Here’s a quick and easy recipe for homemade Sloppy Joes. And best of all, it’s delicious and budget-friendly too!

Watch the Best Homemade Sloppy Joes Recipe video

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Homemade Sloppy Joes Are the Best

Sloppy Joes bring back lots of wonderful childhood memories, so when I ran across a magazine that talked about making them homemade, I knew that I wanted to share my take on a Sloppy Joes recipe with you!

This adapted Sloppy Joes recipe is the perfect balance of being slightly sweet, but not overly sweet. However, it’s still as tasty as we all remember and a lot more nutritious than the kind that they sell in a can.

I also share a few tips for how to make these Sloppy Joes in a way that will help them stay on the bun more easily. (And not just any bun. In my recipe video, I use homemade hamburger buns!)

The tasty consistency of the recipe helps us enjoy more of the Sloppy Joe on our hamburger bun and share less with our plates! 😉

Sloppy Joes for a Budget-Friendly Meal

Sloppy Joes are an ideal budget-friendly meal because you can make them with ground beef, instead of having to use pricer cuts of beef.

The best ground beef for this recipe is one that is 85% lean/15% fat. This grade of ground beef is also generally less expensive than the leaner ground beefs.

Note that instead of “ground beef,” I sometimes use the term “chopped meat,” since that’s a term I grew up with when my mom made meals for us in her mid-century kitchen.

But don’t be worried that these Sloppy Joes will be greasy. You’ll learn how to combine the fat from the ground beef with a little bit of cornstarch (or other thickener if you can’t have corn) will turn your Sloppy Joe sauce into something deliciously smooth without any hint of grease. It won’t be runny either!

Homemade Hamburger Buns for Your Sloppy Joes

If you have time to do some baking in your kitchen, be sure to serve up your Sloppy Joes on homemade hamburger buns.

As I show you in my recipe video, these hamburger buns are so easy to make with real ingredients that you will never want to buy the factory-made ones from your grocery store again.

Plus, these hamburger buns are perfect for Sloppy Joes because they are pillowy soft on the inside, yet firm enough to hold any filling. So they won’t turn your sandwich into a mushy mess!

So be sure to check out the recipe below to learn how to make homemade hamburger buns. I walk you through the process step-by-step to make the process easy for beginner bakers.

Sloppy Joe Ingredients

When you make homemade Sloppy Joes, you can tailor the ingredients exactly to your tastes. Unfortunately, in addition to not having the best ingredients, sometimes the canned versions can be cloyingly sweet.

To avoid this excessive sweetness, I scaled back how much ketchup goes into these Sloppy Joes, and instead, I added other flavorful ingredients to round out the right balance of sweet and tangy.

Instead of going overboard with ketchup in this recipe, you’ll add a tasty combination of:

  • Tomato paste
  • Vinegar
  • Worcestershire sauce

This combination, along with a bit of ketchup, helps you make Sloppy Joes that adults and children will love!

Should I Use Fermented Ingredients in my Sloppy Joes?

Although I have taught you how to make fermented ketchup and apple cider vinegar, you’ll want to save these fermented foods for other recipes. You don’t want to cook either of these fermented foods because you do not want to destroy all the beneficial bacteria found in them.

However, you can certainly top your hamburger with fermented ketchup before serving your hamburger dish. Or you can use your fermented ketchup in other ways that does not heat the ketchup. Also, your apple cider vinegar is perfect for making your homemade salad dressings!

What is the Best Sugar for Sloppy Joes?

When it comes to adding that touch of sweetness to your Sloppy Joes, pick a sugar that is rich in the taste of molasses. Sucanat is an excellent choice since it is dried sugar can juice with all the molasses intact. You could also use brown sugar, which has the molasses added back into white sugar.

In my Essential Sugars video, I go into more detail all about Sucanat and other whole sweeteners. I also share which sugars are the best for your traditional foods kitchen.

In case you don’t have any brown sugar in your pantry, but you do have white sugar and molasses, I show you how to make your own homemade versions of light brown sugar, dark brown sugar, and a mock Sucanat.

Budget Friendly Recipes

Sloppy Joes are a budget-friendly recipe, and that’s something we certainly need right now! For more affordable recipes that don’t bust the grocery budget, check out the following videos.

And like Sloppy Joes, Tuna Boat Surprise is both a vintage school lunch favorite and budget-friendly.

Shopping on a Budget

Grocery prices seem to be rising every day, so we need to shop judiciously and stretch our dollar as far as it can go. In the following video, I share tips on how to shop for traditional foods on a budget.

And as you stock your Prepper Pantry, be sure to watch my Prepper Pantry on a budget video that has over 650,000 views on YouTube as of this writing. (Its companion video about how to stock your Prepper Pantry with real food has over 1.2 million views.). I walk you through the easy way to add more groceries to your shopping cart each week for as little as $5.00 extra added to your grocery budget.

In the two videos below, I share with you how I shop for traditional foods at both Costco and Sam’s Club. And I share prices too!

Download Your Free 36-Page Pantry List

Not sure what to put into your Four Corners Pantry, which includes your Prepper Pantry? For an extensive list of the traditional foods you can make and purchase to stock your pantry, be sure to download my free 36-page Traditional Foods Pantry List. This comprehensive eBook is full of links to recipe videos, helpful articles, and more!

And if you’re looking for a printed book full of my traditional foods recipes that shows you how to create a traditional foods kitchen, be sure to order your copy of my new book, The Modern Pioneer Cookbook.

Order YOUR COPY Now!

The Modern Pioneer Cookbook

Seasonal ingredients, traditional techniques, and nourishing recipes. Over 85 traditional, from-scratch recipes! Discover for yourself how you can use simple ingredients and traditional techniques to cook the modern pioneer way.

Incorporating More Organ Meats

In my Sloppy Joes video, I talk about optionally using ground beef that includes organ meats as a way to get more nutrition and traditional foods into your recipes.

Organ meats are nutritious and extremely high in a wide array of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A and D. Vitamin A contributes to your eye health, and Vitamin D helps keep your bones strong.

And when you incorporate organ meats into your diet, you are eating from the nose to the tail of the animal, wasting nothing.

To learn one of the tastiest recipes for incorporating beef liver into your diet, check out the following recipe video. It’s a kids’ crowd pleaser too!

And the next time you want to impress your guests, be sure to serve them chopped chicken livers. It’s easy to make and very tasty. Your friends will think you splurged on a fancy pâté!

Looking for Ground Beef with Organ Meats?

If you can’t find grass-fed and grass-finished ground beef in your neighborhood supermarket or farmer’s market, check out US Wellness Meats.

They sell organic grass-fed and finished ground beef, as well as ground beef mixed with organ meats for added nutrition. (You’ll never know they’re in there!)

This post is not sponsored. I’m a long-time customer of US Wellness Meats because I have always been impressed by the quality of their products. Check out my US Wellness Meats unboxing video to see the types of products you can get, including bones for beef bone broth!

Join the Traditional Foods Kitchen Academy

Are you looking for more traditional foods videos? If so, I invite you to join the Traditional Foods Kitchen Academy. Members of this optional paid YouTube community get access to exclusive videos, live streams, and other members-only perks. Plus, your YouTube comments include a special members-only badge.

In the following members-only video, I give you a full-length cooking class on How to Make Beef Bone Broth.

Kitchen Academy Videos

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I look forward to having you join me in my Texas Hill Country Kitchen!

Homemade Sloppy Joes

5 from 1 vote
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
Here's a quick and easy recipe for homemade Sloppy Joes. And best of all, it's budget-friendly too!


  • 1 Medium-sized saucepan
  • 1 Potato masher, optional


  • 1 lb Ground beef, 85% lean/15% fat
  • 1/2 tsp Baking soda And you will need "a pinch" more baking soda.
  • 1 tsp Salt, divided
  • 1 medium Onion, grated or chopped
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp Sucanat or brown sugar
  • 1 tsp Paprika, sweet
  • 1/2 tsp Crushed red pepper, flakes
  • 1/4 cup Tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup Ketchup
  • 1 tbsp Red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp Water
  • 1/2 tsp Cornstarch You can substitute with another thickener, such as arrowroot or flour.


  • Place ground beef in a bowl and mix with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and baking soda. Set aside.
  • Heat olive oil in a saucepan on the stovetop set to medium heat. Add the onions and a pinch of baking soda. Stir well and cook until the onions are soft and transparent, approximately 2-3 minutes.
  • Add garlic to the saucepan and mix well with onions. Cook until the garlic is fragrant, approximately 1 minute.
  • Add sweetener, paprika, red pepper flakes (if using), and the remaining salt to the saucepan. Stir well and cook until fragrant, approximately 1 minute.
  • Add tomato paste to the saucepan and mix well. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add ground beef to the saucepan, breaking it up into small pieces, and cooking until it is no longer pink, approximately 5 minutes.
  • As the ground beef is cooking, continue to break up the meat into as fine a mince as possible. A potato masher works wonderfully for this process. (See video for the process and a picture of the texture.)
  • Once the ground beef is finely minced, add the ketchup, vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce and mix well.
  • Stir together cornstarch and water and add it to the ground beef mixture. Mix well.
  • Taste the mixture and add additional salt if necessary. Your Sloppy Joes are now ready to serve.
  • Well wrapped, Sloppy Joes will stay fresh in the refrigerator for 4 days or 6 months in the freezer. If frozen, allow to defrost in the refrigerator for 24 hours.



Find this recipe and video at
This Sloppy Joe recipe was adapted from the Cook’s Illustrated Magazine, Number 158.
Copyright © 2022 Mary’s Nest, LLC, All Rights Reserved


Calories: 310kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 77mg | Sodium: 1165mg | Potassium: 656mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 677IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 43mg | Iron: 3mg
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Americana
Calories: 310
Keyword: Ground Beef Recipe, Sloppy Joes
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