The BEST Sloppy Joes with Zesty Homemade Meat Sauce

This recipe makes the BEST sloppy joes with zesty homemade meat sauce that is delicious enough to serve for company!!!

Best sloppy joes meat sauce


What are sloppy joes?

Sloppy Joe’s are delicious sandwiches that have been popular since the 1950s. They are widely served in lunchrooms and in homes where parents want an easy, budget-friendly meal that picky children will eat. Most recipes for sloppy joe’s start with ground beef browned and then simmered in a tomato-based sauce which will usually contain onions and other seasonings.

What’s the Difference Between Manwich and Sloppy Joes?

Manwich is canned sloppy joe sauce that you can find in most grocery stores. It is a pre-made sauce that you can add to ground beef to make meat sauce for sandwiches.  Sloppy joes are sandwiches made with a sweet tangy meat sauce piled on hamburger buns. Most meat sauces are made with ground beef (or turkey) simmered in a tomato-based sauce that adds flavor.

Where did the term “sloppy joe” come from?

In the 1950’s, “loose meat sandwiches” were popular. They were similar to sloppy joes but didn’t have tomato sauce. A man named Joe reportedly created a loose meat sandwich that had tomato sauce, and the sloppy joe was born.

Are they called “sloppy joes” everywhere?

The rather funny name “sloppy joes” is not the only term used to describe these yummy meat sandwiches. Sloppy joes are called different names in various parts of the United States.  Some common names for sloppy joes sandwiches are as follows:

  • sloppy janes
  • barbecues
  • slush burgers
  • yum yums
  • wimpies
  • dynamites

My BEST sloppy joes with zesty homemade meat sauce.

This sloppy joes meat sauce is SO delicious that it is good enough to serve at a casual dinner party. You simply follow directions in this blog post~How to brown ground beef for the best flavor, texture, and color. Then you make the sloppy joes meat sauce with the browned ground beef. Let it simmer for the flavors to blend, and you’ll have the BEST sloppy joe’s meat sauce EVER!

How to make sloppy joes meat sauce ahead.

Sloppy joes meat sauce is perfect to make ahead, as it freezes beautifully. I typically double the recipe and divide the cooked sauce into gallon ziploc freezer bags. When planning to serve sloppy joes, simply let the frozen meat thaw in the fridge a day or two ahead of time. On the day you’ll serve the sloppy joes, put the sauce in a slow cooker on low for several hours.

How to serve sloppy joes homemade meat sauce.

Most folks want to eat sloppy joes meat sauce on a bun. Water rolls or crusty type rolls work best for sloppy joes that will be assembled ahead of time. Softer buns might get soggy if assembled too far in advance.  If guests are making their own sloppy joes, hamburger buns and slider buns are what most folks prefer.

sloppy joe sliders
Sloppy Joe Sliders with cowboy boot picks

How to eat sloppy joes without bread.

For those who want to enjoy sloppy joes meat sauce without bread or buns, here is a tip that I learned from my friend Shea. Simply saute chopped veggies (Trade Joe’s has great bagged veggie blends) in EVOO. Season with kosher salt & freshly ground pepper.  Sloppy joes meat sauce is also great served atop a baked sweet potato,

What to serve with sloppy joes.

 If serving these sliders at a casual small group function, I typically put them alongside this crunchy slaw, an assortment of chips, and hot sauce or BBQ sauce for those who want to add more flavor. Since sloppy joes are a fun and casual meal, I typically serve them with some of our favorite casual sweet treats like this Zoe’s chocolate sheet cake or  these fudgy brownies with toffee and nuts.

I’d love to hear from you if you try this; I love getting comments from all my wonderful readers! As always, thanks so much for stopping by. Be blessed, and stay savvy!!!

sloppy joe sliders

The BEST Sloppy Joes with Zesty Meat Sauce

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

A zesty flavorful meat sauce for the BEST sloppy joes EVER!


  • 2 pounds ground beef (I use ground chuck)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1/4 cup diced green bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded carrot
  • 1/4 cup finely minced celery
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 (14-ounce) can pureed tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


  1. Brown ground beef until fully cooked (drain any liquid).
  2. While meat is browning, add EVOO to another skillet; heat on medium or medium high.
  3. Add the onions, peppers, carrots, and celery; saute until tender (3-4 minutes). Add garlic the last minute or two of cooking.
  4. Add the sauteed vegetables to ground beef.
  5. Add all other ingredients to the ground beef and vegetables.
  6. Cook over medium heat for at least 30 minutes or simmer on low for an hour or two.
  7. Remove from heat and serve on buns, sliders or sauteed veggies.


I share how to brown ground beef in this post

Nutrition Information
Yield 12 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 274Total Fat 16gSaturated Fat 5gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 8gCholesterol 67mgSodium 242mgCarbohydrates 11gFiber 1gSugar 8gProtein 22g

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  1. Thank you so much for the link back Jamie! And we’re glad you enjoyed the recipe! Have a great weekend! Martha

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