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Sloppy Joe Recipe

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Discover ultimate comfort food in this Sloppy Joe recipe. It’s easy and delicious, and a guaranteed hit with kids, teenagers, and even the pickiest eaters.

Side view of sloppy joe on whoe grain bun on a wooden serving plate.

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A classic Sloppy Joe recipe is essential when feeding a crowd of kids and teenagers. Or when you’ve been craving a little comfort food from childhood. And, let’s face it, I haven’t met a man yet who didn’t love a delicious Sloppy Joe.

Why This Sloppy Joe Recipe Works

  • When you need a foolproof meal that everyone seems to love.
  • When you need a simple and quick meal that’s easy to fix and clean up.
  • Feeding a crowd? Yep, it’s perfect for them too!
  • It’s also perfect for Friday nights when fun food is what everyone craves.

“Absolutely delicious!! We have tried many sloppy joe recipes this one has the best flavor combination ever! Saved! Printed and will be our go to forever!”

@ Pinterest

Sloppy Joe Ingredients

My family loves a uniquely seasoned Sloppy Joe, no matter what you call it. This recipe is exactly that. It’s easy to make and can be substituted with your favorite ingredients.

While I almost always use lean ground beef, you can easily swap it for other ground meats like turkey or chicken.

This recipe features some unique ingredients that give this “stewed meat” a sauce with a twist of something unusual. Balsamic vinegar lends a touch of sweet and yet tart flavor that makes this recipe a delicious Sloppy Joe.

How to Make Sloppy Joes

Step-by-step instructions are in the recipe card at the bottom of this post, but here’s a quick overview of how easy it is to make!

  1. Combine ground meat, celery, onion, and garlic in a large skillet and cook for 8-10 minutes, breaking up the meat as it cooks.
  2. Stir in the remaining ingredients and seasoning.
  3. Cover and simmer 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve in buns.

Sloppy Joe Origins

Sloppy Joe recipes, popularized in the early 20th century, were known by many different names and featured in restaurants from the United States to Cuba and even China. With few exceptions, sloppy joes are essentially recipes with a base of “stewed meat.” The sauce and its seasonings, however, distinguish one recipe from another or one culture from another.

Here are a few examples of the different names sloppy joe “type” recipes have held in early 20th century American cookbooks: Toasted Deviled Hamburgers, Chopped Meat Sandwiches, Hamburg a la Creole, Beef Mironton, and Minced Beef Spanish Style. Sound familiar? I haven’t come across those names in my early cookbooks, although I’m still searching.

As to its origins, Marilyn Brown, Director of the Consumer Test Kitchen at Heinz in Pittsburgh, says their research at the Carnegie Library suggests that the sloppy joe recipe we know today began in a Sioux City, Iowa, cafe as a “loose meat sandwich” in 1930, the creation of a cook named Joe.

Side view of Sloppy Joe on a wooden tray with whole grain buns.

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Side view of sloppy joe on whoe grain bun on a wooden serving plate.

A Most Delicious Sloppy Joe

Perfect for Friday nights, when you’re feeding a crowd, or busy nights when you need something easy.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Save
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Stephanie Wilson



  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 8 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar white or cider vinegar works well too
  • pinch of cloves
  • pinch of cayenne pepper optional for added heat
  • hamburger buns for serving


  • In a large skillet combine the ground meat, celery, onion, and garlic. Cook over medium heat until the meat is thoroughly cooked. About 8-10 minutes. Drain any moisture.
  • Add remaining ingredients: brown sugar, salt, ketchup, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and vinegar. Stir to incorporate all the ingredients, using a spatula to break up any chunks of meat into smaller bite sizes. Add cloves, and cayenne pepper (optional) or freshly cracked black pepper.
  • Cover and simmer 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve in buns.


Calories: 148kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 47mg | Sodium: 472mg | Potassium: 393mg | Fiber: 0.4g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 144IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 24mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.

Tried this recipe? Pin it Today!Follow me on Pinterest for more and use the "Pin" button at the top of the recipe card.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: sloppy joe recipe, sloppy joe


  1. 5 stars
    Absolutely delicious!!! Our family has tried numerous sloppy joe recipes and this is by far the best!!!! Thank you for sharing!

5 from 2 votes (1 rating without comment)

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