Homemade sloppy joe sauce is made with ground beef in a rich and savory tomato sauce.

It’s a no-fuss dish bursting with tangy, savory flavors that always wins the family-friendly stamp of approval.

Sloppy joes are the ultimate in casual dining. Just add buns and serve.

Homemade Sloppy Joe Sauce in a bun

Ingredients and Variations

This hearty and wholesome sloppy joe sauce recipe is a family favorite. It’s loaded with flavor using just a few ingredients, and is almost as easy as the canned Manwich sauce!

Ground Beef – Ground beef, turkey, or chicken will work! A mix of ground beef and ground pork makes sloppy joe sauce extra juicy!

Sauce – Any combination of tomato sauce, paste, ketchup, or crushed tomatoes in their juice can be tossed in the skillet. Add a few squirts of your favorite BBQ sauce or a little bit of sriracha to kick up the heat.

Variations – Shred some zucchini or carrots, or finely dice leftover veggies from the fridge and sneak in some nutrition. Add diced jalapenos, green chilis, chopped bell peppers, or sliced black olives to match the menu.

beef, tomato sauce , ketchup , mustard, brown sugar , vinegar , onion powder , Worcestershire and salt to make Homemade Sloppy Joe Sauce with labels

How to make Sloppy Joe Sauce

Sloppy Joe sauce is a quick and easy family-pleasin’ kind of meal.

  1. Whisk sauce ingredients in a bowl, as directed in the recipe below.
  2. Cook ground beef until no pink remains.
  3. Add sauce and water and simmer the mixture until thickened.

Serve over toasted buns with toppings, if desired.

Serving And Storing Sloppy Joe Sauce

  • Serve sloppy joe sauce with a pile of toasted hamburger, slider, or hot dog buns. Or place a big scoop of sloppy joe sauce on homemade cornbread casserole and top with sour cream and chives! Add a fun lime Jello salad for dessert.
  • For a crowd, set out bowls of toppings like shredded cheese, onions, jalapenos, olives, sour cream, or salsa so guests can help themselves. Perfect for team parties and sleepovers, game day or just everyday!
  • Keep leftover sloppy joe sauce in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Make a double or triple batch and freeze in gallon-sized zippered bags up to 6 months.
  • Thaw sauce overnight in the refrigerator and reheat over low heat on the stovetop or in the oven.

Great Ground Beef Meals

Did you try this recipe for Homemade Sloppy Joe Sauce? Leave a comment and rating below!

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Homemade Sloppy Joe Sauce

Hearty homemade sloppy joes have a delicious tangy, bbq flavor perfect served over toasted buns.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Author Holly



Sloppy Joe Sauce

  • ¾ cup tomato sauce
  • ¾ cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • cup water

For Serving


  • Whisk all sauce ingredients (except ground beef and water) in a bowl. Set aside.
  • Cook ground beef in a medium skillet until no pink remains.
  • Add the sauce and water, then simmer 5-7 minutes or until it reaches desired thickness.
  • Spoon meat mixture over the toasted buns and serve.


  • Refrigerate leftovers for 4-5 days. Freeze in covered containers or freezer bags for 4-6 months.
  • Thaw sloppy joe sauce in the refrigerator, then reheat over low heat on the stove, or covered with foil in the oven.


4.98 from 44 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
Or to leave a comment, click here!

Nutrition Information

Calories: 360kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.4g | Cholesterol: 70mg | Sodium: 1251mg | Potassium: 743mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 20g | Vitamin A: 433IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 97mg | Iron: 5mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American

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  1. If you triple the recipe, nix the water. You’re not draining the ground beef. I tried it and the consistency is closer to a sauce. Try adding a sautéed, finely chopped bell pepper for more flavor. Also some black pepper for a spicy kick!

  2. 4 stars
    Sloppy Joe Sauce is a welcome addition to my diy recipe book but was a little on the bland side before I added more salt and vinegar.

    1. Hi Dakota, it should be saucy but definitely not soupy. In step 3 we simmer for 5-7 minutes or until it reaches your desired thickness. You may have needed to simmer for a little longer to let the liquid evaporate and create a thicker sauce. I hope that helps!