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 or Minnesota Sloppy Joes.

Plate of Sloppy Joe's with Chips and Pickles
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Sloppy Joe Recipe

In the 1930s, a cook named Joe (makes sense) decided to add some tomato sauce to ground beef. These ‘loose meat sandwiches’  with 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!

Tips, Tricks, and Variations

  1. Toast the hamburger buns.  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. 
  2. Pair it with the perfect side dish, some pickles, some potato chips, or some Classic Country Potato Salad.
  3. Use ground chicken or pork. Turkey would be delicious as well. You could also use vegetable protein in place of ground beef for a meatless sloppy joe.
Skillet of Sloppy Joe with Wooden Spoon

How To Serve Sloppy Joes

This Sloppy Joe recipe can be used for more than just filling a hamburger bun. Here are some other delicious options:

How To Store Sloppy Joe

If you have any sloppy joe leftover, you can store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop.

Hand Holding Sloppy Joe on a Bun

More Delicious Sandwiches

4.90 from 19 votes

Sloppy Joe

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
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
  • hamburger buns, toasted, for serving


  • 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.
  • Serve warm on toasted hamburger buns.

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Reader Comments

  1. 4 stars
    There are plenty of sloppy joe recipes out there that are just as good I’msure:-). I got my recipe from my mother in law-it has larger amounts of mustard, ketchup and sugar. Thank you for sharing your recipe

  2. 5 stars
    I didn’t have absolutely everything listed in the recipe. I had some crushed San Marzano tomatoes from my garden that I processed so I didn’t add water. I had good quality tomato paste and dijon mustard. I added a bit of ketchup to compensate for the liquid in the crushed tomatoes. Red pepper flake, chili powder and paprika were also added along with a little Worchestershire. I had everything else, including brioche buns that I toasted. I never made Soppy Joes from scratch because the envelope is so very easy. This was just as easy. They were delicious. I topped my personal Sloppy Joe with pepperonchini and baby arugula. I will definitely make these again. I think I’ll add some jalapenos next time. In the past I’ve done a variation with sliced olives and corn. This sandwich begs for variations because it’s good on it’s own but equally delicious with add-ins.

  3. 5 stars
    I added 1/3 cup of finely chopped celery along with the saucy stuff, and it added a nice little crunch and I like the flavor.

  4. 5 stars
    I’ve made this many times, and it is my GO-TO recipe for sloppy joes!!! SO good, and SO easy! Thank you so much!

  5. 5 stars
    Thank you Amanda!
    This is just a slight variation of the recipe I’ve been using for the last 39 years from a PA State Grange cookbook circa 1972, a gift from my Great Aunt Velma, which has always been my go-to Friday night dinner. I’m looking forward to using your measurements next time I make them which I’m sure will enhance an all time favorite. Love your recipes and ideas and especially your cookbook!

    1. 5 stars
      Update….. I used your ingredients and I must say this is so much better than what I was using.
      Thank you!

  6. 4 stars
    Add about a tablespoon of Worcestershire Sauce …I do all the rest ! Made them for my daughters graduation party and had to give out the recipe over and over! And the brown sugar adds something white doesn’t really good! Her one friend said those are the best sloppy joes I’ve ever had in my whole life …lol!

  7. 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!

  8. 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!

  9. 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.


  10. 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!

4.90 from 19 votes (10 ratings without comment)

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