This post may contain affiliate links, view our disclosure policy.

This Classic Sloppy Joes Recipe is simple to make with inexpensive ingredients and it’s something the whole family will love for dinner! Sloppy joes are an easy ground beef dinner that’s ready for the table in just 30 minutes and there is no canned sloppy joe sauce involved.  

I always like to serve sloppy joes with a sweeter & fruiter side dish like this Pear Jello, Ambrosia Fruit Salad, or Marshmallow Cherry Fluff

A sloppy Joe sandwich sitting on a white plate with meat coming out of it.

Classic Sloppy Joes Recipe

Sometimes you just need a classic version of a dinnertime staple. These classic sloppy joes are just that! No fuss, no expensive ingredients, and no fancy prep work needed for these.

Family-friendly ground beef simmers with a few other ingredients like onion, bell pepper, ketchup, tomato paste, mustard and seasonings. All the flavors just melt together and create magic when simmered with the ground beef. 

Serve on top of hamburger buns and enjoy. My family loves to put some classic potato chips inside sloppy joes for a salty crunch. It’s really good and if you haven’t tried it, you should 😉

A skillet pan of sloppy Joe meat with a spoon inside the mix.

Ingredients Needed

  • Ground Beef – Any fat percentage of ground beef works in this recipe. I prefer using 96/4 ground beef. Or try using ground turkey instead for a slightly healthier swap. 
  • Onion – The best onions to use for sloppy joes is a white onion or yellow onion. Yellow onion is most recommended because it has a milder flavor compared to white onions. 
  • Green Bell Pepper
  • Ketchup
  • Tomato Paste – This helps to thicken the sloppy Joe sauce and give it a rich & robust tomato flavor. 
  • Yellow Mustard – Feel free to swap this out with honey mustard for a sweeter version or try using whole grain mustard, or dijon mustard for a different flavor. 
  • Apple Cider Vinegar – Some acidity is always good in sloppy joes. 
  • Brown Sugar – Use less, or more, deepening on your preference. 
  • Kosher Salt
  • Garlic Powder

Ingredients for sloppy joes

How To Make Classic Sloppy Joes with Ketchup

Learn how to make this recipe with the easy steps below. Be sure and read to the bottom of this post where there is a detailed recipe card with all my helpful tips, a printable recipe option, and a pin it button so you can save it for later. 

  • Skillet Pan : Cook and crumble the ground beef, onion, and green pepper over medium-high heat until the beef is no longer pink. Drain any excess fat from the pan. 
  • Sloppy Joe Mixture : Add the remaining ingredients (ketchup, tomato paste, brown sugar, mustard, apple cider vinegar, salt, garlic powder) and stir together well. Bring to a boil and once boiling, reduce heat to medium-low and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes. 
  • Serve : Serve on hamburger buns and top it with potato chips! The crunchy texture and salty taste pairs perfect with the soft and warm sloppy joes. 

Classic Sloppy Joes FAQ’s

  • Can I Freeze Sloppy Joe Meat?

    • Yes you can freeze this! Prepare the ground beef as directed in the recipe and then let it cool down to around room temperature. Place the sloppy joe meat inside a freezer-safe Ziploc bag, or container, and freeze for up to 3 months. 
    • When ready to eat, let it thaw in the fridge overnight and then you can warm it up on the stove top until heated through. 
  • How To Store Leftovers

    • Store any leftover sloppy Joe meat in the fridge, in an airtight container, for up to 3 days. 
    • Reheat leftovers in the microwave or in a saucepan, over medium heat, until heated through. You may want to add some water or broth when reheating leftover meat. 
  • Substitution & Variation Ideas for Sloppy Joes

    • Ground Meat : Ground turkey can be used instead of ground beef. Also, any fat percentage of ground beef works just fine in this recipe. You will end up draining the excess fat/oil from the pan, so it probably does not matter much what you choose to use. I prefer using 96/4 whenever I cook ground beef for dinner.
    • Mustard : Any mustard works great in sloppy joes. Yellow mustard is recommended and it’s the classic flavor choice, but there are lots of options like spicy brown mustard, dijon mustard, whole grain mustard, etc. For a less strong mustard flavor try reducing it to 2 teaspoons instead of 1 tablespoon. 
    • Looser Sloppy Joe Filling : This recipe yields a thicker & more set sloppy Joe filling but if you prefer a more moist/looser filling, then simply add some water to the pan (start with 1/4 cup) along with the other ingredients. Bring it to a boil and then reduce heat and let it simmer. As you’re stirring it randomly during the simmer time, you’ll be able to tell if you need to add more water or not. You can also use beef broth or chicken broth as well.
    • Make It Spicy! : Add some chili powder, cayenne red pepper, or try using a spicy mustard or spicy ketchup. 
    • Tomato Paste : Instead of classic tomato paste try using a seasoned tomato paste. 
  • Serving Suggestions

White plate with a sloppy Joe on it and chips to the side of it.

Recipe Tips

Here are a few of my helpful tips so that you can have success recreating this recipe in your own kitchen ♥

  • Simmer Time : This is so important because it brings all the flavors together and gets the meat really soft & tender, which is what you want for a sloppy joe. You should let it simmer for at least 15 minutes for good results, but closer to 20 minutes for the best flavor. If the mixture is too thick or getting too hot, reduce the heat and you can also add some water or broth into the pan for a thinner sloppy joe filling that is more wet. 
  • Toasted Hamburger Buns : Toasting the hamburger buns before serving is the best way to eat a sloppy joe. The crisp and browned bun pairs perfectly with the softer sloppy joe meat. Separate each bun and place them onto a baking sheet or cookie sheet. Spread butter on each one. Broil for a few minutes until they’re browned to your preference. Add a slice of cheese if wanted for a cheesy sloppy joe. 
  • Seasonings : Feel free to reduce the mustard or vinegar if wanted. Those are two pretty strong flavors so if you know you’re sensitive to them, or you want to make sure your kids will eat it, reduce each of them to 2 teaspoons instead of 1 tablespoon. This recipe is super adaptable so you can add, change, decrease, increase anything you want. Use more garlic powder. Add some onion powder instead of using freshly diced onion. Add chili powder for some spice. Add basil, Italian seasoning. The possibilities are endless with this one. 

Overhead shot of dinner plates with a bun of sloppy Joe meat and chips to the side of each plate.

Close up of the filling for this sloppy Joe recipe

More Sloppy Joe Recipes You’ll Love

Front image for this recipe for sloppy joes
Together As Family Logo

Classic Sloppy Joes


Author Jessica - Together as Family
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 6
This Classic Sloppy Joes Recipe is simple to make with inexpensive ingredients and it's something the whole family will love for dinner! Sloppy joes are an easy ground beef dinner that's ready for the table in just 30 minutes and there is no canned sloppy joe sauce involved.

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 small yellow onion finely diced
  • 1/2 cup finely diced green pepper (about 1 small green pepper)
  • 2/3 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 6 hamburger buns

Instructions

  • In a skillet pan, over medium-high heat, cook and crumble the ground beef, diced onion, and diced green pepper until the ground beef is no longer pink.
    Drain off any excess fat.
  • Add in the ketchup, brown sugar, tomato paste, mustard, apple cider vinegar, kosher salt, and garlic powder. Stir to combine everything together.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce heat to medium-low and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes.
    * Stir it several times during the simmer time to prevent it from burning to the pan. You may need to turn down the heat if necessary.
    * If the mixture is looking too thick, or you want it thinner, try adding 1/4 cup of water, beef broth, or chicken broth into the meat mixture while it's simmering.
  • Serve inside hamburger buns.

Notes

Serving Size : My kids don't eat a ton so I can easily get 6 servings from this recipe for my family of 4 kids and 2 adults. If you're feeding teenagers or hungry adults (larger portion sizes) then I would plan on 4 servings from this recipe. 
Nutrition Information : This is based off one serving of the sloppy joe mixture + 1 hamburger bun. It's also based on getting 6 servings from the recipe. 
Recipe Tips -
  • Simmer Time : This is so important because it brings all the flavors together and gets the meat really soft & tender, which is what you want for a sloppy joe. You should let it simmer for at least 15 minutes for good results, but closer to 20 minutes for the best flavor. If the mixture is too thick or getting too hot, reduce the heat and you can also add some water or broth into the pan for a thinner sloppy joe filling that is more wet. 
  • Toasted Hamburger Buns : Toasting the hamburger buns before serving is the best way to eat a sloppy joe. The crisp and browned bun pairs perfectly with the softer sloppy joe meat. Separate each bun and place them onto a baking sheet or cookie sheet. Spread butter on each one. Broil for a few minutes until they're browned to your preference. Add a slice of cheese if wanted for a cheesy sloppy joe. 
  • Seasonings : Feel free to reduce the mustard or vinegar if wanted. Those are two pretty strong flavors so if you know you're sensitive to them, or you want to make sure your kids will eat it, reduce each of them to 2 teaspoons instead of 1 tablespoon. This recipe is super adaptable so you can add, change, decrease, increase anything you want. Use more garlic powder. Add some onion powder instead of using freshly diced onion. Add chili powder for some spice. Add basil, Italian seasoning. The possibilities are endless with this one. 
Substitution & Variation Ideas -
  • Ground Meat : Ground turkey can be used instead of ground beef. Also, any fat percentage of ground beef works just fine in this recipe. You will end up draining the excess fat/oil from the pan, so it probably does not matter much what you choose to use. I prefer using 96/4 whenever I cook ground beef for dinner.
  • Mustard : Any mustard works great in sloppy joes. Yellow mustard is recommended and it's the classic flavor choice, but there are lots of options like spicy brown mustard, dijon mustard, whole grain mustard, etc. For a less strong mustard flavor try reducing it to 2 teaspoons instead of 1 tablespoon. 
  • Looser Sloppy Joe Filling : This recipe yields a thicker & more set sloppy Joe filling but if you prefer a more moist/looser filling, then simply add some water to the pan (start with 1/4 cup) along with the other ingredients. Bring it to a boil and then reduce heat and let it simmer. As you're stirring it randomly during the simmer time, you'll be able to tell if you need to add more water or not. You can also use beef broth or chicken broth as well. 
  • Make It Spicy! : Add some chili powder, cayenne red pepper, or try using a spicy mustard or spicy ketchup.
  • Tomato Paste : Instead of classic tomato paste try using a seasoned tomato paste. 

Nutrition

Calories: 297kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.5g | Cholesterol: 49mg | Sodium: 942mg | Potassium: 425mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 180IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 82mg | Iron: 3mg

Did You Make This Recipe?

I'd love to see it! You can share it with me on @togetherasfamilyblog and follow on Pinterest @together-as-family-blog-recipes or Facebook @togetherasfamilyblog for more!

Did you love this recipe?

Make sure to comment below so we can chat about it! Or follow on your favorite social network for even more family recipes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating