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!
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
- Ground black pepper
- Brown sugar
- White distilled vinegar
- Canned chopped tomatoes or tomato sauce
- Worcestershire sauce
- Hamburger buns
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.
When the beef is just about done, you should make the sauce. This sauce is so easy to make.
Toast those hamburger buns and grab the toppings you desire. Then you are on your way to one dinner everyone will love.
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.
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.
- Baconator Breakfast Sandwich
- Chick Fil A Chicken Sandwich Recipe
- Chicken Fried Steak Sandwich
- Frisco Sandwich
- Ham Salad Sandwich Recipe
- Honey BBQ Chicken Sandwich
- Monte Cristo Sandwich
- Starbucks Bacon Sandwich
- Submarine Sandwich Dressing
- Tuna Creations Sandwich
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.