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Extra Sloppy Joes

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Just like Billy Madison and the kids, we like our Sloppy Joes Extra Sloppy! The lunch lady knew what she was doing, and so do we! “Have some more sloppy joes. I made ’em extra sloppy for yous. I know how yous kids like ’em sloppy.”~ Lunch Lady

Extra Sloppy Joes on a bun with broccoli and fries.

Sloppy Joes certainly brings to mind wistful days in school, tray in hand waiting to see what the lunch lady had in store for us. A simple white bun piled high with hamburger in a sweet and tangy sauce. It was messy but it was always a treat, at least in our school! My Gran knew this recipe as Spoonburgers well before it was called sloppy anything, this recipe is right in line with the flavors of my past and way better than the cafeteria in all its glory.

We love simple meals and this one does not disappoint, from stove to table in under 60 minutes (including prep) the longer the sauce cooks the thicker it becomes. It’s the perfect meal and can be doubled or tripled for parties to potlucks. Let’s get down to sloppy making business!

Close up of Extra Sloppy Joes.

For crafting the ultimate Sloppy Joes, selecting the right ground beef is essential to achieving that perfect balance of flavor and texture. Here’s a breakdown of the best options:

  1. 80/20 Ground Beef: This blend contains 80% lean meat and 20% fat, striking a good balance between flavor and juiciness. The higher fat content adds richness and moisture to the dish, resulting in a more succulent Sloppy Joe.

  2. 85/15 Ground Beef: With 85% lean meat and 15% fat, this option is slightly leaner than 80/20 but still provides enough fat to keep the Sloppy Joes moist and flavorful. It’s a great choice for those looking for a slightly lighter version.

  3. 90/10 Ground Beef: If you prefer a leaner option, 90/10 ground beef contains 90% lean meat and 10% fat. While it may be healthier, keep in mind that the lower fat content can result in drier Sloppy Joes, so you may need to add extra moisture or flavorings to compensate.

When selecting ground beef for Sloppy Joes, look for fresh, high-quality meat with a bright red color and minimal odor. Avoid using ground beef that appears grayish or has a strong smell, as these are signs of spoilage.

Regardless of the fat content you choose, the key to delicious Sloppy Joes lies in properly seasoning and flavoring the ground beef mixture with your favorite spices, sauces, and seasonings. So go ahead, pick your preferred ground beef, and get ready to enjoy a classic comfort food favorite!

Exploring Meat Options for Sloppy Joes: Beyond Ground Beef

  • Ground Turkey: A leaner alternative to ground beef, ground turkey offers a lighter option while still providing plenty of flavor.
  • Ground Chicken: Similar to ground turkey, ground chicken is a versatile choice that works well in Sloppy Joes.
  • Ground Pork: Adding ground pork to the mix can impart a rich and savory flavor to your Sloppy Joes, perfect for those craving a meaty twist.
  • Plant-Based Ground Meat: For vegetarians or those looking to reduce their meat intake, plant-based ground meat alternatives such as soy crumbles or pea protein can be used to create delicious and satisfying Sloppy Joes.
Extra Sloppy Joes on a bun with broccoli and fries.

The Importance of Draining Ground Beef (and Other Meats) for Perfect Sloppy Joes

When preparing Sloppy Joes, draining the excess fat from the cooked ground beef (or other meats) is crucial for several reasons:

  1. Texture: Removing excess fat helps prevent the Sloppy Joes from becoming overly greasy or oily, ensuring a more pleasing texture in every bite.

  2. Flavor: Excessive fat can dilute the flavor of the sauce and other ingredients, so draining the fat allows the flavors of the seasonings and sauces to shine through more prominently.

  3. Healthier Option: Draining the fat helps reduce the overall calorie and fat content of the dish, making it a healthier option without sacrificing flavor.

  4. Sauce Consistency: By draining the fat, you can better control the consistency of the sauce, preventing it from becoming too thin or watery.

To drain the cooked ground beef (or other meats), simply transfer it to a colander or sieve set over a bowl or sink. Allow the excess fat to drain away for a few minutes, then discard the collected fat before proceeding with the rest of the recipe.

Tip: For a more intensely flavored sauce, simmer this recipe on low heat for an hour. However, even after just 30 minutes, it’s still fantastic, and the leftovers taste just as delicious!

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Extra Sloppy Joes on a bun with broccoli and fries.

Preserving Hearty Comfort: Storing Sloppy Joes for Prolonged Freshness

Here’s how to store Sloppy Joes to maintain their flavor:

  1. Cooling: Allow the Sloppy Joes to cool to room temperature after cooking. Avoid leaving them out at room temperature for more than 2 hours to prevent bacterial growth.

  2. Transfer to Containers: Once cooled, transfer the Sloppy Joes to airtight containers for storage. Use containers that are suitable for both storing and reheating, such as glass or plastic containers with tight-fitting lids.

  3. Refrigeration: Store the Sloppy Joes in the refrigerator if you plan to consume them within a few days. Proper refrigeration helps to slow down the growth of bacteria and preserve the freshness of the meat mixture. Leftover Sloppy Joes can typically be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.

  4. Labeling: Properly label the containers with the date of preparation to keep track of their freshness. This helps you identify how long the Sloppy Joes have been stored and when they should be consumed by.

Shelf Life: When stored properly in the refrigerator, leftover Sloppy Joes can last for 3-4 days. However, for the best flavor and texture, it’s recommended to consume them within a few days of preparation.

By following these storage guidelines, you can enjoy the hearty goodness of Sloppy Joes for longer periods, whether as a quick weeknight dinner or a delicious leftover lunch.

How to Make Extra Sloppy Joes

Extra Sloppy Joes on a bun with broccoli and fries.

Extra Sloppy Joes

The best Sloppy Joes recipe bar none! Skip canned sauce from years ago and make your own, a winning combination of flavors that's sure to please!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 12 servings


  • Large heavy-bottomed Dutch Oven or pot.


  • 2 pounds (900 grams) grass fed Ground Chuck, sub venison + chicken + turkey
  • 1 Tablespoon (15 ml) extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 large green bell pepper, washed + diced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, washed + diced
  • 1 large white onion, topped + peeled + diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, smashed + peeled + diced
  • 3 Tablespoons (45 grams) tomato paste, organic
  • 1 ⅓ cups (320 grams) ketchup, organic
  • cup (160 ml) water
  • 2 Tablespoons (30 grams) dark brown sugar, sub coconut sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon (15 ml) yellow mustard, organic
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons (22½ grams) chili powder
  • ½ cup (120 ml) Worcestershire sauce, sub liquid aminos
  • 1 Tablespoon (15 ml) distilled white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon (5 grams) red pepper flakes, optional
  • Kosher sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  • Heat a heavy-bottomed Dutch Oven or pot over medium-high heat add the Ground Chuck and cook stirring with a flat bottomed wooden spoon until mostly browned, about 5 minutes. Scoop out and drain in a fine mesh colander over a bowl.
    Hamburger cooking for Extra Sloppy Joes.
  • While the beef is draining, pour in the EVOO and reheat for 30 seconds. Toss in the diced green and red bell peppers along with the onions. Cooks stirring for about 5 minutes or until the veg becomes soft and the onions translucent. Throw in the garlic and cook stirring for 30 seconds until aromatic.....
    Red and green bell peppers with a large white onion cooking for Sloppy Joes.
  • Add the drained ground beef back to the Dutch Oven along with tomato paste stirring well to deepen the color of the tomato paste to coax out more flavor about 5 minutes (stir often) to heat through the color will become a deep red....
    Start of Sloppy Joes cooking in the Dutch Oven.
  • Now combine the rest of the ingredients into the pan, ketchup, water, dark brown sugar, yellow mustard, chili powder, Worcestershire sauce, distilled white vinegar, red pepper flakes (optional), and S+P to taste.
    Ingredients for Extra Sloppy Joes in a Dutch Oven cooking.
  • Stirring well to fuse the flavors together, reduce heat to medium-low and cook until the mixture has thickened to your desired consistency between 30-45 minutes.
    Extra Sloppy Joes ready for buns and sides.
  • Serve over toasted buns with oven fries and steamed broccoli or as desired.
    Extra Sloppy Joes on a bun with broccoli and fries.


  • Prep time is approximate, dicing peppers and onions can be done faster in a food processor if desired. 
  • Cook time will vary slightly with the desired consistency (thickness).
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 3 days, or in the freezer up to 6 months. 
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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    1. I love sloppy joes and these look fantastic! I will definitely have to try out this recipe!

      1. Awesome, Morgan! If you love a good sloppy joes meal, I’m sure you will really enjoy our recipe. Please update us on your results after you make it, thanks so much 🤗

    2. I love making sloppy joes and these look fabulous!

      1. Thanks so much, Erika! 🙂

    3. mmmm now that makes me hungry!

      1. Glad to hear it, Pieni, thanks so much for visiting! 🙂

    4. Fantastic! My son loves homemade Sloppy Joes and these look just perfect!

      1. It’s Sloppy Joes Nirvana, Kendra! Thanks so much 🙂

    5. Anything sloppy is a hit with my family. I love that this is homemade and sneaks in some veggies.

      1. Veggies are always a must, Angela! 🙂

    6. I’m saving this recipe for our next party! I could make it ahead of time and just heat it up when everyone is over!

      1. Yep, exactly Kim and you’ll get to enjoy yourself too! 🙂

    7. Yum, now I know what I need to make next week for dinner. Thank you for sharing.

      1. Thanks so much for stopping by, Linda! 🙂

    8. Thanks for sharing at the What’s for Dinner party! Hope to see you back this Sunday.

      1. Thanks so much for hosting, we will visit again for sure! 🙂

    9. Oohh goodness! I love sloppy joes, and this one looks oh so delicious! I picked it as one of my features at this week’s Snickerdoodle Create Bake Make Link Party:

      1. Thanks so much for featuring us on your link party, Alexandra! So happy that you loved it 🙂

    10. Thanks for this my daughter recently wanted sloppy joes and I made them, they were great but we’re in the Uk so it’s great to learn to make them authentically so I can compare them with my own 🙂

      1. Great, Chantelle! I love it when people try to improve on recipes that they already enjoy, be sure to let us know how it goes 🙂

    11. Going to make these with some grass-fed beef I bought for dinner tomorrow. I’m not quite sure from the recipe, though, if you are calling for dry mustard or prepared. I think 1 Tb dry mustard is a lot, so will go with prepared. This will be so popular with the fam!

      1. Hi, Beth! Yes, it is prepared mustard, we use organic yellow but whatever suits your taste preferences and of course add as much or as little as you like! Don’t forget to share some pics too, thank you 🙂

    5 from 6 votes

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