Chef John's Sloppy Joes Recipe -
Chef John's Sloppy Joes  Recipe
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How to Make Classic Sloppy Joes
Watch how to make this delicious cafeteria classic from scratch. See more
  • READY IN 55 mins

Chef John's Sloppy Joes

Recipe by  

"The secret to a great 'Sloppy Joe' is a thick, rich, almost dry consistency, which allows it to be eaten two-fisted, sans fork."

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Ingredients Edit and Save

Original recipe makes 6 servings Change Servings
  • PREP

    15 mins
  • COOK

    40 mins

    55 mins


  1. Combine the ground beef and onion in a cold skillet, place the skillet onto a stove burner, and turn the heat to medium; cook and stir until the beef is crumbly and browned. Stir the garlic and bell pepper into the beef mixture; continue cooking and stirring until the vegetables are tender, 2 to 3 more minutes. Add 1 cup of water. Mix in ketchup, brown sugar, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire, salt, and pepper. Pour in 1 more cup of water. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook until the mixture becomes very thick, 30 to 45 minutes. Adjust salt and pepper as needed. Season with cayenne.
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Reviews More Reviews

Most Helpful Positive Review
Jul 19, 2012

I only made one switch out--one red bell pepper instead of green bell pepper because my family prefers the red over green. I topped each "joe" with a slice of sharp cheddar cheese. My husband and kids liked these sloppy joes, mostly because they were not sloppy. My husband said that was the best part because he could take the leftovers in his truck the next day and not worry about getting his lunch everywhere.

Most Helpful Critical Review
Apr 24, 2012

Followed the recipe to a T and it turned out more like a soup than sloppy joe....I needed to add four tablespoons of flour to thicken up the sauce enough to eat on a bun. Overall the taste was good.

Jul 17, 2012

I actually made this recipe as is, except replacing the meat for meat analog so that the vegetarians in my household could also enjoy. I think with the liquid slowly reducing also help hydrate the meat analog which made the sloppy joes taste like the real meat version. As hubby said, who has been a vegetarian longer than I have been alive stated, it was better than his mom's sloppy joes that he ate when he was a kid. Two wonderful and definite thumbs up!!

Jul 13, 2012

I've made this numerous times and never changed one thing . The recipe is perfect as are all of Chef John's recipes. If you're finding it more like soup, then you haven't let the water evaporate. You need to take your time and let it simmer for awhile. You will not be disappointed with the results. It's delicious!!!

Jul 08, 2012

Once again, Chef John, "Thank you" seems so inadequate. Made this for dinner last night and there was happy silence from my husband's corner as he finished his portion and then not-so-silent (but relatively subdued lest he resemble Bambi in the headlights before running away) ecstatic chatter from mine, when he got up for seconds. Normally, when I make sloppy joes, there is the animated discussion about how ketchup should be used only as a condiment on the side to adorn hot dogs, hamburgers, the occasional french fry, but it should never -- and he repeats never -- be used as an ingredient. There was none of that with this meal :) -- not even the suspicious, "Did you put ketchup in this?" or the disappointed, "Honey, you Know I'm not a big sweet-and-sour fan". A note to those reviewers who thought this was too "sloppy", I would say make this again and be more patient next time -- the liquid does evaporate eventually. The flavour is superb that it is well worth the wait. So .. Thanks again! I have myself a new sloppy joe recipe!

Mar 04, 2014

What can I say? It's yet another Chef John HIT! WE LOVED IT! My son had 2of them last night! If we hadn't already had French fries with our lunch, we would have had tater tots with it! We settled for some coleslaw to accompany it instead DELICIOUS! AND...worth the time it takes to make it. Be patient because I know the amazing smell it creates; just do it. You won't be sorry ;-) Made this again today for my husband. He LOVES it! SCORE! made it as written, let it simmer for over an hour and it was AMAZING!!!! I love Chef John and his creations!

May 01, 2012

this was excellent ... the only thing I will change is I will only add 1 Tblsp of brown sugar ...

Apr 07, 2014

I followed this recipe, but added some red bell pepper with the green bell pepper. It smelled delicious while cooking, but after 45 minutes on the stove, it was still soupy. I had to turn up the heat and add some cornstarch to thicken it up. I then added the meat to rolled out biscuits, folded them over, sealed them up and baked in the oven for 15 minutes...Yum!


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  • Calories
  • 271 kcal
  • 14%
  • Carbohydrates
  • 14.4 g
  • 5%
  • Cholesterol
  • 84 mg
  • 28%
  • Fat
  • 12.6 g
  • 19%
  • Fiber
  • 0.7 g
  • 3%
  • Protein
  • 24.6 g
  • 49%
  • Sodium
  • 992 mg
  • 40%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

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