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Homemade Sloppy Joes

These homemade sloppy joes are a quick, easy, family favorite that you can whip up in just 30 minutes.

It’s sweet, savory, meaty, and comes together in a flash. It almost feels like cheating.

Deliciously Homemade Sloppy Joes
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Throw out the canned stuff and give these old-fashioned sloppy joes a try! It’s a simple, classic recipe that’s sure to remind you of the good old days.

Piled high on a toasted bun, these homemade sloppy joe’s are sure to be a family favorite!

These homemade sloppy joes are loaded with BBQ sauce, tangy tomato sauce, a little bit of brown sugar and perfectly seasoned ground beef. It’s classic comfort food that always hits the spot.

Sloppy Joes Ingredients: Ground Beef, Onions, Brown Sugar, Ketchup, Mustard, Barbecue Sauce, Worcestershire Sauce, Bell Pepper, Garlic Powder and Crusty Bread


With just a few simple ingredients, this sloppy joe recipe is perfect for busy weeknights.

  • Ground beef. The star of the dish is the meat. Apart from ground sirloin, you can also opt for other cuts of beef (like 85% Angus beef). Turkey is a good alternative for healthy eaters, too!
  • Onion. Yellow onion is packed with flavor. While it’s good on its own, you can also combine it with chopped celery for even more zest. Use a food processor to quickly and easily chop up the veggies.
  • Brown sugar. This is one of those “not-so-secret” ingredients that makes all the difference. Adds just enough sweetness to really make this meal pop.
  • Ketchup and mustard. Buy all-natural or organic to avoid the high-fructose corn syrup and other hidden ingredients. That’s why we love homemade. We’re able to make it with all-natural ingredients.
  • Barbecue sauce. Adds a sweet, tangy flavor that’s hard to resist. Use your favorite brand of BBQ sauce for the ultimate flavor.
  • Worcestershire sauce. The not-so-secret ingredient in the best-tasting sloppy joes. It brings a nice umami flavor to your meat. Lea and Perrins is always the most reliable brand, but use whatever you have on hand.
  • Bell pepper. I prefer green bell pepper over red because of the savory flavor. But green and red both work well in this recipe.
  • Garlic powder, salt, and pepper. These classic seasonings help bring out the full flavor of this dish.
  • Crusty bread. Best served buttered and toasted.
Homemade Ground Beef in a Cast Iron Pan

How to Make Homemade Sloppy Joes

This is a fantastic dish to share with the entire family. It’s quick, easy, flavorful, and takes only 30 minutes to make. Check out how quickly this dish comes together.

1. Cook the ground beef. Start by cooking the ground beef, onion, and green pepper in a skillet over medium-high heat. Then, drain off liquids.

2. Add seasoning. Stir in the garlic powder, mustard, ketchup, barbecue sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and brown sugar. Mix well.

3. Simmer. Reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Serve. Pile a generous amount of meat onto toasted and buttered buns. Top it with a nice thick slice of Cheddar cheese and broil for a minute to melt. Serve while hot.

Homemade Sloppy Joes with Ground Beef, Burger Buns and Onions

Best Bread for Sloppy Joes

My personal favorite is a brioche bun. But pretzel buns are also an excellent choice!

No matter what bread you choose, the most important thing is that it’s toasted.

It only takes a few minutes, and it makes all the difference. If you don’t toast the bread, it will turn soggy pretty quickly. Here’s how to do it:

1. Heat the pan. To toast bread, turn the stove to high heat, and drizzle some vegetable oil in a pan.

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2. Add the bread. Once the oil is hot, add the bread and toast for a few seconds. If you want to give it more flavor, you can’t go wrong with butter. 

Tips & Tricks

Here are some of the best tips and tricks for making award-winning sloppy joes.

  • Make them healthy. If you want a healthier version, add some veggies like carrots, zucchini, and sun-dried tomatoes. I promise your kids won’t even notice them there!
  • Add some heat. If you want a spicier flavor, just add some chili powder, cumin, and chipotle powder to the mix.
  • Dial up the flavor with wine. You can also pour some wine to give your meat some acidity. Don’t worry, you can still serve it to kids as the alcohol will evaporate as it cooks.
  • Babysit that sauce. Watch the sauce as it cooks to make sure you get a nice, thick mixture. You don’t want the sauce to reduce too much because you’ll end up with a dry sloppy joe.
  • Cheese please! Top it off with some cheddar or American cheese for an extra tasty sandwich. Melted is always best of course 🙂
  • Brown the beef. If you want your meat to have a crusty edge like a burger does, turn the stove to high heat instead of medium-high as you brown it.

Can You Make Sloppy Joes In a Crockpot?

You sure can! Here’s how.

1. Brown the beef first. Be sure to brown the ground beef in a skillet and then add all remaining ingredients to the crockpot.

2. Cook. Cook on LOW for about 4-6 hours. If you’re in a hurry, cook on HIGH for 2-3 hours.

This crockpot version is hands-free and a simple recipe to make on those busy weeknights. Just let the slow cooker do the work!

How to Store

This sloppy joe recipe makes fantastic leftovers! Here’s everything you need to know about storing those leftovers.

  • To store. Let the leftovers come to room temperature, and transfer to an airtight container or freezer bag. They will stay fresh in the fridge for 3-4 days.
  • To freeze. Allow leftovers to cool completely and then place the meat in an air-tight container. Freeze for up to three months.
  • To reheat. Thaw frozen sloppy joes in the fridge overnight. Then, transfer to a saucepan and slowly reheat under low heat. Or, just pop individual servings in the microwave, and nuke in 30-second intervals.

What to Serve with Homemade Sloppy Joes

Sloppy Joes can easily make a meal all by themselves, but here are some great side dishes to kick things up a notch!

  • Potato chips. The lightness and crispness of each chip bring a nice balance to the soft and filling sandwich. You can also counterbalance the flavors of the meat and chips with some spicy and crunchy dill pickles.
  • Creamy macaroni salad. Macaroni salad is creamy and refreshing and pairs perfectly with sloppy joes. Or, try a creamy potato salad! The creamy factor is a wonderful pairing with the smokiness of this recipe. 
  • Corn on the cob. Break out the bib and grab some napkins! Since sloppy joes are already deliciously messy, why not add to the fun with some corn on the cob? Slap on some melted butter and these two pair perfectly together. 
  • Onion rings. They’re sweet, savory, and crunchy, all at the same time. Whip up a batch of frozen onion rings in the air fryer, or make your own.  The secret to making them light and crunchy? Cornstarch! 
  • Baked beans. Baked beans are perhaps the most iconic side dish to sloppy joes. Just season the beans with brown sugar and bacon bits and they’re ready to go.

Homemade Sloppy Joes

Course: Main CourseCuisine: American


Prep time


Cooking time





These Homemade Sloppy Joes are a quick, easy, family favorite that you can whip up in just 30 minutes.


  • 1 pound lean ground beef

  • 1/4 cup chopped onion

  • 1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard

  • 1/2 cup ketchup

  • 1/4 cup barbecue sauce

  • 3 teaspoons brown sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

  • salt to taste

  • ground black pepper to taste


  • Cook the ground beef, onion, and green pepper in a skillet over medium-high heat. Drain off liquids.
  • Stir in the garlic powder, mustard, ketchup, barbecue sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and brown sugar. Mix well.
  • Reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Place onto toasted and buttered buns and enjoy!
Homemade Sloppy Joes

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author avatar
beautyeval - InsanelyGood
Hey there! I'm beautyeval. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

4 thoughts on “Homemade Sloppy Joes”

  1. In the ingredients in the homemade sloppy joe recipe, it said red bell pepper. Then in the instructions, it said green bell pepper. Please tell me is it red pepper or green bell pepper,

  2. I have saved this recipe twice, but the recipe version has not been sent to me – only the original version. ???

    • Hi Pat!
      I’m not sure what you mean by “recipe version” vs “original version”
      Do you mean the recipe card at the bottom vs the whole post?

      The email you receive should contain a link to the whole post.

      If you want only the recipe card at the bottom, click PRINT on the image in the box. You should get a pop-up and see a drop-down menu on the right. In there, you can select “SAVE AS PDF” – that will save the recipe only to your computer.

      Hope this helps 🙂


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