cook Time: 20 minutes | Total Time: 35 minutes

Step 1 – Sauteé Vegetables: Heat olive oil in a large, high-sided pan or skillet over medium heat.

Add the onion, minced garlic, and green pepper to the pan and season with salt and black pepper to taste.

Stir to combine and sauté for 4-5 minutes, or until the vegetables soften and start to develop some color.

Step 2 – Add Ground Beef: Add the ground beef to the pan and break it into small pieces with a spatula.

Cook for 5-6 minutes until the ground meat is thoroughly browned.

Remove from the heat and carefully drain any excess fat from the skillet.

Step 3 – Add Sauce: Return the pan to the heat and add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, mustard, and chili-garlic sauce. Season with additional salt and pepper if desired.

Stir thoroughly to combine the ground beef mixture, simmer, uncovered for 5-10 minutes until heated through.

Step 4 – Toast Buns: Preheat the broiler/grill while the meat simmers. Arrange the hamburger buns on a large, rimmed baking sheet.

Brush each one with melted butter and place under the broiler for a few minutes until the buns are golden brown.

Step 5 – Assemble Sloppy Joes: Remove buns from the broiler and arrange them on plates.

Spoon the warm meat sauce onto the bottom half of each bun.

Cover and serve immediately with your choice of sides. Enjoy!

Assembling Sloppy Joes Sandwiches

What Can I Serve With Sloppy Joes?

  • Coleslaw: A crunchy and tangy coleslaw balances out the richness of the Sloppy Joes.
  • Corn on the Cob: Its sweetness complements the savory flavors of the dish.
  • Macaroni Salad: A creamy side that pairs wonderfully with the tangy sauce.
  • Baked Beans: Adds a smoky flavor that enhances the overall taste.
  • Potato Salad: A classic side that never goes wrong.
  • French Fries, Sweet Potato Fries, Potato Chips or Tater Tots: The crispy texture complements the softness of the Sloppy Joe sandwich.
  • Caesar Salad: A refreshing side to balance out the richness of the meat mixture.
  • Pickle Slices: The tanginess of pickles pairs well with the sweet and savory sloppy joe meat.
  • Hot Dogs: Want a less-carby option? Serve the Sloppy Joes on top of hot dogs.

Sloppy Joes Sandwich Recipe

Recipe Tips

  • Add some red pepper flakes or hot sauce for an even spicier kick.
  • Use lean ground beef, turkey, or chicken for a leaner version.
  • For a vegetarian version, use a ground meat substitute such as Quorn.
  • Toasting the buns prevents them from getting too soggy.
  • Use brioche buns for a richer taste.
  • If the mixture is too loose, simmer longer to reduce excess liquid.
Spicy Sloppy Joes Recipe

Storing Leftover Sloppy Joes & Freezing

  • Storing Leftovers:
    • Cool (within 1-2 hours), transfer to an airtight container, and store in the fridge for 3-4 days.
  • Freezing Instructions:
    • Cool the meat mixture completely and transfer to an airtight, freezer-safe container or plastic food bag.
    • Label with the dish’s name, thawing/reheating instructions, and the date to keep track of your food storage.
    • Store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
    • To defrost the filling, place it in the fridge to thaw overnight (or at least 12 hours).
    • Reheat in medium heat in a skillet or in the microwave until piping hot throughout.
  • With all leftovers, ensure the food looks and smells okay before consuming.
  • Safe Minimum Internal Temperature Chart for Cooking
  • You can always consult the Food Standards Agency in your country for the most up-to-date advice on storing and freezing foods: Food Standards Agency (UK) | Food Safety (USA).

Printable Easy Sloppy Joe Recipe Card

 

The printable recipe card is below. Any demonstration photos on the recipe card are not printed out to save ink.

We appreciate it when you review the recipe and leave a star rating to share your experience with others!

Old Fashioned Sloppy Joes Recipe

Easy Homemade Sloppy Joes

Yield: 4-6
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

Savor the homemade goodness of this Old Fashioned Sloppy Joes Recipe. Serve the sandwich with classic sides for an easy dinner that satisfies.

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ medium white onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • 1½ lbs (680g) ground beef
  • 1 (15-oz/400g) can tomato sauce
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste (tomato purée)
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1-2 Tbsp brown sugar (adjust amount depending on personal preference)
  • ½ Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp chili-garlic sauce
  • 4-6 Hamburger buns
  • 2-3 Tbsp unsalted butter melted

Serving Suggestions

  • Pickles, potato chips, French fries and/or sweet potato fries

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil in a large, high-sided pan or skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, minced garlic, and green pepper to the pan and season with salt and black pepper to taste. Stir to combine and sauté for 4-5 minutes, or until the vegetables soften and start to develop some color.
  2. Add the ground beef to the pan and break it into small pieces with a spatula. Cook for 5-6 minutes until the meat is thoroughly browned. Remove from the heat and carefully drain any excess fat from the skillet.
  3. Return the pan to the heat and add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, mustard, and chili-garlic sauce. Season with additional salt and pepper if desired. Stir thoroughly to combine, simmer, uncovered for 5-10 minutes until heated through.
  4. Preheat the broiler/grill while the meat simmers. Arrange the hamburger buns on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Brush each one with melted butter and place under the broiler for a few minutes until the buns are golden brown.
  5. Remove buns from the broiler and arrange them on plates. Spoon the warm meat sauce onto the bottom half of each bun. Cover and serve immediately with your choice of sides. Enjoy!

    Old Fashioned Sloppy Joes Recipe

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FAQs About Sloppy Joes

Here are some questions people often ask about making Sloppy Joes.

Click the question to read the answer. If you have one of your own, please comment on this post.

What is the original Sloppy Joe?

It’s believed to have originated in the 1930s in a cafe in Sioux City, Iowa.

What does a Sloppy Joe contain?

Ground beef, onions, bell peppers, and a tangy tomato-based sauce.

What are Sloppy Joes called in the UK?

Most people do not eat Sloppy Joes in the UK, as it’s not a common recipe, but they would still be called Sloppy Joes or sometimes a “Manwich.”

What is Sloppy Joe sauce made of?

Our recipe makes the sauce with tomato sauce, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, mustard, and chili-garlic sauce.

What’s the difference between Sloppy Joes and Sloppy Jane?

Sloppy Jane typically uses ground turkey instead of beef.

Is a Sloppy Joe just Bolognese?

No, while both have ground meat and tomato sauce, their seasonings and consistencies differ.

What goes good with Sloppy Joes for dinner?

Sides like coleslaw, baked beans, or potato salad are great choices.

What is a New York Sloppy Joe?

It’s a different dish entirely, a deli sandwich with cold cuts, coleslaw, and Russian dressing.

What is a funny name for Sloppy Joes?

They’re sometimes called “Messy Marvins” or “Sloppy Sammies.”

What should a Sloppy Joe taste like?

It should have a balance of savory meatiness, tang from the tomatoes, and a hint of sweetness.

Is Sloppy Joe sandwich hot or cold?

It’s typically served hot.

Can I cook Sloppy Joes in a Slow Cooker?

For those who are keen on experimenting, this easy recipe can also be adapted for the slow cooker (Crock Pot), making it an ideal choice for busy weeknights. . Imagine coming home to the aroma of homemade sloppy joes, ready to be served on toasted hamburger buns. The best part? It’s a hit with the whole family, even the pickiest eaters.

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