Ultimate Sloppy Joes

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Ultimate Sloppy Joes made in just 20 minutes with a rich tomato gravy and melted cheese. Your family will ask for them all the time!

The Ultimate Sloppy Joes made at home in just 20 minutes with no canned sauces!Ultimate Sloppy Joes 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 sloppy joes.

We call these the 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!

Ultimate Sloppy Joes are the final sloppy joes recipe on our regular rotation. We’ve already gone over the others, the Philly Cheese Steak Sloppy JoesBacon Cheeseburger Sloppy Joes, and Pizza Sloppy Joes so posting these Classic Sloppy Joes are a no brainer to round out the recipes!

How do you make Homemade Sloppy Joes:

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.

I’ve looked at the back of the manwich cans, and I can’t vouch for this recipe to be like a homemade manwich sloppy joe, but I can say many of the ingredients are similar. 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.

If you would like to swap the ketchup for tomato sauce, just play with the rest of the ingredients to increase the sweetness more as the ketchup adds a definite sweet flavor.

Just 20 minutes from start to finish and you'll have the easiest and ultimate sloppy joes!

Some tips about making the perfect sloppy joes:

  • 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.
  • I personally 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 yellow or red. 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 pan like I do with the Philly Cheese Steak Sloppy Joes.
  • The BUN! I always make sure to toast my bun before adding the filling. I find if you don’t your bun may get too soggy, too quickly. (psst, I also butter mine, but only because that makes it even more delicious)
  • If you would like to use leftovers you may have in another recipe, just use the method found in my  Ground Philly Cheesesteak Grilled Cheese and you’ll be in heaven!

The Ultimate Sloppy joes are EASY and delicious and done in just 20 minutes!


  • Add the ingredients (minus the cheese and buns) to the slow cooker and cook on low for 4 hours.
  • Add the cheese (if using cheese) and stir once you’re ready to serve.


Ultimate Sloppy Joes made in just 20 minutes with a rich tomato gravy and melted cheese. Your family will ask for them all the time!

Tools Used in the making of these Ultimate Sloppy Joes:
Cast Iron Skillet: This is my most used pan in my kitchen, heavy, keeps heat well and gives the BEST sear ever.
Chef’s Knife: This knife is one of the three most used tools in my kitchen (tongs and my pig tail flipper are the other two). I love it, I’ve had it for almost 10 years and it is as sharp today as the day I got it. (left column, second from the top). Mind you I love it this much even though I have a ridiculously expense knife set as well.


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Ultimate Sloppy Joes

  • Yield: 6 Servings
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Course: Main Course
  • Cuisine: American
  • Author: Sabrina
Ultimate Sloppy Joes made in just 20 minutes with a rich tomato gravy and melted cheese. Your family will ask for them all the time!


  • 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 ground black pepper


Note: click on times in the instructions to start a kitchen timer while cooking.

  1. Add the ground beef to a large cast iron skillet (this browns very well) and brown until a deep brown crust appears before breaking the beef apart.
  2. Stir the ground beef and brown until a deep crust appears on about 50 or so percent of the beef.
  3. Remove the beef and drain the fat.
  4. Add the butter, onions and bell pepper to the pan.
  5. Let brown for 1-2 minutes before stirring, then let brown for another 1-2 minutes before stirring again.

  6. Add the beef back into the pan.
  7. Add the garlic, mustard, ketchup, brown sugar, salt, black pepper, to the pan.
  8. Cook until the mixture is only slightly liquidy (about 75% of the mixture is above liquid), 3-5 minutes.

  9. Served on toasted brioche buns.

Nutrition Information

Yield: 6 Servings, Amount per serving: 176 calories, Calories: 176g, Carbohydrates: 13g, Protein: 16g, Fat: 5g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 51mg, Sodium: 536mg, Potassium: 386mg, Sugar: 11g, Vitamin A: 5g, Vitamin C: 12.2g, Calcium: 1.7g, Iron: 10.9g

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Keyword: Ultimate Sloppy Joes
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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!

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.


Beef Main Course Main Dishes Meat & Seafood Recipe Sandwiches Sloppy Joes

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  1. Yum!!! We made this for dinner tonight. Not sure if mustard is normally in sloppy Joe’s but I loved the use here. Great recipe. Definitely will make often. 

  2. I have made this recipe several times and doubled or tripled it for a crowd.  It is always a hit! I don’t put quite as much brown sugar in and add a little Worcestershire sauce as we didn’t prefer quite as much sweetness.  It is definitely a favorite at our house! 

  3. I just made this today. I am vegan so I used veggie crumbles. It’s super tasty. The only change I made was i added a teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce to add some more tanginess. I feel I only needed to add that because of the bland flavor of the crumbles.

    Thanks for a great recipe I will make over and over again!


  4. Sloppy Joe’s aren’t always my favorite, but these are better than most every other one I’ve had. My husband, on the other hand, loves sloppy Joes and loves these. I added a couple (6) small dashes of mild pepper sauce to mine for a little kick. Very good. Thanks.

    1. It’s probably a bit smaller. I would say to yield 6 servings, the size would be about 1/3 cup. It also depends on how fatty your beef is. The more fat, the less meat left over after cooking down. I hope this helps.

  5. Best Sloppy Joe’s ever!! I added a can of pork and beans to stretch the already doubled recipe to feed 9. We loved the beans in it so will probably do it again next time. I also added Worcestershire sauce and shredded cheddar. I served on grilled Texas toast. Yummy! 

  6. Wow! I made them last night for my boyfriend and I (cravings!!)
    Not a fan of mustard so we skipped that and added more ketchup instead. as well as a little more brown sugar to get that sweetness. As per the recipe, we pre-buttered brioche buns before toasting them 350F in a conventional oven, for 5 minutes.

    So good!! Although I just wished it would have been a brighter red colour to the sauce so it would look good for an instagram post haha
    Taste wise, I’ve been told that it “tastes so f*king good” and is “bomb”. Definitely a new dish for future work potlucks too. Thank you!!

  7. i try and make as much home made food for me and my small family of 4 our girls are so picky but when i make this they jump up and down in the kitchen screaming yay so thanks for making this mom and dads dinner time easier 🙂

  8. Made this last night and it was DELICIOUS!!  My son devoured it and asked for me. 
    I didn’t have an onion and used celery instead.  Thanks for a great recipe!!

  9. I don’t see brown mustard in the recipe, so i am confused….

    I thought the recipe calls for YELLOW mustard. Please explain. Thank you

    1. Sorry for the confusion…yes, the recipe calls for YELLOW mustard. Looks like I need more coffee before responding at times, haha!

  10. Thank you for the recipe 🙂
    Just made this for lunch today and apparently my beef is dry from the beginning. I didn’t need to cook it down since there’s no liquid from the beginning. What did I do wrong? ?

  11. I love your recipes but you sight is so overwhelmingly filled with adds it’s hard to copy down the recipe (yes copy I don’t print them) because every time a new add loads the page jumps, kind of a big bummer

  12. These are the absolute best Sloppy Joes we have ever eaten. I cannot get over how easy and quick these were to make. I won’t buy a package mix again that’s for sure! I followed the instructions exactly, with the exception of using ground turkey because we can’t do beef. The sauce is beautiful and thick, and the aroma as everything came together – exceptional! My 2 year old grandson ate his entire meal in one sitting, and said it was delicious! Thank you so very much for sharing this recipe.

    1. I know how hard it is to please little kids in the food department, so I take that as a huge compliment!! So glad you all love it!

    1. Absolutely! I’d toast the buns right before eating instead of making sandwiches ahead of time, but there’s no reason the meat can’t rest in the fridge for a day.

  13. Any time I have ever made sloppy joes I would just use Manwhich and thought it was pretty good. I made this recipe tonight and it is sooooo much better that the canned stuff. So glad I tried it! I will make this from now on for sure.

  14. Loved it!!!! This recipe is gonna be a staple in my house…it was really easy to make and I love the taste of this over canned sloppy joe sauce. Thank you!!!!

  15. Made it. Husband went for seconds, so I’d say it was a success. I added a few shakes of worcestershire sauce to give a little depth. Way better than the canned stuff and not too much work. A good meal for the work week. I served with corn on the cob.

  16. Just found this recipe and had to try it. My girlfriend and I added Mountain Zinfadil red wine to the vegies as they were softening, 1/4 cup to a doubled up recipe, and it came out marvelous.

  17. Yum! I added a little cayenne and Worcestershire to add a little spunk and it turned out beautifully! Even my picky S/O liked it and before now he said “hated” sloppy Joe’s! It was so simple and called for ingredients i always have on hand! Even when I don’t have fresh beef or fresh onion and pepper, I always have some frozen! Added to my recipe cards for easy access for those “what to do” nights! Thanks!

  18. I made this recipe for dinner and it tasted too much like ketchup and was a little bland. I would recommend adding a second clove of garlic, one or two teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce, more black pepper, and a pinch more salt.

  19. I added the brown sugar to the pepper and onion mixture after they cooked for a bit in order for the sugar to dissolve. This is very tasty and so easy!

  20. I found this tasted too much like ketchup–but a tablespoon of chili powder did the trick! I tossed in some oregano and thyme, too. (Brown mustard would also be good.) Good consistency for a traditional Sloppy Joe! I added a cup of grated carrot for some invisible veggies.

  21. Made this tonight and it was so easy and delicious. I added a bit of beef broth to add some moisture back. Also subbed 1 tablespoon of worcestershire sauce for 1 tablespoon of the brown sugar. Also- if you like the tanginess of goat cheese, it tasted AMAZING with it. Would definitely make again. Only thing I would change is make 1.25 lbs of beef next time since it’s a little short of enough for 6 brioche buns.

  22. Not rocket science and nothing new. How sloppy joes have been made for forty years.
    But for those of you who are new to making sloppy joes. This is the recipe to follow.

  23. Yep. This recipe is written with great care, which always draws our attention. We thought 2 Tsp was a lot of sugar, so we used 2 tsp instead, and we melted 1 anchovie with the onions like one would for a ragu.

  24. Just made this, so tasty! Just exactly like sloppy joes are supposed to be. I always wing it and sometimes it wouldn’t come out right, then I saw this recipe and the ingredients were very close to mine so now I have the correct measurements so they’ll come out great every time!

  25. I like to add chopped celery to sloppy joes; in about half as much as the onions and/or peppers. I think it adds a depth to the mixture; maybe it’s just that my mom always did this and I liked hers a lot. Made these according to your directions, though, and they were very good. I have to make a bunch of these for an upcoming event, a big batch of beef sloppy joes, a fairly large batch of chicken or turkey sloppy joes, and a small lentil or jackfruit version. Will probably use your recipe for them, just varying the protein. May or may not add the celery this time, but thanks for a great recipe.

  26. I made this with bear meat, and opted out of peppers (ick!). But I added mushrooms and a couple splashes of Worcestershire sauce. Bear meat is really lean, so I didn’t have any grease to drain off. We didn’t have any cheese, so that was out, too. I served it on toasted sourdough hoagie rolls. This was shockingly easy to make, and actually took the amount of time listed to make, which never happens to me. Holy crow, they were delicious–my two-year-olds loved them! I am way less than stellar in the kitchen, so I’m counting the success of these “sloppy bears” as a major victory!

  27. I made these last night. I’d used 3 cloves of garlic to start with (we were in the mood for garlic), but I’m afraid we thought the final result tasted bland. I ended up adding extra salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and then some vinegar from pickled banana peppers. They all helped a bit, but it just didn’t taste like Sloppy Jo sauces I’ve made over the years. I even accidentally used too much yellow mustard to start with, and was afraid it would taste too sharp, but it just tasted like something was missing. I feel badly that we didn’t like it – it was not terrible, by any means, it just didn’t taste like what we were expecting.

  28. I Wanted to make Sloppy Joes this afternoon and needed the recipe for the sauce after scouring the pantree and finding no Manwich. Very Delicious! I will continue to make this insted of buying the can. Thank you!

  29. Without a doubt, BEST sloppy joe recipe EVER!!! This is my #1 go to sloppy jo that I go to every time! Never, ever will I buy that canned stuff again!

  30. Why must every recipe on the Internet come with a long-winded tale? I don’t want to know your life story, foodies. I just want a damn recipe.

    1. Below the title of every recipe at the top of the page is a “jump to recipe” button. Click on that and it’ll take you right there.

  31. Love this recipe. Huge hit with my wife. I want to make this in the slow cooker so I have a question about that. Do you brown the beef before adding it to the slow cooker or add beef uncooked?

  32. Great recipe for the Ultimate Sloppy Joes !!!!! These are awesome!!! I added some siracha and BBQ sauce and Worcestershire and jalapeño peppers to add a little spice ?

  33. Awesome recipe I would totally recommend this to anyone!!! I just added some jalapeño peppers and Worcestershire and siracha and used half ketchup and half tomato sauce!!?