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.
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!
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.
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.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH SLOPPY JOES:
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.
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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.
- 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!
HOW TO MAKE SLOW COOKER SLOPPY JOES:
- 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.
HOW TO MAKE INSTANT POT SLOPPY JOES:
- Brown the ground beef in the instant pot on the sauté 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.
LOOKING FOR MORE SANDWICHES?
- Slow Cooker Chicken Bacon Ranch Sandwiches (Crack Chicken)
- Ultimate Slow Cooker French Dip Sandwiches
- Slow Cooker Chicken Caesar Sandwiches
- Slow Cooker Roast Beef Sandwiches with Horseradish
- Italian Beef Sandwiches
HOW TO STORE ULTIMATE SLOPPY JOES
- 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.
- 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.
Photos used in a previous version of this post.