Our favorite sloppy joe recipe is easy and full of delicious flavors with real ingredients. Forget the canned sauce or mix packet and find the very best homemade sloppy joes right here!
Sloppy joes is a great pantry recipe for an easy weeknight dinner. This is my favorite sloppy joe recipe because it is very easy but also uses real ingredients and is packed full of flavor. My kids love it and my husband loves it. Winner winner sloppy joe dinner!
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Ingredients for this recipe
The sloppy joe sandwiches I ate growing up used just 3 ingredients for sloppy joe sauce -- brown sugar, ketchup, and mustard. That is how I continued to make them after moving out and getting married. They lacked in flavor so we rarely craved them for dinner. But, ever since I created THIS sloppy joe recipe, we want them all the time! Gather these ingredients:
Grocery List for Sloppy Joes
- Ground beef (1 lb lean)
- Onion (half)
- Brown sugar (3 tablespoons)
- Mexican stewed tomatoes (15 oz. can)
- Paprika (2 teaspoons)
- Chili powder (2 teaspoons)
- Tomato paste (heaping tablespoon)
- Dijon mustard (1 tablespoon)
This isn't super spicy, but it can be a little spicy for kids. I wait to add the chili powder until after serving theirs.
If you cannot find Mexican stewed tomatoes (in the canned tomatoes aisle) then you can substitute with a can of fire roasted diced tomatoes instead. Make sure you drain it first. I can easily find the Mexican stewed tomatoes at one grocery store, but for some reason never at another.
How to make sloppy joes
Since the sloppy joe sauce is made from scratch, this recipe is so much better than dumping in a can of sauce or using a dry mix. It is so very simple, you will not spend much time on it at all. To make sloppy joes, follow these easy steps:
- Cook the ground beef and onions in a large skillet; drain grease.
- Stir in spices, brown sugar, mustard and tomato paste. Cook 1 more minute.
- Add stewed tomatoes. Cook until thickened.
- Serve on buns.
Click here for the full recipe ingredients and instructions.
Tips for the best homemade sloppy joes
Sauce - You want the sauce to reduce only a little. If you cook on too high of heat or let it reduce too much, you'll end up with dry sloppy joes. Keep the moisture there by not over-cooking.
Flavor - The beauty of making the sauce from scratch is you can control the flavor. Any of the ingredients can be adjusted to your taste preference. Make it less sweet by reducing the amount of sugar, or add more heat by increasing the chili powder. The possibilities are endless!
Crock pot - I've never understood the necessity to make sloppy joes in a slow cooker because it's such an quick and easy meal. Instead, if you need to make a large batch to keep warm for a party, cook it quickly on the stovetop and then transfer to the Crock Pot to keep warm.
What goes well with sloppy joes?
Make your sloppy joe sandwich a meal with our most popular side dishes:
You would also love my sloppy joe noodle skillet recipe, too!
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Sloppy Joe Recipe
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 1/2 onion , peeled and diced
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar , light or dark
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons chili powder , more or less to desired heat level
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 15 oz. can Mexican stewed tomatoes , drained
- Salt & pepper , to taste
- Heat the beef and onions over medium heat for about 5 to 7 minutes, breaking up the meat as it cooks, until meat is browned and onions are just soft; drain excess grease.
- Mix in the brown sugar, mustard, paprika, chili powder and tomato paste. Cook for 1 minute. Stir in the stewed tomatoes, season with salt and pepper.
- Continue to cook over medium heat while breaking up tomatoes for 10 minutes, or until liquid is reduced to your preference. Remove from heat and serve on buns.
- If you cannot find Mexican stewed tomatoes, you can substitute with a can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes. (I typically find Mexican stewed tomatoes at Walmart, not Kroger.)
- Nutritional information is an estimate only, and does not include the bun.