If you want a fast and kid-friendly meal, then look no further than this homemade sloppy joes recipe! Growing up, my mom made this with the canned sauce. It was good for a fast meal, but there was always something I thought could be just a bit better. I never even thought about it being made from scratch until I was an adult. Since I discovered just how easy it is to whip up this sauce on your own, I have never looked back!
Homemade Sloppy Joes Recipe
In many homes, there is nothing more quintessentially kid-friendly than a good old fashioned Sloppy Joe sandwich. Kids love any sandwich, and the sweet sauce is a perfect accompaniment to ground beef. It often goes well alongside their favorite side, French fries. So, of course, it's a natural choice for a weeknight meal.
If you are used to reaching for the canned sauce but want to up your game, this is the ideal recipe. Seriously, it's so fast and the ingredients are already in your pantry. You'll have no problem making this even at the last minute!
Is Sloppy Joe and Manwich the Same Thing?
While the flavor is very similar, it's slightly different. Different in a good way! If you like the canned variety, you will love this easy homemade sauce. The flavors are brighter and better, plus it's easy to make in minutes.
One of the main differences in the sauce is the chunks of onion and garlic rather than a smooth sauce. Sometimes you'll find this recipe with bell pepper, and if you prefer, that can be easily added to the mix. This sauce is also healthier as it has a lot less sodium and even though it has sugar, the brown sugar is easier to control the amounts.
Do You Drain Hamburger for Sloppy Joes?
It is my preference when making anything with crumbled ground beef to drain it well. This is especially smart when using a higher fat percentage of ground beef. Sometimes, I even rinse the ground beef before adding back into the pan with the rest of the spices and sauce.
If you tend to grab leaner ground beef cuts like 90/10% or 93/7%, you may not have a need to rinse the meat. This really is a personal preference situation, so do what you feel is best. I do, however, really recommend at least draining the beef if you are using the higher-fat versions.
How to Freeze Homemade Sloppy Joes
This tip is one that I have fallen in love with for fast and easy meals for my sons. When I get a good deal on ground meat in large packages, I often will make a large batch of this recipe. Since it is so easy to cook, I know that I can make multiple batches in no time at all.
You can choose to make the meat and portion into meal portions, or you can create the sandwiches, and freeze them individually. I've done both with great success.
For freezing the meat and sauce together, I recommend cooking as directed, then letting it cool completely before portioning into freezer storage bags. Label and date the bags, then place flatten on the freezer shelf. Once they are frozen, you can then stack them together or slide next to each other on the shelf.
If you prefer to make the sandwiches first, I follow a similar easy process. I allow the meat and sauce to cool completely and then build individual sandwiches. Once the meat mixture is on the buns, you can then wrap them in plastic wrap and then place the sandwiches into a larger labeled and dated freezer storage bag.
When ready to reheat the sauce mixture, let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator and reheat in the microwave or stovetop. For heating, the sandwiches, defrost on medium power setting in your microwave while still in the plastic wrap. Remove the wrap, and continue heating in 30-second increments until the desired temperature.
How Can I Thicken The Sauce?
For this recipe, I have never had a need to thicken the sauce. It is naturally a thicker mixture and isn't runny. However, if for some reason yours turned out thinner than desired, I recommend just letting the mixture cook for 3-4 more minutes. This usually is long enough to reduce the sauce mixture to a thickness you prefer.
Variations of Sloppy Joes
Sloppy Joes are, in themselves, pretty basic. The sauce and ground meat mixture is typically almost the same no matter what version you choose. This recipe is the best I've ever made, but you will notice the same ingredients are common in most recipes. Below, however, are some great choices to spice up your sandwiches.
- Add in diced bell pepper or mushrooms to the sauce
- Replace the paprika with chili powder
- Top the sandwiches with sliced American cheese
- Serve the sandwiches on onion buns
- Top your hot dog with Sloppy Joes mix instead of chili
- Serve over macaroni and cheese
- Ground beef
- Vegetable oil
- Tomato paste
- Brown sugar
- Worcestershire sauce
- Black pepper
How to Make Sloppy Joes Sauce
This recipe has the sauce mixed right in with the beef so, there is really no specific process for making it separate. However, if you want to make the sauce and store separately, you can.
Simply saute down the onions and garlic, then mix in all ingredients except the ground meat. Stir over medium heat for 3-4 minutes and then set aside to cool and pour into a jar to store. This recipe for the sauce is good for 4-5 days in the refrigerator.
How to Make Sloppy Joes from Scratch
Heat the oil in a large skillet and cook the ground beef until no longer pink, then remove, drain, and set aside.
Into the same skillet, add in the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes or until they are softened.
Stir in the garlic and continue cooking for another minute.
Pour in the ground beef and stir then add in the tomato paste. Mix this together well.
Now, add in the ketchup.
Add the brown sugar, mustard, paprika, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and black pepper.
Stir this together until mixed well.
Add in the water, and cook down for another 2-3 minutes.
Serve the mixture over a toasted bun with your favorite sides.
Want More Comfort Food Ideas?
If you are like me and sometimes just need a good old-fashioned comfort food meal, look no further. We have some great easy recipes for the best classic comfort foods to add to your menu. Serve up this Southern-style baked macaroni and cheese alongside Sloppy Joes. You might also love the easy and always delicious old fashioned goulash recipe.
Heat the skillet with oil before adding the ground beef. This will help prevent it from sticking to the skillet. Another great tips, is to invest in one of these plastic meat choppers to help break up the ground beef as it is cooking.
- 1 lb Ground beef
- 2 tbsp Vegetable oil
- ½ cup onions, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- ½ cup ketchup
- 1 tbsp mustard
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- ½ tbsp paprika
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ½ cup water
- Cook the ground beef in oil for 7-8 minutes or until no longer pink, then remove from heat, drain, and set aside the ground beef;
- In the same skillet, add the onions and cook for 2-3 minutes or until tender;
- Add in the garlic, stir, and cook for an additional minute;
- Stir in the tomato paste;
- Add in the ketchup;
- Mix in the brown sugar, mustard, paprika, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and black pepper and stir well;
- Mix in the water and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes;
- Serve on toasted sesame buns with your favorite sides.
Serve with a slice of cheddar or American cheese.
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 447Total Fat: 27gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 101mgSodium: 757mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 1gSugar: 14gProtein: 32g