Ultimate Sloppy Joes

Classic Sloppy Joes in 20 minutes with a homemade tomato gravy and bell peppers on hamburger buns that have won 3 sloppy joe competitions!

Classic comfort food recipes are favorites on the site including Slow Cooker Pot Roast, Ultimate Beef Stew and Slow Cooker Chili because they’re family favorites that bring back happy food memories, and these sloppy joes are the perfect recipe for your favorite family meals.

Saucy Hamburger Bun filled with Sloppy Joes


Ultimate Sloppy Joes are made without the Manwich Canned Sauce or the packets of sloppy joe seasoning you may have grown up with. With just a few pantry ingredients you’ll have a whole new appreciation for classic American dinner favorite recipe sloppy joes.

These are called Ultimate Sloppy Joes, but you may also want to refer to them as Award Winning Sloppy Joes because this recipe has been victorious in three separate sandwich contests including one in college where it beat out over 50 other sloppy joe recipes!

Plus it wins the most important contest of all, the kid contest. Kids LOVE this recipe because it is the perfect combination of sweet and savory flavors. You will not see a single kid refuse these sloppy joes.

Take that as a pinky promise to you, as a professional chef, these are the best sloppy joes. They’re so good that the base of this recipe made led us to create 25 more sloppy joe recipes!

There are so many flavors, from Philly Cheese Steak, Bacon Cheeseburger, to Pizza too so if you love these Classic Sloppy Joes you should definitely try out more (another favorite is the Bacon, Beer and Cheese Sloppy Joes)!

If you don’t believe how good this recipe is, read this review from below:

 I was looking for something quick to make for dinner since I ended up working late. Most of the ingredients I had at home and only had to stop to get some ground beef on my way home. I’ve never been a huge fan of Sloppy Joes but my SO really likes them so I thought “why not.” And boy oh boy am I happy I landed on this recipe. This recipe has permanently changed my mind on what a good sloppy joe is. Thank you so much for sharing this. I can’t wait to make them again!

– Christine

Thanks Christine!


Homemade sloppy joes are made with ground beef, onion and green bell peppers that are simmered in a brown sugar and ketchup gravy until thickened and served on a bun.

If you look at the back of the Manwich cans, many of the ingredients are similar, though this recipe is not exactly like a homemade Manwich sloppy joe. This is also not the same as if you grew up eating sloppy joes made with tomato sauce, but the ketchup in the recipe acts in a similar way.


Homemade Sloppy Joes are all about comfort food flavors so you’ll love serving them with Onion Rings, Potato Wedges, Sweet Potato Fries or Roasted Potatoes along with some healthier Roasted Vegetables.

Homemade Sloppy Joes on Hamburger Bun


  • Make sure not to cook down the sauce too much, sometimes the sloppy joes can get dry. You’re looking for a consistency where you can see the individual bits of meat, but not dry enough where they don’t cling to each other in sauce.
  • Make the sloppy joe recipe a little healthier by swapping ground beef for ground turkey.
  • Sloppy Joes can be served again the next day if you add a bit of liquid to help create a bit more sloppy joe sauce. To avoid more sugar being added I’d start with some tomato sauce and water in ¼ cup increments as you gently reheat and taste.
  • To get a good sear on the meat use high heat instead of medium high, this will create a nice crust giving it a texture more like hamburgers.
  • It’s delicious to add in some American or cheddar cheese to the filling when it is done. Some people like to top the sandwich with cheese. Either way cheese makes it just a little more awesome.
  • If you hate green bell pepper feel free to swap it out for a less bitter bell pepper, like red pepper. You can also leave it out, but remember you are removing probably a half cup or more of ingredients, so it will be saucier.
  • If you want a bit more savory flavor you can also add a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce to the sloppy joe meat.
  • If you would like to swap the ketchup for tomato sauce or tomato paste, just play with the rest of the ingredients to increase the sweetness more as the ketchup adds a definite sweet flavor.
  • Hamburger Bun: Make sure to toast your bun before adding the filling. If you don’t your bun it may get too soggy, too quickly (psst, you could also butter it to make it even more delicious).
  • If you would like to use leftovers you may have in another recipe, just use the method found in Ground Philly Cheesesteak Grilled Cheese and you’ll be in heaven!


  • Add the ingredients (minus the buns) to the crock pot and cook on low for 4 hours.
  • Stir before serving and scoop onto your toasted hamburger bun.


  • Brown the ground beef in the instant pot on the sautĂ© setting per the instructions then add in the rest of the ingredients (except the buns).
  • Add the lid and set the pressure to high for ten minutes.
  • Release the pressure naturally for five minutes, open the top and scooped onto toasted hamburger buns.



  • Serve: These sandwiches are best served fresh once they are assembled. You can keep the filling warm in a slow cooker for up to 4 hours or at room temperature for 2 hours.
  • Store: Store the Ultimate Sloppy Joes filling separately in an air tight container and assemble the sandwiches right before you want to serve. The filling can be kept refrigerated for up to 4 days.
  • Freeze: Cool the beef mixture completely and place in a sealed container. Freeze Sloppy Joes filling for up to 3 months and thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

Ultimate Sloppy Joes with ground beef

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Ultimate Sloppy Joes

Classic Sloppy Joes in 20 minutes with a homemade tomato gravy and bell peppers on hamburger buns that have won 3 sloppy joe competitions!
Yield 6 Servings
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Author Sabrina Snyder


  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 yellow onion , chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper , chopped
  • 1 clove garlic , minced
  • 2 teaspoons yellow mustard
  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper


  • Add the ground beef to a large skillet (this browns very well) on high heat and brown until a deep brown crust appears before breaking the beef apart.
  • Stir the ground beef and brown until a deep crust appears on about 50 or so percent of the beef, and it is cooked through, then remove the beef, drain the fat and add the butter, onions and bell pepper to the pan.
  • Let brown for 1-2 minutes before stirring, then let brown for another 1-2 minutes before stirring again and add the beef back into the pan.
  • Add the garlic, mustard, ketchup, brown sugar, salt, black pepper, to the pan and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated (about 75% of the mixture is above liquid), 3-5 minutes.
  • Serve on toasted hamburger buns.



Calories: 176kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 51mg | Sodium: 536mg | Potassium: 386mg | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 250IU | Vitamin C: 10.1mg | Calcium: 17mg | Iron: 2mg
Keyword: Ultimate Sloppy Joes

Ultimate Sloppy Joes Collage

Photos used in a previous version of this post.

Sloppy Joes Collage

The Ultimate Sloppy Joes made at home in just 20 minutes with no canned sauces!
Just 20 minutes from start to finish and you'll have the easiest and ultimate sloppy joes!
Ultimate Sloppy Joes Collage Ultimate Sloppy Joes Collage
Ultimate Sloppy Joes CollageUltimate Sloppy Joes Collage
Ultimate Sloppy Joes Collage

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the upcoming cookbook: Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients which is being published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.


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  1. Aptly named!

    Your site is my “go to” for recipes. Always easy to make and so tasty! Thank you. Please don’t go anywhere!

  2. Great dish. My husband & great granddaughter love it. I serve fries with it and sometimes put cheese on it. Thanks, I need help as I’m not the best cook.

  3. If I add all the ingredients to a slow cooker, should I pan cook the meat, onion, and pepper first? Thanks.

  4. Hands down the best sloppy joes you will ever eat! I didn’t chang a thing. My coworkers loved them so much they are still talking about them months after I made them! They request them at every food day at work!

  5. This really IS the ULTIMATE! Just loved the flavor..since we like sweet, I didn’t add the Worcestershire, and it was awesome! May add some pineapple and lettuce and make it a wrap next time!…or just eat it with a spoon! Thank you!

  6. I made this tonight omitting the brown sugar (I thought it was too sweet last time) and adding a little worcestershire sauce as others recommended. It was perfect!

  7. I made these for dinner last night and they were amazing. My husband said they were the best Sloppy Joe’s he’s ever had. Thank you for the recipe!

  8. Just made these tonight for dinner. Easy and oh so good! This is my go-to recipes when I crave a good Sloppy Joe!

  9. This is by far the absolute BEST sloppy joe recipe. The richness is out of this world! My family ate it in seconds…literally lol

  10. We made this recipe yesterday and it was awesome. Just a tip for vegan, plant based, or dairy free readers: We substituted Beyond Meat for the ground beef and it tasted great! We used Arnold brand hamburger buns and Violife vegan cheddar slices to top it all off. You could not tell that it was veganized at all! Great recipe!

  11. Best homemade recipe I’ve tried! I used red pepper (instead of green) since that was all I had and added a little worcestershire. The whole family loved it!! Thanks for the recipe!

  12. Once again, your sloppy joe recipe is amazing! My family loves the ones we have tried, and this is no exception. Thank you so much for sharing!

  13. I will never, ever make a sloppy joe recipe other than this! Just….excellent – the tips were great as well. Thank you!

  14. Excellent tasting Sloppy Jo recipe! Much like what was served in school cafeterias back in the day. Way back in the day, say 1950’s…. For my personal taste I added sweet relish and added a bit of water for a little looser consistency to make it a little more “sloppier”.

  15. I love this recipe. Before this, I’d get a craving for sloppy Joes and every recipe or can left me disappointed afterward. I made this to give them one last chance and now I make it at least once a month, with the addition of some grated zucchini cooked down with the meat because hidden veggies are awesome. It reheats so well and is fab on top of a sweet potato.

  16. Hi! This looks delicious and really want to try it! Can you tell me what kind of buns you used and what you did with them? The pic is what sold me, but I don’t see anything about the buns mentioned at the end of the recipe. Thank you!

    1. I used Brioche buns and toasted them. I also butter mine before toasting because it’s add even more depth of flavor. Enjoy!

  17. Made this tonight, it was great. I only used 1 Tbsp of brown sugar and I also added a little smoked paprika. Will definitely make again

  18. this was outstanding. Told my soon, and he is eager to try. Philly cheese steak sloppy Joe’s are next. Thanks ?

  19. I made these the other day just to see if they would be good to serve at my granddaughters birthday party they were really good.
    I need to make these this weekend for her birthday what is the best way to make these in a crockpot for about 30 people and how much hamburger do you suggest
    Plan on making these a head of time and put them in a crockpot the day of. Please send suggestions as I don’t want to disappoint my guests

    1. There are instructions in the post on how to make these in the slow cooker. You’ll probably need to make 5 times this recipe for enough to serve 30 people. I would definitely recommend using multiple slow cookers. Hope this helps.

  20. This recipe is okay. The techniques make for a levelled up sloppy joe. Crust on the meat and caramelized peppers and onions make the ingredients sing. Otherwise it’s super sweet and boring. (Probably good for kids?) I added chilli powder, tomato paste, chilli flakes, Worcestershire sauce, a splash of apple cider vinegar at the end, a tsp of sugar and not as much ketchup. My batch also needed some water to simmer in (about 1/3 C) Take the cooking methods and look for added spices in other 5 star sloppy joe recipes. If you like a lot of flavour – you might be disappointed in this recipe as is.

  21. Hi! My husband and I really liked your recipe! I have been using the can version of sloppy joe mix for years, but not 100% happy with it, so I looked online for an easy recipe and I decided to try yours, since I had all of the ingredients on hand. I think this will be my go-to recipe from now on! Thanks a bunch!

  22. This was really good and very fast and easy to make. I added 4 oz of diced portobello mushrooms I needed to use up, browning them with the meat so the extra liquid poured off with the fat. Couldn’t taste them but a nice hidden veggie. Definitely on the sweeter side, so I will cut back the brown sugar to 1 tbsp next time for personal preference (and there will definitely be a next time). Added a few drops off green pepper sauce on mine because I like heat. Thanks for the recipe!

  23. I made for a friend and her family, but of course taste tested first. It was great and my friend and family thought so as well. I appreciated the detail on the crusting of the ground beef. I understand the difference that made in the taste.

    1. does this tastes like ketchup? im not a big fan of ketchup and was wondering if i should use tomato sauce instead

  24. Great sloppy Joe recipe, not too sweet. I really appreciate the detailed instructions. The only (minor) change I made was to add a single drop of smoke flavor. Gave it just a bit of depth. This will be my go-to recipe from now on.

  25. I am wondering if I am missing something. At the beginning of the recipe you give times for making it in the crock pot for 4 hours and then also using the instantpot for 20 minutes with a pressure release of 5 minutes. After the ingredients the recipe instructions have you brown the meat and sauté vegetables in the Instantpot. It says to cook the sauce down for 3-5 minutes. No where does it say to put the lid in and pressure cook for 20 min. Usually you need at least a 1/2 cup of thin liquid to pressurize and this recipe does not have that listed.

  26. Thank you for this recipe!!
    Made this tonight for my whole family and everyone loved it, I added the Worcestershire sauce and I think it turned out perfect!!

  27. This recipe was delicious! I did add the tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce like mentioned above the recipe. My husband and I both loved it. Best sloppy Joe recipe!

  28. made this came out dynamite. made changes to the fact this is all I had in freezer I used some hot sausage and hamburger 5O%X 50% Came out so great. and added some red wine. cooked off wine. Really good

  29. I’ve used this recipe several times and we continue to enjoy this. It is far better and safer than using a can of premade sauce. Thanks for sharing ?

  30. I made these ultimatum sloppy joes for dinner tonight. I have not made sloppy joes since the early days of our marriage when all I used was Manwich. My husband declared he was not fond of that meal so I stopped making it 49 years ago. We both really enjoyed your recipe tonight. I think it will also be great to serve when the grandkids come to visit in the summer. Thank you for all your time and expertise you put into your recipes.

  31. Too sweet. Missing some tang. Just like a lot of bad sloppy joe recipes that taste more like you mixed meat with bbq sauce and a touch of mustard. Traditional sloppy joes have are less sweet and have a more unique flavor, not like bbq sauce.

    1. Worcestershire would give it a little bite but I think it’s tons better than any other sloppy joe I’ve ever made!

  32. Just had to scroll down here to sincerely thank you for the time and effort you put into this!
    I needed this tonight … some fresh ideas . Thank you!
    Gotta go, the meat is sizzling…

  33. Just made this for Christmas Eve, and it was a HUGE hit!!! All my guests asked for the recipe. I will never buy canned sloppy Joe again!!

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