The Best Homemade Old-Fashioned Sloppy Joes Recipe

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Sloppy Joes are a family favorite dinner that we enjoy time and again! It’s a delicious one-pot meal filled with simple ingredients and all the delicious flavors from my childhood. Your family will love this best homemade old-fashioned sloppy joes recipe because it’s delicious and you’ll love it because it’s going into your rotation of easy dinners!

Finished and Assembled Sloppy Joe sandwich on a blue plate

A Sloppy Joe dinner was always one of my favorite dinners when I was growing up. I have my mom’s recipe and often make it for my family. I didn’t know until a few years ago that this was actually my Mamaw’s original sloppy joe recipe, and it’s a dinner my mom had growing up through her childhood, too. Somehow that little nugget of information made the recipe that much more dear to my heart. Besides the nostalgia, homemade Sloppy Joes are also a wonderful one-pot weeknight dinner, and it’s just hard to go wrong with a classic Sloppy Joe recipe. And as a bonus, there are leftovers, and they only get better the next day. So here we go Sloppy Joe fans… let’s get cooking!

Ingredients

Ingredients for Classic Homemade Sloppy Joes including ground beef, yellow onion, celery, brown sugar, worcestershire sauce, ketchup, vinegar and ground mustard
  • Ground beef (I tend to use lean ground beef, like 90/10 or even 93/7)
  • Yellow onion
  • Water
  • ketchup
  • Celery
  • Salt
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Brown sugar
  • Dry mustard
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Hamburger buns

Recommended Equipment

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  • Large non-stick skillet – I like this one because it comes with a lid. If I’m going to buy a pan or pot I like to have as many options to use it as possible!
  • Santoku Knife – You don’t have to go out and buy a nice knife. BUT, if you were in the market for a knife, this is the one I couldn’t do without, and the one I go for time and time again. It’s wonderfully and beautifully made. I’ve had this knife for over 10 years and it’s my favorite thing in my entire kitchen. You truly do get what you pay for in knives. These are made in Germany but are widely sold in the United States now. You can go way higher in quality as well, this is just a starting point.
  • Cutting Board – I’ve had these for years and I love them. Mine are red! They are the perfect sizes, easy to store, and have a little groove around the edges to stop juices from flowing all over. This is the cutting board I go to time and time again when I’m cooking.
  • Bamboo Spoon Set – I love to use Bamboo spoons for cooking and stirring in the kitchen! They come in so many shapes and sizes that are just perfect for every kitchen job! I love these wooden spoons!
  • Braising Pan – This is my favorite kitchen pan. It’s expensive, but I use it all the time and it’s just fantastic. My favorite brand is Le Creuset, but you could get any brand that fits your needs! I love that this transfers from stovetop to oven perfectly!

Cooking Instructions

I think these are just the very best sloppy joes. Let’s dive in and get cooking!

Step 1

Raw ground beef cooking in a skillet with chopped up celery and onions.

Add raw ground beef to a large skillet (that has a lid) and add in the celery and onions along with a pinch of salt and pepper and cook over medium heat. 

Step 2

Drain the brown ground beef and return to the skillet. 

Step 3

Ingredients for Sloppy Joes sauce poured over cooked ground beef, ready to be stirred together to make sauce.

Add in the water, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, dry mustard, and apple cider vinegar. This makes the sloppy Joe sauce!

Step 4

Sloppy Joe recipe simmering on the stove and cooking down the sauce in a large skillet

Mix well and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. 

Step 5

Skillet with sloppy joes cooking with a lid on the pot, still on heat on the stove.

Put the lid on and turn the heat down to medium-low and let simmer, while stirring occasionally) for about 30 minutes.

Step 6

Sloppy Joes finished and ready to go on sandwiches still in the skillet.

Once the sauce has thickened to the desired consistency, turn off the heat and let sit for about 5 minutes while you warm up the buns in the oven for just a few minutes. 

Step 7

Classic 1950's Sloppy Joe recipe on a toasted bun with french fries and ketchup on the side

Serve on warm buns with warm potato fries, chips, or salad! You can decide what you want, but I do love toasted hamburger buns for sloppy joes. 

Substitutions and Additions

Meat Substitutions

If you’d prefer a slightly healthier meal, you can substitute the ground meat ingredient for ground turkey or ground chicken in this recipe perfectly. I’m not a huge fan of ground turkey, but to be honest, it soaks up all the flavors of the sloppy joes and it’s truly just as good as the beef. Same with the ground chicken. 

Ketchup

Some people are really not ketchup fans. And I’m one of them. HOWEVER, the ketchup truly does cook down to a nice flavor. But if ketchup is just a deal breaker for you, you are welcome to use some alternates like a can of tomato sauce (15 ounces) instead of your cup of ketchup or a few tablespoons of tomato paste with a few tablespoons of water.

Additions:

This is a classic sloppy joes recipe, but there is always room for improvement and additions! Add in a medium onion! A green pepper! Add in some (not all of these together please!) Dijon mustard, chili powder, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, or I’m really loving garlic salt (or all of these!) for a little more flavor! Want even more zing? Use half chili sauce and half ketchup. Or half BBQ sauce and half ketchup! Throw in some crushed red pepper flakes if you want some spicy sloppy joes. I love this tangy sloppy Joe sauce just the way it is.

Sloppy Joe Side Dishes:

We love to have our sloppy joes with Orida’s Crispy Crowns. Here are some suggestions for side dishes for sloppy joe sandwiches:

  • Sweet Potato Fries
  • Potato Chips
  • Hash Browns
  • French Fries
  • Salad

Leftovers and Storage

Leftover sloppy joe filling is best stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. 

Freezing Instructions

This recipe freezes beautifully. Just put any leftover sloppy joes ground beef filling into a freezer bag and put it into the freezer for up to 3 months. Even if it’s just one serving of sloppy joe mixture, I’ll put it away in the freezer for a fun warm lunch one day soon.

Reheating Instructions

I reheat the sloppy joe in the microwave and then make a sloppy joe sandwich with a toasted bun. 

Frequently Asked Questions

I don’t like celery – what other vegetable could I use for classic sloppy joes?

Celery isn’t for everyone! You could absolutely use a diced green bell pepper (or any color bell pepper for that matter!). It will change the flavor a little, but no big deal. Red, yellow, and orange bell peppers will make the mixture a little sweeter. 

Can’t I just use a can of Manwich?

You totally could, that canned sauce is pretty good. It’s not quite the same flavor, but it’s a quick alternative and it’s alright! I just like making mine from scratch and smelling the wonderful smell while it simmers on the stove. 

Can you make this recipe in the slow cooker?

You probably could, I’ve honestly never tried it. But honestly, by the time you brown the beef and assemble the sauce in the slow cooker, it’s just as quick to make the recipe on the stovetop.

Finished and Assembled Sloppy Joe sandwich on a blue plate

Wrap-Up – The Best Homemade Old-Fashioned Sloppy Joes Recipe

This easy sloppy joes recipe is one of the classic recipes of my childhood, and it is a perfect dinner for the whole family still today! It’s such an easy weeknight meal and always popular at our house.  I can’t wait to hear what you think about this recipe! Or to hear how you changed it and made it your own! Don’t forget to send pictures! Until then, just keep cooking… and just keep shuffling!

Classic homemade Sloppy Joe Sandwich on a bun on a blue plate

The Best Homemade Old-Fashioned Sloppy Joes Recipe

Print Recipe
Sloppy Joes are a family favorite dinner that we enjoy time and again! It's a delicious one-pot meal filled with all the delicious flavors from my childhood. Your family will love this best homemade old-fashioned sloppy joes recipe!
Prep Time:15 minutes
Cook Time:45 minutes
Total Time:1 hour

Equipment

  • 1 Large Skillet
  • 1 cutting board
  • 1 Santuko Knife
  • 1 Wooden Spoon

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds Ground Beef
  • 1 large Yellow Onion Finely Diced
  • ¾ cup Water
  • 1 cup Ketchup
  • 1 cup Celery Finely Diced
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 TBSP Brown Sugar Light or Dark Brown Sugar is fine.
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • teaspoons Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 6 medium Hamburger Buns

Instructions

  • Add raw ground beef to a large skillet (that has a lid) and add in the celery and onions along with a pinch of salt and pepper. 
    2 pounds Ground Beef, 1 large Yellow Onion, 1 cup Celery
  • Drain the ground beef and return to skillet. 
  • Add in the water, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, dry mustard and apple cider vinegar.
    ¾ cup Water, 1 cup Ketchup, 1 teaspoon Salt, 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce, 2 TBSP Brown Sugar, 1 teaspoon dry mustard, 1½ teaspoons Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Mix well and bring to a simmer. 
  • Put the lid on and turn the heat down to medium-low and let simmer, while stirring occasionally) for about 30 minutes.
  • Once the sauce has thickened, turn of heat and let sit for about 5 minutes while you warm up the buns in the oven for just a few minutes. 
  • Serve on warm buns with warm potato fries, chips or salad!
    6 medium Hamburger Buns

Nutrition

Serving: 1Sandwich | Calories: 578kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 14g | Trans Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 107mg | Sodium: 1155mg | Potassium: 707mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 17g | Vitamin A: 286IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 119mg | Iron: 5mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: 1950’s Sloppy Joes Recipe, Classic Sloppy Joes, Old-Fashioned Sloppy Joes, One Pot Sloppy Joes, Sloppy Joes
Servings: 6
Calories: 578kcal
Cost: 15

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