Homemade sloppy joes recipes of all kinds. WAY better than a copycat Manwich sauce from scratch with ground beef, turkey, lentils and more options. You can make each one into sliders, sloppy joe bread bowls, over tater tots or on pizza!
Below is where our homemade sloppy joes recipes all began, with the basic 3 ingredients. If you have never made it from scratch yes it is that easy. Every other secret ingredient you might add just adds to the salty or sweet nature of your tweak. You can make spicy too for sure if you like. (affiliate links present)
What Are Sloppy Joes
Sloppy Joes are a popular American dish that typically start with a soft hamburger bun. It is then filled with a mixture of ground beef, onions, and tomato type of sauce. The sauce usually includes ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and other seasonings.
The mixture is cooked until it has a thick and saucy consistency, and it is then spooned onto the bun. The dish is called “sloppy” because it is messy to eat, with the sauce often spilling out of the bun. These messy burgers are often served as a quick and easy lunch or dinner option. They are a classic comfort food in many parts of the United States.
What Meat Can You Use to Make Sloppy Joes
The most common meat used to make Sloppy Joes is lean ground beef. However, you can also use other ground meats such as ground turkey, chicken, or pork as a substitute. Meat free and vegan versions can also be made. Using textured vegetable protein, lentils, or other meat alternatives you’d use the same sauce.
The meat or meat substitute is usually cooked in a skillet. You can make slow cooker sloppy joes low and slow too. Added in with onions and other vegetables until browned, it is then combined with a tomato sauce. Different seasonings are added to make this saucy ketchup style mixture.
What are Sloppy Joes Slang
You may have heard of this in a different way but know what I am talking about. Depending on the different area you live in you may have heard of this as Slush burgers, Yum Yum, a Dynamite, Maid Rite sandwiches, Spoonburger or possibly the awesome Tavern sandwich
Sloppy Joe Secret Ingredient
There are many variations of this classic dish. Different cooks may have their own secret ingredients to make the dish uniquely their own. Here are a few possible secret ingredients that could take your Sloppy Joes to the next level:
- Hot sauce or chili powder: Adding a little heat to the Sloppy Joes sauce can give it a spicy kick and enhance the flavor with your salt and pepper.
- Liquid smoke: A few drops of liquid smoke can give the mixture a smoky flavor that is reminiscent of barbecue.
- Mustard: Adding mustard to the beef mixture can give it a tangy flavor and help balance out the sweetness of the ketchup.
- Soy sauce: A splash of soy sauce and garlic powder can add depth of flavor and umami to the sauce mixture.
- Brown sugar: Adding a little brown sugar can enhance the sweetness of the tomato-based sauce and give the Instant Pot Sloppy Joes a slightly caramelized flavor. An under 20 minute meal my kids are obsessed with.
- Dill pickle relish is another favorite with your thickened tomato sauce mixture in your large skillet.
Remember that the key to great loose meat sandwich recipes is finding the right balance of flavors that you enjoy. Experiment with different ingredients until you find the perfect recipe for you.
Recipes with Sloppy Joe Meat
These are just a few ideas for using this messy saucy meat in creative ways. Feel free to experiment and come up with your own unique dishes too. If you find a new favorite we haven’t mentioned let us know below. We’d love to try it and add it to the list!
- Sloppy Joe Nachos: Layer tortilla chips or tater tots with your sauced meat, shredded cheese, and any other desired toppings, such as diced tomatoes, sliced jalapenos, or sliced black olives. Bake in the oven until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
- Sloppy Joe Tacos: Use the meat as a filling for air fryer tacos, along with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, and shredded cheese. Top with sour cream or guacamole, if desired.
- Sloppy Joe Stuffed Peppers: You can use our stuffed bell peppers recipe here. You just remove the seeds and membranes. Stuff each pepper with your meat mixture and top with shredded cheese. Bake in the oven until the peppers are tender and the cheese is melted.
- Sloppy Joe Baked Potatoes: Follow our the best way to make baked potatoes steps until tender. Top with loose meat, shredded cheese, and sour cream.
- Shepherd’s Pie instant potatoes recipe by layering the meat in the bottom of a baking dish, then top with mashed potatoes and shredded cheese. Bake in the oven until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
Texas Toast sloppy joes round out just a few ideas that are so fun and the kids just love!
These are going to taste the same as on hamburger buns but on a smaller scale. Hawaiian buns bring a bit of sweetness to the dish. A fun appetizer for a party.
Different ways to make sloppy joes
These are just a few ideas for different ways to make Sloppy Joes. Don’t be afraid to experiment and come up with your own unique recipes based on your preferences and available ingredients. Classic: Cook ground beef in a skillet with onions, add tomato sauce, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, and mustard powder. Simmer until the mixture thickens, then serve on hamburger buns.
Spicy: Add diced jalapenos or hot sauce to the mix to give it a spicy kick. BBQ: Use BBQ sauce instead of ketchup in the sauce for a smoky and sweet flavor.
Pizza: Add chopped pepperoni, diced green peppers, and shredded mozzarella cheese to the Sloppy Joes mixture. Spoon the mixture onto hamburger buns and bake in the oven until the cheese is melted and golden browned.
Sloppy Joe Casserole: Layer cooked macaroni and cheese in the bottom of a baking dish, then spoon Sloppy Joes mixture on top. Sprinkle with shredded cheese and bake in the oven just until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
You can use lentils too as a meat alternative in the mixture. Add sautéed mushrooms and diced carrots for extra flavor and texture. We have a simple version below made over medium high heat on the stove to follow. Jump to recipe and get started on this dinner idea!
Want to see a few of my favorite things that I am totally obsessed with?? Take a peek and see how many you might already have…twinsies!
Homemade Sloppy Joes Recipes
- 1 cast iron skillet
- Add a touch of olive oil into skillet on medium high heat and add your onions and bell peppers. Cook for a few minutes to soften, then add meat and break up.
- Cook until meat has only a bit of pink to it. Then add all other ingredients and fold those in, lower heat to low. Cook on low for another 5 minutes stirring intermittently.
- Turn heat off, put lid on and let sit for 10 minutes at least and then serve.