School Lunch Sloppy Joes


Ok I have to admit Sloppy Joes are one of my all time favorite foods. I could eat Sloppy Joes breakfast lunch and dinner 5-6 days a week. I know some people in the region of Pennsylvania I live in call these barbecue sandwiches, or steamers, but to me they have always been and always will be Sloppy Joes.

I like almost everyone I know grew up eating these wonderfully delicious sandwiches and there are thousands upon thousands of different recipes. I grew up on McCormick’s Sloppy Joe Mix which is a packet of seasonings you mix with the beef tomato paste and water. My wife grew up on Manwich, you know the canned sauce that you mix with the beef. Manwich is too sweet for me, and McCormick;s isn’t sweet enough for my wife. And so began a many year search for a recipe that would cut the difference between the two of sweet and savory. I mean if you take a look at my instagram boards you will see I have a board dedicated to Sloppy Joes, and we tried almost all of them. Finally we came across a recipe that we both love. Very reminiscent of cafeteria Sloppy Joes from our childhood.

Start off with browning 1 pound of ground beef. Please make sure you season the ground beef with salt and pepper while browning. I use 1 tablespoon of butter to brown the beef but you could use any fat you like.

Once the beef is fully browned remove the beef from the pan and saute about 2 tablespoons of chopped green pepper and 2 tablespoons of chopped onion until onions are clear and the pepper is tender. Add 1/3 cup of ketchup, 2 tablespoons each of water, lemon juice and white vinegar, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce and 3 tablespoons brown sugar. Mix together and let simmer for 10 minutes. Add the beef back to the pan and combine. Let it simmer now the longer it simmers the better it tastes but simmer for at least 5 minutes.


All that’s left is to prepare the buns. Butter both sides of the bun season the buttered sides with salt and pepper to taste and in a separate pan toast the buns buttered side down.  Spoon out the Sloppy Joe mixture onto the buns and serve. We like to add hamburger dill slices on top but not necessary.


Serve with a side of onion rings or fries, or for a different taste try Doritos.


1 lb ground beef

1 tbsp butter

2 tbsp chopped onion

2 tbsp chopped green bell pepper

2 tbsp water

2 tbsp white vinegar

2 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp Worchestershire sauce

1/3 cup ketchup

3 tbsp brown sugar



hamburger buns


  1. Brown the beef in 1 tbsp butter seasoning with salt and pepper.  Remove the beef from the pan
  2. Saute onions and bell pepper in the fat from the beef, again making sure to season with salt and pepper, until onions are clear and peppers are tender
  3. Add remaining ingredients combining into a sauce and let simmer for 10 minutes
  4. Combine the beef into the sauce and let simmer at least 5 minutes
  5. Butter both halves of hamburger buns and season with salt and pepper, in a separate pan toast the buttered side
  6. Spoon Sloppy Joe mixture over the buns and serve
  7. optional top with dill pickle slices

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