Sloppy Joes

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Heather says:

I know a can of sloppy joe sauce is easy, but it’s often loaded with high fructose corn syrup, something we work hard to avoid. This recipe is our go-to alternative. If you’re also trying to cut out hfcs, be sure to check the label on your hamburger buns. Oh, and even though you get a “serving” of vegetables with every sandwich, it’s still a good idea to serve some on the side.

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Homemade Sloppy Joes

Sloppy Joe Recipe

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 1 small bell pepper diced
  • 2 8oz cans tomato sauce
  • 2 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1 tsp Montreal steak seasoning
  • 3 TBSP brown sugar
  • 1 TSP Worcestershire sauce

Over medium heat brown then drain the ground beef. Return to the heat and add diced onions and peppers, cook until the onions and bell peppers are soft. Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, brown sugar, Montreal Steak Seasoning, and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to low and cook for an additional five – ten minutes stirring occasionally. Serve on toasted buns.

Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

Suggested sides:

PS This turns out better if you sing along with Adam Sandler and Lunchlady Land1:
1Any offense to any specific lunchlady is not intentional and if taken should be directed to Adam Sandler for planting the song in my head back in the early to mid-nineties.

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24 thoughts on “Sloppy Joes”

  1. My mother used to feed us what she called "Sloppy Joes" but was not in any way a classic recipe. She used a pound of browned hamburger, a can of Campbell's Chicken Gumbo soup (no water added), and a tablespoon or two each of mustard and ketchup. It sounds weird but it is delish. I have since come across this combo in a couple of fifties cookbooks.

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  3. Renaming food does work. I usually tell my oldest we're having brains or some other disgusting thing for dinner. I'm not a fan of the sweetness of sloppy joes from a can (add to that my mom being diabetic and all) so I leave out the sugar and worchestershire sauce. Other than that, you've pretty much got my recipe.

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  5. I love those little bread things, whatever they are called, that are in the picture. They make great hamburger buns too.

    For some reason my kids refuse to eat sloppy Joes. I think if we named them something else they might. I believe they are just picky due to food titling.

    • We don't buy regular bread anymore. I'm way too big a fan of those sandwich thins. 5g of fiber? No HFCS? I don't have to knead it? Sold.

      Regardless of what we're having, if my kids ask the answer is always: butter beans, boogers and snot, or monkey brains. Why? Whatever we're actually having is preferable in their minds to those options.
      Teens are too old for that tactic, but I'll hang onto it as long as possible.

      • Tell my kids "boogers and snot" and they will reply with "well, that is sure what it tastes like"! Get ready for teenagers. In response, we have started having them cook. They actually enjoy it.

        Knead? Bread? What?!

      • Ha! I make these all the time (similar recipe from rachael ray, it's almost verbatim actually and it's great, and i usually serve them with roasted broccoli, my favorite!). my 4-year-old son loves them almost as much as my husband and i do but doesn't like that they are sloppy so he calls them "very neat joes." and he wants me to help him eat them so they don't get all over the place. i have tried explaining that the sloppiness is part of the fun but that hasn't worked yet. so i've just silently thanked him for not making a huge tomatoey mess everywhere while eating a pretty nutritious dinner 🙂

        • Could you send your kid over here to teach my 6yo a thing about eating neatly?

          I really have no idea where I got this recipe, it was on an index card in my recipe box and it's been on the site since May of 07, but I reposted it here with new pictures. (My photography has improved a bit) 😉

          • i didn't mean to imply that you stole the recipe or anything like that – only that it's really good. i think these are fairly standard ingredients for a sloppy joe so i'm sure there's no funny business going on 🙂

            i'll work on sending my kid over, although i have a feeling you might just be trading one mess for another in that regard. i am quite liberal in loaning out my kid. he is always available, you don't even need a library card!

            • Oh Jen, I didn’t take it that way. Aside from that, the recipe, as written, isn’t copyrightable. Anyone can repost it or print it to their heart’s content.

              As my kids get bigger it seems to be a more the merrier thing around here. They don’t bicker as much when other kids are over. 🙂

    • Oh, DO try the re-naming, carnellm!

      My son, when he was very small, would NOT eat gravy – so we called it SAUCE, and he would eat it and ask for more.

      My one brother in law, so I am told, when he was a kid, refused to eat TUNA, but would eat CHICKEN OF THE SEA (a brand name of tuna, at least in these parts, not sure if it's national)

      So, it can work. You just have to find the right name.

  6. I have huge issues with canned sloppy joe mixes…mostly because of the funny aftertaste, partially because my mom served "Manwiches" like crazy when I was growing up, but now because I can whip together my own. Thanks for sharing a great recipe to try!

  7. Suggest reading the label on your Worcestershire sauce…there was HFCS in every bottle I looked at last time I went shopping and am going to have to look for an alternative at the expensive organic market. Heather, is there any way to make your own?

  8. Am I the only one that thinks a 'sloppy joe' is a deli sandwich? I'd never even heard of sloppy joe's like this until I went to college.

    Lunchlady Land rocks!

  9. We just had sloppy joe's last night, so it was weird to see your post. I have a recipe I like pretty well from the LA Times cookbook, but I'll try this one. However, I don't know what Montreal steak seasoning is. I'll see if my store has it.

    The video is funny and I've never seen it before. It makes me feel a bit bad for the lunch ladies though–the ones at our school are so different from that. They're youngish moms who are pretty together and athletic for the most part. I recall those from my high school though, and some might fit Adam Sandler's stereotype.

    • It's not meant to be a personal insult to any specific lunchlady, rather I included it because Adam Sandler was a huge part of my high school experience. Saturday meant staying up for SNL and spending the next day quoting Adam Sandler and Rob Schneider.


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