The Best Sloppy Joes

I know it gets redundant reading recipes that start with “the best” or “the ultimate” but these really are the best sloppy joes I’ve ever had. Really. The best. To be honest, I never liked sloppy joes until I tried these. It was the dreaded meal (that and Shepherd’s Pie) that my mom made growing up (sorry mom!). I never even thought about making them for my family until I came across this recipe a few years ago and decided to take a chance. They were delicious and I’ve been making them ever since. These are less tomato-ey and more smokey and BBQ-ey than traditional sloppy joes. Keep in mind that the roll makes all the difference – good bread equals a fabulous sloppy joe! (I served these sloppy joes on my french bread rolls.) Quick, easy, classic and totally delicious.

What To ServeFrench Bread Rolls (for the bun)
An awesome side like this: Barbecue Macaroni SaladColeslaw, or these Boston Baked Beans
Fresh vegetables and/or green salad

The Best Sloppy Joes

Yield: Serves 4-6

The Best Sloppy Joes


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 onions, roughly chopped
  • 2 ½ pounds ground beef or lean ground turkey
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2/3 cup smoky BBQ sauce (or this awesome homemade version)
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 to 12 rolls or buns


  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until they start to turn translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the beef and cook, stirring and breaking up the meat, until it is finely crumbled, the liquid boils off and the meat begins to brown, about 10 minutes. Drain the grease off the meat and onions. Stir in the tomato paste, and keep stirring until the meat is coated. Add the BBQ sauce, ketchup, Worcestershire, soy sauce, and pepper, and bring to a boil. Cook until the sauce is slightly thickened, 4 to 5 minutes. You can make the sloppy joe meat up to 2 days in advance and reheat it over low heat or in the microwave.
  3. Wrap the rolls in aluminum foil and warm in the oven for about 10 minutes. Serve the sloppy joes hot with the warmed rolls.


Freezable Meals: The leftover sloppy joes can be frozen. I store it in a freezer-safe container and then thaw in the refrigerator prior to serving. I reheat on medium-low heat in a saucepan on the stove.

Recipe Source: adapted from Dave Lieberman

126 Responses to The Best Sloppy Joes

  1. Meredith says:

    This is a regular at our house because it’s just so quick and easy. I add diced green bell peppers because that’s just how I like my sloppy joes. I agree with Nicole above, this blog is a winner.

  2. Shawna says:

    I’ve made these several times already, and I’m making them again tonight. I figured the least I can do is thank you for the awesome recipe! Besides pizza this is the only other food my boyfriend will eat as a leftover!! Thank you!

  3. Bill says:

    My wife is not a fan of smokey sauces, so we we substituted Heinz chili sauce instead. Worked just fine as far as we were both concerned. Thanks for sharing this one.

  4. […] been making Mel’s sloppy joe recipe for the last three years and it is definitely the best sloppy joe you’ll ever eat. And […]

  5. Ros Billson says:

    Hi Mel
    Made these for lunch today – a success and will never use another recipe for Sloppy Joe’s. These were never a favourite of mine but after today they are definitely on my regular menu. In RSA we are now able to buy Heinz Barbecue Sauce, which is what I used. Many thanks for the fabulous recipes.

  6. Pamela says:

    These truly are the best sloppy joes. We’ve had them 4 or 5 times. The first time I made them my youngest daughter who has always declared sloppy joes as gross sat next to me eyeing them as she ate something else for dinner. After a while she says those smell really good. I asked if she wanted a bite, which led to her eating the last half of my sloppy joe. She now requests them about once a week and takes left overs in her lunch to school. Nothing short of a miracle LOL Thank you Mel 🙂

  7. Jan says:

    My family also really liked this recipe–even the non-sloppy joe fans! I didn’t have 2 1/2 lbs. of hamburger, just one, so I added a can of rinsed black beans and they turned out great. I also added a teaspoon of mustard just for fun and a speck of spicy Korean chili powder. Delicious!

  8. Terri Bradshaw says:

    Mel, I found your website about a year ago and have been substituting your recipes for mine ever since. I had to quadruple this recipe for a potluck event. I substituted 1 green pepper for the two onions as I had several people that are allergic to onions. It was fantastic and so simple. Thanks so much for the time you spend sharing your food experiences with the world.

  9. Matt says:

    I must say: I can’t have sloppy joes without beans. Try adding 1 can of maple beans to a half batch of the above recipe. I omitted tomato paste and soy sauce and put in more bbq than ketchup as the maple beans are already sweet. Garlic in with the onions too;) I didn’t bake: just all sautéed as I don’t typically like baked meat and it’s quicker. Yummy and super easy!

  10. stacee says:

    this is very very yummy…loved it.

  11. Anne says:

    I’ve never made sloppy joes before because I don’t like them. But I needed something for dinner, and I had all the ingredients, so I made these. My husband was ecstatic, and said they tasted just like he remembered. Fortunately for me they didn’t taste just like I remembered, and I really liked them. The baby ate all of his, my boys devoured theirs, and my girls, after much coaxing and threatening with no dessert finally took a bite of theirs and loved them! There are very few meals all of the picky eaters in my family like, and I’m so grateful to have another to add to my list. Thank you!

  12. Melissa says:

    I made these last night for dinner using ground turkey breast and they were amazing! My whole family loved them! Super easy and quick too 🙂

  13. Gerry Axvig says:

    My Hubby’s birthday is tomorrow and I already made my 3 qt.crockpot full of sloppy joe’s I also have a small crock pot which I fill with Bush’s beans and a bowl of cole slaw and a bowl of fruit salad and chips. Later t he get cake and ice cream.
    If I have any left-over sloppy joe mixture I just add cans of tomatoes and call it CHILI and it is really good.

  14. Marne Clark says:

    So Mel have you ever put this in the crockpot? This looks delicious. On the menu for Sunday dinner. 🙂

    • Mel says:

      I haven’t but I think it would work well if you made it on the stove and kept it warm in the crockpot. So…did the cottage cheese go ON the sloppy joes or just as a side dish?

  15. Marne Clark says:

    Oh and something funny…growing up my mom always served sloppy joes with cottage cheese. So now I have to have those two together. SO weird, I know. But it is GOOD!

  16. Haley says:

    My husband agrees with the title of the recipe. Best sloppy joes ever!

  17. ChrissieK says:

    how is there NO garlic in this!??!!? it does not compute….. mel+kitchen-garlic=best recipe ever? hmmmm……. i added a bit of costco’s garlic and it made them PERFECT. I love you …. but you have neglected your best friend in this recipe….. (garlic!)

  18. Janelle says:

    These are so yummy! I asked my husband (who isn’t such a fan of sloppy joes) if he liked them and he said “Yes, those were good! What did you do different [from my normal recipe]?”

  19. Rose says:

    Excellent and easy.

  20. Elizabeth says:

    I love these so much I want to cry and hug you. Odd reaction to a sloppy joe? Maybe. But I love them. They are exactly what I’ve always pictured a sloppy joe to be but it just never was.

    Thank you!!!

    • kim Severson says:

      What size onion & what kind did you use in this recipe? One of my kids said it was too onion-ey. I loved them!

  21. Melissa says:

    Mel has never let me down. Seriously, every recipe is a favorite of my family.

    I am a long-time fan but tried two new recipes last weekend and this weekend. Sloppy joes were another hit!

    P.S.: I really appreciated your wellness post on your recent surgery. You look great and are healing up well!

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