Making homemade sloppy joes is so easy and the flavor is so much better than anything you will ever get out of a can. With this recipe, you can have a delicious and healthy meal on the table in under 30 minutes!
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Sloppy Joes are an American staple. They are super quick to make and have a flavor that is unique and super addictive.
I have been making this recipe for years (although around here it goes by Messy Jills because my kids 'don't like sloppy joes' 😂😉) It is pure comfort food but also surprisingly healthy.
If you like this you should definitely check out my homemade southern meatloaf which is another American staple! If you are looking for a side dish that goes well with sloppy joes, I suggest my homemade coleslaw, low carb pea salad, or sauteed fresh green beans.
Ingredients and Substitutions
This recipe uses very basic ingredients, many of which you most likely already have on hand.
- Lean Ground Beef - Ground turkey, chicken, or vegan ground beef substitute would also work
- Garlic Powder and Onion Powder can be swapped with fresh minced garlic and diced onion
- Salt and Pepper
- Green and Red Bell Pepper - Use any bell pepper that you like, or to make it spicy you could also add in some jalapeno or other hot peppers.
- Barbecue Sauce - I prefer a sweet honey barbecue sauce for this recipe, but you can play around with it and see what you like! If you don't use a sweet barbecue sauce, then I suggest adding 1-2 tablespoons of honey or brown sugar.
- Tomato Sauce or if you prefer chunkier tomatoes, you can use canned, crushed or diced tomatoes
- Mustard - I use regular or dijon mustard. You could use any mustard that you like, or even dried ground mustard seed if you prefer.
- Worcestershire Sauce
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Hamburger Buns or buns of your choice
Tip: Just because they have the word 'sloppy' in the name doesn't mean we can't try to cut down on the messiness! I serve my kids' sloppy joes on hot dog buns which makes it much less sloppy! 😊
See the recipe card for quantities.
How to Make Homemade Sloppy Joes
If you have never made homemade sloppy joes before then you will likely be surprised at just how easy they are!
You are going to start out by browning the ground beef in a skillet along with the onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Then drain away any excess grease and return the meat to the pan.
Next, add in all of the remaining ingredients (except for the buns!) Stir everything together, and then simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until the peppers are soft and the sauce has thickened some.
When it comes to sloppy joes the possibilities are just about endless. Here are some easy ways to modify this recipe to fit various eating styles and tastebuds!
- Spicy - Substitute some or all of the bell peppers for your favorite hot peppers such as jalapeno, habenero, or serrano peppers. You can also use a spicy barbecue sauce.
- Low Carb - If you substitute the traditional barbecue sauce for a sugar free variety and use low carb buns in place of standard buns the total carbs for this recipe will reduce to just about 8 per serving!
- Vegan - To make this recipe vegan simply use your favortite vegan ground beef alternative.
Not only are homemade sloppy joes crazy easy to make, they also only require very basic equipment. To make these sloppy joes you will need:
- Measuring cups and spoons
- A knife and cutting board
- A large skillet
- A large spoon or spatula for stirring the meat while cooking
Leftover sloppy joes keep really well and make great leftovers! Store them in the fridge for up to a week, or freeze leftovers for up to 6 months. I do suggest storing the buns separately from the meat.
Reheat in the microwave or in a skillet until heated through. If you are reheating from frozen, it's best to at least partially thaw before heating.
How to Repurpose Leftover Sloppy Joes
If you aren't into the idea of eating the same thing for dinner several nights in a row, first I totally feel you. It's not really my thing either. Luckily there are several great ways to repurpose homemade sloppy joes
- Sloppy Joe Tater Tot Casserole
- Cheesy Cornbread Sloppy Joe Casserole
- Make sloppy joe 'chili dogs'
- Sloppy Joe Pasta
- Mix cooked rice (or cauliflower rice) with leftover sloppy joes and use the mixture to stuff bell peppers. You can also top the peppers with shredded cheese if desired. Bake at 350 degrees until the peppers are soft and the filling is heated through.
While each recipe will vary some, most sloppy joes are made with tomato sauce, barbecue sauce, seasonings, and usually vinegar.
Manwich is a brand name sloppy joe sauce, so there is no difference between Manwich and sloppy joes. Even though Manwich seems like an easy shortcut, the taste is nothing compared to homemade and it really doesn't take that much more time to make sloppy joes from scratch.
It may come as a surprise to hear that homemade sloppy joes can actually be a very healthy and nutritious meal. One benefit to making homemade sloppy joes versus buying store-bought sauce is that you can control each and every ingredient to ensure that it fits your dietary preferences.
Just because they have the word 'sloppy' in the name doesn't mean we can't try to cut down on the messiness! I serve my kids' sloppy joes on hot dog buns which makes it much less sloppy! 😊
Homemade Sloppy Joes
- Measuring Cups and Spoons
- Large Skillet
- 1 ½ lb Lean Ground Beef increase to 2 pounds for ground beef that isn't lean (fattier than 80/20)
- 1 tablespoon Garlic Powder
- 1 ½ tablespoon Onion Powder
- Salt and Pepper to taste ( I used 1 teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper)
- ½ Green Bell Pepper seeded and diced
- ½ Red Bell Pepper seeded and diced
- ½ cup Barbecue Sauce
- 15 oz Tomato Sauce
- 1 teaspoon Mustard
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
- 6 Hamburger Buns
- Add the ground beef, onion powder, garlic powder, and salt and pepper to a large skillet. Cook over medium-high heat crumbling the beef as it cooks. Cook until the beef is no longer pink. Drain the grease and return the beef to the pan.1 ½ lb Lean Ground Beef, 1 tablespoon Garlic Powder, 1 ½ tablespoon Onion Powder, Salt and Pepper
- Add the remaining ingredients to the skillet along with the beef. Stir to combine.½ Green Bell Pepper, ½ cup Barbecue Sauce, 15 oz Tomato Sauce, 1 teaspoon Mustard, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce, 1 tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar, ½ Red Bell Pepper
- Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until the peppers have softened and the sauce has thickened some.
- Serve immediatly on your favorite buns.6 Hamburger Buns
The nutrition information listed here is only an estimate and is simply provided as a courtesy. It nor any other information within this post should constitute medical or nutritional advice. Be sure to read all packaging and ingredient labels for potential allergens. Optional ingredients are not included unless otherwise specified.