HomeCooking Sloppy Joes

Sloppy Joes

Posted in : Cooking on by : Sheila Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I’ve had a sort-of-like/hate relationship with sloppy joes. How is it that every child knows about sloppy joes – they have them at someone else’s house or something and then you get tormented until you make them? I used to take the shortcut and use the can of Manwich – which I hate (sorry Hunt’s). Fortunately, I haven’t had to have that stuff for many years, but the memory remains. If you like or love Manwich’s, you do you and more power to you – I just can’t.

Over the years, I have tried quite a few sloppy joe recipes and have never been quite thrilled with the result. They’ve been okay, and I know that flavour is subjective. Not everyone will like a particular flavour or spice, and I get that, but I always try to make the recipe as it is given, or very close, so I can judge fairly. I realize it’s just sloppy joes – a quick dinner that requires few ingredients and very little work, but it should taste good, right? You, and your kids, should look forward to eating it. You should catch a whiff of it cooking and be happy, not wonder what else there is to eat.

If nothing else, writing this blog has taught me to skip trying things exactly as they are. If I don’t like a spice or if something has more or less sugar or salt or vinegar or whatever than I know I like, I’ll change it. I’m not going to slavishly follow something and ruin my ingredients – and you shouldn’t either. Taste your food, adjust as necessary, just understand that some adjustents will be immediate and some will take a little time to kick in. Know the difference and end up with food you enjoy, even if it’s just sloppy joes!


  • 1 lb ground beef – if you have a fattier grind, drain it when you’re done cooking it
  • 1 onion, diced – I used red because it’s what I have in the house
  • 1 bell pepper – I used a yellow one because eat the rainbow
  • 2-4 cloves of garlic, minced I used 3 technically, but one of the three was actually two that had grown together so it was actually 4 cloves
  • 2 TB tomato paste
  • 2/3 cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup water, more or less
  • 2 rounded tsp of brown sugar – not packed at all
  • 1 tsp mustard – I used yellow, but Dijon or grainy would work, also
  • 2 tsp of Worcestershire sauce – or more if you like it
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • a generous dash of hot sauce, or not If you don’t like spice, don’t add or be less generous
  • buns to hold the ‘joes – if you don’t have buns, toast some bread – it’ll do the job

Cook the ground beef in a heavy pan big enough to hold everything. When the ground beef is nearly done, add the onion – cook until translucent. At this point – drain your beef and onion if you need to – don’t rinse it, though, all the flavour will go away and your food will be a little blah.

I had to add water to the beef while I was cooking it…..didn’t want it to burn.

Add the garlic and bell pepper. Make sure you don’t burn the garlic – keep your heat about low medium to medium.

Add the tomato paste, ketchup, water, brown sugar, mustard, Worcestershire, chili powder and hot sauce if you’re going to use it.

Let it simmer until you can drag your spoon or spatula across the bottom of the pan and no liquid runs back into the space left. Get it thick!

That space is where I dragged the spoon through the mixture – you know it’s thick when it doesn’t have liquid rushing back in to fill that space. It takes a couple minutes, but it’s well worth the time.

Get your buns ready. If you want them to have some structural integrity or if they’re just a little bit frozen still, toast them a little.

I thought about making a salad to go with this last night – I didn’t think very hard, though, and skipped it. There’s vegetables in the sloppy joe mix, what more do you need? 🙂

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