Sloppy Joe Recipe

4.84 from 6 votes

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Get the best and easiest homemade Sloppy Joe Recipe. Not only does this take less than 20 minutes to make, but it’s the perfect balance of sweet and savory. Serve over hamburger buns, baked potatoes, or toast! Delicious every time.

sloppy joe sandwich on a white plate

Sloppy Joe Recipe | A Classic!

So happy to be sharing one of my favorite go-to dinners on a busy weeknight: Sloppy Joes! This recipe is probably one of the easiest on my blog, consisting of only a handful of ingredients. While I have a fabulous crock pot sloppy joe recipe, this one is the classic stovetop version that is ready to eat in no time. While I love the convenience of the store-bought (canned) sloppy joe sauce, nothing can beat this homemade recipe.

What is a Sloppy Joe?

A Sloppy Joe is a hot, American-made classic sandwich, made of ground beef and a sweet yet savory sauce piled high on soft bread or hamburger buns. The sauce usually consists of ketchup or tomato sauce as a base with other flavored ingredients added in, such as Worcestershire sauce, garlic, mustard powder, etc..

ground beef with garlic

Main Ingredients Needed

Besides the ground beef which you’ll want to buy fresh, the rest of the ingredients are very common and should be readily available at your local grocery store if not already in your pantry. Who knew sloppy joes were this easy?

  • Ground Beef– I like using a low fat cut of ground beef like a 93/7 or a 95/5 if I can find it so I don’t have to drain my ground beef. If you can only find a fattier ground beef (like an 80/20), be sure to buy an extra 1/3rd of a pound to make up the difference in weight (since you’ll drain off 20% of your meat as fat.)
  • Minced Garlic– be sure to use fresh garlic that you mince yourself for delicious flavor.
  • Ketchup– A sweet base for the sloppy joe sauce.
  • Water– used to thin the sauce and prevent scorching
  • Brown Sugar– because I love a sweet sloppy joe
  • Ground Mustard– I love the tang this adds. If you don’t have dried, simply use yellow mustard
  • Worcestershire Sauce– hello umami!
  • Chili Powder– for a little spice, color and depth of flavor
  • Salt & Pepper– seasonings this recipe needs to cut all the sugar

Looking for more beefy recipes to try? Look no further: The Best Lasagna Recipe EverSimple Sunday Meatloaf RecipeThe Best Burger Recipe, Easy Meatball Recipe (perfect for any dish!), and *Amazing* Pot Roast Crockpot Recipe.

ingredients on top of the cooked ground beef to make the sauce

How to Make Sloppy Joes

Get ready for the easiest direction ever! Don’t forget the more detailed instructions and ingredient increments are listed in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

1. Brown Meat

Brown 2 pounds of ground beef in a large skillet. I use beef that is 93/7 so I don’t have to drain it. Stir in fresh minced garlic and cook until fragrant.

2. Make the Sauce

Add in the sloppy joe sauce ingredients and stir together: ketchup, water, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, dried mustard, chili powder, salt and pepper.

Bring to a simmer and cook until the sauce reduces and becomes thick.

3. Serve!

Serve hot over soft hamburger buns.

If you notice your meat mixture is getting too thick and browning at the bottom of your pan, add in a little extra water and reduce the heat slightly. That should keep it moist until you’re ready to serve.

Sloppy Joe Mixture in a pan being scooped by a ladle

Do I have to serve these with hamburger buns?

No, not at all! The hamburger bun is the classic way these are served, but you can definitely serve the sloppy joe mixture over toast, baked potatoes, simple roasted potatoes, sweet potato, or even some spaghetti squash or sauteed veggies to keep it lower carb.

What to serve with Sloppy Joes

One of the most common questions when making sloppy joes is what do I serve with them? While it is perfectly fine to serve as a stand-alone dish, making a few accompaniments makes them even more enjoyable.

Cold dill pickles and plain ruffles chips are delicious with these but I tend to lean towards some kind of homemade salad like classic coleslaw (as pictured above), cucumber salad, or this colorful carrot salad.

sloppy joe sandwich and coleslaw on a white plate

More Sloppy Joe Recipes to Try!

Be sure to check out all of my other sloppy joe recipes while you’re at it! This is such a family favorite of ours, I hope it becomes yours too.

The printable recipe card is down below, enjoy 🙂

sloppy joes
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4.84 from 6 votes

The BEST Sloppy Joe Recipe

Get the best and easiest homemade Sloppy Joe Recipe. Not only does this take less than 20 minutes to make, but it's the perfect balance of sweet and savory. Serve over hamburger buns, baked potatoes or toast!
servings 8 servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • 2 pounds ground beef 93/7
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 1/4 cups ketchup
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 8 hamburger buns


  • Heat large, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Break meat apart as it browns.
  • Once the meat is completely browned, stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add in the ketchup, water, Worcestershire, ground mustard, brown sugar, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Stir together and simmer 5-10 minutes or until water has mostly evaporated and sauce is thick.
  • Spoon meat mixture onto toasted hamburger buns and serve.


Calories: 465kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 81mg | Sodium: 661mg | Potassium: 503mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 304IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 106mg | Iron: 4mg
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Keyword: how to make sloppy joes, sloppy joe recipe, sloppy joes

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Recipe Rating

6 Responses
  1. Kassie

    5 stars
    So good! My boyfriend practically licked his plate. I added a little extra mustard and spice for an extra kick and also cooked onion and garlic in with the beef. Making this again tonight!

  2. Mary

    5 stars
    I didn’t put in brown sugar, figuring the ketchup had plenty of sugar. I also added some onion and instead of beef, used ground chicken. It tasted divine!

  3. Cindi

    5 stars
    These were very good sloppy joes! I would recommend tasting the mixture before adding the brown sugar, because we felt it was plenty sweet from just the ketchup. Adding the brown sugar would have made them too sweet for our tastes. Delicious recipe!

  4. Shari Ells

    5 stars
    When I told my husband that we were going to try this recipe, he wasn’t too thrilled. He said his dislike of sloppy joes goes back to his elementary days. Apparently, the cafeteria version wasn’t all that great. He agreed to try them after I read the list of ingredients….I think he was sold at ketchup and brown sugar.

    I am happy to report that these were a definite hit! His pickiness rivals that of a child so anytime he loves something, it is a win! Needless to say, this recipe is going into the meal rotation. Thanks Lauren! 🙂