Sloppy Joes

Tested & Perfected Recipes

These smoky, spicy Sloppy Joes are made completely from scratch — no ketchup or seasoning packets — and they make an easy weeknight dinner.

These smoky, spicy Sloppy Joes (or “Sloppy Jenns” as we call them around here) make a great weeknight dinner or game day dish. Unlike most Sloppy Joes, they’re made entirely from scratch — no ketchup or mystery seasoning packets — and they’re not sweet.

The ingredient list looks long but don’t let that deter you. It’s mostly just a lot of spices, and the recipe is quick and easy to throw together. I like to pile the beef onto buttery toasted buns and serve the sandwiches with Sweet & Tangy Citrus Slaw, but the beef mixture is also delicious over rice or pasta. Feel free to double or triple the recipe for a crowd or freeze some for later.

What you’ll need to make Sloppy Joes

how to make sloppy joe's

How to make Sloppy Joes

To begin, combine the beef and baking soda in a medium bowl. The baking soda raises the pH of the meat, helping to lock in moisture and keep the beef tender. (I use this technique for many ground beef recipes, such as Stacked Beef Enchiladas and Ground Beef Chili.)

how to make sloppy joe's

Mash with your hands until well combined, and then let sit on the counter for 20 to 25 minutes to tenderize.

how to make sloppy joe's

While the beef rests, chop the veggies. I use a food processor to speed this process along, but it’s fine to chop by hand.

how to make sloppy joe's

If using a food processor, be sure to pulse only until the vegetables are finely chopped, not puréed.

how to make sloppy joe's

When the meat is just about ready, melt the butter in a large pan.

how to make sloppy joe's

Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic.

how to make sloppy joe's

Cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 4 to 6 minutes.

how to make sloppy joe's

Add the beef, salt, pepper, smoked paprika, cumin, oregano, and dry mustard.

how to make sloppy joe's

Cook, breaking up meat with wooden spoon, until mostly brown, about 3 minutes.

how to make sloppy joe's

Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce.

how to make sloppy joe's

Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the sauce is thickened, about 10 minutes.

how to make sloppy joe's

While the sauce simmers, butter the inside of the buns and place on a baking sheet, butter side up.

Toast in the oven until warmed through and lightly crispy, about 5 minutes.

Taste the sloppy Joe mixture and adjust seasonings. (If you like your Sloppy Joes sweet, feel free to add 1 teaspoon of brown sugar.) Spoon the mixture onto the toasted hamburger buns and serve. Enjoy!

how to make sloppy joe's

You may also like

Sloppy Joes

These smoky, spicy Sloppy Joes are made completely from scratch — no ketchup or seasoning packets — and they make an easy weeknight dinner.

Servings: 4 to 6
Prep Time: 25 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Total Time: 45 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 1-1/4 pounds 90% lean ground beef
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for buns
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 (14-oz) can tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce, such as Tabasco or Frank's, or to taste
  • Hamburger buns

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, using your hands, mash the beef with the baking soda. Let it sit on the counter for 20 to 25 minutes to tenderize.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F and set a rack in the middle position.
  3. Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat until bubbling. Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 4 to 6 minutes.
  4. Add the beef, salt, pepper, smoked paprika, cumin, oregano, and dry mustard and cook, breaking up meat with wooden spoon, until mostly brown, about 3 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the sauce is thickened, about 10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, butter the inside of the buns and place on a baking sheet, butter side up. Toast in the oven until warmed through and lightly crispy, about 5 minutes.
  6. Taste the sloppy Joe mixture and adjust seasonings. (If you like your Sloppy Joes sweet, feel free to add 1 teaspoon of brown sugar.) Spoon the mixture onto the toasted hamburger buns and serve.
  7. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The meat mixture can be frozen for up to 3 months and reheated in the microwave om on the stovetop until hot.

Pair with

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (5 servings)
  • Serving size: 1 sandwich
  • Calories: 406
  • Fat: 18 g
  • Saturated fat: 8 g
  • Carbohydrates: 32 g
  • Sugar: 8 g
  • Fiber: 3 g
  • Protein: 29 g
  • Sodium: 887 mg
  • Cholesterol: 86 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

See more recipes:

Reviews & Comments

  • Really delicious and easy last-minute meal. Thanks, Jen!

    • — Judi on May 27, 2021
    • Reply
  • Excellent recipe! Made it tonight and everyone loved it!!

    • — Michelle Burch on May 12, 2021
    • Reply
  • Best Sloppy Joe Recipe ever!! I have never liked sloppy joe because it is sweet. this recipe is not sweet! It is savory and delicious! Wish I found it years ago.

    • — Martha M. on April 21, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is a FABULOUS recipe! I made it with ground bison, best Joe’s ever! I can totally see using this on nachos 🙂

    • — Carrol on February 17, 2021
    • Reply
  • I end up making these a decent amount. It’s a really basic tasting comfort food dinner. Somehow it’s a bit better that your regular recipe. Toasting the buns makes a nice difference too.

    • — Elizabeth B. on February 5, 2021
    • Reply
  • Another family favorite! Loved the Smokey spicy flavor. Another of your recipes added to dinner rotation. Your blog is first place I look for dinner ideas. Thanks for sharing!!

    • — Mary Dickinson on February 3, 2021
    • Reply
  • I used to make a recipe with ketchup. This is so much more complex tasting and delicious. My family just gobbles them up!

    • — Amy on February 2, 2021
    • Reply
  • This was delicious! I used 80/20 ground beef and did not tenderize it with the baking soda but I still thought it had great flavor. Would highly recommend using a food processor to finely dice the veggies. Also, this recipe made a lot more food than I was expecting. I doubled it so we would have leftovers for several days and we probably have enough to make 14 sloppy joes! Once we finish the buns we plan to serve it over white rice as an easy meal.

    • — Madeline W on February 2, 2021
    • Reply
  • We are in the middle of a kitchen remodel and right now I have a crock pot, electric skillet, and electric griddle to work with. These Sloppy Joes sounded so good (and quick and easy) that I couldn’t wait to make them for dinner last night. Food processor is packed up, so I chopped everything very fine (which took the most time) and made these in the skillet. They turned out marvelous. Very flavorful and I love the idea of no “package” mix. I “toasted” the buns on the griddle with a little butter… Took no time to put everything together. Thanks, Jenn, for another “winner”.

    • — Marilyn on February 1, 2021
    • Reply
  • I love Once upon a Chef, have used it many times. Unfortunately this was disappointing for me. I always make the recipe the first time using the exact recipe, I don’t change a thing. I saw cumin in the recipe and was a little leery because it adds that Southwest taco taste. While the flavor was ok it reminded me too much of taco beef and not sloppy joe. Sorry, not my favorite

    • — Ed Parkinson on January 30, 2021
    • Reply
  • These sloppy joe’s are absolutely perfect and definitely a keeper! My only modification was to substitute ground turkey. Delicious on leftover homemade sourdough english muffins.

    • — Ruth on January 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • Yum!! Omitted green peppers (family not fans), added garlic (family loves garlic), and 1/2 teaspoon of brown sugar. What a hit! Thanks!

    • — Glenna Maskal on January 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • Just made these tonight along with the recommended slaw and both were amazing! Felt like a gourmet meal at a high-end bbq spot! Loved the flavor. I added a bit of maple syrup for the sweetness. Yum. Will definitely make these again. Yummy!

    • — Jen M. on January 29, 2021
    • Reply

Add a Review or Question

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.