This Sloppy Joe recipe is just as quick and easy as using canned sloppy joe sauce but without hefty amounts of sodium and other added ingredients. To step up your sloppy joe recipe, try my Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes.

Plate of Sloppy Joe's with Chips and Pickles

Sloppy Joe Recipe

In the 1930’s, a cook named Joe (makes sense) decided to add some tomato sauce to ground beef. These ‘loose meat sandwiches’  with the tomato sauce became known as Sloppy Joes. These sandwiches are inexpensive to make and are loved by both kids and adults alike! 

You may notice that one thing is missing from my Sloppy Joe recipes… green peppers. I used to make Sloppy Joe the same way everyone else did, adding the chopped green peppers and calling it a day. A few years ago I had rotten green peppers and had to leave them out. What happened was a magical thing, the flavors of the seasonings really shone through. Folks at our BBQ kept asking me for the recipe, wondering what my secret was! And it really is that easy… leave out those green peppers!

How to Make Sloppy Joes

As I mentioned, there really is no need to go to the grocery store to pick up a canned sloppy joe sauce, especially when you see how easy this recipe is to make! Get started by cooking the ground beef with the chopped onion. After the beef has been browned (no pink), drain the beef.

After draining the beef, add the garlic powder, mustard, ketchup, brown sugar, and water to the skillet. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 30 minutes. Salt and pepper, to taste.

Skillet of Sloppy Joe with Wooden Spoon

Tips, Tricks, and Variations

The number one thing I tell people who make sloppy joes is to toast the bun.  Sloppy joes are supposed to be “sloppy” not “soggy”. Toasting the bun keeps the juices from soaking into the bun and making it a soggy mess.  The number two thing is to pair it with the perfect side dish, some pickles, some potato chips or some Classic Country Potato Salad.

Another variation to the recipe is to use ground chicken or pork. Turkey would be delicious as well. You could also use vegetable protein in place of the ground beef for a meatless sloppy joe.

How to Serve Leftovers

If you have any sloppy joe leftover, you can store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Here are a few options you can use the sloppy joes for (besides in a hamburger bun):

  • Chili Dog
  • Bake it with rice and cheese in a bell pepper
  • Pile it on Chili Cheese Fries
  • Add it to your baked potato
  • Scoop it up with some Fritos or add it to a plate of nachos
Hand Holding Sloppy Joe on a Bun

More Delicious Sandwiches

5 from 1 vote

Sloppy Joe

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 40 mins
This Sloppy Joe recipe is as easy to make as it is tasty!


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • ¼ cup chopped onion
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • ¾ cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • salt and pepper, to taste


  • In a medium skillet over medium heat, cook the ground beef and onions until the beef is no longer pink. Drain.
  • Stir in the garlic powder, mustard, ketchup, brown sugar, and water, mixing until combined. Add salt and pepper, to taste.

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Reader Comments

  1. My mom made sloppy joes with corned beef and a mixture of brown sugar, ground cumin and flour, then a small bottle of ketchup, the medium onion chopped 2lbs of ground beef, a cup of water, bring to a boil in an iron skillet or any skillet and then simmer for an hour. I used to make it all the time, but haven’t in a while! It was good with bread and butter pickles!

  2. This is how my mom always made them for us growing up. I now make them this way as well as my son does as well. We always added a tablespoon or so of sweet pickle relish. So good!

  3. 5 stars
    This was a great find as a last minute “oh shoot what are we having for dinner” meal! Simple and easy, and definitely nostalgic. Love it without the peppers, which is definitely the way my family made it but so many recipes include them in there.


  4. Instead of water add 1 tin of CHICKEN GUMBO SOUP and just 2 tablespoons of ketchup with your other ingredients. Yummy

    1. Thank you! I also added a small amount of 1883 sauce (Kroger brand similar to Heinz 57). Delicious!

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