Classic Sloppy Joe Recipe

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Classic Sloppy Joe Recipe Super Hungry? Jump to the Recipe

I'll take a sloppy joe, EXTRA sloppy.

Sloppy joes are the loose meat sandwiches of youth. I remember them being frequently served as school lunches - though back in those days the thought of 'mystery meat' was enough to keep me away from them into well into adulthood.

I've made variations on sloppy joes before - but this one I wanted to be the most authentic experience possible. Around the time I first made this recipe, the pandemic was just getting started and schools were closing everywhere. Maybe that's why I was feeling nostalgia for my own school days - way back before remote learning was even a possibility.


These sloppy joes have their own little surprise - they are made with homemade hamburger buns.

What is a SLOPPY JOE anyways?

While I remember sloppy joes as something from 90s commercials, the 'loose meat sandwich' had earlier origins as a bar food in the mid 40s. While there are many kinds of 'looes meat sandwiches' out there (the Maid Rite being one of them), the sloppy joe has a distinctly flavored sauce. Usually made from a combination of ketchup, onions and Worcestershire sauce, there are different variations regionally on sloppy joe sauce as well as how it's served! Who knew sloppy joes were so complicated?

What's in the sauce?

Sloppy joe sauce is sweet, savory and just a little bit tangy.

  • ketchup - the main player in this dish, giving sloppy joes sweet and savory base notes
  • tomato sauce - makes the whole thing EXTRA sloppy!
  • Worcestershire - adds delicious umami flavor
  • spicy brown mustard - a hint of deeper savory flavor along with some heat
  • brown sugar - for added sweetness but also helps to thicken the sauce
  • shallot & garlic - texture AND flavor too!

These ingredients combined make for an awesome sauce that when combined with browned beef or pork turns absolutely divine! You can also use sloppy joe filling as a topping on hot dogs or hamburgers too (if you are feeling extra wild).

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Classic Sloppy Joe Recipe

  • Number of Servings: 4
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
Classic Sloppy Joe Recipe

Ingredients

  • 16 oz ground beef
  • ½ ketchup
  • 8 oz tomato sauce
  • 2 tbsp spicy brown mustard
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • hamburger buns, for serving

Mouth Feel

Salty
Savory
Sour
Bitter
Sweet
Spicy

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Instructions

  1. Brown the ground beef in a skillet over medium high heat. When all the beef is browned, use a collander to strain any excess grease. Rinse with cool water then transfer back to the skillet over medium heat.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the ketchup, tomato sauce, mustard, Worcestershire, shallot, garlic and brown sugar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour over the cooked hamburger meat.
  3. Stir the sauce into the meat and cook until the sauce is just starting to bubble, about 10-15 minutes. Reduce the heat and cook until the sauce has thickened, another 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat. Serve on hamburger buns and enjoy!
  4. ALTERNATIVE SLOW COOKING METHOD: Follow steps to brown meat and combine sauce. Add the cooked meat and sauce to a crock pot/slow cooker. Cook on low for 4 hours or on high for 2 hours.
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