Ultimate Sloppy Joes

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Classic Sloppy Joes in just 20 minutes with a rich homemade tomato gravy, bell peppers and melted cheese on hamburger buns.

Classic comfort food recipes are favorites on the sites 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 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.

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!

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 topped with cheese. In my ten years of working as a chef, I’ve not had a single kid refuse these sloppy joes.

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

We’ve have others flavors, from Philly Cheese SteakBacon Cheeseburger, to Pizza too so if you love these Classic Sloppy Joes you should definitely try out more (my husband’s favorite is the Bacon, Beer and Cheese Sloppy Joes)!

If you don’t believe me on 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.

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.

What to serve with Sloppy Joes:

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

Homemade Sloppy Joes on Hamburger Bun

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  • 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 1/4 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.
  • 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 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: 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!

How To Make Slow Cooker Sloppy Joes:

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

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 cheese and buns).
  • Add the lid and set the pressure to high for ten minutes.
  • Release the pressure naturally for five minutes, open the top and either mix in the cheese or use it as a topping when scooped onto hamburger buns.


Ultimate Sloppy Joes with ground beef

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Ultimate Sloppy Joes

5 from 70 votes
  • Yield: 6 Servings
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Course: Main Course
  • Cuisine: American
  • Author: Sabrina Snyder

Classic Sloppy Joes in just 20 minutes with a rich homemade tomato gravy, bell peppers and melted cheese on hamburger buns.


  • 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 skillet (this browns very well) on high heat 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, and it is cooked through, then remove the beef, drain the fat and add the butter, onions and bell pepper to the pan.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. Served on hamburger buns with cheese or mix the cheese into the sloppy joe meat mixture.

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: 250g, Vitamin C: 10.1g, Calcium: 17g, Iron: 2g

All images and text © for Dinner, then Dessert.

Keyword: Ultimate Sloppy Joes

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!

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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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!

  5. 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

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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!!

  9. 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!

  10. 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

  11. 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 ?

  12. 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.

  13. 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!

  14. 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…

  15. 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!!