Homemade Sloppy Joes is a classic dinner recipe that is easy to make and economical too! It takes less than 30 minutes to make and costs just $9.34 for a serving of 6!
Every time I make this homemade Sloppy Joe recipe, I cannot help but start singing The Lunchlady Song by Adam Sandler. Do you know the one I am talking about? I literally sing it every single time I make this.
“Well, yesterday’s meatloaf is today’s Sloppy Joes…Sloppy Joe, slop, Sloppy Joe.” LOL! It’s the BEST song! However, even though this Sloppy Joe recipe is super easy, it does NOT use yesterday’s meatloaf! I just wanted to clarify that.
Now, you could be like the Lunchlady and whip up some Sloppy Joes very quickly by using the can of premade sauce that you just add to the beef. I have done it in a pinch a few times myself.
But once you make Sloppy Joes using this recipe you will never look back. It is just as easy as opening a can and is seriously the BEST Sloppy Joe recipe ever! It is so much better than anything you will get from the Lunchlady or the premade can.
Sloppy Joe Recipe Questions Answered:
How many pounds of hamburger do I need for 50 Sloppy Joes?
Our recipe calls for 1 ½ pounds of ground beef which makes enough for 6 servings. To make 50 sandwiches you would need to purchase 12 ½ pounds of beef.
The remaining ingredients for 50 sandwiches are as follows:
- 4 cups vegetable oil
- 8 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped fine
- 2 Tablespoons + 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup + 1 Tablespoon garlic powder
- 2 Tablespoons + 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
- black pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 8 (10.75 oz cans) tomato puree
- 4 cups + 2 Tablespoons ketchup
- 2 3/4 cups water
- 2 3/4 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 50 hamburger buns
How do you thicken up Sloppy Joes?
If you need to thicken up your homemade Sloppy Joe recipe simply mix together 1 TBS cornstarch and 1 tablespoon of warm water in a small bowl. Use this ratio for every cup of sauce you need to thicken. Whisk in the mixture slowly into the Sloppy Joe sauce until you reach the desired consistency.
Are Sloppy Joes fattening?
Sloppy Joes are traditionally made using ground beef. While beef is a good source of protein it is high fat and calories. If you are looking for a healthier version of this Sloppy Joe recipe try substituting ground turkey for the beef.
How to Make Classic Sloppy Joes Recipe:
- First, in a large skillet add oil and heat over medium-high heat. Once oil is shimmering, reduce heat to medium and add onions and salt and saute, stirring often, until onions are translucent and beginning to brown around the edges, about 6-10 minutes.
- Then, stir in garlic powder and chili powder and cook until fragrant, bout 20 seconds.
- Next, add in the beef and use the back of a wooden spoon to break the meat apart. Cook until the meat is almost browned all the way through.
- Stir in brown sugar, tomato puree, ketchup, water, and Worcestershire sauce. Simmer the mixture until the sauce has thickened, about 5-10 minutes.
- Finally, season mixture with pepper. Serve on hamburger buns.
How to get the kids involved with this recipe:
- Ages 2-3: Let them help you spoon the Sloppy Joe mixture onto the hamburger buns.
- Ages 4-5: Let them help measure the ingredients and add them to the skillet when making the sauce.
- Ages 6-8: Teach them how to saute the onion and brown the meat.
- Ages 9-11: Supervise them while they prepare the entire recipe. Remember to have them read it twice before beginning the recipe. Remember to teach knife safety when cutting the onions.
- Ages 12+: Let them prepare the entire recipe, unsupervised, while you do the happy dance in the corner!
Discover why we love getting the kids involved in the kitchen and more tips in our How to Get Kids Involved In Cooking article.
The flavor and Recipe Variations:
- For a healthier option substitute ground turkey for the ground beef.
- Grilled Cheese Sloppy Joes
What sides go with Sloppy Joes:
- Green Beans Almondine
- Mac and Cheese
- Chicken Pasta Salad *Pro-tip: Leave out the chicken when serving as a side dish
- a simple salad
- veggie sticks and ranch dressing
- potato chips
More Easy Main Dish Ideas:
- Grilled Cheese Sloppy Joes
- American Goulash
- Easy Beef Chili
- Ground Beef and Broccoli Teriyaki
- Inside Out Chicken Pot Pie
- Italian Zucchini Boats
- Machaca Burritos
- Meatball Subs
- Mexican Chicken Rice Bowls
- 15-Minute Skillet Tilapia with Artichokes and Tomatoes
- One Pan Cheesy Broccoli Chicken
- Slow Cooker Italian Harvest Soup
How long is this good for:
- Serve: The mixture can stay at room temperature for up to 2 hours.
- Store: Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- Freeze: You can freeze the prepared sloppy joe mixture for up to 3 months in an airtight container or Ziploc bag.
- To reheat: Defrost the mixture in the refrigerator overnight. Reheat in a skillet over medium heat until heated through, about 7-10 minutes. You may need to add a few tablespoons of water to loosen the mixture a bit.
How much will this Sloppy Joes Recipe cost:
RECIPE COST: $9.34
PER SERVING COST: $1.56
To find out more about how we price our recipes, check out Budget Recipes Explained.
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil – $0.06
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped fine – $0.62
- 3/4 teaspoon salt – $0.01
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder – $0.06
- 3/4 teaspoon chili powder – $0.02
- 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef – $5.40
- black pepper to taste – $0.03
- 1 1/2 teaspoons light brown sugar – $0.02
- 10.75oz canned tomato puree – $0.95
- 1/2 cup ketchup – $0.44
- 1/3 cup water – $0
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce – $0.02
- 6 hamburger buns – $1.71
Best Sloppy Joes
- cutting board
- chef knife
- large skillet
- Wooden spoon
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 large yellow onion chopped fine
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- ¾ teaspoon chili powder
- 1 ½ pounds lean ground beef
- 1 ½ teaspoons light brown sugar
- 10.75 oz canned tomato puree
- ½ cup ketchup
- ⅓ cup water
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- black pepper to taste
- 6 hamburger buns toasted and buttered
- In a large skillet add oil and heat over medium-high heat. Once the oil is shimmering, reduce heat to medium and add onions and salt and saute, stirring often, until onions are translucent and beginning to brown around the edges, about 6-10 minutes.
- Stir in garlic powder and chili powder and cook until fragrant, bout 20 seconds.
- Add in beef and use the back of a wooden spoon to break the meat apart. Cook until the meat is almost browned all the way through.
- Stir in brown sugar, tomato puree, ketchup, water, and Worcestershire sauce. Simmer the mixture until the sauce has thickened, about 5-10 minutes. Season mixture with pepper. Serve on hamburger buns.