Old fashioned sloppy joes are a classic dish that has been around for generations, and with good reason. This traditional old fashioned sloppy joe recipe combines savory ground beef with onion, bell pepper, ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce. The result is a tangy and flavorful mixture that packs in lots of savory flavors. Serve it up on a bun with a side of coleslaw and you have a dinner that everyone will love.
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If you're looking for a classic, time-tested dinner recipe, you can't go wrong with a traditional sloppy joe. This dish is easy to make, full of flavor, and sure to please the whole family.
For the best results, try our old fashioned sloppy joe recipe: it's packed with ground beef in a delicious tangy tomato ketchup-based sauce, then piled on a lightly toasted hamburger bun.
A side of crunchy coleslaw provides the perfect contrast to this savory and hearty sandwich. Give our old fashioned sloppy joes recipe a try tonight and see what makes it so popular!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
If you're hankering for classic comfort food, look no further than this old-fashioned sloppy joe recipe. It's an easy meal that doesn't skimp on deliciousness - with simple ingredients and minimal preparation, it's sure to make your taste buds happy. I think you'll love this recipe, and here are a few reasons why:
- This fast and easy meal is perfect for busy weeknights, yet delicious enough for company. It's the perfect hands-on meal for potlucks, picnics, tailgate parties, or even the Super Bowl weekend!
- The flavors are classic and comforting. The savory mixture of ground beef, onion, and bell peppers, combined with a brown sugar and ketchup sauce will make your mouth water.
- You'll also love how it comes together in one skillet. Plus, it's an affordable dish using pantry staples most of us already have on hand.
What You’ll Need To Make Old Fashioned Sloppy Joes
Onion: Half a medium onion, finely diced, will add flavor and texture to your sloppy joes. I recommend using a yellow onion, as it has a milder flavor than white or red onions, but any onion will do in a pinch.
Bell pepper: Diced bell pepper adds a hint of sweetness and crunch to this sloppy joes recipe. You can use any color of bell pepper, or omit it altogether if you're not a fan.
Ground beef: Choose a good quality ground beef with 15 to 20 percent fat for maximum juiciness and flavor.
Ketchup: The star of this sloppy joes recipe, ketchup adds tang and sweetness to the mixture. Feel free to adjust the amount of ketchup to your taste.
Worcestershire sauce: A few dashes of Worcestershire sauce add a savory depth of flavor and complexity to the dish.
Brown sugar: A little bit of brown sugar balances out the ketchup and Worcestershire sauce, adding a hint of sweetness to the mixture.
Yellow mustard: Mustard adds a layer of flavor to the sloppy joes, and helps to thicken the sauce.
Vinegar: A splash of vinegar adds an acidic kick to the mixture and helps balance out the flavors. I recommend using white vinegar or apple cider vinegar for this recipe.
Hamburger buns: Your sandwich won’t be complete without something to put it on! Use a lightly toasted bun for the best results. I like to use hamburger buns with sesame seeds for added texture.
Butter: Spread a little butter on your hamburger buns before toasting them for a golden brown, buttery crunch.
Coleslaw (optional): A side of crunchy coleslaw is the perfect way to round off this classic meal. The crunchy cabbage and creamy dressing provide a nice contrast to the savory sloppy joes.
Now that you have all the ingredients together, let’s get started! Sloppy joes are quick and easy to make, so you’ll be enjoying your meal in no time. Just follow these simple steps:
Step 1: Combine the ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, yellow mustard, and vinegar in a small bowl and set aside.
Step 2: Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the onion and diced bell pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the onions are translucent.
Step 3: Push the onions and peppers to the side of the skillet and add the ground beef. Use a wooden spoon to break it up into smaller pieces and cook until browned (about 5 minutes). Drain any excess grease, if needed.
Step 4: Pour the ketchup mixture over the beef and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally until the sauce is thick.
Step 5: Butter your hamburger buns and toast them in a skillet over medium heat.
Step 6: Serve the sloppy joe mixture on toasted buns with a side of coleslaw, if desired.
Tips & Tricks For Making The Best Sloppy Joes
Sloppy joes are a quick and easy meal that can be customized to your tastes. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you make the best sloppy joes ever:
- Use a good quality ground beef with 15 to 20 percent fat for maximum juiciness and flavor.
- Try adding other vegetables, such as carrots, mushrooms, celery, or zucchini to the sloppy joe mix for some added nutrients.
- For a spicy twist, add a few dashes of hot sauce or a pinch of red pepper flakes to the mixture.
- Allow your ground beef to brown in the pan for a few minutes before stirring. This will help create a caramelized crust on the meat and create a more flavorful final dish.
- Don't break up the ground beef too much! Larger pieces will help ensure that your sloppy joe mix stays on the hamburger bun.
- Taste the mixture as it simmers and adjust the seasonings as needed. You may need to add a bit more ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, or brown sugar depending on your tastes.
Serving Suggestions And Substitutions
Sloppy joes are great served with a variety of sides. Here are a few serving suggestions:
- Potato chips, smashed potatoes, or sweet potato fries.
- A side salad, creamy coleslaw, pasta salad, or crunchy pickles.
- Crack green beans, corn on the cob, pan-fried broccolini, or macaroni and cheese.
You can also customize your sloppy joes with a variety of substitutions. Here are a few ideas:
- If you don’t have any ground beef, try using ground turkey or crumbled sausage instead. You can also use vegan ground beef crumbles for a meat-free version.
- For an extra spicy kick, try stirring in some diced jalapeños or chipotle peppers.
- For a healthier option, use whole wheat hamburger buns and reduced-sugar ketchup.
How To Store Leftovers
Sloppy joes make great leftovers! Store any remaining sloppy joe mix in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. To reheat, simply place it in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until warmed through.
You can also freeze the sloppy joe mix for up to three months. Allow it to thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating. Enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! The sloppy joe mixture can be made up to two days ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use.
Yes! You can easily substitute with tomato sauce, tomato paste, diced tomatoes, or barbecue sauce for a different flavor.
Absolutely! Just follow the instructions for your particular slow cooker to make a delicious batch of slow cooker sloppy joes.
You can top your sloppy joes with anything you would like! Try topping with shredded cheese, crispy bacon bits, caramelized onions, sliced jalapeños, or pickles. Enjoy!
Tools And Equipment For This Recipe
Lodge Cast Iron Deep Skillet: This skillet is perfect for browning the ground beef and creating a caramelized crust for sloppy joes.
Wooden Spoon: A sturdy wooden spoon is great for stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan. This wooden utensil set from OXO is a great addition to any kitchen.
Wooden Serving Board: This long farmhouse-style serving tray is perfect for serving sloppy joes to a crowd. It would also work well as a charcuterie board.
Old Fashioned Sloppy Joes
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil
- ½ medium yellow onion
- 1 medium bell pepper any color
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 cup tomato ketchup
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
- 1 tablespoon vinegar white or apple cider
- 6 hamburger buns
- 3 tablespoon salted butter
- Combine the ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, yellow mustard, and vinegar in a small bowl and set aside.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the onion and diced bell pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the onions are translucent.
- Push the onions and peppers to the side of the skillet and add the ground beef. Use a wooden spoon to break it up into smaller pieces and cook until browned (about 5 minutes). Drain any excess grease, if needed.
- Pour the ketchup mixture over the beef and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally until the sauce is thick.
- Butter your hamburger buns and toast them in a skillet over medium heat.
- Serve the sloppy joe mixture on toasted buns with a side of coleslaw, if desired.
* Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content may vary based on brands of ingredients used, measuring methods, portion sizes, and more.
I love the bell peppers in the sloppy joes. Makes it a little healthier and tastier all at the same time!
Putting this in our dinner rotation
Homemade is so much better than the canned version.
I agree Lori!
Allison R Lancaster says
These look so delicious! The perfect weeknight family meal!
I might try to “veganize” this recipe with a couple of simple swaps. 🙂
Great idea! I'd love to hear how it goes Lucy.