Bring nostalgia into your kitchen with this quick and easy old fashioned sloppy joe recipe is the ultimate weeknight dinner. These sloppy joe sandwiches come together in one pan, in under 30 minutes.
Sloppy joes were a childhood favorite of mine. My mom used to make tex-mex sloppy joes all the time.
They were a weeknight staple in our household growing up. Now that I'm the cook, they're one of my go-to dinners.
Sloppy joes originated in Sioux City, Iowa by a cook named in Joe in the 1930s. The story goes that he added tomato sauce to a loose-meat sandwich and it was a hit. It eventually became a popular lunch staple, known to be messy to eat. Thus the name, sloppy joe!
Why you'll love this recipe
- Talk about comfort food at its finest. Sloppy joes are always a crowd favorite, perfect for potlucks or parties.
- Classic sloppy joes are sweet, savory, tangy, and delicious!
- Sloppy joe sandwiches are budget friendly, using affordable ingredients with plenty of substitutions.
- They're the ultimate hearty, family friendly meal. Meal prep to save time!
- Old fashioned sloppy joes are dairy free and egg free. They can easily be altered to fit gluten free diets or made meat free for vegan and vegetarians.
Skillet sloppy joes have the perfect texture and consistency. This recipe can be made in the instant pot or slow cooker, but my favorite way is on the stovetop.
It takes just about 30 minutes from start to finish, all in a large pan!
This easy sloppy joes recipe uses just a handful of ingredients that you likely already have on hand.
- Meat: I like using 80/20 ground beef, but it's okay to use a leaner ratio or substitute with ground turkey or ground chicken.
- Sauce: This homemade sloppy joe sauce is a zesty tomato-based sauce made with tomato sauce, tomato paste, ketchup, brown sugar for a touch of sweetness, yellow mustard for tartness, and worcestershire sauce for tanginess.
- Additions: Onion, garlic, and green bell pepper add fantastic flavor and help to stretch the meat a little further. You could also add diced carrot, celery, or other vegetables.
How to make homemade sloppy joes
To make sloppy joes from scratch, grab your skillet and let's get cooking!
- Brown the meat: Cook veggies until softened then add ground beef and cook until browned.
- Simmer in sauce: Stir the sloppy joe sauce ingredients into the skillet and bring to a simmer. Let cook until thick and saucy.
- Serve on buns: Toast buns then transfer sloppy joe meat mixture on top!
How to serve
Sloppy joes are traditionally served on a hamburger bun without cheese.
The great thing about sloppy joes is how versatile they are!
Vegan sloppy joes: Try a plant based version by replacing the meat with beyond meat or another vegan meat alternative. I've made lentil sloppy joes by simmering lentils in the sauce mixture. It was great!
Gluten free sloppy joes: To make gluten free, use GF buns or bread. And be sure to check all ingredient labels, like the worcestershire sauce.
Spice it up with a sprinkle of red pepper flakes.
Make texas toast sloppy joes by serving on golden brown and crispy texas toast instead of buns. Try sloppy joe sliders to feed a crowd.
Spoon into a baked potato, serve over rice, or make into tacos!
What goes with sloppy joes?
Looking for a good side dish for sloppy joes? I've got you covered!
Sloppy joes can also be served with baked beans, coleslaw, chips, or a simple side salad.
I love prepping sloppy joes ahead of time! They make incredible leftovers plus are freezer friendly.
How to store leftovers
If you have leftover sloppy joe filling, it can be store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
How to freeze
Freeze sloppy joe filling in freezer bags for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge when ready to eat.
The best way to reheat is in a skillet or saucepan until warm.
However, you could reheat in the microwave with a damp paper towel covering the microwave-safe bowl.
You may need to add a touch of water to help loosen things up.
Want more ground beef recipes? Try these next:
- Dairy Free and Egg Free Meatballs
- Easy Shepherd's Pie
- Deconstructed Stuffed Peppers
- Air Fryer Frozen Hamburgers
I hope you enjoy these sloppy joes as much as we do. They’re comforting, hearty, and kid-friendly! If you try this recipe, please share a photo with me over on Instagram.
Old Fashioned Sloppy Joe Recipe
- 1 pound ground beef
- ½ onion chopped
- ½ bell pepper chopped
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 8 ounces tomato sauce
- ½ cup ketchup
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- Hamburger buns, for serving
- Using a large skillet over low-medium heat, drizzle a tablespoon or two of oil and cook onion and bell pepper until softened. Add garlic and cook until fragrant.
- Add ground beef to the skillet and increase heat to medium-high. Let meat brown, stirring and breaking into pieces.
- Once the meat is cooked, add the ingredients and stir to combine.
- Bring to a simmer and lower the heat, stirring occasionally, until thick and saucy.
- Toast hamburger buns and serve warm sloppy joe meat mixture on top.