Old Fashioned Sloppy Joes Recipe (2024)

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Our Old Fashioned Sloppy Joes recipe is the real deal! These quick and delicious sloppy joes come together in under 30 minutes for a perfect weeknight meal. Even better, this dish requires a handful of simple pantry staples and just ONE pan! This little bite of Americana is so simple, quick, and satisfying.

Old Fashioned Sloppy Joes Recipe (1)
Jump to:
  • πŸ€” What are Sloppy Joes?
  • πŸ₯« What Goes into the Sauce?
  • 🍞Bread for this Old Fashioned Sloppy Joes Recipe
  • πŸ›’ Ingredients
  • πŸ‘©β€πŸ³ Instructions
  • 🍟 What to Serve with Sloppy Joes
  • 🧊 Storing and Reheating Sloppy Joes
  • ❓FAQ
  • πŸ§‚ Variations
  • πŸ‘ΆπŸΌ Modify Sloppy Joes for Picky Eaters
  • 🧢 Craft for this Recipe
  • 🍽 Other Sandwiches We Love
  • Old Fashioned Sloppy Joes Recipe

Our Grandma Dorothy used to make the most amazing Sloppy Joes. She passed the recipe down to our mom and our mom passed it down to us. So, this here is a bonafide, Old Fashioned Sloppy Joes family recipe for y'all...and one that doesn't involve a can of Manwich πŸ™‚ Bonus: this recipe is pretty darn customizable for different dietary needs.

Note: If you love quick and simple sandwiches, be sure to try our incredible Roast Beef Sliders, our Turkey Burger Sliders or this simple Philly Cheesesteak sandwich.

πŸ€” What are Sloppy Joes?

The Sloppy Joe sandwich is an American dish that consists of ground beef, onion, a tomato-based sauce with Worcestershire sauce and other seasonings. It's served on a hamburger bun. You may also recall Sloppy Joes as the "peacemaker food" from the beloved SNL skit "Lunch Lady Land" featuring Adam Sandler.

Apparently there is some debate about the origins of the Sloppy Joe sandwich, and why the sandwiches are called 'sloppy joes'. The most popular theory traces the Sloppy Joe back to mid-20th century Iowa.According to wonderopolis.org, a chef from Iowa named Joe added tomato sauce to his "loose" meat sandwiches, and the Sloppy Joe was born!

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Note: If your kids loves sandwiches, be sure to also check out these10 Best Sliders for Kids! Quick, delicious and perfect for little hands!

πŸ₯« What Goes into the Sauce?

While many Sloppy Joe recipes call for Ketchup or a simple tomato sauce, we prefer Chili sauce for its added spice and flavor. For our Old Fashioned Sloppy Joes recipe, we combine our chili sauce with cheddar cheese, mustard and Worcestershire sauce.

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🍞Bread for this Old Fashioned Sloppy Joes Recipe

We prefer traditional hamburger buns, but choose a bun that your family likes best! Brioche buns, pretzel rolls, sandwich rolls or even Texas toast are other great options. To make this dish even more kid-friendly, consider using slider buns which are perfect for little hands.

πŸ›’ Ingredients

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Notes on Ingredients:

  • Sauce- We love the flavor of Heinz Chili sauce. However, a simple tomato sauce or Ketchup may also be used for the sauce.
  • Meat- While we like ground beef in our Old Fashioned Sloppy Joes recipe, ground turkey (i.e., a turkey sloppy joe!), pork or chicken can also be used. Beyond Meat's Beefy Crumbles are an excellent vegan option.
  • Bread- Traditional hamburger buns are ideal, but choose a bun that your family likes best!

Note: Consider holding onto your green bell pepper stem for this adorable Peppers Art craft.

πŸ‘©β€πŸ³ Instructions

Step 1: SautΓ© Veggies

πŸ₯„ Kids Step:Help chop veggies! We're big fans of these kid-friendly knives.

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Step 2: Cook Meat

πŸ₯„ Kids Step:Use a baster to remove excess liquid from pan.* Make sure your kiddo empties the baster into an old can or jar, and you dispose of the grease in the trash (not sink drain).

Step 3: Make Sauce

πŸ₯„ Kids Step:Measure and combine sauce ingredients. We always use our tried and truePyrex Measuring Cup to measure liquid ingredients.

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Step 4: Assemble Sandwiches

πŸ₯„ Kids Step:Let kids add toppings to their Old Fashioned Sloppy Joes! They love this job!

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*Note:For toddlers especially, these tasks require adult supervision and/or assistance, as items may be sharp, hot or otherwise dangerous.

🍟 What to Serve with Sloppy Joes

We love pairing this Old Fashioned Sloppy Joes recipe with something crunchy, like potato chips or a simple pasta side, like this Creamy Vegetable Pasta or Pasta with Cream Cheese Sauce. Here are some other sides worth considering:

  • Baked potato
  • Fries or tater tots
  • Grapefruit, Avocado and Arugula Salad
  • Sliced fruit or fruit salad
  • Bow Tie Pasta Salad
  • Three Bean Salad
  • Sliced cucumbers or carrot sticks
  • Vegan Mac and Cheese
  • Coleslaw

🧊 Storing and Reheating Sloppy Joes

Store-The sloppy joe mixture can be prepared ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 2-4 days.

Freeze-The meat mixture can also be stored in the freezer in an airtight container (separate from buns) for 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.

Reheat- To reheat the meat mixture, simply place the meat in a saucepan, cover, and heat on low, stirring regularly. To thicken the sauce, stir in 1-2 tablespoons of water or beef broth. Once the meat is warmed through, spoon onto buns and serve!


Are Sloppy Joes healthy?

Sloppy Joes are typically made with ground beef, which is high in protein. To make your Sloppy Joes healthier, consider buying lean ground beef or using ground turkey or chicken. You can also add more veggies to your sandwich and cut back on the amount of cheese.

What is a Manwich?

Manwich is a brand of Sloppy Joe sauce that can be purchased in a can at the grocery store.

What toppings go on Sloppy Joes?

Many different toppings can be added to Sloppy Joes! It's common to dress your Sloppy Joe like a burger, adding things like lettuce, tomato, onion, cheese and pickles. The options are endless!

What can be used in place of chili sauce?

There are lots of potential variations to the sauce that goes into this Old Fashioned Sloppy Joes recipe. You can use tomato sauce, Ketchup or tomato paste/water as the base of the sauce. Barbecue sauce may also be used instead of a tomato-based sauce.

πŸ§‚ Variations

  • Make it Vegan! First, replace the meat with pea protein crumbles. I'm a huge fan of Beyond Meat Beefy Crumbles. I've used them for years to make vegetarian chili and it is soooo delicious. I'm definitely a meat eater and I can't tell the difference. Worth noting is that these crumbles are high in protein and also gluten-free. Second, worcestershire sauce is actually not vegan because it has anchovies. But Annie's makes a really good vegan worcestershire sauce that you can use instead. Third, obviously eliminate the cheese. Violife makes a good vegan cheese substitute. Check out their vegan cheddar cheese.
  • Make it Vegetarian! See above for replacing the beef with pea protein crumbles.
  • Make it Gluten Free! All you have to do is buy some gluten-free buns. Everything else in the recipe is gluten free. Another idea is to serve the Sloppy Joe mix on top of rice...that's delicious!
  • Make it Dairy Free! Simply ditch the cheese. Violife makes a good vegan, non-dairy cheese substitute. Check out their vegan cheddar cheese.
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πŸ‘ΆπŸΌ Modify Sloppy Joes for Picky Eaters

  • Scale to size! Anyone who's ever had a Sloppy Joe knows that it's supposed to be a big, hearty, messy sandwich. Little dudes may be more likely to eat it if you scale it to their size. Buy some King's Hawaiian Sweet Rolls and make mini Sloppy Joes. Kids will prefer a sandwich that's their size and they'll love the sweet flavor. It's also easier to have seconds this way.
  • Kids pick the sides! Popular picks for our kids are baby carrots, frozen peas, steamed broccoli, applesauce, mashed potatoes, and corn chips.

🧢 Craft for this Recipe

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Turn your recyclables into art with this adorable Cow-Themed Tissue Paper Vase! This recyclable craft can be a coin holder, vase, you name it!

🍽 Other Sandwiches We Love

  • Easy Philly Cheesesteak Recipe
  • The Easiest Turkey Burger Sliders
  • The Best Rotisserie Chicken Salad Recipe
  • The 10 Best Sliders for Kids (Quick and Simple!)

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Old Fashioned Sloppy Joes Recipe (15)

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Old Fashioned Sloppy Joes Recipe


This Old Fashioned Sloppy Joes Recipe is the real deal! Make these quick and delicious sandwiches in under 30 minutes with only ONE pan!

Prep Time10 minutes mins

Cook Time18 minutes mins

Total Time28 minutes mins

Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main Course

Cuisine: American

Servings: 6


  • 2 Tablespoon cooking oil
  • Β½ cup celery, finely chopped
  • Β½ cup green pepper, finely chopped
  • Β½ cup yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ΒΌ Teaspoon salt
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 cup chili sauce
  • 1 Β½ cups cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 Teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 2 dashes worcestershire sauce
  • 6 hamburger buns


  • Heat a large pan on low-medium heat. Add cooking oil and then saute celery, pepper, onion and garlic with the salt for 2-3 mins, stirring occasionally.

  • Increase heat to medium and add ground beef. Cook until beef is no longer pink, breaking up the beef and stirring frequently. Strain the meat (I like the fine mesh strainer that comes with this set) or use a baster to remove excess liquid when done.

  • Add in chili sauce, cheese, mustard and worcestershire sauce. Stir until well blended.

  • Spoon beef mixture onto hamburger buns and serve.


  • To plate...serve on burger buns with desired toppings. FYI, using mini, slider buns makes this a fun meal for kids.
  • If you can't find chili sauce, you can use any of these instead: tomato sauce, ketchup, tomato paste & water mix, or BBQ sauce.
  • You can easily replace the ground beef with ground turkey, ground chicken, or Beyond Meat's vegan Beefy Crumbles.


Serving: 1servingCalories: 651.26kcal (33%)Carbohydrates: 33.35g (11%)Protein: 38.58g (77%)Fat: 38.72g (60%)Saturated Fat: 13.89g (87%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 2.12gMonounsaturated Fat: 17.66gTrans Fat: 1.86gCholesterol: 113.28mg (38%)Sodium: 1215.36mg (53%)Potassium: 717.47mg (20%)Fiber: 4.19g (17%)Sugar: 8.74g (10%)Vitamin A: 453.18IU (9%)Vitamin C: 19.18mg (23%)Calcium: 236.87mg (24%)Iron: 5.04mg (28%)

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. While we are not certified nutritionists, we work with a WordPress-integrated nutrition API to calculate our recipes' ingredient values.

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Old Fashioned Sloppy Joes Recipe (2024)
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