There’s nothing better than a hearty and Homemade Sloppy Joe Sauce that is sweet, savory and delicious!

This easy recipe combines simple ingredients with hearty ground beef for a delicious combination that is perfect served on top toasted buns or bread. It’s an easy recipe to whip up, and with all that tangy sauce, it disappears as quickly as it was made! It also can be added to casseroles or noodles for a hearty and filling meal.

plated sloppy Joe with Homemade Sloppy Joe Sauce in a pan in the background 

Sloppy Joe Sauce 

  • Making a homemade sloppy joe sauce is almost as easy as opening a can of ready-made, but so much more rich and flavorful!
  • Less messy and kid-friendly ‘sloppy joey’s’ can be made by scooping out the center of a dinner roll and filling it with sauce.
  • Sloppy Joes are so versatile and can be added to other recipes. Create a cheesy casserole, try sloppy joe spaghetti or even baked sloppy joe tacos!

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

Ingredients & Variations

SAUCE: Sloppy joe sauce is simple to make. It has a tangy tomato-based sauce made with tomato sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, and some cider vinegar for some zest. Add some bbq or hot sauce, or experiment with different kinds of mustard to create your own signature brand!

MEAT: Ground beef is best for this sloppy joe’s recipe. But the sauce is also delicious combined with leftover meat and chopped veggies! Try cooked lentils, black beans, or cauliflower rice for a vegetarian version, if desired.

How to Make Sloppy Joes

  1. Prepare sauce ingredients.
  2. Scramble fry ground beef.
  3. Add sauce ingredients with water and simmer until thickened.

PRO TIP: For a thicker sauce, just simmer a little bit longer. Serve over toasted buns.

process of adding and mixing ingredients together to make Homemade Sloppy Joe Sauce

How to Serve Sloppy Joes

Unlike hamburgers, these hearty sammies don’t need condiments, but toppings are welcome! Offer small bowls of sliced jalapenos, shredded cheese, coleslaw, or French-fried onions! A squeeze of mustard is a zesty way to top this ‘bunwich’.

Serving a crowd? Cook up a large batch and keep warm in the slow cooker so guests can serve themselves! And don’t forget the toasted buns! Choose sturdy buns like kaiser rolls, onion rolls, or ciabatta bread.

Sloppy Joe’s are a tasty main dish that will go well with a side of creamy potato salad or some air fryer frozen fries. Or use it as a condiment itself for omelettes, tacos, burritos, chilli dogs, or nachos!

Best Shortcut Tip

Cook Sloppy Joe Sauce and keep it in the refrigerator for 4-5 days, perfect for a quick dinner or lunch all week.

To freeze, store in containers or in zipper bags, for 4-6 months. Freeze sauce in individual sized, or family sized, freezer bags then pop out and reheat for a quick dinner. Or use the sauce in other tasty recipes like sloppy joe tacos with mac & cheese.

Thaw meat sauce in the refrigerator and reheat over low heat on the stove, or covered with foil in the oven.

top view of plated Homemade Sloppy Joe Sauce on a bun

Easy Meals With Ground Beef! 

plated sloppy Joe with Homemade Sloppy Joe Sauce in a pan in the background
4.98 from 41 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
Or to leave a comment, click here!

Homemade Sloppy Joe Sauce

These Sloppy Joes are the best! With it's tangy, bbq flavor, this hearty meat sauce is perfect served over toasted buns and makes a quick, easy and delish dinner.
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 individual sized, or family sized, 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 41 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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Recipe Rating


  1. 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!