Sloppy Joes

Sloppy+Joes Sloppy Joes

I pulled a pound of ground (Galloway beef from Second to None meats) out of the freezer last night with no real plans for it. Tonight, after painting a bowl as part of the Empty Bowls Benefit for the Calgary Inter-faith Food Bank and coming home with no dinner plan, I noticed half bag of Italian buns in the breadbox and got a sudden urge for sloppy Joes. It seems to me the penultimate working weeknight family meal. (With peas.)

When I was a kid, sloppy Joes were about as close as to a burgers as we got. Closer even than the made-from-scratch burgers my dad made out of extra-lean ground beef and oat bran (in approximately equal quantities) which I called sawdust burgers and which discouraged my friends from staying for dinner. Now it is becoming evident that I am in fact turning into my Dad, as I do things like bring bagels and cheese to the zoo (instead of buying food there) and am excited to tell you how easy it is to sneak ground flaxseed into things like sloppy Joes – anything with chunky texture, like chili or spaghetti sauce, makes a good candidate. It seems I have developed a taste for frugality as well as grainy breads.

I’m sure their sweetness was a big part of the reason I loved SJs so much – between the ketchup and brown sugar, it’s sweet, saucy meat on a bun. Although a soft bun is considered the classic vehicle, sloppy Joes are phenomenal on split cheese biscuits or a thick wedge of cheddar beer bread.

Sloppy Joes

a drizzle of canola or olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped (optional)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 lb. lean ground beef or bison
1 14 oz. (398 mL) can diced, whole or stewed tomatoes
1/2 cup ketchup or barbecue sauce, or some of each
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper
soft buns, cheese buns, plain or cheese biscuits

Heat the oil in a large saucepan set over medium-high heat and sauté the onion, celery, red pepper and garlic for about 10 minutes, until the onions are starting to turn golden. Add the meat and cook for about 5 minutes, breaking it up as you cook, until the meat is no longer pink.

Add the tomatoes, ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, and salt and pepper to taste and simmer for 20-30 minutes, until the sauce has thickened. Split the buns or biscuits in half and ladle the sloppy Joe mixture on top. Serves 4-6.

One Year Ago: Peanut Noodles (weird!)


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April 15 2009 06:25 pm | beef and freezable and sandwiches

13 Responses to “Sloppy Joes”

  1. Dana mccauley on 15 Apr 2009 at 6:29 pm #

    My son came home from camp a few years ago raving about the fabulous new dish he’d had called sloppy joes! So funny that was common when I was a kid was a delicacy for the kid of two chefs!

    I developed a recipe for my last book and he’s pretty happy with it. Yours looks good, too so I’ll have to make this version for him as well and see which one he likes best.


  2. Erica B. on 15 Apr 2009 at 9:53 pm #

    Last time I made Sloppy Joes was with W-S sauce. Now it’s good, miles better than Manwich but at $17/jar regular price? I was already trying to recreate it from their ingredients list…and now I don’t have to :) Thank you Julie!

  3. Barb on 16 Apr 2009 at 6:02 am #

    Yum. I had forgotten all about these guys.

  4. Cheryl on 16 Apr 2009 at 8:06 am #

    Sloppy Joes were such a treat when we were little. But my mom was a semi-homemade pro. Our Sloppy Joe seasoning always came from that little package, just like our tacos. When you look at a recipe like yours you have to wonder why we even feel the need to bother with the package. That’s so easy! I’m giving it to Hubby to add to his recipe book (for his nights to cook).

  5. robyn on 16 Apr 2009 at 8:44 am #

    Funny, I forgot about sloppy joes too! They look scrumptious!

  6. Heather on 16 Apr 2009 at 10:48 am #

    Wow, I’d always avoided sloppy joes because I thought they were actually chili on a bun, and I loathe chili (as I child, I somehow had the idea that kidney beans were MADE from kidneys, which grossed me out). But this recipe looks more like saucy meatloaf on a bun. I’m going to try it with ground ostrich (which I prefer over bison) and maybe some pizza sauce or pasta sauce instead of the ketchup.

  7. Manon from Ontario on 16 Apr 2009 at 1:27 pm #

    Cool! I haven’t made sloppy joes in years, but now with this great recipe, I plan to make it this weekend.

    Thanks again Julie.


  8. Manon from Ontario on 16 Apr 2009 at 1:28 pm #

    Hey I’m one of your followers on twitters…but I don’t go very often though.

    Take care.


  9. Aimee on 16 Apr 2009 at 3:30 pm #

    I too loved SJ’s as a kid! Thanks for the reminder–I’ve never made these for the family, but I bet they would be pretty popular with my 3yo.

  10. doula aj on 17 Apr 2009 at 7:00 am #

    There’s a great version of this in the Podleski sister’s first cookbook ‘Loonyspoons’, that they call Tidy Joes. It uses ground turkey, and sneaks in grated carrot, mashed pinto beans and cooked brown rice to up the nutritional value. My kids loved it when they were growing up – Tidy Joe night was always a hit.

  11. katie on 24 Aug 2009 at 9:03 am #


  12. grace on 15 May 2010 at 4:10 pm #

    In the directions you mention celery, vinegar and Tabasco, but none of them are listed in the ingredients section. (I think this is what ‘katie’ is referring to, above.) I can pretty well guess at the celery and Tabasco, by look and desired hotness, but the vinegar has me at a loss. Could you clarify, please? Thanks!

  13. Catherine on 08 Nov 2013 at 4:15 am #

    Just found your blog. It’s very enjoyable. I grew up with Sloppy Joes coming from a package, but have made different homemade versions over the years. I always add vinegar, molassses (or treacle) and mustard to mine.

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