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Sloppy Joe’s Recipe: A New Twist on a Classic Sandwich

Is there anything that says “family get-togethers” more than sloppy Joes? Our oldest has been a huge fan of this Sloppy Joe’s Recipe for a very long time. It’s a great recipe.

What is a sloppy Joe? It’s a tasty, though messy, hot sandwich that typically consists of ground beef, ketchup or tomato sauce (sometimes a bit of both), Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. It’s served on a hamburger bun and it is impossible to eat without making at least a little bit of a mess. That’s just part of its appeal.

The History of Sloppy Joe Sandwiches

Sloppy Joes Recipe
Sloppy Joes Recipe

It goes by several names. You may hear sloppy Joe’s referred to as a loose meat sandwich or even a deviled sandwich, in very old cookbooks. Some sources claim it is a product of Cuba invention. Others state that it originated in a diner by a man named, you guessed it, Joe. I don’t know the answer. I suspect that it is probably all of those things, plus a few more we don’t know about yet–and maybe never will.

Either way, this recipe for Sloppy Joe’s is a little different than your typical sloppy Joe recipes. Yes, it still uses hamburger, it also uses hamburger buns, tomato sauce and ketchup, as Worcestershire sauce. Then it takes a little detour. There’s celery in here. Barbecue sauce, brown sugar, dry mustard, and a smidgen of vinegar.

It adds a lot of flavor. If you’ve had plenty of sloppy Joe sandwiches, and who hasn’t, you will appreciate the more complex flavors of this recipe. It’s satisfying. It bears no resemblance to the sloppy Joe’s you may have had in your school cafeteria. This, in fact, does resemble food–and a very good  entree at that.

Classic Sandwich Recipe

Great Homemade Recipes

I can remember having sloppy Joe sandwiches at my grandma’s house. She didn’t do anything too fancy. I do remember stirring the meat on the stove top. I wasn’t much more than 11 years old. It was probably the biggest cooking thing I had done so far. I remember her handing me the ketchup and the mustard. I then had to add it in. You know how it is at that age, the surge of pride, the feeling of accomplishment: I had made sloppy Joe’s.

Fortunately, my cooking skills have increased a bit in the years since then. Sometimes, those simple recipes we remember as children can’t help but sneak their way into our own recipe rotation, too.

Found long ago on, my printed copy is now worn and splattered. I can barely tell that that’s where it is from. That’s always the mark of a keeper–and this recipe for Sloppy Joe’s is a keeper. There have been times I’ve been out of one ingredient or another and the Sloppy Joe’s have still turned out just fine. But do keep in the celery. It’s a nice extra.

Sloppy Joes Recipe

Sloppy Joe Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Sloppy Joe Recipe


We love this Sloppy Joe's Recipe! It's so easy--and apparently it doubles very well.


  • 1 lb Ground Beef
  • 2 -3 Stalks Celery, Chopped
  • 1 small Onion, Chopped
  • 1 (8 Ounce) Can Tomato Sauce
  • 1/4 Cup Ketchup
  • 1/4 Cup Barbecue Sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar, Packed
  • 1 teaspoon Dry Mustard
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Vinegar


  1. In a large skillet, brown Ground Beef, Celery and Onion.
  2. Drain.
  3. Add in the rest of the ingredients. Simmer, covered, 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. If the meat mixture isn't the thickness you desire, remove the lid and cook longer.
  5. Serve.

Small Towns: Destinations, not Drive-Thrus! I’m Jessica Nunemaker and THIS is Little Indiana.

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About Jessica Nunemaker

Jessica Nunemaker is the Owner of Little More than a website, Little Indiana is a PBS segment on the state-wide program "The Weekly Special," a bi-weekly column in a local newspaper, and a book. Look for "Little Indiana: Small Town Destinations" published by Indiana University Press in April 2016--just in time for Indiana's BIG 200th Birthday Celebration.

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