Beef, Brunch, Entree, Food, Recipes, sandwich

Sloppy Joe

Sloppy Joe is a popular American sandwich, in which ground beef cooked in tomato sauce, is used as the filling.

It provokes mixed feelings, as on the one hand, it’s quick to make, fairly nutritious and tasty. On the other hand, when badly done, (i.e., by using canned commercial mix), it is yet another example of the negatives of fast food. However, when made from scratch, using fresh ingredients, it is comfort fast food at its best.

There are many variations for this popular sandwich, but the simpler ones are still the winners. In all of them, the ground meat is first cooked lightly, then a mix of tomato and BBQ sauce and seasonings, such a brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, ketchup and spices, are added, and all cooked together to a flavorful thick sauce.

While a bit of brown sugar adds a nice contrast to the tomatoes, too many of these versions are cloyingly sweet. In the version here, I’ve used substantially less sugar, by omitting prepared BBQ sauce, which is usually way too sweet, using a less sweet tomato ketchup, and less brown sugar. However, I did not omit the sugar altogether, as it adds not only a pleasing sweetness, but also enhances the color of the meat sauce. 

Instead of using prepared tomato sauce, I’ve used freshly blended tomatoes, which made the sauce lighter, and added a nice tangy twist to it. To spice things up a bit, I added a small amount of chopped jalapeno pepper.

As the name suggests, this sandwich can be quite sloppy to serve and eat. By using less liquid, and cooking most of it out, the meat mixture is easier to handle as a filling. (The meat sauce can also be prepared ahead of time, and reheated before serving.)

This type of sandwich is perfect for a quick summer lunch or picnic, with some fresh ingredients on the side. I served it with homemade crispy potatoes, green salad and freshly cooked corn, but any other additions you prefer will work just as well. Try it and enjoy.



* Tony’s Chachere’s Original Creole seasoning contains: red pepper, black pepper, chili powder and garlic powder. Any other similar spice mix can be used instead.



Makes: 4

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 25 minutes



For the crispy potatoes (optional):

5 medium potatoes (preferably Yukon Gold), washed and dried

3 Tbs oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

For the meat sauce:

1 Tbs dark brown sugar

1 Tbs coarse ground Dijon mustard

1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp soy sauce

1 Tbs Creole seasoning mix (I used Tony’s Chachere’s Original)

3 Tbs ketchup (I used Heinz’s “with a blend of veggies”, which is less sweet)

1 tsp finely chopped jalapeno or a few drops of green hot sauce

½ tsp freshly ground four peppers mix

½ tsp salt

1 Lbs (455 grams) good quality ground meat (preferably ground at home), at room temperature

1 medium shallot, chopped

1½ cups finely ground fresh tomato juice (from 1-2 large tomatoes, skin and seeds included)

For serving (optional):

4 hamburger buns

Freshly cooked corn

Fresh green leaves, dressed in any dressing you prefer

Sliced radishes


Crispy potatoes (from above)


  1. The potatoes: preheat a toaster oven to 400F (205C). Thinly slice the potatoes, toss in oil and arrange on a flat pan in one layer. Season with salt and pepper and roast for 20 minutes, until the potatoes are golden brown and crispy. Keep in a warm place until serving.
  2. The meat sauce: mix the sugar, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, spice mix, ketchup, jalapeno, salt and pepper, in a small bowl, and set aside
  3. Place a medium wide frying pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the meat, and mix with a wooden spoon, to break down the lumps. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until the meat changes color.
  4. Carefully drain the liquids into the sink, and place back over heat. Add the chopped shallot to one side of the pan, and cook for a minute. Mix with the meat and add the fresh tomato juice and the brown sugar mix.
  5. Mix well, bring to a boil, and lower the heat to medium-low. Cook, mixing occasionally, for about 20 minutes, until the meat is cooked through and the sauce thickens. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  6. To serve: toast the buns and divide the meat sauce between them. Add the potatoes, corn, greens and ketchup on the side and serve.

32 thoughts on “Sloppy Joe”

  1. Yes, everything about this post, just yes. I quickly discovered as I grew in cooking that even a can of tomato sauce that I spice myself is so much better than the canned store bought variety of sloppy Joe mix.. And it really doesn’t take much more time to do it that way.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love a good sloppy joe – my mom made these for the 4 kids and I still make them with a few changes like onion straw addition! I some times will make a double batch and freeze portions in a regular muffin tin. Then I can take out as many as I want 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Mimi, trying to take the original dish to a bit more gourmet level was definitely the idea, and it worked well.
      The veggies blend ketchup contains butternut squash and carrot puree, and less sugar. I liked it. 🙂


  3. This is really tasty stuff but what a mess I can get in. Meat sauce all over the plate, sticky fingers, dribbling down the chin………….But still an enjoyable treat. Now that I’ve been reminded I shall have to make it!!
    Thanks Ronit :)))

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, I’m glad you liked this tasty dish.
      Traditionally, it’s not supposed to be overly spicy, so you can adjust the level of spiciness according to your taste.
      I hope you’ll enjoy it. I’ll be happy to read your comments. 🙂


  4. My gosh, this takes me back. My mother used to make homemade Sloppy Joe’s for us, and we all love them. Occasionally, Mark and I will use leftover ragù for Sloppy Joe-esque experience! What I really like about yours, Ronit, is how you use creole seasoning. I must give them a really nice lift! I also like how you reduce the sugar and don’t use prepared barbecue sauce.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you David, I’m glad the post brought back such warm and tasty memories.
      I like a bit of sweetness in savory dishes, but most bbq sauces I’ve tried are way too sweet for my taste, so I prefer to improvise.
      Using leftover ragù for this dish is such a great idea. I’ll keep it in mind! 🙂


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