There’s no need to buy that can of sloppy joe sauce at the store to have Sloppy Joe Sandwiches for dinner. You can make your own Homemade Sauce with a few condiments from your fridge door and pantry. Then mix it up with 1 ½ lbs. ground beef, onion and garlic for an amazing weeknight dinner. This is a fast 20 minute recipe and you will have delicious sloppy sandwiches that are the perfect balance of saucy (but not too saucy), tangy, sweet and savory!
I grew up in Iowa where Sloppy Joes are not only a common weeknight dinner, I believe they were also invented there, somewhere in Sioux City (where I was born!).
You may have also heard of a Sloppy Joe referred to as a Maid Rite, Tavern or Loose Meat Sandwich. They are all basically the same thing.
How Much Sloppy Joe Filling Per Person
If you are feeding your family or you are trying to feed a whole picnic then you may need to calculate how much Sloppy Joe Filling to make.
Since this is a sandwich that gets HEAPED with the ground beef filling you want to make sure you have enough for everyone.
If you plan about ½ cup of filling for each sandwich you will have more than enough.
Recipe card tip: The nice thing about the Mom’s Dinner recipe card is that you can hover over the “serving” portion and then move the slider that appears to increase the amount of people you plan on serving!
You only need really simple ingredients to make Sloppy Joe Sauce and Sandwiches for dinner. You probably have most of the ingredients in the door of your fridge and your pantry!
Pictured below are the ingredients to grab, plus some tips on a few items:
Ground Beef: I recommend using an 85/15 or 90/10 ground beef. It will have enough fat to be flavorful, but not so much that it is greasy. Save the 80/20 ground beef for Amazing Grilled Burgers. You can also use ground turkey but make sure you buy 93/7.
Mustard: This is not the time for fancy Dijon or stone ground mustard. Just a straight yellow mustard is exactly what you want to use.
Brown Sugar: don’t be nervous about the amount of brown sugar. It is just enough to balance the tart/savory flavors in the ketchup, mustard and Worcestershire. I always use light brown sugar, but dark brown sugar should work too.
Onion: We recommend using either yellow or white onion.
Homemade Sloppy Joe Sauce
You absolutely DO NOT need a can of Manwich or store bought sloppy joe sauce for these sandwiches. In fact they will be SO much better if you make your own sauce.
You just need:
- 2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 3 tablespoon brown sugar
- ½ heaping cup ketchup
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- pepper to taste
Stir or whisk all that together in a bowl or liquid measuring cup.
Then when you are ready to use, mix it in with cooked/crumbled ground beef or ground turkey, onion and garlic. Let it all simmer for a few minutes and it’s time to eat.
Step by Step Instructions
Super simple dinner to make. Follow these easy steps:
- In a large skillet over med heat add oil. Sauté onion for about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and ground beef, crumble and brown until it is cooked through.
- Drain any excess oil/grease.
- Add in the Worcestershire, ketchup, mustard, brown sugar, kosher salt, and black pepper.
- Simmer for a few minutes.
- Taste for seasoning.
Serve heaped onto buns, we love to use a brioche bun or sesame seed bun. Sliced pickles also make an excellent addition.
How Long to Simmer Sloppy Joes
The answer to “how long to simmer sloppy joe’s?”, is it depends….
The time you let the ground beef and sauce simmer together will vary from recipe to recipe.
If you find that your ground beef is overly saucy and will make your buns soggy you will want to simmer for longer to reduce the sauce, maybe around 15-20 minutes.
However, with this Sloppy Joe recipe below you do not need a long simmer time because these are not OVERLY sauced. Once the whole dish comes together you will just simmer for about 4-5 minutes to warm everything together and then it’s time to eat.
Maybe you remember eating Sloppy Joe’s when you were little and you want it to be exactly the same. Here are some ideas for troubleshooting the flavor… if you find that your Sloppy joes are:
- Too Saucy – simmer for a bit longer and it should thicken up.
- Too Dry – add a little water, a small squirt of ketchup, mustard, and Worcestershire. Taste for seasoning.
- Too Salty – add a little more brown sugar and maybe a tablespoon of water.
- Too Sweet – pour in a dash or two of Worcestershire, but note that will add a little saltiness too.
- Too tangy – add a little more brown sugar and ketchup.
Sloppy Joe’s are a super casual weeknight dinner that does not need to be paired with anything fancy. We like to just think about side dishes as adding a starch and veggie.
Whatever you serve on the side just make sure to have A LOT of napkins!
Storing & Reheating
Your Sloppy Joe mixture will be good in the fridge in an airtight for up to 4-5 days.
To reheat add a little water to a skillet over medium/low heat. Add the beef mixture and stir to combine with the water. It will help reconstitute the sauce.
Freezing Sloppy Joe Meat/Sauce
This Sloppy Joe recipe is PERFECT for keeping in the freezer. Make the recipe completely and then let it cool.
Place in a freezer safe baggie or container, label it with the date, and keep it frozen for up to 4 months.
To reheat, thaw in the fridge overnight and then add a little water to a skillet and sauté/stir over medium-low heat.
- Lighten things up by using ground turkey instead of ground beef.
- Want just a hint of BBQ flavor? Reduce the ketchup to ¼ cup and add a ¼ cup of your favorite barbecue sauce.
- If you like spice you could add a few pinches of red pepper flakes with the onion.
- Melt a slice of provolone or American cheese over the top.
Other Ways to Eat Sloppy Joes
Eating your Sloppy Joe’s as a sandwich is not the only option! You can think of it as a sweet/tangy/savory meat filling. Here are some other options:
- Heap into a Baked Potato then top with cheese or sour cream.
- Stuff into bell peppers and bake.
- Instead of using a Hot Dog Chili you can use this Sloppy Joe recipe over hot dogs!
- Serve over nachos with cheese melted on top.
- Make some killer chili cheese fries.
More Ground Beef Recipes
If you landed on this recipe because you have some ground beef to use up, here are some more traditional dinner recipes to check out:
Homemade Sloppy Joes Recipe
- Add the oil to a large skillet over medium heat, sauté the onions until they start to soften, about 5 minutes.1 tablespoon oil, 1 cup yellow or white onion
- Add the ground beef and garlic. Brown and crumble until the beef is cooked through and no longer pink.1½ lb ground beef, 3 garlic cloves
- Drain any excess fat before moving forward.
- In a bowl or large glass measuring cup add the sloppy joe sauce ingredients and whisk together.2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 3 tablespoon packed brown sugar, ½ cup (heaping) ketchup, 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon yellow mustard, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, pepper to taste
- Pour over the ground beef mixture and stir to coat.
- Simmer everything together over low heat for a few minutes to warm through.
- Taste for seasoning, if you want it:saucier: add a little water, a small squirt of ketchup, mustard, and Worcestershire. saltier: add a dash or two of Worcestershire and some more kosher salt. sweeter: add a little more brown sugar and maybe a tablespoon of water.tangier: add a little more mustard and or ketchup.
- Pile about a ½ cup of Sloppy Joe mixture onto buns and serve. It is also great with dill pickle slices on top! (we like brioche buns or sesame seed buns the best)
- Make ahead or store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- To reheat add a couple tablespoon of water and the sloppy joe mixture to a skillet over medium heat. Simmer and stir for about 4-5 minutes.
- Place in freezer safe container for up to 4 months.
- To serve, thaw in the fridge overnight.
- Then to reheat add a couple tablespoon of water and the sloppy joe mixture to a skillet over medium heat. Simmer and stir for about 4-5 minutes.
If nutrition facts are provided they are calculated as an estimate to the best of our knowledge.