Easy Homemade Sloppy Joes

I grew up eating sloppy joes, a sandwich made by browning ground beef in a skillet and dumping a can of tomato-based ‘Manwich’ sauce over top, then plopping it onto soft hamburger buns. Nowadays those very same cans are laden with high fructose corn syrup, just like the buns, something I work hard to avoid.

So what to do when a nostalgic craving for an old-fashioned sandwich takes hold of you? Enter the homemade sloppy joe.

Sloppy joes are one of the messiest sandwiches on earth to eat, which in my mind makes them all the more satisfying. They have a slightly sweet and tangy sauce, akin to barbecue sauce. Here I season them with chile powder and smoky paprika for a modern version of this old school favorite. I served them on toasted homemade sandwich rolls for a hearty and delicious meal that everyone loved, circa 1988.

Easy Homemade Sloppy Joes

Rating: 51

Yield: 4 - 6 servings

Easy Homemade Sloppy Joes

Homemade sloppy joes made easy.


1 yellow onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
olive oil, for sauteing
1 + 1/4 pounds ground beef or turkey
1 + 1/3 cups ketchup (like Hunts - no high fructose corn syrup)
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 heaping tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon chile powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2/3 cup water
sandwich or hamburger rolls for serving


  1. In a large skillet heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-low heat and cook onion and pepper over until tender. Remove them from the skillet and set aside.
  2. In the same pan brown the beef over medium heat breaking it apart as it cooks. Once cooked drain off the grease.
  3. Add sauteed vegetables back to the pan along with ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar, spices, salt, pepper and water. Bring to a simmer and cook about 20 minutes or until water is absorbed, stirring often.
  4. Serve on toasted rolls.


Copyright ©2013 Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice by Reeni Pisano All Rights Reserved. No copying or duplication of any content (including photos) without the express written permission from the owner of this website.


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  1. Federica says

    This sandwich is absolutely amazing, dear. I like it so spicy and hot. Bye, have a great day

  2. Kim says

    When I was little sloppy joes were served at every birthday party. I loved them then and I love them now! Yours look especially delicious.

  3. Michael Toa says

    oh wow. that sloppy joes looks incredibly delicious! I am drooling. Great pictures.

  4. Jennifurla says

    I love sloppy joes, one of my favorite. Never ate them during my picky teen years! I missed out.

  5. Daniel Saraga says

    Sounds delicious.I must disagree with the "drain grease" part depending on how much is there. I prefer "let the fat cool and congeal a bit before serving."I didn't realize that the canned sauce has HFCS. Your version sounds excellent.

  6. Megan says

    I love Sloppy Joes and grew up with cans of Manwich too. I really should try making my own… all of those fresh ingredients are bound to be better than the canned stuff!

  7. Victoria says

    I have been relieved to see ketchup now being sold without high fructose corn syrup, and I'm glad you point that out in your recipe too. Turkey is also a nice, lighter way to make these, one I've definitely done in the past. Looks so comforting :)

  8. Melissa says

    Sloppy Joes are one of my husband's favorite meals ever. Thanks for sharing the recipe. I, too, grew up on Manwich. :)

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