Homemade Sloppy Joes


They are called Sloppy Joes for a reason and this recipe for Sloppy Joes doesn’t disappoint. Sloppy as ever, but without added fat or added sugar or ketchup, this homemade version is really quick to prepare, very tasty,  reheats beautifully for lunches, but you better put on an “eatin’ shirt” before you dig in! 

Mr. Saucy coined the term, “Eatin’ shirt.” An “eatin’ shirt” is some shabby old thing you don’t mind gettin’ food all over when you’re fixin’ to stick your face into some messy grub. Whenever he comes into the kitchen, spies what I’m cooking, and proclaims, “I’d better go change into an eatin’ shirt,” I may rest assured I’ve hit on something he knows he’s going to love. He just adores messy grub.

Sloppy Joes are pretty messy, but they are so darned good! And they transport me to my childhood. I’m sure you’ve been there. You sit, staring down a big ol’ bun overflowing with seasoned tomato-ey ground meat; anticipating picking it up, taking a bite, and having that mound of filling squish out the other side of the bun. It’s like magic. Kid magic. And it’s a challenge to keep most of it from falling into your lap! Food fun…there’s nothing better…even for us kids-at-heart.

Unless, of course, it’s the flavourful food you’re eating; this recipe for Sloppy Joes is certainly that, filled with flavour…it’s my idea of Sloppy Joe perfection.

This recipe does not contain any added sugar. It does have a slight essence of sweet, by the addition of a bit of barbecue sauce. I don’t use ketchup (which is sweetened), rather I use a pure tomato sauce that has no sugar added.

Also, this recipe contains no added fat. Rather than sautéing the vegetables in oil, they are softened along with the ground meat as it browns. Then, even that fat is removed.

With it just being the two of us, this recipe makes a lot! But it reheats beautifully and we’ll eat the leftovers for lunches. I’m guessing this recipe will generously fill 6-8 large-sized hamburger buns.

Indulge your inner sloppy! Put on an eatin’ shirt and dig into these Sloppy Joes!

Sloppy Joes

5 from 3 votes
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  • 2 pounds ground meat
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2- 8 ounces cans tomato sauce
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • ½ cup barbecue sauce I have used my own recipe, and I have also used some Stubbs brand, neither of which contain high fructose corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Tabasco or your favourite hot sauce – this seems like a lot, but it isn’t too hot at all
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes optional
  • Hamburger buns


  • In a large skillet, over medium heat, add the ground meat.
  • Using a spatula, break the ground meat up.
  • Add the onion, red bell pepper and garlic.
  • Cover and allow the meat to brown and the onions, peppers and garlic to soften, about 8 minutes or until the meat is no longer pink.
  • Drain off any excess fat, either by using the lid as a strainer, or by dumping the meat mixture into a colander and returning the mixture to the pan.
  • Once the fat has been drained off, add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, barbecue sauce, Worcestershire and Tabasco.
  • Stir to combine.
  • Add salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • Simmer to thicken, about 10 minutes.
  • Serve hot on hamburger buns.


  1. pat ward

    I see great recipes

  2. Lisa M Smith

    love this recipe

  3. Lisa

    5 stars
    This sloppy joes is soo good!! I added some brown sugar to cut the tomato taste, and a couple more squirts of hot sauce. Oh can’t wait to eat this!!

  4. Beverly Smith

    5 stars
    Great recipes…please continue to share.

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