These homemade Easy Sloppy Joes are the perfect quick family dinner. They’re made with basic ingredients and come together in just 30 minutes! One of our favorites!
There are affiliate links in this post – please read my full disclosure policy. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
As a child, I was a picky eater and didn’t like a lot of foods, but homemade Sloppy Joes were one of my favorites and something I was happy to see on the menu no matter where I was.
But I soon learned that most people’s Sloppy Joes tasted a bit bland and slightly sweet. And while okay, they were nothing like the from-scratch version that I was used to.
This old-fashioned Sloppy Joe recipe is a classic that both my mom and grandmother used. It is juicy, full of flavor and has a delightful tangy hint, thanks to the addition of apple cider vinegar.
I’ve eaten a lot of different Sloppy Joe recipes over the years, but I still think this simple Sloppy Joe recipe that is totally from scratch is the best!
Sloppy Joe Ingredients
- Ground Beef. The leaner the beef, the less grease you will have to drain.
- Onion. I typically use a large onion as I love the flavor it adds.
- Ketchup. Gives the meat mixture that signature red color and adds flavor.
- Brown Sugar. Adds just a slight bit of sweetness that really accents the other flavors.
- Apple Cider Vinegar. Gives the sloppy joes a hint of tanginess and is what makes this recipe special!
- Mustard. Plain yellow mustard works the best.
- Worcestershire Sauce. Deepens the flavors of the other ingredients.
- Rolls. We use large hamburger buns, but any bread will work. Toasting the buns makes them extra delicious and also helps prevent them from getting soggy.
How to Make Simple Sloppy Joes
STEP 1: Brown the ground beef with the onion until no pink remains. Drain if needed.
STEP 2: Stir in the remaining ingredients (except for the buns) until combined.
STEP 3: Cover with a lid and simmer for 20 minutes.
STEP 4: Serve on hamburger buns.
Helpful Tips and FAQs
Toppings. We love spreading a little mayo on the buns. You can also add pickles and cheese to the sandwiches.
Spicier. For a spicier sandwich, add a dash or two of red pepper flakes.
Ground Turkey. Using ground turkey will have a slightly different taste, but is still an option if that is what you have on hand.
Saucier. If you prefer a saucy Sloppy Joe, double the ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, mustard and Worcestershire sauce as this is not a super saucy recipe.
Sliders. If you are hosting, you can use slider buns to turn these into a fun finger food.
Storing. Keep leftover Sloppy Joe meat in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Assembled sandwiches will become soggy quickly, so I don’t recommend storing them that way.
Some of you might wonder how this recipe compares to Manwich. I honestly can’t answer that because I’ve never actually had Manwich before.
But I can tell you that if you like Manwich then I think you’ll enjoy this recipe every bit as much, maybe more. Plus, it’s healthier, cheaper and almost as easy too!
I love serving Sloppy Joes with a simple lettuce salad or raw or cooked vegetables. They also pair well with potato chips, pasta or potato salad or a fruit salad such as my 5 Minute Mandarin Orange Jello Salad.
Yes! Sloppy Joe meat freezes really well. So go ahead and make a double batch and freeze it to have on hand for a super quick meal later on.
More Recipes You’ll Love
- Creamy Sausage and Potato Skillet
- White Pizza Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
- One Pan Spanish Chicken and Rice
- Cheesy Beef and Macaroni
- Garlic Butter Swim Biscuits
Simple Sloppy Joes
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1/2 onion, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 1 tbsp. brown sugar
- 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp. mustard
- 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 6 hamburger rolls
- Fry hamburger and onion together until browned; drain if needed.
- Add remaining ingredients (excluding hamburger rolls of course!) and stir until combined.
- Cover and simmer about 20 minutes.
- Serve on hamburger rolls. (We love spreading some mayonnaise on the rolls too for extra deliciousness.)
First time I’ve tried making sloppy Joes from scratch. This recipe was so easy and so very good. Even my finicky daughter loved your sloppy Joe’s. Will be keeping this recipe around.
So happy to hear that you all enjoyed it, Shari! Thanks for taking the time to let me know.
I made these for supper last night for my husband and I. These taste EXACTLY like the Sloppy Joes that my Grandma used to make for us kids. This kid is now 64 years old and Grandma left us 36 years ago. When she passed there were lots of dishes for which there were no recipes!! I have tried to duplicate her recipe for years, coming close, but just..not..quite…there. This recipe is it though!! I believe that you are correct Lydia, it is the cider vinegar that makes it. Thank you for sharing your family recipe with us. BTW, I did manage to snag two of the sandwiches for me…hubby scarfed the other four down in a blink!
This just made me smile so much, Kathleen! I know the frustration of not being able to quite replicate the taste of a dish that you remember and loved. And I’m so glad that this recipe finally allowed you to again enjoy the Sloppy Joes that your Grandma made for you when you were a kid!
This is excellent!! Second time making it- this is so flavorful and so good! Thanks for sharing!!
I’m so delighted to hear that you like it, Diane!
I made this last night. It’s delicious!! Thanks!
Glad that you enjoyed it, Laura! It’s one of those easy recipes that I really don’t make often enough! Also, thanks for taking the time to let me know and to rate the recipe. 🙂
Had these for lunch today. My family no longer wants to eat when made with Manwich!!!
So glad that you all enjoyed them, Debra! And I’m honored that they won out over Manwich. 🙂
Could I make these with already cooked ground beef? Just sauté the onions, make the sauce, and throw in the cooked ground beef on simmer?
I tried this once and the meat turned out much drier and wasn’t nearly as good. I think, however, you could do it and either add a bit of oil/butter to the meat to help mimic the fat content that cooks away during reheating or you could just make a bit of extra sauce. I don’t want to promise it will be amazing but I think it could work. If you try it, I’d love to know how it turned out for you!
So I tried it with already cooked browned beef – it turned out great! I fried up the onions with some butter, made the sauce, and threw the ground beef in to simmer and warm up. Wasn’t dry at all and tasted delicious!
That is really helpful to know! Thanks so much for stopping back to give an update. I often have already cooked ground beef in the freezer to help speed up meal prep, so I’m excited to try it.
I’ll be giving this a try!! I’ve seen other sloppy joe recipes that either had tons of ingredients or just didn’t sound good!
I’d love to know what you think once you make it! 🙂