This Sloppy Joe Recipe is a quick and easy family-pleasin’ kind of meal.

Browned ground beef is cooked with onion and simmered in an extra tangy tomato sauce and then piled on toasted buns.

These homemade sloppy joes taste so much better than the canned version and they don’t need much extra time!

close up of Easy Sloppy Joes on a plate

A Favorite Easy Dinner

Sloppy joes are one of those classics that never go out of style. These are loved by my kids but they’re also one of my husband’s favorites (he sometimes requests them as a birthday dinner).

It is suggested that sloppy joes were created by a chef named Joe in the ’30s in Sioux City, Iowa, and are based on the loose meat sandwich.

  • A homemade sloppy joe sauce uses ingredients you likely have on hand already.
  • It’s almost as fast as opening a can of mix but tastes so much better!
  • The meat mixture can be prepared ahead of time and reheated for quick meals.
Ingredients for sloppy joes on a  pan

Sloppy Joe Ingredients

A sloppy joe is good and saucy to make sure it’s…. sloppy! True to their name, they are finger-licking delicious, so be sure to serve with plenty of napkins!

  • Meat – Use 80/20 lean ground beef or any ground meat like ground turkey (I’ve even made sloppy joes with lentils before, they’re great and even meat lovers love them).
  • Sloppy Joe Sauce – This sauce is a zesty and slightly sweet tomato-based sauce made with tomato sauce, ketchup, brown sugar for a bit of sweetness, and some cider vinegar for some zest.
  • Optional Additions – Adding veggies adds flavor and nutrition, and it helps to stretch the meat a little bit further! In addition to green pepper, try chopped celery, shredded carrot, or other finely diced veggies. Add some red pepper flakes for a bit of heat.
sloppy joe ingredients in a skillet

How to Make Sloppy Joes

This is an easy recipe to make sloppy joes on the stove!

  1. Brown Meat: Brown the ground beef over medium-high heat with onion and garlic. Drain any fat and add bell pepper if using.
  2. Simmer in Sauce: Add the sloppy joe sauce ingredients to the browned beef and simmer. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
  3. Serve on Buns: Toast the buns (add garlic butter if you’d like) and pile high with sloppy joe meat.

If you want a thicker sauce, just simmer a little bit longer but not too long, they should be saucy and sloppy. If you’re serving a crowd, make a bigger batch in the slow cooker and keep them warm so your guests can serve themselves!

cooked sloppy joes in a skillet

Serve Them With…

Unlike hamburgers, this hearty sandwich doesn’t need any condiments. The yummy full-bodied sauce takes care of all that. You can top it with a bit of cheddar cheese if you’d like!

To round out the meal, serve Sloppy Joes with your fave side dishes from potato chips to creamy potato salad, coleslaw, tater tots, or baked french fries.

Then sit back and watch as those Sloppy Joes disappear fast!

Make Tidy Josephs

When my kids were little we’d make tidy josephs, same great taste but a little bit less messy!

Purchase whole rolls and instead of cutting rolls in half, use your finger to create a cavity in the roll and fill with sloppy joe mixture.

Sloppy joe on a plate with coleslaw

Got Leftovers?

If you have leftover sloppy joe filling, it can be stored in an air-tight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. Freeze sloppy joe mixture in freezer bags and thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
Reheat on the stove or in the microwave.

Great Ways to Enjoy Leftover Sloppy Joes

Got Ground Beef?

Ground beef is the perfect way to make quick meals and happy bellies!!

close up of Easy Sloppy Joes on a plate
4.87 from 60 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
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Easy Sloppy Joe Recipe

Sloppy Joes are perfect for a quick and tasty supper. Zesty, flavorful, and always a hit!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4 servings



  • 1 pound ground beef
  • ½ onion finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • hamburger buns
  • butter or olive oil for brushing

Sloppy Joe Sauce

  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup tomato sauce
  • ½ green bell pepper finely diced
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard


  • Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add ground beef, onion, and garlic stirring with a wooden spoon to break it up. Cook until no pink remains. Drain any fat.
  • Stir in the remaining sauce ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes uncovered or until sauce is thick.
  • While the sauce is simmering, preheat the oven to broil. Brush the inside of the hamburger buns with butter or olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Broil 1-3 minutes or just until lightly browned.
  • Spoon meat mixture over the toasted buns and serve.


This sloppy joe recipe can easily be doubled or tripled. Keep the mixture warm in a crockpot to serve guests.
To make sloppy joes tidy, purchase whole rolls. Instead of cutting rolls in half, use your finger to create a cavity in the roll and fill each with the sloppy joe mixture.
To freeze, cool completely and place in a freezer bag. Keep frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight and reheat on the stove or in the microwave.
4.87 from 60 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
Or to leave a comment, click here!

Nutrition Information

Calories: 223 | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 70mg | Sodium: 499mg | Potassium: 695mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 393IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 29mg | Iron: 4mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Beef, Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American

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About the author

Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!
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Recipe Rating


  1. I’ve tried many different sloppy joe recipes from the internet. This is the best sloppy joe base recipe ! I found the recipe to be slightly too sweet, but after adding a few seasonings it was absolutely perfect. I also add bell pepper red or green or both if I have some. Thank You so much for this recipe5 stars

  2. This was the first sloppy joe recipe I’ve ever used. I usually try and make my own but I wanted to try something different. This was so much more flavorful than the ones that I’ve made. Thank you!!5 stars

  3. This is my go to recipe for sloppy joes. I do add more mustard,ketchup and i use 2tbs of unfiltered apple cider vinegar. This recipe is a winner.5 stars

  4. Hi Holly did your blog used to have a green wallet instead of mixing bowls?? I’m trying to find my favorite sloppy joe recipe but I got a new phone and moved so I can’t find it but I don’t remember my favorite recipe having chilli sauce so I just thought I’d ask:) thanks

  5. Holly- I LOVE your recipes. Just made this, but I used half of a way to big onion! (my bad).
    I had some fresh mushrooms on hand and chopped them, held my breath and mixed them in. It came out great. The sauce is SOO good!!

  6. Delicious! I used regular yellow mustard for added flavor. I made it an open faced sandwich with melted cheddar cheese on top. Yum! It takes no time at all to put together. So much better than the canned version.5 stars

  7. A great recipe! The only thing which I do differently, is that I double, sometimes triple the recipe, and add a diced green OR red Bell Pepper, which adds even more flavor. I sometimes make Sloppy Joes on toasted buns for our kid’s birthday parties, and they go over extremely well. I serve them with homemade Sweet Potato Parmesan Fries & an Apple Slaw w/diced fruit & raisins. Happy, happy kids!4 stars

    1. I do the same. Just my husband now. But when children and grandchildren come, things change. Have missed you a lot on Facebook.