Sloppy Joes

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Dinner’s on the table in under 30 minutes with these easy Sloppy Joes! Hefty scoops of saucy ground beef served up inside soft burger buns–what could be better? This Sloppy Joe recipe is the perfect hearty–yet easy–dinner to enjoy after a busy day.

Sloppy joes on a board.

Saucy and savory with a touch of sweet and heat, homemade sloppy joes are the ultimate comfort food dinner. 

Messy in the best way, these sandwiches really hit the spot. But what we love best about them is how easy they are to make. They cook up so fast and easy in a single pot–so they might be sloppy on your plate, but the dishes are a breeze!

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We love to whip up a batch at home before we head out camping and pack the sloppy joe filling in our cooler. Then, at dinnertime, we simply reheat it over the fire or on the camp stove. This sloppy joe recipe couldn’t be more perfect for those action-packed days when your stomach’s rumbling and you’re craving a hearty dinner, fast.

Ready to make your own sloppy joes? Let’s jump in!

Ingredients for sloppy joes: Ground beef, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, ketchup, green bell pepper, chili powder, pure maple syrup, garlic, apple cider vinegar, tomato paste, onion, and buns.

Ingredients

Ground beef: For the juiciest sloppy joes with the best flavor, 80/20 is better than a leaner blend. 

Onion, green bell pepper, and garlic: For loads of savory flavor. We use yellow onion, but white or even red onions will work, too. 

Tomato paste & ketchup: Tomato paste adds that rich, savory, umami note; ketchup keeps the familiar flavor of the saucy sloppy joes you know and love.

Mustard: Stick with plain old yellow mustard for a tangy touch.

Maple syrup: Use pure maple syrup to add a bit of rich sweetness.

Apple cider vinegar: That touch of acid helps the flavors pop! 

Worcestershire sauce: With its slightly spicy savoriness, Worcestershire adds a welcome kick of flavor. 

Chili powder (not cayenne pepper!): For spiciness without an overload of heat, chili powder’s mix of savory spices and ground chiles is the perfect sloppy joe seasoning. Just be sure you don’t use ground cayenne pepper instead–it packs a lot of heat and lacks the complex flavors found in chili powder. 

Burger, sandwich, or slider buns: Soft burger buns cradle sloppy joe filling just right! Sandwich or slider buns work well, too. 

Top left: Ground beef begins to be browned in a pot for sloppy joes.Top right: Ground beef browned in a pot.Bottom left: Chopped onion, chopped green bell pepper, and ground beef cooking in a pot.Bottom right: Ingredients for sloppy joes cooking in a pot including the cooked ground beef and vegetables plus ketchup, mustard, chili powder, and more.

How to Make Sloppy Joes–Step by Step

The first step is to brown your ground beef. You’ll heat a bit of oil in a medium pot, then add your ground beef and let it cook, untouched, for a few minutes. Don’t stir too much! You want it to brown, which will give you so much more flavor and a better texture. 

Once your ground beef develops a brown crust, you’ll break it apart and stir to continue cooking. Then, add the onions and bell pepper, sauteing for just a few minutes until the veggies are soft and tender. After that, stir in the garlic and let it cook for a bit, then add the tomato paste and saute for another minute. With each step, you’re building loads of flavor for the very best sloppy joes!

Next, it’s time to make them saucy. Add the ketchup and other remaining ingredients. Give your sloppy joe filling a good stir, then simmer for a few more minutes until thickened into the perfect scooping consistency. 

To serve, add generous portions to burger buns and enjoy. 

Sloppy joes on a board, ready to serve.

Serve It With …

This easy coleslaw is arguably the best sloppy joe side–the crisp, creamy contrast makes it the perfect companion. Potato chips and pickles are always welcome, too. Afterward, dutch oven peach cobbler or campfire-baked apples seal the deal!

Recipe Tips & Variations

It’s easy to make these sloppy joes vegetarian or vegan–simply make them with Impossible or Beyond ground “beef” meat substitute. Check your Worcestershire sauce, too–sometimes the ingredients include non-vegetarian ingredients, but there are vegetarian/vegan versions available. 

Or consider our hearty, fully plant-based red lentil sloppy joes for another delicious vegan option!

Left: Sloppy joe filling in the process of being transferred to an airtight container to store for use later on. Right: Sloppy joe filling stored in a cooler.

Make-Ahead Tips

For us, one of the best things about this recipe is that the cooking can be done at home before we head out camping, so it’s a great time-saving make ahead camping recipe. This recipe is also great for meal-prepping easy weeknight dinners at home. 

To make it ahead of time, simply prepare the meat mixture in the sauce and let it cool a bit, then place it in an airtight container. Store the filling in your refrigerator or pack it in your cooler for up to four days in advance. 

When you’re ready for sloppy joes, add the filling to a pot, heat it up, and serve!

Sloppy joes in slider buns on a board.
A sloppy joe sandwich.

Sloppy Joes

These easy sloppy joes are fast, simple, and as tasty as you remember. They’re equally perfect for dinner at camp or a hearty meal back at home.
Author: Fresh Off The Grid
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Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
4 sandwiches*

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon tablespoon oil
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • burger, sandwich, or slider buns

Instructions

  • In a medium pot, heat the oil over medium heat and add the ground beef. Flatten into an even layer and cook undisturbed until it develops a brown crust. Then break it apart with your spatula to continue cooking.
  • Add the chopped onions and bell pepper. Saute until they are soft and the onions just begin to turn golden, 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic for a minute and then add the tomato paste and saute for another minute or two.
  • Add ketchup, mustard, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire, chili powder, and salt. Stir to combine. Simmer until the sauce thickens a bit, 3-5 minutes more.
  • Serve inside burger, sandwich, or slider buns.

To Store for Later

  • Transfer the filling to a storage container with a sealable lid. Store in the refrigerator or your cooler for up to four days.

To Prep at Camp

  • Reheat the mixture in a pot on your camp stove or over the campfire. You may need to add a little water to bring back the sauciness. Serve on toasted buns with whatever toppings and sides you love!

Notes

Serving Size: This makes enough filling for 4 full-sized sandwiches or 6 sliders. (Nutrition info is based on 4 servings.)

Nutrition (Per Serving)

Serving: 1sandwich, no bun | Calories: 317kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 16g

*Nutrition is an estimate based on information provided by a third-party nutrition calculator

Lunch, Main Course
American, Camping
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