This homemade Sloppy Joes recipe is easy, inexpensive, and ready in just 30 minutes. It’s a kid-favorite, and packed with flavor.

Looking for more 30-Minute Meals? Try my Air Fryer Pizza, Taco Salad, or Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas!

A homemade sloppy joe on a plate, ready to eat.

Why I love this recipe:

  • Homemade Sauce: It has the perfect sauce/beef ratio that is packed with flavor.
  • Adaptable: There are so many ways to vary this recipe (see below) by adding veggies, switching the meat, etc.
  • Kid Friendly: My kids love this recipe (even when I add veggies) and it makes for a relaxing and fun family dinner.  Check out all my kid friendly recipes!

How to make Sloppy Joes:

Brown the Beef: Start by browning the ground beef in a large skillet.  Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is tender and translucent.

A skillet with cooked ground beef, chopped onion and garlic added on top.

Add Remaining Ingredients: Add the rest of the sauce ingredients and stir to combine.

Sloppy joe sauce ingredients added to a skillet with cooked ground beef.

Simmer for 30 minutes. The simmering time is a crucial part of the recipe because it allows the flavors to blend together.

Sloppy joe meat sauce simmering in a skillet.

Serve: After letting the sloppy joe mixture simmer, serve it warm on a toasted hamburger bun as a sloppy joe sandwich.

A hamburger bun bottom slice topped with homemade sloppy joe mixture.

Make Ahead and Freezing Instructions:

To Make Ahead: The sloppy joe meat filling can be made up to 2 days ahead of time, depending on the freshness of the beef. Store in the refrigerator and reheat and serve on toasted buns when ready to eat.

To Freeze: Allow the mixture to cool completely and store it in an air-tight, freezer safe container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight and reheat on the stove.

Recipe Variations:

  • Add Veggies: Diced bell peppers, zucchini, spinach, or shredded carrot, can easily be added to this recipe and your kids won’t even notice a difference.
  • Hawaiian Sloppy Joes: Substitute more BBQ sauce for the ketchup and add 8 oz., drained crushed pineapple.
  • Asian Sloppy Joes: Add 1 tablespoon ground ginger and substitute 1 tablespoons hoisin sauce for the Worcestershire sauce. If desired mix in thinly sliced cucumber slices, chopped water chestnuts or shredded carrot.
  • Turkey Sloppy Joes: Substitute ground turkey in place of ground beef and add chopped veggies.
  • Low Carb Sloppy Joes: Serve in a lettuce leaf, or serve open-face on a low-carb bun, with a piece of cheese placed on top, and broiled in the oven for 2 minutes.

Serve Sloppy Joes with:

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Recipe

A homemade sloppy joe on a plate, ready to eat.
Prep 5 mins
Cook 25 mins
Total 30 mins

Ingredients
 
 

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion , chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic , minced
  • 8 ounces tomato sauce
  • 1/3 cup ketchup , or more, to taste
  • 1/4 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauces
  • 1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 5 hamburger buns

Instructions
 

  • Add beef to a large pan over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, crumbling and stirring, until browned. Remove grease.
  • Add onion and garlic and cook for a few minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients.
  • Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Serve warm, inside a toasted hamburger bun.

Notes

Make Ahead Instructions: The sloppy joe meat filling can be made up to 2 days ahead of time, depending on the freshness of the beef. Store in the refrigerator and reheat and serve on toasted buns when ready to eat.
Freezing Instructions: Allow the mixture to cool completely and store it in an air-tight, freezer safe container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight and reheat on the stove.
Variations:
  • Add Veggies: Diced bell peppers, zucchini, spinach, or shredded carrot, can easily be added to this recipe and your kids won’t even notice a difference.
  • Hawaiian Sloppy Joes: Substitute more BBQ sauce for the ketchup and add 8 oz., drained crushed pineapple.
  • Asian Sloppy Joes: Add 1 tablespoon ground ginger and substitute 1 tablespoons hoisin sauce for the Worcestershire sauce. If desired mix in thinly sliced cucumber slices, chopped water chestnuts or shredded carrot.
  • Turkey Sloppy Joes: Substitute ground turkey in place of ground beef and add chopped veggies.
  • Low Carb Sloppy Joes: Serve in a lettuce leaf, or serve open-face on a low-carb bun, with a piece of cheese placed on top, and broiled in the oven for 2 minutes.
Serve with:

Nutrition

Calories: 345kcalCarbohydrates: 37gProtein: 24gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 59mgSodium: 850mgPotassium: 640mgFiber: 2gSugar: 14gVitamin A: 315IUVitamin C: 6mgCalcium: 109mgIron: 4mg

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I originally shared this recipe January 2018. Updated March 2022.

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About The Author

Lauren Allen

Welcome! I’m Lauren, a mom of four and lover of good food. Here you’ll find easy recipes and weeknight meal ideas made with real ingredients, with step-by-step photos and videos.

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Comments

  1. Lauren, I’ve always made my Sloppy Joe recipe with ground beef, Heinz Chili Sauce and dried onions. I don’t have an exact recipe but it’s so, so easy and has few ingredients. Just start with browning the beef, then add part of a jar of the chili sauce and maybe a couple tsp dried onion flakes and stir. Sometimes I add a little water and/or some diced green peppers. Then serve on toasted buns or even toasted hot dog buns. It’s yummy! Hope you’ll try it sometime and let me know how you like it.

  2. 5 stars
    This was just perfect! Great flavor and so easy… I had all the ingredients in hand, too! Thanks for this recipe.

  3. I make Snoopy Joe’s but my I ingredients are a bit different then yours.I find that freezing adds to the flavor. Like chili its better the next day! Karen

  4. I’ve made this several times and always thought it was good but a bit too saucy. Today we added extra diced veggies – 1 carrot, 1 celery, and half a dozen sweet peppers. Turned out great! 7 year old said it was better than usual!

  5. 5 stars
    This was so quick to make and was so tasty! This will definitely be a regular in our house. My husband and I added a slice of montery jack cheese to our burgers.

  6. 5 stars
    My husband said this was the best sloppy joe he’s had. The sauce is tasty and thick. Perfect for trying to keep inside the bun. Fast and easy to prepare. I did double it since I have hungry teenage and pre-teen boys.

  7. 5 stars
    I made these last night and everyone agreed it could go into “the roation”. They had refused to eat the ones made from a can. We loved how flavorful they were without being sweet. Thanks!

  8. 5 stars
    I fixed these for supper tonight and they are GOOD! My picky 14 year old grandson wasn’t thrilled about my choice for supper, until he took a bite! He ate his whole sandwich, and I used large size buns! They’re so good there’s no need to add anything once it’s on the bun. THAT’S A GREAT SLOPPY JOE!

  9. 5 stars
    Total home run! By the way this is at the end of her week 1 meal plan. An unexpected bonus to these meals is that my house smells awesome.

  10. 4 stars
    It was very good. Easy to make. Similar to a Manwich, but not as runny. Served on open hamburger bun, with coleslaw. Definitely worth trying.

  11. Had your sloppy Joe’s for dinner tonight and it had such a nice, rich flavor. We all enjoyed them. I eat mine open faced with fresh, raw onion on it. The rest ate them closed. This is our new go-to recipe. Thanks !!!

  12. 5 stars
    y mom and aunt would make these for us frequently when we were kids. I’ve never found a recipe close enough to their’s until I tried this one! Thank you so much for bringing back all those wonderful memories. Classic and simple always wins!

  13. 5 stars
    New favorite sloppy joe recipe! My kids have not enjoyed other similar sloppy joe recipes from scratch, this one was a hit with all of us though. I will double it so we have leftovers next time!

  14. 5 stars
    I used a pint of canned chili sauce in place of the tomato sauce and bbq sauce. I added about a cup of frozen mixed vegetables. We love it and I have made it multiple times.

  15. 5 stars
    I have a VERY picky Husband. When I told him I was making sloppy joes from scratch he looked disappointed. “Nothing tops the old school out of a can flavor”! This one got his eyebrows raised and he had 2 servings. I made enough to freeze and he asked for me to keep the rest in the fridge so he could finish it by end of the week. This one is a keeper.

  16. 5 stars
    Just whipped this up. We doubled the recipe, keeping the W sauce at 2 T, omitting the garlic powder, and adding cheese at the very end. We also added carrots and celery to beef up the veggie content since we have 4 picky kids. The only one who didn’t touch it was the 2yo…but he was super hungry and doesn’t like trying new things in that state.

    This is a delicious recipe! It’s easily tweaked to suit your family’s needs, too. We may have a new family fave, if the youngest will eat it. 🙂

  17. Hands down best sloppy joes ever!! Love that there is NO Sugar! I used our favorite brand of Kansas city style bbq sauce which gave it a nice kick. So nice to be able to make something so good so easily after a long day at work.
    Thank you, thank you!

  18. 4 stars
    Pretty solid recipe. It’s a good base. I added some chopped mildly spicy green peppers, a splash or two of liquid smoke, a few big shakes of cayenne pepper powder, a few drops of Thai fish sauce and a teaspoon chinese numbing pepper oil which besides imparting a slight numbing sensation also give a slight lemony citrus kick. Came out really nice. 7 happy friends for dinner!

  19. Good and simple, about like moms version before stores had Manwich in a can. I like the mustard in powered version and the main missing ingredient is the sugar. At the very end you should balance the salty tartness out with white or brown sugar to taste. That’s what puts it over the top!

  20. 5 stars
    Excellent recipe! I liked how balanced the sauces were in this.
    My family loved it and it now goes in the rotation. I love that your recipes are generally the ingredients I have on hand and lend themselves to being modified to specific tastes. Your custom meal plan option is genius! Thanks for taking the time to help those who want to cook from scratch do it more easily!

  21. 4 stars
    I’m really trying to make more foods as natural as possible and from scratch now. I believe natural foods will make me feel better. I used a great natural bourbon bbq sauce with no high fructose corn syrup. I also used organic ketchup which has twice the antioxidants than regular ketchup. My finace and 3 teenage boys all ate it and loved it. That right there says a lot for my picky eaters. I doubled the recipe and there was only one portion left for lunch today. Yum. I’m too am so happy I found this website.

  22. 5 stars
    Delicious! I made them for dinner the other night. Doubled the recipe so we would have leftovers. The next day the elderly lady across the street died so guess what food I took over???!!! They have grandchildren so I figured they would all like it. They were thrilled.

    Any way, I’m making another batch today for our freezer!

  23. 5 stars
    Loved the recipe didn’t have the exact ingredients but I had ones close enough! Everyone said this was the best Sloppy Joe recipe I have ever made!!

  24. 5 stars
    My family liked this variation of an all-time favorite. I recently substitued a small can of tomato paste for the tomato sauce, because that is what I had in the pantry. I added enough beef broth to get the consistency I wanted. This recipe works well in a slow cooker – on low for 4 – 5 hours.

  25. 5 stars
    THIS WAS SOO GOOD AND SO EASY TO MAKE. I found your website with a simple google and am so glad I did. I’ll be trying more of your recipes! xoxo

  26. 5 stars
    i added a little spoonful of brown sugar because my family likes sloppy joes a bit sweeter, but otherwise followed the recipe, and we all loved it! especially loved the addition of barbecue sauce. we ate the sloppy joes on kaiser rolls with slices of sharp cheddar on top. i will definitely make this again. thank you for sharing this great recipe!

  27. 5 stars
    I made this recipe exactly as written and would not change a thing. My family all loved it with one exception, one member requested that in future I make extra sauce so next time i’m doubling the recipe so they will be extra sloppy. This doesn’t take long to make and beats canned sauce all to pieces!

  28. 5 stars
    We used to have these all of the time growing up. I love the new twist of adding BBQ sauce in the recipe, it adds a great flavor! Also good as leftovers! 🙂

  29. 5 stars
    Glad I doubled the recipe, everyone went back for seconds. Taste great over tater tots with melted cheese, yum.

  30. This was awesome I omitted the salt and pepper and added diced tomatoes with green chile peppers and added about 4 sweet peppers. Will be using this recipe again. I might follow the recipe as is but probably not as I enjoy using recipes as guides only but this is an awesome base. The sauce itself would work for BBQ beef or pork sandwiches or even chicken

    1. I agree, it would be yummy over bbq beef or pork sandwiches! Thanks for sharing your experience 🙂

    1. I agree, the bbq sauce gives the sauce an extra boost of flavor that I love! Thanks so much, I’m really happy you liked them!

  31. Love the idea of adding barbecue sauce etc. to Sloppy Joes – I’ve already pinned this recipe!! ; o )

  32. Did you drain the grease after cooking the ground beef? That’s the only thing that would make it greasy….