How to Make Homemade Sloppy Joes

They are *so* easy to put together.

Sloppy joes are an all-American classic. Like a lot of you, this was one of my favorite meals as a child. They were the best! Later on, I learned how to make sloppy joes from scratch so I knew exactly what was going into my mix. You can easily prepare these crowd-pleasing sandwiches for your family, too.

How to Make Sloppy Joes

Here’s a recipe from Laurie Hauser of Rochester, New York, you can follow step-by-step.


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons prepared mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 hamburger buns, split


Step 1: In a large skillet, cook ground beef over medium heat until nicely browned, and then drain.

Step 2: Return the meat to the pan over medium heat and add in the remaining ingredients; stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce heat to a low simmer.

Step 3: Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, then serve them up on sliced buns—pickle chips optional.

There are endless varieties of sloppy joes. This recipe is perfect if you prefer the classic flavor. But you could jazz it up by turning it into Sloppy Joe Pasta or even Sloppy Joe Pizza!

What Sides Go with Sloppy Joes?

Why Are Sloppy Joes Called Sloppy Joes?

There are many origin stories of the sloppy joe. One is that it was born in 1918 at a bar in Havana, Cuba, owned by José Abeal y Otero. He changed the name of his establishment after his American friends gave him the nickname “Sloppy Joe.” He had sandwiches on his menu, but they weren’t much like the sloppy joes we enjoy today.

Another story goes that a second Sloppy Joe’s Bar was christened in 1933 in Key West, Florida. Legend has it that Ernest Hemingway was a regular at the bar, and suggested that the owner rename it after the popular bar in Cuba. This is where the sandwich was crafted into the more recognizable version we know today.

Most people, however, believe that sloppy joes appeared first in the ’20s from a cook at Ye Old Tavern in Sioux City, Iowa, by the name of Joe. He combined tomato sauce with seasoned ground beef in a loose meat sandwich, and the first recipe for how to make sloppy joes was created.

While the master chef behind this beloved sandwich is still up for debate, the most important fact remains—they are so good to eat. Don’t forget to try these classic sandwiches.

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April Preisler
April is a food writer and photographer who launched her food blog, Food n' Focus, after a trip to Paris in 2011. She ran it from 2012 to 2021, developing recipes, writing about her travels and photographing both. She eventually relocated to Paris, where she told the stories of local chefs and wrote about local markets, foods and products unique to the regions where she traveled. Now, April lives in California with her family and works in marketing and sales. For Taste of Home, she writes about food and develops all kinds of recipes, from healthy pancakes to copycat cookies.