A homemade Sloppy Joe recipe that’s true to its name – sloppy moreish deliciousness! These Sloppy Joes are savoury and sweet with a touch of tang. Terrific freezer friendly meal option and to scale up to make vast quantities to feed a hungry crowd.
While Sloppy Joes are often touted as a quick meal option, if you have the time to let it simmer for at least 30 minutes, you’ll be rewarded with extra tender meat and extra flavour. Just clamp the lid on and walk away!
A SLOPPY JOE RECIPE TO LOVE
I read somewhere that Sloppy Joes are a “Poor man’s barbecue”, and I blinked, somewhat bemused. Because while it’s a terrifically economical meal option and easy to scale up to feed a crowd, it never crossed my mind as a choice for budget reasons.
It’s just darn tasty – and everybody loves it.
Moreish. Juicy, savoury, a touch sweet and it’s one of those things where you take a bite and it’s so good, you don’t want to talk, you just want to keep eating, until the entire Sloppy Joe sandwich is inhaled and you contemplate whether to wait the recommended 20 minutes for “stomach creep” to kick in, or just go another one right now.
HOMEMADE SLOPPY JOES!
Here in Australia, we don’t have Sloppy Joe seasoning mixes or sauces. So packet mixes aren’t an option – and even if they were, I’d still make it from scratch because it’s easy. It doesn’t require any hard to find ingredients and in fact, I’m pretty sure the ingredients that go in Sloppy Joes are standard pantry items for most people.
OK, so if you spied the ketchup in the photo below, I know this isn’t technically “made from scratch” BUT this recipe uses a lot less ketchup than many. Also, I prefer using plain crushed canned tomato rather than a flavoured canned tomato sauce and adding my own seasonings.
LIKE MAKING BOLOGNESE….
Once you’ve gathered the ingredients, it’s basically like making Bolognese. And the flavour is somewhat reminiscent of it too, except Sloppy Joes taste a bit more like BBQ Sauce.
The one big difference is that the sauce is cooked right down so it’s really thick and not saucy at all. Juicy but not saucy, otherwise it’s too wet to pile onto sliders. Nobody wants soggy Sloppy Joes!
HOW TO SERVE SLOPPY JOES
As for serving:
- The rolls – any soft bread rolls will work great, but no one has ever said NO to Sloppy Joes served on normal sliced bread!
- TOAST the bread, no matter what you use – this helps stop the Sloppy Joe filling from soaking it;
- Buttering is optional – I don’t because I can’t taste it once all that juicy filling is piled on;
- Cheese is optional for most people, but around these parts – it’s essential. Slices or grated. My favourite is Swiss or Gruyere, then Cheddar;
- Other fixings – pickles (dill pickle, onion, anything of choice!), jalapeño or chillies (fresh or canned), hot sauce (if you like a kick!). For crunch, try corn chips/fritos or Slaw (see note below).
On the side – in the States, the Sloppy Joes I had came with crisps on the side. I wouldn’t do that for a meal, but for gatherings, I love the idea of laying out a big pot of Sloppy Joe filling, a basket of warm buns and bowls of crisps!
For a meal option, try serving it with this Everyday Cabbage Salad (which is my non-mayo Slaw). That would work well as it can be the side salad or be used in the Sloppy Joe Sandwiches. A classic mayo-based Coleslaw is also an option, but I think the Sloppy Joe Sauce works better with the fresher no-mayonnaise Slaw.
And don’t forget – this is ideal freezer food! Make a BIG BATCH and freeze in serving size portions!! – Nagi x
WATCH HOW TO MAKE IT
Sometimes it helps to have a visual, so watch me make this Sloppy Joe recipe!
- 1 tbsp /15g butter
- 2 garlic cloves , minced
- 1 onion , finely chopped
- 1 green capsicum/bell pepper , diced
- 500 g/1lb ground beef (mince) (Note 1)
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard OR 1 tsp dry mustard
- 1.5 tbsp brown sugar
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 400 g/14oz crushed tomato , canned
- 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 beef bouillon cube , crumbled (Note 2)
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 5 to 6 soft rolls (Note 3)
- Cheese slices (optional)
- Other fixing options - see Note 4
Melt butter in a large pot over high heat.
Ad garlic and onion, cook for 2 minutes until onion is almost translucent.
Add capsicum and cook for 2 minutes until softened.
Add beef and cook, breaking it up as you go, until it changes from red to brown.
Add remaining ingredients. Mix well, then turn heat down to medium low (or low for strong stoves).
Cover and cook for 30 minutes, stirring once or twice to make sure it doesn't catch on the base. (If in rush, cook 15 minutes without lid)
Remove lid and give it a good stir for a minute. Mixture should be thick, not runny and saucy (see video). Adjust salt to taste.
Toast rolls. Butter if desired (I don't).
Pile on lots of filling, immediately top with cheese (heat should semi melt, otherwise pop under broiler/grill). Top with lid and serve immediately!
1. Meat - Also terrific made with pork! If using chicken or turkey, switch the bouillon cube for chicken and use 1 tsp extra Worcestershire Sauce.
2. Beef bouillon cube - or 1.5 tsp beef stock powder. If you don't have either, chicken will also do. Worst case - use salt (add to taste at the end)
3. Rolls - my favourite is brioche buns and soft small hamburger buns. Any rolls or bread is fine here.
4. Other Fixing Options: pickles (dill pickle, onion, anything of choice!), jalapeño or chillies (fresh or canned), hot sauce (if you like a kick!). For crunch, try corn chips/fritos or Slaw (see note below).
On the side - crisps are a favourite in the States which is ideal for gatherings.
For a meal option, try this Everyday Cabbage Salad (my non-mayo Slaw), doubles as side OR stuffing in the Sloppy Joes. A classic mayo-based Coleslaw is also an option, but I think the Sloppy Joe Sauce works better with the fresher no-mayonnaise Slaw.
5. Slow Cooker Option: Cook for 6 hours on LOW for amazingly ultra tender meat! Give it a good stir at the end to evaporate excess liquid.
6. Storing: Filling will keep 4 to 5 days in the fridge in an airtight container, or up to 3 months in the freezer (cool then freeze). Defrost then reheat using method of choice (I microwave). Best not to keep rolls with filling on it - goes sloppy (oh... the name....😂)
7. Nutrition - assuming soft white rolls used, not brioche.
LIFE OF DOZER
After having just gotten back from 2 weeks in Vietnam, he was very concerned as he watched me pack for a weekend away with friends.
Relief set in when he saw I also packed a bag for him. (And he checked thoroughly to ensure his favourite toys and treats were included)