The Best Classic Sloppy Joes

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The Best Classic Sloppy Joes – Easy dinner recipe made in minutes. Ground beef in a sweet & tangy homemade Sloppy Joe sauce.

Homemade sloppy joe meat on a bun with a slice of cheese all resting on a cutting board with text overlay

Homemade Sloppy Joes

Sloppy Joes don’t have to be made with that can of pre-made sauce.  It’s so easy to make your own using common ingredients you probably already have on hand.

This is a loose meat ground beef sandwich with a tomato based sauce with brown sugar for sweetness and vinegar for tartness.

This is a busy weeknight family favorite recipe because everyone, including the kids, love this quick cooking recipe.

Try these other great Ground Beef Recipes.

How To Make Sloppy Joes

*Note:  The full printable recipe card is at the bottom of this post.

  • Heat some olive oil in a skillet.
  • Add diced onion and bell pepper.

skillet with olive oil, diced onions, and diced green peppers sautéing.

  • Add extra lean ground beef and break it apart.
  • Cook until the beef is browned.

Make The Sloppy Joe Sauce

  • Add tomato sauce to the beef mixture.
  • Add brown sugar, red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper.

Skillet full of cooked ground beef, peppers, onions, tomato sauce, and brown sugar.

  • Stir well.
  • Let the beef simmer in the sauce for 10 minutes.

Skillet full of homemade sloppy Joe meat mixture.

  • Spoon the meat mixture onto hamburger buns.
  • Optional:  Add toppings like sliced cheese, pickles, etc.

Two sloppy Joe sandwiches with cheese on a cutting board.

Isn’t that easy!  It all comes together in under 30 minutes.

What Sides Go With This Sandwich

Here are some of my favorite things to serve along side this simple messy sandwich.

  • Corn on the cob
  • Side salad
  • Sweet potato fries
  • Coleslaw
  • Potato Salad

What To Do With Leftovers

The meat mixture can easily be stored in the refrigerator or freezer.  Do not try to store pre-made sandwiches, though.  The bread will get soggy.  Store the buns separately from the meat.

Refrigerator:  If you plan on eating the leftovers within 3 days, store the meat in a sealed container in the refrigerator.  Reheat the meat in the microwave or in a sauce pot on the stove top.

Freezer:  Store the meat in a sealed container in the freezer.  Transfer the container to the refrigerator to thaw the day before you want to use it.  Then, heat in the microwave or in a sauce pot on the stove top.

Try these other great Sloppy Joe Recipes:

Watch The Recipe Video For The Best Classic Sloppy Joes Below.

Find more of my recipes on TikTok

Sloppy Joe sandwich on a cutting board

The Best Classic Sloppy Joes Recipe

5 from 13 votes
The Best Classic Sloppy Joes - Easy dinner recipe made in minutes. Ground beef in a sweet & tangy homemade sloppy joe sauce.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 17 minutes
Total Time 27 minutes


Servings 6 servings
Calories 326 kcal


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced yellow onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 lb. 90% lean ground beef
  • 8 oz. tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 6 hamburger buns
  • Optional: sliced cheese, sliced pickles, etc.


  • Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, onion, and bell pepper. Cook for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the ground beef and break it apart with a wooden spoon. Cook for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the beef is cooked through.
  • Add the tomato sauce, brown sugar, red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.
  • Reduce the heat so the liquid is simmering (low to medium-low). Simmer for 10 to 12 minutes until the sauce thickens.
  • Remove from the heat. Let the meat rest for 5 minutes before serving.
  • Serve warm on hamburger buns.


Serving: 1sandwich | Calories: 326kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 49mg | Sodium: 854mg | Potassium: 476mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 210IU | Vitamin C: 14mg | Calcium: 99mg | Iron: 4mg
Course Dinner, Entree, Main Course
Keyword homemade sloppy joes recipe, how to make sloppy joes, sloppy joes
Cuisine American
Author Amanda Finks
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  1. I made this last night and it is delicious. It did not look like the photos at all, partly because I didn’t measure a lot out but the flavors were, once again, delicious! I’m looking forward to making it again sometime.

  2. 5 stars
    This is a great Sloppy Joe Recipe. I always tweak any recipe so I substituted 1/4 cup brown sugar with 1/4 cup of honey. I don’t care for green peppers so I substituted red and orange. I used 2lbs. of extra lean burger and 2 cans of tomatoes sauce (15oz each) and threw in 4 stalks of chopped celery with the peppers. I used 2 table spoons of the red wine vinegar. Everyone loved it!

  3. I make these but get a pack of grands bisquits…roll out to at least 6 inches….put a pinch of shredded cheese and bake….sloppy joe pockets..amazing’ll never serve on a bun again

  4. I love to make things from scratch but I also find using something already pre-made and enhancing it is really cool.
    Making something like marinara or any offshoots is only cool when you are making large amounts.
    Sharp Cheddar only on a Sloppy Joe when I make them and I always toast the buns

  5. 5 stars
    Also trying your deviled eggs with pickle juice. And shepherds pie! I can tell by looking at the ingredients they will be perfect.

  6. 5 stars
    Needs a little worcesteshire. Great recipe, thank you. The peppers make it. My Dad made it for summer holidays and he called it Pennsylvania BBQ

  7. 5 stars
    Simple and delicious! No fancy ingredients! I made it tonight for supper and my husband was very pleased! We’re planning to bring the rest for lunch tomorrow!
    I did use apple cider vinegar instead of the wine vinegar and added a dash of ground ginger.
    Thanks for the recipe!

  8. I forgot the vinegar, but did add a squirt of our fav bbq sauce and a heavy tea of the horseradish we just made. It was delish! A big hit!

  9. 5 stars
    This is my first time ever commenting on any recipe but this stuff is good. I used dark brown sugar b/c that’s all I had on hand & it was great! I had to make 2 batches in one day. Family ate it up! Now I’ll check out more of your recipes!!!

  10. 5 stars
    So so yummy. This was the perfect recipe. Sometimes i’ve eaten this made with ketchup – yuck – but you nailed the sauce! My family gobbled it up and I’ll be making it again.

  11. 5 stars
    I was hoping we would have leftovers, but not a chance! These are the best sloppy joes! We devoured every bit. Will make again.

  12. 5 stars
    I am a huge sloppy joe fan, but NOT a manwich fan–this looks right up my alley, thanks! Your photos are always mouth watering too 🙂

About Amanda Finks

I’m a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist living in Zionsville, IN. I’m an avid cook, travel nerd, & lover of good food! I’m trained in Food Science & recipe development. It’s my mission to bring you the BEST recipes your whole family will love!

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