Homemade Sloppy Joes

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I am child of the 80s, but I was deprived of Sloppy Joes. Sad, but true. Apparently my parents didn’t think much of it. I wished for that magical messy sandwich with the red sauce that came from a can because everything artificial was cool and I desperately wanted to be normal like the rest of the kids at the expense of taste. Put Capri Sun pouches and cheese handi-snacks in my lunch like the popular girls.

Wake up and move on to 2019. Everything is flipping healthy and homemade including Sloppy Joes. No cans. Tomatoes are locally grown. Beef is grass-feed and organic.

But I realized that my son had no idea what Sloppy Joes are (or Jello pudding pops, which I really need to address). To bring back a bit of my youth, I decided to make homemade Sloppy Joes, much to my husband’s chagrin. Apparently he’s blase about it too.

I found this recipe on The Kitchn and changed it up a bit like I usually do.

First, brown the ground beef.

I read somewhere that using a potato masher is awesome for crumbling meat. I tried it. Not so much. Could it be me? Not so much.

While browning the meat, FINELY chop up red bell pepper and onion (any type…I like red). I emphasize finely because I did not and my 12-year old son, the surgeon, dissected his meat to remove every damn single piece of vegetable. Argh.

By the way, I love this onion chopping trick. Cut the onion in half, but be sure to retain the root at one end. It holds on to the onion layers.

Slice lengthwise. Slice in 2-3 layers width wise. Chop. Voila! Diced onion. It’s a beautiful thing.

After admiring your onion handiwork, smash a garlic and minced it to smithereens. Throw the red bell pepper, onions, and garlic in a bowl and stage it for the next step.

Assuming your ground beef is cooked and crumbled, dump it in a bowl. In the same pan, add a tiny bit of olive if the pan is dry and throw in your pepper/onion/garlic mixture.

Let it do its thing and then add your seasonings. The kitchen should be smelling pretty good right now. Too bad there’s no fragrant candle to burn that would do it justice.

Add the tomato sauce, paste, sugar, and mustard. Add the meat back in.

Let it simmer for 15 minutes while the sauce thickens up.

Meanwhile, toast the buns. I love soft buns, but apparently using soft buns is the reason why my burgers end up soggy so just toast them. You won’t regret it.

When everything heated through and toasted, you’re ready to assemble.


It looks awful, but tastes amazing.

It also makes a lot. The boys had “sloppy tacos” the next night. LOL.

Sloppy Joes

Servings 8


  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1/2 medium onion finely chopped
  • 1/2 medium red bell pepper finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 15 ounces tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar packed
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • hamburger buns toasted


  • Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add ground beef. Crumble with a cooking spoon and cook until browned and cooked through, about 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer the browned beef to a plate; set aside.
  • Return the pan to medium-high heat. Add the onion, pepper, and garlic. Cook until
    softened, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the chili powder, paprika, and salt. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  • Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, brown sugar, and mustard. Stir to combine. Return the ground beef to the pan. Stir to incorporate.
  • Simmer the sauce, stirring often, until thickened, about 15 minutes.
  • Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Spoon onto the toasted buns.
Keyword beef
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