All Hail The Sloppy Joe

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30 minutes
8 servings

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Messy, yummy, kid-friendly perfection – all hail the Sloppy Joe!

Okay all of you busy soccer moms relentless in your continued search for fast, easy, and adaptable recipes, All Hail The Sloppy Joe! I figure it’s time to bust out some of my childhood oldies but goodies, given I am still fielding questions regarding quarantine recipes. We are still in ‘practical times’ I’m afraid. In particular, I am hearing from MANY readers in the southern mid-west and southwest states that grocery shelves are noticeably sparse. I am seeing that here in South Carolina, too. Rice, pasta noodles, canned beans and the like are mostly out. The terrific thing about a Sloppy Joe is that most, if not all of the ingredients, are already in your pantry. It can be made with ground beef, ground turkey, or even ground venison. Every forkful is meaty, messy, delicious, and kid-approved… 

A close up of food, with Sandwich and Beef

Sloppy joes are everything that’s great about being a kid.

If you are like me, a Sloppy Joe is a knife and fork situation, because I pile my Sloppy Joe high. We make double batches here so there are seconds or even leftovers. By the way, this freezes very well for those of you who expressed wishing for freezer-friendly meals. You can tinker with the recipe by adding green chilies for some heat or smoked paprika for a little smoke. I use green bell peppers I grate on a box grater, but my friend Laura makes this with finely diced red peppers so her 5-year-old will not protest “green stuff.” My cousin did not have onions or bell peppers so she chopped up and sautéed carrots. You can omit the sugar if you want tangy over sweet or stoke it full of sneaky veggies. There is simply no wrong way to make a Sloppy Joe…

A sandwich with meat and vegetables

This has been my go-to Sloppy Joe recipe for over a decade. It happens to be one of my favorite comfort meals to make for a casual weeknight supper. It’s also my excuse to make potato salad…

Loose meat sandwiches or tavern sandwiches were wildly popular in the early 1900s and all through the Great Depression. It made for a frugal, filling, and tasty meal. The first account of the loose meat sandwich was in 1926 at the Maid-Rite restaurant in Muscatine, Iowa. Aptly named the ‘Maid-Rite Sandwich,’ the idea garnered untamed fame. To that end, the term ‘tavern sandwich’ is ascribed to a Sioux City, Iowa restaurant at about that same time. Both sandwiches were comprised of steamed ground beef and a special combination of vinegar and spices. These, the precursors to the ever-popular, after sports practice American favorite, the Sloppy Joe.

100% USA Grass Fed and Grass Finished Ground Beef 80/20 – $149 for 20 pounds. No hormones or antibiotics. All ground beef comes in 1-pound vacuum sealed packages. FREE SHIPPING

A sandwich sitting on top of a wooden table

A Sloppy Joe is one of those sandwiches where when you take a bite and it’s so good, you don’t want to talk, you just want to keep eating…

Need some filling sides to go with? A batch of potato salad, French fries, deviled eggs, salt & vinegar chips, or a well dressed salad are really great picnic-ish basics that do this sammy justice. Nobody should be pushing away from your dinner table hungry after this comforting feast…

A close up of food, with Sandwich and Beef

A close up of food

All Hail The Sloppy Joe

Jenny DeRemer
Every forkful is meaty, messy, delicious, and kid-approved... 
5 from 1 vote
Servings: 8 servings
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 8 servings
Calories 317 kcal


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped *optional
  • 1 medium bell pepper, grated on box grater or diced fine *optional
  • 1 ¼ cups ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ cup water
  • 8 sandwich buns, split


  • In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine beef with bell pepper and onion (if using). Cook until the meat is mostly browned, about 5 minutes. Drain well on paper toweling.
  • Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk together tomato paste, ketchup, brown sugar, Balsamic vinegar, garlic powder, onion powder, and pepper. 
  • Add the meat back into the skillet along with sauce mixture and 1/4 cup of water. Stir until evenly coated. Cover and simmer 20 minutes.
  • Serve atop butter-griddled or toasted sandwich buns.


Serving: 1servingsCalories: 317kcalCarbohydrates: 34gProtein: 15gFat: 13gSaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 40mgSodium: 611mgPotassium: 351mgFiber: 1gSugar: 13gVitamin A: 223IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 91mgIron: 3mg
Keyword sloppy joe recipe
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