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. This easy meal is effortless to make, and I always seem to have the simple 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 is it a great recipe, but you get the satisfaction of making classic sloppy Joes from scratch!
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Lean ground beef - 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.
- Green pepper - Red bell peppers are a sweeter substitute.
- Ketchup - BBQ sauce can be used to take the flavor in a different direction, like my BBQ Chicken Sloppy Joes.
- Cider vinegar
- Worchestershire sauce
- Brown sugar
- Dijon mustard - Any brown mustard is a good substitution. You can even use Yellow mustard or ground mustard if needed.
- Paprika - Smoked paprika is a great substitution for a deeper flavor.
- Cayenne pepper - You can substitute chili powder.
For comparison, here is the difference between my homemade Manwich above, and the ingredients you'll find in store-bought Manwich below.
Canned Manwich Ingredients: Tomato puree (Water & Tomato Paste), High-Fructose Corn Syrup, Distilled Vinegar, Corn Syrup, Salt, Sugar, Carrot Fiber, Guar Gum, Spices, Xanthan Gum, Dried Garlic, Natural Flavors, Citric Acid.
I don't know about you, but my homemade ingredient list using real ingredients looks a lot more appetizing!
How to Make Homemade Sloppy Joes
I find it is best to make this in a deep-sided skillet like a saute pan your sloppy Joes. 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.
To begin, we are going to cook beef in the skillet set over medium high heat until it is well browned and crumbled. Check out my tutorial for tips on browning ground beef properly.
Once the beef has browned, all of the remaining homemade Manwich ingredients can be added and simmered together for 25 minutes. Once the liquid has reduced into a thick and sloppy sauce, they are ready to serve on hamburger buns with your favorite sloppy Joe fillings.
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!
Best Bun to Use
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.
What to serve with Sloppy Joes
More 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
- Large skillet
- 2 pounds extra lean ground beef
- ½ onion (diced)
- 1 green pepper (small diced)
- 4 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 ¼ cup ketchup
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoons dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 teaspoons salt
- fresh ground black pepper to taste
- 8 hamburger buns for serving
- Add ground beef and onions to a large skillet set over medium high heat 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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