These Sloppy Joes are outrageously delicious and couldn’t be easier to make!
Look, I know I’m from the UK, but quite frankly my love for sloppy joes has no boundaries. From my very first bite over in the US, I was hooked, and ever since I’ve made it my mission to recreate them. Follow me…
Okay okay, just so we’re all on the same wavelength…
What are Sloppy Joes?
A sloppy joe is essentially a loose meat sandwich. The filling is ground beef in a simple meat sauce. It has the texture of a thick bolognese and is slapped inside a roll or burger bun.
What do Sloppy Joes taste like?
The sauce is somewhat tomatoey, but also quite sweet and tangy due to the ketchup.
Sloppy Joe Ingredients
- Ground Beef – I recommend getting fairly lean beef (5-10%) otherwise they end up quite greasy.
- Passata – Tomato Passata is essentially pureed and strained tomatoes. In the US tomato sauce is more commonly used.
- Tomato Paste – Deepens the tomato flavour.
- Ketchup – A key ingredient. Adds sweetness and a little tang.
- Worcestershire Sauce – Adds a savoury tone to the sauce and deepens the flavour of the beef.
- Sugar – Highlights the sweetness from the ketchup.
- Mustard – Classic yellow mustard adds a gentle background warmth.
- Onion & Garlic – Adds a base flavour.
- Green Pepper – Some recipes add this, some don’t. I enjoy the added flavour!
- Butter – To fry the onion/pepper/garlic.
- S&P – To taste.
Sloppy Joe Mix
When it comes to making the meat sauce, as you can imagine it’s fairly straightforward. Sloppy joes usually fall under the categories of ‘quick and easy’. Whilst they are easy, I prefer to take a little more time when making the sauce.
If you just fried off the ingredients, mixed in the sauces and quickly heated it all through, the beef is going to be tough and the sauce will be too thin. By spending a little extra time, usually around 20-25mins just gently simmering, you’ll not only slightly tenderize the beef, but you’ll also help marry the flavours together AND thicken the sauce. This is important because if it’s too thin they’ll end up being ‘ultra’ sloppy joes 😛
Process shots: fry onion and pepper in butter (photo 1), fry garlic (photo 2), fry beef (photo 3), stir in tomato paste (photo 4), add in passata, ketchup, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, sugar and s&p (photo 5), simmer to thicken (photo 6).
Sloppy Joes FAQ
Can you make sloppy joes ahead of time?
You won’t want to make the whole sandwich, but you can definitely make the meat sauce ahead of time. Just allow to cool and tightly store in the fridge.
Can you freeze sloppy joes?
Yep, again just make sure it’s only the meat sauce. Thaw in the fridge then reheat.
What kind of buns to use for sloppy joes?
I use regular burger buns, sometimes sesame seeded. But any type of soft white roll will work just fine. I personally don’t use brioche because the filling is already fairly sweet.
Should I toast sloppy joe buns?
I do recommend toasting the buns, yes. Just to help secure the ‘sloppy’ filling. You can toast under the grill or in a scorching hot dry pan.
Serving Sloppy Joes
I usually serve these for lunch, often if friends are over. Perfect for game day! Great by themselves, or you could add jalapeños, pickles, cheese or even Coleslaw!
What are good side dishes for Sloppy Joes?
For the grilled cheese version of this sandwich check out my Sloppy Joe Grilled Cheese!
Alrighty, let’s tuck into the full recipe for these sloppy joes shall we?!
How to make Sloppy Joes (Full Recipe & Video)
- Large Pan & Wooden Spoon
- Sharp Knife & Chopping Board
- 5 - 6 Burger Buns or Soft Rolls, sliced in half & toasted (see notes)
- 1lb / 500g Ground Beef (see notes)
- 1 cup / 250ml Tomato Passata (or Tomato Sauce in US)
- 1/2 cup / 120ml Ketchup
- 1 tbsp Tomato Puree (Tomato Paste in US)
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 tbsp Brown Sugar
- 2 tsp Yellow Mustard
- 1 medium Onion, finely diced
- 1 small Green Pepper, finely diced (Capsicum/Bell Pepper)
- 2 fat cloves of Garlic, finely diced
- 1 tbsp Butter
- 1/2 tsp Salt, or to taste
- 1/4 tsp Black Pepper, or to taste
- In a large pan over medium heat melt 1 tbsp butter then add onion and green pepper. Fry until soft and just starting to lightly brown, then add in garlic and fry for another 1-2mins. Add in a tsp of oil or butter if the pan dries out.
- Add in beef and break up with your wooden spoon. Fry until browned all over, then stir in 1 tbsp tomato paste and fry for another couple of mins.
- Pour in passata and ketchup, then add in around 1/4cup/60ml water. Stir in mustard, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Lower to a gentle simmer for around 20-25mins, or until nice and thick, stirring occasionally as you go.
- Add between rolls, then serve up and enjoy!
Your Private Notes:
For more similar recipes check out these beauties:
American Inspired Sandwiches
- Cheeseburger Grilled Cheese
- Pickle Grilled Cheese
- Mac and Cheese Grilled Cheese
- Popcorn Chicken Sandwiches
- BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches
If you loved this Sloppy Joe Recipe be sure to Pin it for later! Already made it or got a burning question? Give me a shout in the comments below!