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sloppy joe on a plate with pickles and chips

Homemade Sloppy Joes

  • Author: Melissa Griffiths - Bless this mess
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 sandwiches 1x


These Homemade Sloppy Joes are quick, easy, and oh-so-good. No canned food of any kind is needed for this recipe! Just ketchup, brown sugar, lots of flavor, and your favorite kitchen helpers. Sloppy Joes are such a fun treat and the absolutely easiest meal to make -- plus, kids love 'em and adults love 'em, so it's a total win all the way around!


  • 1 pound lean hamburger or ground elk
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 to 6 hamburger buns
  • Butter, at room temperature
  • Pickles for serving, optional (but not really optional)


  1. In a large skillet, cook the meat over medium heat until cooked through and no longer pink. If using hamburger, drain off any extra fat.
  2. Return the pan to medium heat, and add your ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, garlic powder, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Stir to incorporate.
  3. This recipe depends a lot on your taste. If the meat seems dry, add more ketchup. If it isn't sweet enough, add a little more sugar. If it needs more salt, add a little more mustard. (Don't be shy of the mustard, even if you don't like it normally. It adds the acid and salt that this dish needs, and the dish doesn't taste mustardy at all.) If it seems bland, give it another shake of garlic and onion powder. Taste and adjust as needed.
  4. For the buns:
  5. While the meat is browning, place a baking sheet in the oven, and preheat the sheet and the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter the inside of the top and bottom of the bun. When the meat is almost done and your oven is hot, put the buns, butter side down, on the hot pan. Close the oven and allow the buns to toast until they are golden-brown, 4 to 8 minutes.
  6. When the buns are golden on buttered side, remove them from the oven. Place the meat mixture and pickles on top of the bun, and grab the napkins.


  • You can sub other types of sweeteners, like coconut sugar, for the brown sugar. I have also had great luck using maple syrup.
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Lunch
  • Method: Skillet
  • Cuisine: American

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