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Sloppy Joes

November 13, 2023

These saucy, beefy homemade sloppy Joes are the best kind of messy comfort food, so gather your fam around the table, grab a big stack of napkins and let’s get sloppy!


homemade sloppy Joe recipe on a plate next to chips

When a Sloppy Dinner Is a Good Thing

Is there a more low-pressure meal than sloppy Joes? A sloppy Joe is meant to be, well, sloppy! Presentation is not a word that anyone associated with a sloppy Joe, nor is strict adherence to any sort of technique or particular ingredient combination. A sloppy Joe needs only to be saucy, beefy and served on a squishy burger bun—we really do insist on that school cafeteria style squishy burger bun—and that’s it! Our homemade sloppy Joe recipe serves up nothing but old school nostalgic comfort, and an easy win for the chef. Whatever crowd you’re feeding will happily gobble these up. The recipe is written to serve four, but it can be easily scaled up to serve a much larger crew, and these easy sloppy Joes are a great one for feeding lots of people without too much extra effort. Just be sure you’ve got plenty of napkins close at hand!

ingredients for sloppy joes ground beef, hamburger buns, jalapeños, onions, garlic, ketchup, butter tomato paste, spices

Everything You’ll Need To Make The Best Sloppy Joe Recipe, Ever

One glance at our sloppy Joe ingredients and you’ll probably get why they’re such a popular recipe for feeding big crowds. Whatever you want to call it—cheap, budget-friendly, inexpensive, easy on the wallet—sloppy Joes do not break the bank. Quite the opposite! Take a pound of ground beef, add a few condiments, slap it into a bun and call it dinner. Yep, you can feed your family of four for about $10. Seriously! How wild is that? Oh, and these homemade sloppy Joes are really easy, too. And quick. Quick, easy, cheap, kid-friendly, yummy—do we need to say more? They’re not even terribly unhealthy! Sure, a sloppy Joe is not the world's most balanced meal—it could use some veggies on the side—but with lean beef as the anchor, it’s really not too bad for you. Here’s everything you’ll need to make sloppy Joes:

  • Ground beef

  • Bell pepper

  • Yellow onion

  • Jalapeño

  • Fresh garlic

  • Butter

  • Ketchup

  • Tomato paste

  • Brown sugar

  • Chili powder

  • Yellow mustard

  • Garlic powder

  • Worcestershire sauce

jalapeno, onion and green bell peppers in a food processor
jalapeno, onion and green bell peppers chopped up in a food processor

How To Make Sloppy Joes

If the lunch lady could make these—and you know she could—you definitely can! And, no offense to the lunch ladies of our childhood, but these homemade sloppy Joes blow those institutionalized Joes way out of the water. Richly flavorful sloppy Joe sauce—loaded with peppers and onions and every flavor-giving condiment in the cupboard—is at the heart of the deliciousness you’ll be serving up. And here’s how easy it is to make sloppy Joes at home:

  1. Brown the beef.

  2. Pulse the bell pepper, onion, jalapeño, and garlic in a food processor to get it really, really fine. This will help it all just melt into the beef—trust us, it’s worth the extra dishwashing effort! Then add it to the browned beef.

  3. Now things are going to get really saucy! Stir in the ketchup, water, tomato paste, brown sugar, chili powder, mustard, garlic powder, Worcestershire, and salt.

  4. Butter & toast the buns, and top them with the sloppy Joe filling!

garlic, green bell pepper, onion, jalapeño and browned ground beef in a pot
garlic, bell pepper, onion, jalapeño and browned ground beef mixed together in a pot with tomato paste, ketchup and spices.

What Are Good Side Dishes for Sloppy Joes?

In terms of sides, you can keep it as basic as you want! Sloppy Joes are at home on a paper plate with a handful of potato chips on the side, but if you want to really lean into the retro fun of it all, try serving them with some other classics. We’re thinking:

homemade sloppy Joe meat cooking in a pot
homemade sloppy Joe recipe on a plate next to chips

Tools You’ll Need

More Fast, Easy Ground Beef Recipes

homemade sloppy Joe recipe on a plate next to chips

Sloppy, Beefy, Joe-y Goodness

Try this recipe and let us know how you like it! Sloppy Joes are far from fancy (and we mean FAR) but they’re just so easy and so satisfying, we’re pretty sure you’re going to adore them. When you cook them up, we want to hear all about it! Share a photo and tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper so that we can see your stuff! Happy eating!

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Sloppy Joes

  • Serves: 4
  • Prep Time:  10 min
  • Cook Time:  20 min
  • Calories: 349


  • 1 pound 90/10 ground beef
  • 1 small green bell pepper, seeded, quartered
  • 1/4 yellow onion, quartered
  • 1 jalapeño, halved and seeded
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter or extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 hamburger buns


  1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown the beef, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as you go, for about 8 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine the bell pepper, onion, jalapeño, and garlic. Pulse until everything is finely minced, 10 to 12 times.
  3. Once the beef is browned, reduce the heat to medium. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter or olive oil along with the minced pepper-onion mixture. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced and the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the ketchup, ⅓ cup water, tomato paste, brown sugar, chili powder, mustard, garlic powder, Worcestershire, and salt, stirring to combine. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook until the beef mixture is thickened, about 5 minutes more.

  4. Meanwhile, turn the broiler to high. Spread the insides of the hamburger buns with the remaining 3 tablespoons butter. Place the buns, buttered side up on a baking sheet and broil until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes.

  5. Spoon the sloppy joe mixture on the buttered buns and serve.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories349
  • Protein18 g
  • Carbohydrates31 g
  • Total Fat19 g
  • Dietary Fiber2 g
  • Cholesterol76 mg
  • sodium23 mg
  • Total Sugars4 g

Sloppy Joes

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

  • Ashley

    I'm making a 4 batch of your sloppy joes for the super bowl, would you recommend any changes on the measurements or is it simply 4x of everything listed? Thank you!

    Yes, 4x will work great. Hope you enjoy!

  • Christa

    This is one of my go tos! Do you have any ideas for a topping? I’ve used pickles to get a crunch but wondered if you had any ideas. Thanks!

    Thanks, that is great to hear! Pickles are a good one. Maybe coleslaw or melted cheese.

  • Lindsey

    Think I can skip the jalapeño? I have canned green chilis...would that work as as sub?


  • Ida

    Can I substitute ground chicken for the beef?

    Sure! Hope you enjoy Ida!

  • Holly

    Overall really a solid recipe. I generally like my sloppy joe's to lean a bit more on the tomato-y side and this was a little sweet for my taste as the recipe currently stands. Will be making it next time and cutting the sugar in half. I think that will balance it out for me.

    Thanks Holly, we are so glad you enjoyed it!

  • Shelly

    Fabulous! Better than our family recipe! Thanks for sharing!

    Thanks Shelly, we are so glad you loved it!

  • Alli

    These definitely level up a traditional sloppy joe! Simple, delicious, and everyone loved them. I didn't have fresh jalapeno so I subbed pickled and it was perfect. Will happily make again!

    Thanks Alli, so glad you loved them!

  • Jenna

    This was SOO good and so easy!! My whole family raved over it! The flavors were just amazing!! Def gonna be a repeat for me!

    Yay! SO glad!

  • Tom

    Excellent recipe! Like refined cafeteria fare. Dressed them up with brioche buns -will be making this again (and again)

    Thanks Tom! So happy you loved it!