Sloppy joes are a traditional meal that millions of people grew up with and continue to enjoy because of the flavors and simplicity. This old-fashioned sloppy joe recipe is sure to bring back some nostalgic memories and create new ones with the family.
There are thousands of sloppy joe recipes out there, but this is the only one my family goes crazy for. I find other sloppy joe sliders can be way too salty, or the sauce is too thin and makes the bun soggy – but not this one. It’s full of flavor, has the perfect texture and the sauce is never watery!
After years of tweaking and perfecting, this recipe is my go-to for a quick and delicious weeknight meal. The addition of orange zest and brown sugar is my secret weapon for making these sloppy joes stand out! Don’t believe me? Try this recipe yourself and see how quickly your family clears their plates!
What is a Sloppy Joe?
These easy sloppy joes are packed with flavor (and meat). Using simple ingredients we create a dish that’s both complex in flavor and unique. It’s not hard to see why we keep raving about these sandwiches.
This frugal hot sandwich recipe can be both a lunch item or dinner depending on how you feel like serving it. While school cafeterias might serve it for a warm lunch, we usually serve it for the main dinner dish along with some sides.
Side dishes for sloppy joes can include tater tots, chips, french fries (regular, or sweet potato). Other easy sides can include mac and cheese, baked beans, or tomato salad, but almost any picnic-style side dish would work great.
If you’re looking for another great burger recipe, check out these Shrimp Burgers!
Easy Sloppy Joe Ingredients
- Meat: You’ll need 1 pound of ground meat but you can use anything from ground beef to ground sausage, turkey, etc. Traditionally sloppy joes are made with ground beef.
- Onion: To give us a nice flavor, onions are cooked down to bring out their natural sweetness and balance the dish.
- Garlic: Using some minced garlic will make the sloppy joe sauce develop a deeper flavor to make it richer in taste.
- Ketchup: Creating our own sauce starts with a sweetened tomato base and what better way to do this than with ketchup?
- Brown sugar: Use a little brown sugar to make the sauce taste nicer as a result of the molasses.
- Worcestershire sauce: This is a great ingredient to use when making your own sauces because it’s tangy, savory, salty, and sweet all at once and creates another layer of flavor.
- Mustard: Use both regular prepared mustard and dry mustard to give the sauce a little tangy kick to it.
- Orange zest: Adding in some fresh orange zest is a great way to elevate the dish and make it taste fresher (and smell even better).
- Salt and pepper: This is going to be added to your own tastes so add more or less depending on what you want to do.
How to Make Easy Homemade Sloppy Joes
- In a skillet on the stove, brown your ground meat.
- While the meat is browning, whisk together a sauce in another bowl. Whisk together the ketchup, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, dry mustard, salt, and pepper until well blended.
- Once your meat has been browned, add in the onions and garlic and cook until the onions are translucent in color.
- Add your sauce to the pan and simmer for an additional 5-8 minutes or until thickened.
- Add your orange zest and let simmer for another minute.
- Serve your meaty sloppy joe sauce on toasted hamburger buns and enjoy.
How to make sloppy joe sliders
- Take a 12 pack of dinner rolls (Kings Hawaiian or other variety of choice) and remove them from their container, in one whole piece.
- Use a large butter knife to slice the dinner rolls in half along their middles so that every roll has a top and bottom half.
- If desired, butter the insides of the sliders and toast on a griddle until golden brown.
- Scoop your sloppy joe sauce over the bottom halves of the rolls and then place the top halves on the meat to create a sandwich.
- Slice along the lines of the rolls to separate the warm sandwiches and serve.
Easy Sloppy Joe Sides
Do you prefer sloppy joes as an easy dinner option or for a casual lunch? Whichever you choose, there’s no denying that this classic sandwich is just the best! But while the main attraction may be the juicy, saucy meat and bun combination, don’t forget about the sides. Here are some easy sloppy Joe side dish ideas to help complete your meal:
- Stovetop mac and cheese
- Cherry tomato salad
- Herby creamed potatoes
- Grilled corn on the cob
- Cheesy hashbrown casserole
- Garlic and herb rice
- Dutch oven sweet potatoes
- Canned green beans with bacon
Easy Sloppy Joe Recipe FAQs
Manwich is a branded and trademarked name for a variety of canned sloppy joe sauces that you can purchase in grocery stores. Our sloppy joes are totally homemade from scratch and require just a little more work, but the end results are worth it.
If you find that your sauce mixture is a tad too runny for your liking you can easily thicken it up with the help of a cornstarch slurry. Simply mix a little cornstarch with water and stir into the heated sauce to thicken. It will thicken quicker if the sauce is still bubbling hot.
Sloppy joes are thought to have been created in Sioux City Iowa in 1930. This loose meat sandwich is decades old and now has different versions in many countries all over the world with many different variations out there too.
The end result of your meat mixture should be similar to that of a sweeter ragu sauce. With a sweet and tangy (almost sweet n sour) flavor profile, this meaty filling can pair well with side dishes that are both savory, salty, or sweet.
The type of ground meat you choose has a massive impact on the taste of your sloppy joes. For a more flavorful option, try using a combination of ground beef and ground sausage. The diced onion, garlic, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce in this recipe also add depth and flavor to the dish. Customize the flavor of your sloppy joes using seasonings and spices to suit your preferences.
The meat used in sloppy joes is usually ground beef (but you can also use other meats) cooked in a tomato-based sauce. It’s sometimes referred to as ‘sloppy joe meat’ or simply ‘chopped meat filling’.
Sloppy Joe Recipe (Simple)
- 1 pound ground meat
- 1/2 cup onion diced
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 1 cup ketchup
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon prepared mustard
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 2 teaspoons orange zest
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Brown ground meat.
- While meat is browning, whisk remaining ingredients except the orange zest for the sauce.
- When the meat is almost finished browning, add the onion and garlic and cook until translucent.
- Add the sauce and simmer until thickened, about 5-8 minutes.
- Add the orange zest and cook for another minute.
- Serve on hamburger buns that have been buttered and heated until golden on a griddle.
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