Sloppy Joes




About: I work at instructables by day, and turn into a stitch witch by night. follow me on instagram @jessyratfink to see what i'm working on! ^_^

This is basically my Ma's recipe for sloppy joes. I've been making them this way for years, but finally sat down to get the measurements right so I could share. It's a really simple recipe - just ketchup and mustard and a few other things! It's an excellent base recipe for sloppy joes in case you'd like to change the flavor a bit.

I'm making a ton of sloppy joes today, so the ingredients list I give here will feed loads of folks. Scale back as needed. :D

(and can I just add that it is super hard to make sloppy joes look nice.)

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Step 1: Ingredients

  • 3 pounds ground beef
  • 1 1/2 - 2 cups of ketchup
  • 1/8 - 1/4 cup yellow mustard
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, finely chopped (green gives the most authentic grandma taste, but I used red cause it's what I had on hand!)
  • 2-3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup water
You can see I give a little leeway when it comes to amounts. I'd start with the base amounts of ketchup and mustard and add more as needed! If you like your sloppy joes a little more tangy, add more mustard. If you like them sweeter, add more ketchup.

Step 2: Cook the Ground Beef and Veggies Together

I cooked mine over medium heat and stirred it very often. I'd say it took around 15 minutes or so to get the veggies soft and the meat cooked all the way through.

You will need to drain the fat as you go - I'm using 80/20 beef and I got nearly a full mason jar of fat out of it. Draining off the liquid will help with cooking, too!

Step 3: Add Everything Else and Simmer

Add in the mustard, ketchup, brown sugar, garlic powder and salt and pepper. Stir it well until everything is evenly coated.

Add 1/2 cup of water, and stir again.

Turn the heat down to medium-low and let it simmer for at least a half hour, covered but with the lid cracked. You will want to stir this quite often - there's not enough liquid to keep it from burning to the bottom of the pan if you leave it, and the sugar only makes it worse!

Step 4: Enjoy!

They're even better the next day, too - and you're sure to have leftovers. :)

If you're feeling like taking your sloppy joes to the next level, try out my puff pastry intestines!

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    16 Discussions


    5 years ago on Introduction

    My dad's favorite version of this was to just raid the refrigerator. Mustard, Ketchup, BBQ sauce, A-1, Heinz 57 steak sauces, Worcestershire, chopped onion. Then he would raid the spices garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, salt, paprika , chili powder. we never measured anything just dumped in some and stirred and then dumped in something else. Put on toast or on a bun. different and tasty every time.

    What's even more amazing is the number of different names this has, depending on where in the country you live. In parts of Iowa and southern Minnesota (and probably other places) they are called "loose meat sandwiches". A friend told me that in the Dakotas they are call "taverns". I've heard them called BBQ sandwiches as well, but we've always called them sloppy joes. (btw I love the red OR green peppers in this...or both, maybe some finely chopped jalapeno if you want some extra heat)

    haha yea i live in Australia and i'd heard of sloppy joes but didn't have a clue what they were...apart from the fact that they were some sort of sandwich/burger

    haha its interesting how much stuff you can find out on this site!!

    PS totally pointless but your reply was the 333d comment ever directed to me lol


    7 years ago on Step 4

    Some suggestions you might want to try. Reduce or eliminate the water. Increase the ratio of mustard to ketchup. Add a few Tbs Worcestershire sauce. retain a little of the fat from the meat (a few Tb to 1/4 cup). Personally I like your recipe, but my family keeps asking me to make the above changes...


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Substitute celery that has been soften by boiling for the red pepper. Mom did the same recipe but with the celery. We called it Sloppy Joes but also referred to it as Country BBQ (which it really isn't). It was a big staple on the farm when I was growing up. Some big star from Hollywood had some of these and decided to call them Loose Meat Sandwiches....LOL.....

    2 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I like a little green peppers with my ground beef. Wow you making me gain a few pounds just looking at all the great food you all make here in instructables. =P


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I buy cans of Sloppy Joe crap because I thought it would be hard to make. Thanks for showing me the errors of my way! Looks delicious


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Me too! I totally forgot to mention it. This time I used chili-garlic sauce and it was awesome. :D