This is not your mom’s Sloppy Joe recipe. These are the best Sloppy Joe Sandwiches out there. Made from scratch and NO ketchup!
I was probably in my thirties before ever I even tried Sloppy Joe Sandwiches. I was a super picky eater as a kid and I would not eat anything unless it was obvious what was in it. Sloppy Joe’s, are you kidding me? What is that? Oh it’s ‘good’? That doesn’t help. Admittedly, I still have a few hang ups. For example, condiments. They are my nemesis. I have a true and real fear of Ketchup. This is not a joke. I’ll explain…
- I absolutely hate touching the ketchup bottle. I don’t want it anywhere near me.
- The thought of a drop of ketchup touching me, that’s a horror movie plot right there.
- I’ll do everything I can to pass off the task of squirting the ketchup bottle. If I can’t avoid it, I squint and pray it doesn’t splatter.
- Sitting next to my kids when they’re eating a messy hamburger or dipping their French fries fills me with terror. (see #2.)
- Oh, and the crusty cap? That is the grossest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. And why? Why does it get so watery on top! So. Gross.
Turns out my fear is real and has a name, it’s called mortuusequusphobia. (Please tell my family that while yes, I am crazy at least there’s a name for it!)
This fear of ketchup has even haunted me while on vacation. We were at a Lambert’s Cafe – Home of the Throwed Rolls (obviously before I was gluten-free). This is one of those restaurants where the wait staff jokes around with the patrons. Well I don’t know how this woman knew, she must have seen it in my eyes. She looked right at me and said, “want some ketchup?” Before I could say “no thanks,” she was squirting the bottle right at my face! I flinched, my life flashed before my eyes. Turns out all that squirted out of the bottle was a red string. To this day, my family swears it’s the funniest thing they’ve ever seen, and to this day I still think I need therapy over it.
So you see that is why there is NO KETCHUP in this Sloppy Joe’s recipe. That’s also why I will eat my sloppy Joe’s… but not your sloppy Joe’s. It’s not you, it’s the ketchup. We cool?
Ingredients in the Best Sloppy Joe’s
As we’ve covered, if you wanted ketchup in your Sloppy Joe’s, you will not find that here. These Sloppy Joe’s are better than that. Yes, we are too good for (read: afraid of) ketchup. You’ll need:
- Ground Beef: I use 80/20 ground beef. If you’re averse to beef, you can try it with ground turkey or chicken.
- Tomato Sauce & tomato paste: I’m not afraid of tomatoes. Just ketchup (well, and mustard).
- Garlic, Red bell pepper, Jalapeño: making the flavor happen!
- Brown Sugar, Vinegar, Red wine and Spices: Yes, I know. I basically made ketchup. That’s not the point!
making sloppy joe’s
Sloppy Joe’s must be one of the easiest meals to make. Start by browning the ground beef and then sauté the aromatic vegetables.
Then basically, add in the remaining ingredients and let it simmer for 20-30 minutes.
That really is all there is to it! Which leads me to the next obvious question…
What about using an instant pot or slow cooker?
- Instant Pot: The truth is, the Instant Pot isn’t going to work for this recipe. The sauce is too thick for pressure cooking. If you try it, it will scorch to the bottom of the pot.
- Slow Cooker: You could do the browning/sautéing and then finish cooking in the slow cooker: low for 4-8 hours or high for 2-3 hours.
- Keep Warm: Using the keep warm function on either device is a fine idea for a party or while you’re away.
Freezing sloppy Joe’s
This recipe makes a pretty big batch of sloppy joe’s. You can absolutely freeze some for later! I usually line a 7-cup round pyrex dish with a freezer bag, fill with the leftovers, and then freeze. You can remove the container once it’s frozen. Then when you’re ready to reheat you can pop the frozen block right into a pan, instant pot, or slow cooker to reheat.
What to Serve with Sloppy Joe Sandwiches
The Sloppy Joe sandwich itself doesn’t need anything other than your favorite hamburger bun. For this, I tend to opt for Schar Gluten-free Ciabatta Rolls for my gluten-free needs. As far as side dishes:
- To me, the easiest option is always chips and dip or oven fries. Also, some plain old corn on the cob is always a hit.
- Although if you want to be fancy, I’m not mad about the idea of Homemade Tater Tots with this! As long as you promise not to dip them in ketchup, of course.
- For a party, I’d make a veggie tray and some Homemade Ranch Dip.
- For some reason Sloppy Joe’s always make me think of summer, so for dessert I’d make an Ice Cream Cake!
The Best Sloppy Joe Sandwiches
- 3 pounds 80/20 ground beef
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 small red onions 2 cups diced
- 2 red bell peppers diced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 jalapeno pepper diced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 cup red wine or water
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
- 1 15 oz can tomato sauce
- 1 6 oz can tomato paste
- 3 Tablespoons brown sugar
- 3 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- Hamburger-style buns
- Brown and crumble the ground beef in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Remove the beef from the pan and set aside. Drain excess fat.
- Drizzle in the olive oil. Sauté the onion, bell pepper, garlic, and jalapeño until onions are softened. Season the vegetables with the salt and pepper.
- Deglaze the bottom of the pot with the red wine. (Pour in wine a little at a time and scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.) Pour in the red wine vinegar and Worcestershire sauce.
- Add the beef back to the pot. Also add in the remaining ingredients: tomato sauce, tomato paste, brown sugar, and spices. Stir to combine.
- Cover and simmer on low heat for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Serve on toasted, hamburger-style buns.
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