Ditch the cans of sauce mix and seasoning packets; make these delicious, gluten-free Sloppy Joes from scratch instead! In less than 30 minutes, you can whip up this homemade Sloppy Joe sauce with its sweet and tangy flavor! Gluten-Free Sloppy Joes are an easy meal the whole family will love!
- Why You'll Love This Recipe
- What is a Sloppy Joe?
- Is Sloppy Joe Mix Gluten-Free?
- Ingredients for Homemade Sloppy Joe Sauce
- How to Make Gluten-Free Sloppy Joes
- Can I Make this Recipe in the Instant Pot or Slow Cooker?
- What to Serve with Sloppy Joes
- How to Store Leftover Sloppy Joes
- Comments and Ratings
Why You'll Love This Recipe
Move over busy weeknights, Sloppy Joes to the rescue! This is a perfectly simple meal, even when made from scratch! This childhood favorite is sure to bring up all of those nostalgic feelings!
Making Sloppy Joe sandwiches from scratch tastes much better than any Sloppy Joe made using shortcuts, like cans of Sloppy Joe filling or squirts of ketchup and mustard. None of that is necessary at all and making this easy recipe truly doesn't require much effort at all!
This recipe is quick to make, which means these delicious barbecue sandwiches are perfect for easy weeknight meals. This versatile recipe can also me made in advance and reheated, making it great for meal prep, parties, and gluten-free potlucks, too!
These sandwiches are simple to make and pack a punch with their tangy flavor. They taste like a traditional sloppy joe, but even better. Arguably these are the best sloppy joe sandwich you'll ever eat, sure to become a family favorite recipe!
What is a Sloppy Joe?
No one really knows whether the Sloppy Joe sandwich was created as a way to stretch meat or simply the invention of a cook named Joe from Sioux City, Iowa. That's because the true origins of the Sloppy Joe sandwich is a bit murky. We do know recipes for the dish date back at least to the 1940s!
Regardless, Sloppy Joes are universally known as loose meat sandwiches made with ground beef in a sweet and tangy tomato sauce. They are an American staple in homes and lunch rooms not only in the midwest, but across the country.
Is Sloppy Joe Mix Gluten-Free?
If you're accustomed grabbing a can of Manwich Sloppy Joe Mix, or the like, to make sloppy joes, you can probably still use that if you prefer. They are likely gluten-free and safe to consume on a gluten-free diet.
Take a look at the ingredient statement and you'll see most do not contain gluten ingredients but there is also no gluten-free claim on the label.
While they are likely safe to eat, I urge you to try making them from scratch instead! This recipe is so delicious and flavorful, I doubt you'll ever go back to the cans or seasoning packets again!
Ingredients for Homemade Sloppy Joe Sauce
The ingredient list arguably looks a little long but when you get down to it, it's mostly spices and other items from your pantry! These ingredients are also why you don't need a can of Sloppy Joe mix, Sloppy Joe seasoning packet, or ketchup. Starting with tomato sauce and adding in your own seasonings means you get to control the taste, flavor, and the amount of sugar!
- Ground Beef: 80% lean ground chuck is my preference in this recipe as it has the best flavor, but any type of ground beef also works! If you want to even more depth of flavor, use a combination of ground beef and ground pork, that flavor combo is phenomenal! You can also make this recipe with ground turkey or ground chicken for an even healthier spin.
- Red bell pepper, jalapeño pepper, red onion, and fresh garlic: These vegetables add lots of flavor and nutrients. You can load this mix with as many veggies as you like, which is a great way to sneak a few healthy ingredients into your children's diet! If you only have a green bell pepper, of course that's fine too! Finely diced sweet potatoes would be another nice addition that would up the nutritional value!
- Tomato Sauce and Tomato Paste: Plain tomato sauce is the base for the sauciness of this recipe, instead of ketchup or barbecue sauce. Tomato paste helps thicken the sauce and adds a depth of tomato flavor.
- Brown Sugar or Coconut Sugar: You can adjust the amount or type of sugar in this recipe to your tastes. You could even leave it out all together if you prefer! Maple syrup would also be another decent substitute. Just making these Sloppy Joe's without ketchup already greatly reduces the amount of sugar from the classic recipe, so feel free to add the sugar in small amounts and taste as you go, stopping at your desired sweetness.
- Red Wine: There is just something about deglazing the pot with red wine that adds a special depth of flavor. Feel free to omit this ingredient if desired though. Substitute with beef broth or water in the recipe.
- Red Wine Vinegar: This ingredient adds that tangy factor you know and love in a classic sloppy joe sandwich. Substitute with balsamic vinegar or apple cider vinegar, if desired.
- Worcestershire Sauce: I love adding a dash of Worcestershire sauce to all of my ground beef recipes, it adds a unique umami flavor. Most are gluten-free but I prefer Lea & Perrins, just check the labels for your sauce to be sure. If you don't have Worcestershire, a dash of coconut aminos is a good substitute.
- Ground Spices: Smoked paprika, cumin, dry mustard, and cayenne red pepper add a huge boost of flavor. You can substitute chili powder if needed but the smoky paprika and cumin are definitely worth adding if you can!
How to Make Gluten-Free Sloppy Joes
- Step 1: Heat a large heavy-bottomed pot or dutch oven over medium heat with a little olive oil. Brown the ground beef and crumble with a meat chopper tool or the back of a wooden spoon.
- Step 2: Remove the ground beef to a plate lined with paper towels, to drain excess fat. Then sauté the vegetables in the same pot.
- Step 3: Deglaze the pan with the red wine and stir in the remaining ingredients. Add a little water or beef broth to thin as needed.
- Step 4: Let the mixture simmer for at least 20-30 minutes. The longer you let it simmer, the better the flavor gets!
- Step 5: Serve sloppy joe sandwiches on gluten-free hamburger buns and get ready for the compliments to roll in.
Top Recipe Tip! Adjust the sloppy-ness to your liking by adding in or evaporating off some moisture. If the mixture looks too thick, add in a splash of water or beef broth. If it's too thin, leave the lid off and let the mixture simmer. It will thicken as water evaporates.
Can I Make this Recipe in the Instant Pot or Slow Cooker?
- Instant Pot: The Instant Pot is not recommended for this recipe. The sauce is too thick for pressure cooking and it may scorch to the bottom of the pot. Although, you can use the Instant Pot to reheat the Sloppy Joe's or keep them warm for serving.
- Slow Cooker: To use a crock pot, brown the meat and sauté the vegetables in a large skillet. Then add all of the ingredients to the slow cooker. Cook on low for 4-8 hours or high for 2-3 hours. Keep an eye on the moisture level, add a splash of water or beef broth if the mixture looks too thick.
- Keep Warm: Use the keep warm function on either device to keep the sloppy joes at the optimal temperature for serving at a party or while you're away.
What to Serve with Sloppy Joes
For starters, you need a good gluten-free bun! If you want to make homemade gluten-free buns, try this gluten-free hamburger bun or gluten-free Hawaiian roll recipe. For store-bought buns, try Schar Gluten-free Ciabatta Rolls or Canyon Bakehouse gluten-free hamburger buns.
As far as side dishes, there are many great sides for sloppy joe's:
- The easiest option is chips and gluten-free dip.
- Frozen gluten-free french fries baked in the oven or cooked in the airy fryer is also simple and easy.
- Another easy and delicious side is a simple baked potato!
- Buttery Instant Pot corn on the cob is the perfect side, especially in the summer!
- To feed a crowd, make this gluten-free hashbrown casserole with or without canned soup, a veggie tray with homemade ranch dip and fresh herbs, or some gluten-free pasta salad!
How to Store Leftover Sloppy Joes
Leftover sloppy joes will keep well in the refrigerator for 2-3 days, but you can also freeze the beef mixture, if desired.
- Freeze in an airtight container for up to 4 months. Thaw overnight before reheating.
- If the mixture is still frozen somewhat, that's ok. Just pop it in a sauce pan or in the instant pot to finish thawing and reheat. Add a splash of water or beef broth as needed to get a saucy consistency.
- You can reheat sloppy joe meat from frozen if using the instant pot, provided it's frozen in a shape that will fit in the pot. Just put the frozen block in the Instant Pot and set to 'steam' for 5-10 minutes.
Gain access to our FREE exclusive mini-series:
Gluten-Free Baking and Lessons Learned!
Plus, be the first to know about new recipes and exciting announcements!
📩 Sign up for the Mini-Series Here! 📩
Gluten-free Sloppy Joes From Scratch
- 1.5 pounds 80/20 ground beef chuck
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 red onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed and diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Tablespoons red wine
- 5 tablespoons tomato paste, about 3 ounces
- 15 ounces tomato sauce
- 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 ½ Tablespoons brown sugar, or coconut sugar
- ½ Tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon ground dry mustard
- ¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 1 cup water or beef broth, as needed to thin sauce
- 8-12 Gluten-free hamburger buns
- Brown the ground beef in a large pot over medium heat, breaking up the meat as it browns. Remove the beef to a paper-towel lined plate to drain the excess fat and set aside.
- In the same pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
- Sauté the onion, bell pepper, jalapeño pepper, and garlic until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.
- Deglaze the pot by adding the red wine and using a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
- Stir in the cooked ground beef, tomato paste, tomato sauce, red wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, and spices.
- If the sauce is too thick, add a splash of water to thin it to the desired consistency.
- Cover the pot and reduce the heat to low, simmering for 20-30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.
- Stir occasionally and add water as needed to maintain the desired thickness of the sauce.
- Taste the mixture and adjust the seasoning as desired.
- Serve the gluten-free sloppy joe mixture on toasted gluten-free buns.
While Manwich sloppy joe mix does not contain gluten ingredients, it is not labeled gluten free. This means the manufacturer is not validating this item. Check the list of ingredients and allergen statement for the most up to date information.
While the McCormmick sloppy joe seasoning mix does not contain gluten ingredients, it is not labeled gluten-free. The ingredients are: Sugar, Onion, Salt, Corn Starch, Spices (Including Paprika, Chili Pepper), Garlic, Citric Acid & Red Bell Pepper. Check the product label for the most up to date ingredient and allergen information. McCormick will label for all gluten containing grains, including barley, rye, oats, spelt, triticale, and kamut.
Is Stonewall Kitchen Sloppy Joe Sauce Gluten-Free?
According to Stonewall Kitchen, the Sloppy Joe Sauce contains non-gluten ingredients.