Sloppy Joes

Sloppy Joes just got an upgrade. A few more veggies and definitely more lip-smacking taste than you remember. Served on toasted hamburger buns, or whatever you like really. Just make sure that you have lots of napkins on hand. LOTS of napkins.

A skillet filled with sloppy Joe meat mixture, flanked by a filled, untapped sandwich with a toasted top and a bag of sesame seed buns.

Adapted from Sam Sifton | The NY Times Cooking No-Recipe Recipes | Ten Speed Press, 2021

I love these served on toasted potato buns, with steamed broccoli on the side, a walk for the dog, and bed.–Sam Sifton


Yep. You can even make them so far ahead of time that you’ll have to thaw them out before you serve them. The filling itself can be made up to a day ahead, then reheated and put together whenever you’re ready. You can also scoop the filling into freezer bags (in whatever portion you like) and thaw later on. Perfect for busy weeknights or when you’ve suddenly got a house full of hungry kids.

Sloppy Joes

A skillet filled with sloppy Joe meat mixture, flanked by a filled, untapped sandwich with a toasted top and a bag of sesame seed buns.
This simple version of sloppy Joes, the classic sandwich served in school cafeterias and at kitchen counters across the country, comes together in about 20 minutes and can be made with ground beef, chicken, or turkey. As the name suggests, they are messy, so serve with a fork and plenty of napkins.
Sam Sifton

Prep 30 mins
Cook 30 mins
Total 1 hr
6 servings
442 kcal
No ratings yet
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  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small (4 oz) onion chopped
  • 2 (3 oz) celery stalks diced
  • 1 jalapeño diced
  • 1 small (4 oz) red bell pepper diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef preferably 80/20
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons store-bought or homemade tomato paste
  • 1 cup canned or homemade tomato sauce plus more if needed
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons store-bought or homemade hot sauce
  • Salt
  • 6 store-bought or homemade hamburger buns


  • In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, warm the oil. Toss in the onion, celery, jalapeño, and red bell pepper, and cook until the vegetables are very soft, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more.
  • Dump the ground beef into the pot and stir, let sizzle until well browned, about 10 minutes.
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low, stir in the tomato paste and cook for 3 minutes. Pour in the tomato sauce, mix and let simmer for 3 minutes more. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce and continue cooking until the mixture is quite thick, 5 to 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt.
  • Toast the hamburger buns, load them up, and dig in.
Print RecipeBuy the The NY Times Cooking No-Recipe Recipes cookbook

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Show Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 442kcal (22%)Carbohydrates: 25g (8%)Protein: 24g (48%)Fat: 27g (42%)Saturated Fat: 9g (56%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 81mg (27%)Sodium: 516mg (22%)Potassium: 516mg (15%)Fiber: 2g (8%)Sugar: 5g (6%)Vitamin A: 217IU (4%)Vitamin C: 7mg (8%)Calcium: 104mg (10%)Iron: 4mg (22%)

Recipe Testers' Reviews

I don’t like to deviate from my mother’s recipe for sloppy Joes, since it brings back plenty of happy memories and just tastes better than any other recipe I’ve tried. (It’s also clearly descended from an old ad for products used in it.)

This doesn’t dethrone that recipe but it is the first I’ve found to be a suitable alternative. I miss the mustard that’s in my childhood favorite but like the vegetables in this and especially the heat from the hot peppers. Using a variety of chopped veggies means devoting some time to this, but it was still ready to eat in an hour.

While I didn't use a super fatty beef, we liked the way these turned out. (My husband ate 3 sandwiches!) It had just the right balance of thickness and looseness in the mixture. More fat would boost the flavor even more, though, so going to the full 20% and adjusting the cooking time for thickness would be a way to go.

I now have a second sloppy Joe recipe to turn to when the craving hits. We had these with buttered corn on the cob, plus assorted melons and cottage cheese.

This was a very flavorful sloppy Joe recipe that my husband went back for twice. I found it easy to make a Napa cabbage slaw during the cooking time of the sloppy Joes so a complete meal was ready at the same time. It's a great weeknight meal that the whole family will enjoy.

I served the sloppy Joes on hamburger buns with Napa cabbage coleslaw (vinaigrette dressing), pickled beets, and an ice-cold Icehouse beer.

Originally published August 17, 2021


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