Best Ever Sloppy Joes

Best Ever Sloppy Joes! These cook in one pot, with ground beef, onions, garlic, carrots, and celery, in sweet-and-sour tomato sauce. Served messy on purpose, over hamburger buns.

Just hearing the words “sloppy joes” from my mother used to send us kids into a tizzy. There was something wonderfully fun about getting to eat a burger/sandwich that was messy by design.

I first posted this recipe years ago, after making it for my visiting young nephew. Sloppy joes really are a quintessential kid food, aren’t they?

After my nephew explained to me that he didn’t like tomatoes with his hamburger and he wanted his onions on top, I explained to him that sloppy joes are made with the onions mixed in with the beef. And he eats spaghetti, so what’s wrong with tomatoes, anyway?

He relented.

When called to dinner he ate the whole thing (and loved it)!

What’s a Sloppy Joe?

Depending on where you live, a “Sloppy Joe” can mean many different things. The Sloppy Joe I love is the one I’m presenting here—a sweet and tangy ground beef concoction that you ladle onto a hamburger bun.

It’s a mess. Intentionally so. Even though it’s in a bun, it must be eaten with a fork.

How to Make Sloppy Joes

What makes this sloppy joe extra special is that I start with a mirepoix, or sauté of minced carrots, onions, and celery. Then I brown the ground beef and pull everything together with a highly flavored tomato sauce. It’s one of my favorite recipes on the site. I hope you like it, too!

Tips for Making the Best Sloppy Joes

  • Prep veggies in a food processor: Make prep a breeze by coarsely chopping the onion, celery, and carrots and then pulsing them a few times in the food processor (carrots first; you can do the onions and celery together).
  • Work in batches: This way you don’t crowd the pan when browning the beef.
  • Don’t stir the beef: Once you add the beef, don’t stir the meat much until it has browned well on one side.
  • Add water if needed: If the sloppy joe meat looks like it is getting dry while you simmer it, just add some water to get the consistency you want.

Can You Freeze Leftovers?

You can freeze these for up to 3 months. Just transfer the cooked and cooled mix to a zip-top freezer bag, lay it flat in the freezer (saves space), and freeze.

When it’s time to reheat, put it in a saucepan with a little water, heat it through, and serve with freshly toasted hamburger buns.


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