The BEST Classic Beef Sloppy Joes

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What is a sloppy joe?

Sweet & Sloppy Joes

Notorious for being ‘messy’ to eat, a sloppy joe is a sandwich filled with a saucy meat mixture (typically using Ground Beef) with a sweet, tangy or spicy flavor profile, with seasonings and vegetables tucked in. It’s fun to eat and is a crowd pleaser for kids and adults alike! Commonly served on a hamburger or slider bun, this drippy favorite is a top-ranked recipe. 

Fun fact: the name is derived from how messy it is to eat, hence ‘sloppy’!

The Essential Ingredients

  • Ground Beef - also called ‘hamburger’ by some; this product is made by grinding beef cuts and beef trim. This recipe calls for lean Ground Beef (93/7). Ground Beef that is 93% lean or leaner meets government guidelines for “lean”. If you’re choosing lean meats, this is an excellent choice for you. It works well in dishes that require crumbles, however any leanness of Ground Beef (or what you have on hand) works well in this recipe… just be sure to drain any remaining fat after cooking.
  • Sloppy Joe Sauce - made from a base of tomato sauce, barbecue sauce, ketchup and combined with brown sugar and spices. Short on time? Use prepared, ‘shortcut’ canned versions available in your local grocery store. 
  • Sweet Peppers - you may see them called ‘bell peppers’ in the grocery store or farmer’s market; they are also shaped like ‘bells’. This recipe uses green bell peppers, however any color you prefer (red, green, yellow, orange) can be used to lend a sweet or mild flavor and crisp texture to the finished dish.
  • Aromatic Veggies - you know that captivating smell wafting around the kitchen when you’re cooking? Succulent, sweet onion and garlic are the ingredients responsible! Not only that, but they are great flavor enhancers to the dish.

Tips and Tricks for the Best Sloppy Joes

  • Try flavored buns to make this recipe even more delicious! Seeded or onion flavored buns work well or sweeter profile buns, like Brioche, children love.
  • Toasting the bun provides an additional layer of texture for the sandwich.
  • Add your favorite sliced cheese to the sandwich- not only does it add a layer of flavor, it helps hold the messiness in!
  • Thaw Ground Beef beforehand to ensure your beef does not become dry or overcooked.

Flavor Variations to Spice it up

Flavor Variations to Spice it up

Reminiscent of a childhood sloppy sandwich, this Ground Beef wrap gets a dose of goodness from a homemade sauce and lots of veggies!

If you are looking for tasty new ways to serve Sloppy Joes, we have the answers.

This is a kid-friendly recipe with a great name. Sweet bell peppers give it the sweet, and, the sloppy, well, that's the whole sandwich. Who doesn't like to bite into a Sloppy Joe? This Beef. It's What's For Dinner. recipe is certified by the American Heart Association®.

Ground Beef, pineapple, barbecue sauce and red bell pepper create a meal from the islands.

Marcia Smart will help you take that ground beef recipe from ordinary to extraordinary with these beefy tips and tricks.

Ideas for using leftover Ground Beef

Ideas for using leftover Ground Beef

Buying Ground Beef in bulk? Here are ways to cook it and make versatile meals for your family.

  1. Everybody loves burgers! Treat the family to dinner from the grill with these tasty burger recipes.
  2. Meatballs are comforting and hit the spot! Toss in homemade pasta sauce or ‘gravy’ and serve on a bun or as an open-faced sandwich.
  3. Tacos! Every night is taco night when you have Ground Beef on hand! Top seasoned Ground Beef with all your families’ favorite toppings.
  4. Chili is a make ahead favorite and freezes beautifully for easy, weeknight dinners ready for reheating.

Safe Handling Tips

  • Wash hands with soap and water before cooking and always after touching raw meat.
  • Separate raw meat from other foods.
  • Wash all cutting boards, utensils, and dishes after touching raw meat.
  • Do not reuse marinades used on raw foods.
  • Wash all produce prior to use.
  • Cook steaks and roasts until temperature reaches 145°F for medium rare, as measured by a meat thermometer, allowing to rest for three minutes.
  • Cook Ground Beef to 160°F as measured by a meat thermometer.
  • Refrigerate leftovers promptly.

For more information on degree of doneness and other cooking tips visit:

For more information on safe food handling and beef safety, see:

The BEST Sloppy Joe Recipe

You're going to love this Sloppy Joes recipe. Whip up an American classic sandwich in no time.

Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 20 minutes Total Time: 30 minutes

  • 1 pound Ground Beef (93% lean or leaner)
  • 1 cup minced sweet onion
  • 1 cup minced green bell pepper
  • 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) unsalted tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 4 whole wheat hamburger buns or 8 slider buns
  • Dill pickle slices, coleslaw, American or Cheddar cheese slices (optional)


  1. Heat large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Add onion, cook 3 to 5 minutes until golden brown. Add Ground Beef and bell pepper; cook 8 to 10 minutes, breaking beef into 1/2-inch crumbles and stirring occasionally.
  2. Cook's Tip: Cooking times are for fresh or thoroughly thawed ground beef. Ground beef should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F. Color is not a reliable indicator of ground beef doneness.
  3. Stir in tomato sauce, barbecue sauce, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar and mustard; increase heat to medium-high. Bring to a boil; cook 5 to 10 minutes or until sauce is thickened, stirring occasionally. Season with salt, as desired.
  4. Cook's Tip: You may add an additional 2 tablespoons barbecue sauce for sweeter, richer flavor.
  5. Divide beef mixture evenly among buns. Top with pickles, coleslaw and cheese, if desired. Close sandwiches.
  6. Cook's Tip: You may serve the beef mixture over hot cooked whole wheat pasta instead of buns.

Nutrition Information


15 % *


15 % DV **


56 % DV

4.5 mg IRON

25 % DV

6.9 mg ZINC

60 % DV

* Based on a 2,000 calorie diet
** Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000-calorie diet

Nutrition information per serving: 285 Calories; 81 Calories from fat; 9g Total Fat (3 g Saturated Fat; 3 g Monounsaturated Fat;) 84 mg Cholesterol; 460 mg Sodium; 26 g Total Carbohydrate; 3.1 g Dietary Fiber; 28 g Protein; 4.5 mg Iron; 7.8 mg NE Niacin; 0.7 mg Vitamin B6; 2.8 mcg Vitamin B12; 6.9 mg Zinc; 22.1 mcg Selenium; 112.1 mg Choline.

This recipe is an excellent source of Protein, Iron, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Zinc, Selenium, and Choline; and a good source of Dietary Fiber.



  • Can I freeze sloppy joes?
  • Yes, place leftover meat mixture in a freezer-safe container with a tight-fitting lid. Freeze for up to 3 months.
  • Can I eat sloppy joes in something other than a bun?
  • Yes, this sloppy joe bake recipe combines sloppy joe mixture with pasta or these Sloppy Joe Beef Wraps serve it up in a tortilla!
  • Are sloppy joes healthy/heart friendly?
  • Yes, our AHA certified Beefy Sweet & Sloppy Joes combines veggies and lean beef for a heart healthy meal!
  • What can I serve with sloppy joes?
  • Your favorite coleslaw recipe or flavored chips are a great addition to sloppy joes.
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