Using ingredients you typically already have on hand, you can create this easy Sloppy Joe recipe with a healthy, zingy tomato sauce that elevates this sandwich to a weekday favorite.
You’ll never buy another can of Sloppy Joe sauce again after you see how easy it is to make at home. There’s a key ingredient in this recipe that I never see included in Sloppy Joe recipes. This one ingredient changes the sauce so dramatically that I can’t imagine leaving it out. It elevates the taste of this sauce from okay to really good.
Whenever people ask what foods are distinctly American, I think we completely forget about the Sloppy Joe, which is about as American as it can get.
Why do hamburgers and hot dogs get all the glory, when the Sloppy Joe is just as American? Although the origin of this sandwich is hotly contested, as most things are, it’s homeland is unarguably America.
Was it a cook in Iowa named Joe who added tomato sauce to his loose meat sandwich and called it a Sloppy Joe, or was it Sloppy Joe’s bar in Florida that started the trend? It doesn’t really matter. We’re all just lucky someone invented it.
So, if you’re still wondering what the key ingredient is that makes this tomato sauce superior, it’s Worcestershire sauce. It gives the sauce an umami boost, while the apple cider vinegar brightens it all up.
On a side note, if you’re looking for high-quality ground beef and meat, check out Butcher Box. It’s a subscription meat box with 100% grass-fed beef, free-range, organic chicken, heritage breed pork, and wild caught Alaskan salmon. All the meat is humanely raised and never given antibiotics or added hormones ever. See our full review of the service.
I’m super impressed with the quality of the meat from ButcherBox and won’t go back to purchasing meat at the grocery. Plus, it’s way easier to have it delivered to your door.
You can also purchase quality meat raised on small farms from FarmFoods without a subscription. They have all the information for every farm on their website and you can choose what cuts you want and have it shipped free to your door.
This sandwich is a favorite for us not just because it’s so tasty, and it reminds us of childhood, but also because it’s so darn easy to make.
You would think that making this sauce would be time consuming. It would have to simmer away for hours to develop depth of flavor. That’s just not the case.
The only chopping necessary is dicing 1/4 cup of green peppers and onion. The rest of the job just includes adding the ingredients to the pan and simmering for 10 minutes. Super simple.
» If you like how easy this sauce is to make, you’ll also want to check out my homemade spaghetti sauce.
You can serve this homemade Sloppy Joe sauce on toasted burger buns or on slider rolls. We also occasionally serve it on top of grilled root vegetables, like a slice of roasted celeriac, for a low-carb meal.
Top it with some melted cheese and you have an easy weeknight meal that everyone will enjoy. Once you make these Sloppy Joes once you’ll be addicted, believe me. It’s impossible to go back to jarred sauce after you see how easy it is and how good it tastes.
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Easy Homemade Sloppy Joes
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 small green pepper, finely chopped
- 1 cup ketchup
- 2 oz tomato paste
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 1/2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 tsp garlic salt
- 1/4 tsp celery salt
- Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese for garnish, if desired
- 4 hamburger buns toasted
- Cook the ground beef, onion, and bell pepper in a medium-sized skillet over medium heat. Crumble it as it cooks.
- Add all remaining ingredients (except for shredded cheese and buns) and stir well to combine.
- Simmer over low heat for 10 minutes.
- Serve on toasted buns. Top with shredded cheese, if desired.
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Laura is a home cook who loves making new recipes and finding new favorite things to eat, whether at home or abroad. She also runs a popular travel blog and spends a lot of her time traveling for food.