Homemade Sloppy Joes

Homemade Sloppy Joes | browneyedbaker.com #recipe

My grandma and her sister (my great aunt) lived on opposite sides of a duplex house, so when we were kids and would spend time at my grandma’s, we also would spend a good bit of it over on my aunt’s side of the house as well. My great aunt was famous for a few of her specialty items – poor man’s cookies, broccoli casserole, and, my favorite, sloppy joes. There was nothing terribly fancy about it – a can of Manwich and some ground meat, but there was something about eating such a messy sandwich I just loved. It must be a kid thing 😉

A while ago, sloppy joes popped into my head out of nowhere; I hadn’t had them in at least 10 years, but I suddenly was on a quest to make a version from scratch. I remembered there sometimes being onion and green pepper in my aunt’s recipe, and then went from there. This is a simple tomato sauce made with a combination of ketchup, tomato puree and some simple seasonings. My original intention was to use tomato sauce and tomato paste as a thickener, but when I got into my pantry I realized I was out of tomato sauce, but had puree, and it worked great. I love a thicker sauce, and the tomato puree was perfect.

Homemade Sloppy Joes | browneyedbaker.com #recipe

I ate this everyday for lunch for four days straight, and I loved every single bite of it. I’m always totally enamored with a nostalgic taste that can be replicated from scratch. Sloppy joes will always remind me of hanging out at my grandma’s with my cousins and crowding around my aunt’s dining room table for more servings.

Here’s to favorite kid flavors and homemade replications!

Homemade Sloppy Joes | browneyedbaker.com #recipe

One year ago: Coconut Shrimp with Mango Dipping Sauce
Two years ago: Sticky Buns
Three years ago: Roasted Banana Ice Cream
Four years ago: Buttermilk Biscuits
Five years ago: Cobb Salad
Six years ago: Homemade Pancake Mix

Sloppy Joes

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

A homemade version of the canned classic I used to eat as a kid.


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds ground beef
2 cups tomato puree
1 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon chili powder
Salt and pepper, to taste
Hamburger buns, to serve


1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the onion and pepper and sauté until soft and translucent, 5 to 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper while cooking. Add the minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds longer. Remove from the pan to a bowl.

2. Add the ground beef to the pan, increase the heat to medium-high and cook until the beef is completely browned, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as it cooks. If the beef has released a lot of fat, drain off most of it.

3. Add the vegetables back to the pan and stir in the tomato puree, ketchup, brown sugar and chili powder. Season with salt and pepper and simmer until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and serve on hamburger buns. Leftovers can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.


40 Responses to “Homemade Sloppy Joes”

  1. Catherine McCord on May 28, 2014 at 12:39 am

    Such a classic! Would love a bowl of this over pasta or even quinoa!


  2. Matt Robinson on May 28, 2014 at 12:43 am

    Loved reading this, sounds just like my home as a kid! Now I’ve got these on my mind and can’t wait to make some soon!


  3. Renee @ Awesome on $20 on May 28, 2014 at 1:56 am

    How funny, I just posted a sloppy joe recipe my mom used to make when I was a kid. I was too lazy to make it from scratch, though. I’ll have to try this version and see if it works in my casserole. Looks beautiful.


  4. SimoCuriosa on May 28, 2014 at 4:15 am

    looks very good!!


  5. Reshana on May 28, 2014 at 5:47 am

    Looks very delicious! Craving those now 🙂


  6. Sandie on May 28, 2014 at 6:28 am

    Great to see this on a food site – I’ve been making this for my family since having it whilst holidaying in the States in the early 80’s. Its now made by my sons for their families. The Oldies are the best


  7. Lisa @ Simple Pairings on May 28, 2014 at 7:21 am

    Ah, sloppy joes – one of my favorite childhood meals! They’re messy but have always been so satisfying to me. The homemade version is even better!


  8. Terri C on May 28, 2014 at 8:54 am

    It was fun to tread about your grandma and aunt, this recipe sounds perfect!


  9. Karla on May 28, 2014 at 9:11 am

    I grew up in eastern PA where the cheesesteak is king, but my parents are from Uniontown, PA so me and my sisters grew up eating Sloppy Joes. Despite my mom being a fabulous cook, our Uncle Joe made the best Sloppy Joes and always served them on Cellone’s rolls. To this day, when we are out in western PA we stop and buy those rolls so we can have Uncle Joe’s Sloppy Joes when we get home.


    • Michelle on May 28th, 2014 at 10:24 am

      Hi Karla, My grandma used to buy Cellone’s bread exclusively! So funny!


  10. Anglin on May 28, 2014 at 9:32 am

    I’m not sure about the ingredient ‘tomato puree’. Is that crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, or tomato sauce? Or none of the above? Thanks!


    • Michelle on May 28th, 2014 at 10:25 am

      Hi Anglin, None of the above 🙂 It’s its own thing; it’s thicker than tomato sauce, but not as thick as paste (still pourable).


    • Lynne on May 28th, 2014 at 10:50 am

      I’d describe it as crushed tomatoes pureed (in food processor or blender) with seeds strained out if you had to make it yourself. Wikipedia says it’s cooked, but I don’t think that’s necessary.


  11. Betsy Harner on May 28, 2014 at 10:34 am

    Our family “go to” recipe is: ground beef, ketchup, mustard, worcheshire and a can of chicken gumbo soup……I know this sounds totally gross-BUT it is to die for! So nostalgic as we have made this for years. My friend even calls it-Marge’s bbq (that was my mom!).


    • Martha in KS on May 28th, 2014 at 6:54 pm

      That’s the recipe my family used too. It was in a Betty Crocker kid’s cookbook. Can you even buy Chicken Gumbo Soup anymore?


      • Lauren Campbell on December 29th, 2014 at 10:26 am

        Mom’s Special Sandwich= ground meat browned, onion, worcheshire sauce and a can of chicken gumbo soup; 1 loaf of french bread, meat mixture spread on bread, topped with ketchup, mustard and topped with cheese… toasted in oven until cheese melts. This was a childhood staple my mom would make. I made it for my husband the other day… when I was telling him about it, the ingredients didn’t appeal to him… but once together and on the dinner table he said it def. was a comfort meal 🙂


  12. Lynne on May 28, 2014 at 10:52 am

    My kids (and husband) still regularly ask for Sloppy Joes for dinner. My mom makes dinner for us every Monday, and this hits the rotation every couple of months. It’s not a favorite of mine or my mom’s, but she makes it for them – it couldn’t be easier.


  13. Nicole on May 28, 2014 at 11:27 am

    This looks great!
    (I’ve been having trouble with the ‘pin it’ button for at least a week now. Am I the only one? I’m using Firefox on a Mac.)


    • Michelle on May 30th, 2014 at 12:37 pm

      Hi Nicole, I just tried it and it seemed to work fine (I use Safari on a Mac). Please let me know if you continue to have problems!


  14. Hailey on May 28, 2014 at 11:44 am

    You can’t beat a good Sloppy Joe. These look great! I will have to try the recipe soon. 🙂


  15. Ina Scott on May 28, 2014 at 12:17 pm

    I make sloppy Joes all the time from scratch, but I will have to try this recipe. Sounds yummy!
    My version is with the veggies and a Ketchup and BBQ sauce mixture.


  16. marcie on May 28, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    I grew up loving sloppy joe’s — they were a favorite in our house. I’m really loving this homemade version — they look incredible!


  17. Diana on May 28, 2014 at 6:29 pm

    I just tried this with Morning Star’s Crumbles (fake ground beef)…I can’t eat red meat, but still wanted to try it! It turned out great!


  18. Karen on May 28, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    I’ve never had Manwich-my mom always made them from scratch, so I have, too.
    When my girls were little, their good friend didn’t like my cooking very much (at home she ate things like pizza rolls and hamburger helper so meals at our house were out of her comfort zone) until I happened to make slppy joes once. Finally, something everyone liked-I made it every time she ate with us from then on. 🙂


  19. Shelby on May 28, 2014 at 10:28 pm

    I love Sloppy Joes- have always made them from scratch. In the South,our best recipes always contain mustard and vinegar, to give them that tang.


  20. Samina | The Cupcake Confession on May 29, 2014 at 3:29 am

    Ahhh lovely childhood memories!!!! These look great!


  21. Robin on May 29, 2014 at 8:30 am

    Great to see this Same recipe my Nana made (and I still make)….with a few exceptions. In Saylorsburg PA, where a “huckster” came to Nana’s house with produce and meats to choose from, garlic cloves weren’t a readily available staple. The general store didn’t have tomato puree either. (Think the 1950’s….) And she didn’t add chili powder. So instead of the above, it was red pepper flakes, tomato paste, white sugar rather than brown….and the recipe was SPECIFIC for two small (glass) bottles of HEINZ ketchup (no other ketchup would do). I think I’m going to have to try puree and brown sugar. Her sauce is much, much more red than yours and I suspect I might like it better. Thanks for the nostalgia!!


  22. Maralyn Woods on May 29, 2014 at 8:24 pm

    My mom made this from scratch too and she always added a touch of liquid smoke. To this day that ‘s the way I make it too. It just doesn’t taste like a sloppy Joe to me without the smokey flavor.


  23. Courtney Engle on May 30, 2014 at 8:47 am

    Made these for dinner earlier in the week and got rave reviews from two teenage boys and my husband! Per one of the spawn, “Best sloppy Joes you have ever made mom!”


  24. Sarah on May 30, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    Made these for dinner last night. They were so good I had it again for breakfast! Easy, fast and YUMMY!!! What more could you ask for. Thanks for another great recipe!!!


  25. Shana on May 31, 2014 at 7:58 pm

    Made this and let me tell you it is soooooo much better than the can version! My kids loved it! 🙂


  26. Linda on June 1, 2014 at 10:55 pm

    Omg…just made this for dinner. Way better than the canned version I had as a kid!


  27. Kaleen on June 3, 2014 at 10:00 pm

    Mmmmm….. Made these with ground turkey and they were great! Tastes like childhood!


  28. Tashiana on June 5, 2014 at 1:56 am

    This was such a fun post to read, and so many other people have said it too!
    The sloppy joe looks amazing. Maybe after 18 years it’s time for me to finally try one! I’m from the UK and it is just not a thing here at all….you can’t buy them to eat out anywhere!
    Ever since I watched the Mary Kate + Ashley film ‘it takes two’ when I as about 6, I’ve been craving a sloppy Joe! This looks super yummy.


  29. Kristine Crawack on July 2, 2014 at 8:06 am

    THIS is Sloppy Joes?!
    Somehow I always thought they were some kind of sausage… Or am I thinking of Slim Jims?
    … Good thing I’m going to America for the very first time next year, maybe I can get a bit more aquinted with the food culture 😉
    Thanks for sharing :)!


  30. Michelle Buchanan on September 20, 2014 at 7:52 am

    Sloppy Joe’s Mmmm!
    Enjoyed your post, many memories also for me 🙂 The recipe is right on. I add a slice of American cheese (any preference, really) then place in oven under broil for a minute. Put the top bun on after removing from oven. This is in hopes of keeping the utterly tasty mess tamed lol not susseful yet . But a yummy addition anyway.


  31. Joyce on November 8, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    My husband was craving sloppy joe’s one night a few months ago, so I decided to google recipes, and I fell upon this one. I made it, and he fell in love with the flavor! I must admit, I did too! I am back again tonight to get the recipe to make it again! EXCELLENT! We grew up eating the canned version, too..and this one tastes so “grown up”..so yummy! 🙂


  32. Batschpeng on October 1, 2015 at 2:37 pm


    i found your website yesterday and i’m really thrilled.
    but because i’m german there are the usual differences in units, ingredients, the temperature, etc.

    but for finding an exchange (if needed) it’s necessary to get to know the precise nature of the relevant things.

    soooo, here: in our stores tomato puree is sold in different degrees of concentration. the usual one is concentrated three times – and has about 100 calories (only for your orientation). if i used a 28-ounces can of this…. very salty, very intensive…. not the best idea, i think 🙂

    can u tell me anything abt your puree?

    keep on cooking <3


    • Michelle on October 5th, 2015 at 9:44 pm

      Hi! What you’ve described sounds more like tomato paste. Puree is sort of a slightly thickened tomato sauce. I hope that helps!


      • Batschpeng on October 6th, 2015 at 9:55 am


        it’s called “passierte Tomaten” (which could be understood as “happened tomatoes” – but the verb “passieren” also means .. *drum-roll* .. “to puree sth.”/”to blend sth.” !)



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