Homemade Sloppy Joes are not only easy to throw together, the rich zesty flavor is better than Manwich!
Ever since developing this recipe, I have never purchased another can of Manwich. These are easy to make, and I always seem to have the ingredients on hand, since they are mostly pantry staples.
Manwich Sloppy Joe recipe
The classic sloppy Joe, as we know it today, is mostly associated with Manwich, but it was actually born from Loose Meat Sandwiches, popular in Iowa. It is said that a cook, appropriately named “Joe”, added tomato sauce to a loose meat sandwich, and a new classic was born!
This homemade sloppy Joes recipe recreates much of what I love about Manwich, while taking these classic sandwiches to the next level! The sauce bursts with a deeper, richer, flavor that I absolutely love! Most importantly, you probably have all of the ingredients for it already in your kitchen!
Plus, let’s be honest, we all feel a bit lazy dumping Manwich from a can and calling it dinner. If you make my homemade Manwich recipe, it not only tastes better, but you get the satisfaction of making something from scratch!
How to Make Homemade Sloppy Joes
The basic ingredients for making your sloppy Joes sauce consist of ketchup for a base, brown sugar for sweetness, and vinegar and/or mustard for a zesty tang. Personally, I like to deepen the flavor with Worcestershire sauce as well as a bit of paprika. A dash of cayenne really balances out the sweetness without adding noticeable heat.
I find it is best to make this in a deep-sided skillet like a saute pan. You can use nonstick or stainless, but if given the choice I would recommend using stainless because you will get more flavorful fond building up on the bottom of the pan that will incorporate into the sauce.
The best beef for making sloppy Joes is 90/10 ground beef in my opinion. 80/20 is great for making burgers, but it is a little greasier than I prefer for sloppy joes.
Crockpot Sloppy Joes
Sloppy Joes are perfect for serving a crowd, and the easiest vessel to use when serving a crowd is your slow cooker. These sloppy Joes can be made in advance and kept warm in the slow cooker, just follow the recipe as write and pour into a crockpot for serving. Otherwise, I have also written a very similar adaptation of this recipe specifically designed for the crockpot. My slow cooker sloppy Joes are a “dump and cook recipe” requiring no additional cooking or cleanup.
How to customize this recipe
You can add some smokiness substituting smoked paprika and even adding a few splashes of liquid smoke. I also like swapping out green pepper for poblanos for a little more flavor and heat. If you are a sportsman, try this recipe with ground venison, it is fantastic!
How to serve sloppy Joes
You can use gourmet buns such as brioche or even pretzel buns, but I think this classic childhood favorite is best served on traditional hamburger buns. Whichever bun you choose, toasting them adds more flavor and texture to your sandwich.
More Homemade Sloppy Joes Ideas
- Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes – Loaded with the flavors of the classic cheesesteak sandwich.
- Cheeseburger Sloppy Joes – Pickles, ketchup, mustard, this recipe tastes like the real thing!
- Creamy Ranch Sloppy Joes – Creamy sloppy Joes flavored with ranch.
- Quick & Easy Cheesy Sloppy Joes – This recipe was given to me by an Amish woman, they are easy and flavorful!
- Sausage Pizza Sloppy Joes – Love sausage pizza? This recipe is for you.
Homemade Sloppy Joes – Better than Manwich
- 2 pounds extra lean ground beef
- 1/2 onion (diced)
- 1 green pepper (small diced)
- 4 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 1/4 cup ketchup
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoons dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 teaspoons salt
- fresh ground pepper to taste
- 8 hamburger buns for serving
- Add ground beef and onions to a skillet and cook until beef is browned.
- Add all remaining ingredients (except for buns) and cook for 20-25 minutes, or until beef is crumbly and liquid has formed a thick sauce.
- Serve on hamburger buns.
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