Best Ever Homemade Sloppy Joes

Sloppy joes are meaty sandwiches that your whole family will love. These hearty sandwiches are the perfect quick and easy weeknight dinner. You can have dinner on the table in about 20 minutes!

homemade sloppy joes on a plate with pickles and corn chips

Warm and Hearty Meat Sandwiches

From the lunchroom to the dining room, there are few sandwiches that bring more smiles to the faces of both the young and the young-at-heart than Sloppy Joes. The rich, sweet, and tangy combination of spiced tomato sauce and well-seasoned ground beef has made this easy-to-prepare meal a favorite go-to for busy cooks across the country.

For anyone who only has memories of the overly-sweet Sloppy Joes served on cheap gummy rolls at their grade school cafeteria, it is time to take another bite of this American classic.

What is With the Name?

Like most iconic dishes, Sloppy Joes have a rich history. But the biggest Sloppy Joe mystery of them all may be what’s up with the name?

True, eating a Sloppy Joe may be a bit messy, but that is not how the sandwich got its name, at least according to one version of the story. Legend says the dish originated at the historic Hemingway hangout, Sloppy Joes Key West in the 1930s.

Others believe this just another Key West fable and suggest that the original Sloppy Joe recipe came from a Sioux City, Iowa diner or even Havana, Cuba!

Can’t I Just Open a Can?

You probably have seen several brands of canned Sloppy Joe sauce on supermarket shelves. While opening a can, is more convenient than making the sauce yourself, it can’t compare in taste or quality of homemade Sloppy Joes.

So, skip the can and spend a few extra minutes to make your own delicious and healthy alternative.

Sloppy Joe Recipe Ingredients

Here’s a list of what you need:

  • Ground beef
  • Salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • Celery
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Brown sugar
  • White distilled vinegar
  • Ketchup
  • Canned chopped tomatoes or tomato sauce
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Hamburger buns
ingredients to make sloppy joes

What types of meat can use you in Sloppy Joes?

When you cook at home you can customize the recipe for your personal preference. I recommend using ground chuck for this recipe, you could ground turkey, ground chicken, or lean ground beef. The meat sauce is ideal for leaner types of meat.

Sloppy Joe Sauce Variations

This recipe is for a traditional Sloppy Joe, but you can vary the recipe a bit.

  • Want a sauce that is a bit smoky? You can add some chipotle or liquid smoke.
  • Want a little heat? A teaspoon or two of your favorite chili powder will be perfect in it.
  • I have added a teaspoon or two of mustard into the sauce. You can use either Dijon or regular yellow mustard.

The possibilities are endless to the sauce.

How to Make Sloppy Joes

Making this childhood favorite is easy!! Kick the can to the curb and make this recipe from scratch.

You will need to cook the ground beef until is browned. Then you add onions, celery, and garlic to help beef up the recipe.

browned ground beef for sloppy joes

When the beef is just about done, you should make the sauce. This sauce is so easy to make.

ground beef and sloppy joe sauce

Toast those hamburger buns and grab the toppings you desire. Then you are on your way to one dinner everyone will love.

two homemade sloppy joes

Tips For Serving Less Sloppy Homemade Sloppy Joes

Remember to drain the grease completely after cooking the ground beef. This will not only make your meal healthy, but also easier to eat. Don’t forget to simmer the sauce long enough for it to coat the back of a spoon before adding the drained beef.

  • Choose the right bun. Skip the prepackaged national brands if you can and instead opt for an oversized fresh-baked kaiser roll. Heartier rolls are better at containing meat.
  • Toast or grill the hamburger bun to prevent it from falling apart. Spread a little butter on the inside of the buns to make a barrier which will help keep the sauce from soaking into the bread.
  • Use the bottom of a small, shallow bowl to form a patty of cooked Sloppy Joe meat. Don’t compress the meat too much. You still want the meat to be loose.
  • Place the bottom of the bun on top of the formed patty in the bowl. Put your hand on the bun and turn over the entire bowl. Slowly lift off the bowl, and you have a perfectly portioned Sloppy Joe.
two homemade sloppy joes

What to Serve with Sloppy Joes

Of course, you just can’t serve a sandwich. Here are some side dishes that are also easy and perfect for sloppy joes.

More Great Sandwiches to Make

Here are some sandwiches you can make to enjoy for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Check out more of my easy sandwich recipes and the best ground beef recipes here on CopyKat!

two homemade sloppy joes

Sloppy Joes

Did you know you can make Sloppy Joes from scratch? Homemade Sloppy Joes taste just as good as it does from a can.
5 from 5 votes
Print Pin Rate Add to Collection
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Sloppy Joes Recipe
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 621kcal


Sloppy Joe Meat

  • 1 pound ground beef chuck
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¾ cup chopped celery
  • ¾ cup chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic

Sloppy Joe Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ¼ cup white distilled vinegar
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • 14.5 ounces canned chopped tomatoes or tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

Sloppy Joe Sandwich

  • 8 hamburger buns


Sloppy Joe Sauce

  • Combine vinegar, ketchup, tomatoes, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce in a bowl.

Sloppy Joe Sandwich

  • Brown ground beef in a skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly.
  • Season beef with salt and pepper and cook until browned.
  • Drain beef and return it to the skillet.
  • Add celery, onion, and garlic, and stir to combine.
  • Cook celery and onion until they are just beginning to soften.
  • Add sloppy joe sauce and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Toast hamburger buns if desired.
  • Spoon sloppy joe meat filling over bottom hamburger buns and cover with top buns.



This Sloppy Joes recipe is part of my learn to cook series


Calories: 621kcal | Carbohydrates: 65g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 80mg | Sodium: 1472mg | Potassium: 828mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 22g | Vitamin A: 280IU | Vitamin C: 15.4mg | Calcium: 232mg | Iron: 6.8mg

About Stephanie Manley

I recreate your favorite restaurant recipes, so you can prepare these dishes at home. I help you cook dinner, and serve up dishes you know your family will love. You can find most of the ingredients for all of the recipes in your local grocery store.

Stephanie is the author of's Dining Out in the Home, and's Dining Out in the Home 2.

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Reader Interactions


  1. Missie

    does anyone have a copy of French’s Sloppy Joe Seasoning Mix? Legend has it that McCormick is the same thing under a different name but it is NOT the same thing

  2. Bette B

    5 stars
    You cannot compare this to a “canned” sloppy joe mix. This is homemade & took no time at all. I tasted it without the roll & it has everything, sweet, sour, tangy. It’s worth the 20 minutes it took to make it. You will never go back to a canned mix ever!

5 from 5 votes (3 ratings without comment)

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