Easy Homemade Sloppy Joes are an easy weeknight dinner using only pantry-staple ingredients. In under an hour, you’ll have a freezer-friendly meal that’s perfect for the whole family!Jump to Recipe
Do You Remember Eating Sloppy Joes As A Kid?
They were a tasty treat in school, even if there never seemed to be enough napkins on hand. But that was part of their charm! They were messy in the best way.
I’m serving you this nostalgic, classic recipe that is way better than the high school version. Easy Homemade Sloppy Joes are flexible and don’t just go great on bread, but also on top of sweet potatoes, scrambled eggs, or mac and cheese!
Better yet, the entire recipe takes only 30 minutes to make. If you were thinking of using the premade Manwich sloppy joe sauce, just try my homemade version first! I promise it’s just as easy and tastes much more fresh and flavorful. Plus, it comes together in one bowl and uses a handful of pantry-staple ingredients!
I’m betting you can find most of the ingredients for Homemade Sloppy Joes right in your pantry. The beef mixture is super simple and flavorful, using only 5 main ingredients:
- Ground beef
- Green bell pepper
- Sweet onion
- Tomato paste
It isn’t a classic sloppy joe without the sauce! Whip together these ingredients in one bowl or saucepan and layer the sweet and sour tomato sauce over the meat when you’re ready to dig in:
- Brown sugar
- Dijon mustard
- Chili powder
- Worcestershire sauce
- Sea salt
How To Make Homemade Sloppy Joes
This recipe happens to be easier to throw together than hamburgers, meatloaf, or chili, making it the ultimate choice for a quick family-friendly dinner. Here’s how to make Easy Homemade Sloppy Joes:
- Brown The Beef: Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the beef to the skillet and break it up using a wooden spoon. Cook until no more pink remains (about 5 minutes). Transfer to a bowl and drain the excess grease.
- Cook Onions and Peppers: Add olive oil to the same skillet and toss in your chopped onion and pepper. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until soft. Add in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add the beef back into the skillet with the tomato paste. Stir well to combine.
- Make The Sauce: In a small saucepan, stir together ketchup, water, brown sugar, mustard, chili powder, Worcestershire sauce, and sea salt. Cook the sauce over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes or until the mixture has thickened to your liking.
- Serving: Toast the buns and add a spoonful of the meat. Next, drizzle 2 or 3 tablespoons of sauce on top of the meat. To finish, top the meat with pickled onions, pepperoncini’s, mustard, or any of your favorites. Have a napkin handy and dig in!
How To Make Sloppy Joes In An Instant Pot
- Turn the Instant Pot to Saute mode. Melt butter in the inner pot and begin to brown the beef, breaking it up with your spoon. Once the meat is browned, remove it and drain the excess grease. Set aside.
- Add olive oil to the pot and cook the onions and bell peppers until soft. Then add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds. Turn the Instant Pot off and add the cooked beef, onions, peppers, garlic, and the rest of the ingredients. Stir to combine.
- Put the lid on and lock it into place. Set the Instant Pot to Manual mode, on High pressure, and cooking time at 10 minutes. Once the mixture is done cooking, naturally release the pressure for 10 minutes, then quick release any remaining pressure. Remove the lid carefully and stir the mixture.
How To Make Sloppy Joes In A Crock Pot
- Just like you would on the stove or Instant Pot, saute the meat in a skillet until browned. Remove from the pan and drain the excess grease. In the same skillet, cook the onions and bell peppers until soft. Add in the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds or until fragrant.
- Add the cooked beef, onions, peppers, garlic, and the rest of the ingredients to a crock pot. Cook on high for 2 to 3 hours or on low for 4 to 6 hours, stirring occasionally and adjusting seasonings as needed.
Can Sloppy Joes Be Frozen?
This is a great recipe to make ahead of time and throw in the freezer for another time. To freeze sloppy joes, make the recipe as normal. You can either freeze the meat and sauce separately or together. Let the mixture cool completely, then store in an airtight container or Ziploc bag for 3 to 6 months.
- Make this recipe leaner by using ground turkey instead of beef. Brown the meat before cooking the onions and peppers as you would if cooking with beef.
- Looking for a vegan option? Cooked lentils are a great replacement for beef as they’re full of protein and have a meaty texture.
- When you’re short on time, skip the sloppy joe sauce. Heat up 1 cup of your favorite storebought barbeque sauce in a saucepan, and pour it on the meat mixture when you’re ready to serve.
How To Serve
Homemade Sloppy Joes are so delicious on a toasted bun, but feel free to stray away from the norm! Serve the meat and sauce on top of any of these tasty options:
- Baked sweet potatoes
- Scrambled eggs
- Mac and cheese
- Roasted potatoes
- Mashed potatoes
- Stuffed in a grilled cheese
Try these side dishes when Easy Homemade Sloppy Joes are the star of the meal:
- Raw Brussels Sprouts Salad With Parmesan
- Caesar Salad with Homemade Dressing
- Creamy Grilled Smashed Potato Salad
- 10 Minute Apple Cabbage Slaw
If you try these Easy Homemade Sloppy Joes for your next family dinner, let me know what they thought! Leave a comment below or feel free to rate this recipe. Don’t forget to take a picture and share your recreations with me on Instagram!
Easy Homemade Sloppy Joes
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 ½ lb ground beef, 80/20
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 sweet onion, chopped finely
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped finely
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 ½ tbsp tomato paste
- ¾ cup ketchup
- ⅔ cup water
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- ¾ tsp chili powder
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- ½ tsp sea salt
- Lena's Kitchen Pickled Onions
- Buns, toasted
- Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the beef to the skillet and break it up using a wooden spoon. Cook until the meat is thoroughly browned and no more pink remains (about 5 minutes). Transfer to a bowl and drain the excess grease.
- Add the olive oil to the same skillet. Add the chopped onions and peppers, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until soft. Add in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add the beef back into the skillet with the tomato paste. Stir well to combine.
- In a small saucepan, stir together ketchup, water, brown sugar, mustard, chili powder, Worcestershire sauce, and sea salt. Cook the sauce over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes or until the mixture has thickened to your liking.
- When preparing to serve, toast the buns. Add a spoonful of the meat to the buns and drizzle 2 or 3 tablespoons of sauce over top. To finish, top the meat with pickled onions, pepperoncini’s, or mustard.
- Make the recipe as normal.
- You can either freeze the meat and sauce separately or together.
- Let the mixture cool completely, then store in an airtight container or ziploc bag for 3 to 6 months.