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
4.90 from 73 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.
4.90 from 73 votes

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 totally agree with you, Pat. Holly’s recipes are always so full of flavour, simple directions to follow and often consist of items that we will find in our own fridge and pantry! I have had success with every one of Holly’s recipes that I’ve tried!5 stars

  1. This has become my go-to recipe for Sloppy Joes. Ingredients that can MOSTLY be found in your fridge and pantry, and simple directions. So much more flavour to this dinner item when you make from scratch as opposed to an envelope that says “Sloppy Joes”; tear open, dump in with the ground beef, and done? Not the same!5 stars

  2. Delicious. I doubled the recipe to have quick meals available for a few days. I prefer to refrigerate this meal before serving and then reheat. Provides a thicker sauce which is key. Very Tasty. I have found quite a few nice recipes on this site with good success. Thank you.5 stars

  3. So good! I’ve been wanting to make Sloppy Joes for awhile. When I asked my two sons and husband if they wanted 1 or 2 (we had kinda small buns), they each said: I’ll try just one for now. Each one of them went back for another. Will definitely make this again.5 stars

    1. Hi Ted, you can serve this sloppy joe mixture over your bread of choice! Still equally as delicious!!

  4. I cannot understand why and how the rating was at a 4.9!! I followed the recipe step by step and the exact amount of ingredients. Mine did not look the the picture – It was not even close. The sauce was not colourful like the picture, and tasted too sweet.

    I’m very curious how everyone else made it to taste good?1 star

  5. This is one of the best recipes for Sloppy Joe’s. Most sauces are solely ketchup based making it too sweet. The ratio of tomato products called for in this recipe are perfect!5 stars

  6. Thank you!!! My family has enjoyed every wonderful recipe I have made for them from from your website. Best sloppy Joe’s!5 stars