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Ask the Readers {Sloppy Joes}

I was recently talking to my friend The Happy Housewife about sloppy joes and I knew we had the perfect question for Ask the Readers.

Do you make your sloppy joes from scratch or do you open that famous can when you make them?ย 

Lynn's Kitchen Adventures


  1. I make them from scratch – I always the the ingredients in the house so it’s a lot cheaper and easier for me.

  2. Scratch. I believe the recipe that I use came from Heavenly Homemakers.

  3. I make them from scratch and they are soooo good! Here’s my recipe

  4. I found a recipe in taste of home a while back that we use. The best part is its a BIG reipe so we make it then freeze half for another day! The recipe is pretty much from scratch but they do use Ketchup and BBQ sauce.

  5. The can?! GAG ๐Ÿ˜‰ From scratch . Always.

  6. Usually from scratch… The Happy Housewife’s recipe is our favorite! Although I will admit that I have a can of Manwich in my pantry at this very moment, waiting for a night when I need a quick, easy dinner but am sick of spaghetti. What can I say? It’s a comfort food from my childhood!

  7. We always make it from scratch as well. I grew up eating it from a can/packet seasoning, but from scratch it sooo much better.

  8. I didn’t grow up eating sloppy joes, but my husband did (from the can). I found the Heavenly Homemakers recipe and that is what I use now since it’s cheaper (though I do use extra ketchup). This is one of the things that has successfully turned my kids from vegetarians into omnivores!

  9. Both. When I make homemade I use a recipe from Southern Living. More often than not lately I have used the can.

  10. Scratch! I use a modified Rachael Ray recipe–here’s the link:

  11. I’ve never been able to eat the ones out of a can, couldn’t stomach them which was sad news to my DH since he loves sloppy joes. I refused to make them for the longest time unless it was something he requested. That is until I tried making your slow cooker version (we sub the pork for hot and spicy italian sausage), it’s made me a believer and it’s the only way i’ll eat sloppy joes.

  12. I’ve done both. I like the taste better from scratch, but if I’m being lazy or know I’m in a time crunch, I’ll buy the can. I don’t think it’s bad, but not as good as homemade for sure!

  13. Scratch. Who needs a can with a recipe this simple and delicious? I can’t remember where it came from, but this is the one I use:

    1 lb. ground beef
    1/2 cup chopped celery (optional)
    1 small onion, chopped
    1 (8oz) can tomato sauce
    1/2 cup catsup
    1 Tablespoon firmly packed brown sugar
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/8 teaspoon pepper
    1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
    1 Tablespoon vinegar

    In a large skillet brown meat, celery and onion. Drain fat. Pour into 1 1/2 quart crock pot. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cook on low 4-6 hours..

  14. Scratch but it’s never the same recipe twice! Throw in that last little bit from the Prego jar? Sure! A little BBQ sauce but not enough for a whole recipe? Toss some in! A few tomatos about to go bad? Add them in! I usually try to get some worchestshire sauce in there and onion, but other than that it changes a whole lot! But I have been known to go with the can on occasion! It’s not my fave, but it’ll work in a pinch!

    • Sarah Cassill says

      Exactly! It’s the first thing I leanred to cook (when I was 10 or 11!) One of my sisters (I’m the oldest!) asked me for the recipe and I just looked at her– WHAT recipe? Brown some ground beef or deer (or even pork for a change) with salt or garlic salt and pepper and onion (green peppers and mushrooms are always tasty) then drain. With your tasting spoon handy start adding stuff– water, a little mustard, a little vinegar, a little brown sugar and a lot of ketchup. Open the refrigerator to see what else would be good in there. Make it a little bit suopier than you want it to end up and let it simmer down while the tots are in the oven. Be sure the batch is big enough you can make home made sloppy joe pizza later in the week……

  15. Scratch always. I use my grandma’s recipe and I usually triple it and freeze enough in ziploc bags for a meal for 6 of us. It is best if it is made at least a day ahead of time. It has ground beef, onions, celery, tomato soup, vinegar, chili powder, worcestershire sauce, and brown sugar. It is one of my favorite meals and I am so happy to have it in the freezer when I need a fast meal.

  16. Scratch too. I’m not against the can, but I just don’t care for it. If I liked it, I’d use it!

  17. I make them from the McCormick sloppy joe mix the one you add tomato paste and water too. Thai is the cheapest way for me to make them because I usually get tomato paste for free with coupons. Plus they taste great and reminded me of being a kid.

  18. Harriet Dodson says

    I make mine from the mix too. My kids don’t care for them so we rarely have them anyway.

  19. From scratch

  20. i used to always use the can until i tried rachael ray’s recipe, now that’s how i make it now, blows the canned stuff away

  21. I use my grandmother’s recipe. Once my husband tried the family recipe, he told me to never use canned again. My recipe uses ingredients I always have on hand.

  22. Totally make them from scratch! Here is my go to recipe:

    I’ve also made a Rachel Ray version and lentil sloppy joes. My youngest daughter always wants sloppy joes for her birthday dinner (which is coming up in a few weeks)

  23. I use the can but usually make it with ground turkey. It’s the first thing I’ve found that both of my kids will eat that has a sauce!! I figure I better not mess with it when I have something so easy that everyone will eat.

  24. I make mine from scratch. I use my homemade taco seasoning, tomato sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. I’ve never made them from the can. We normally have sloppy joes once every month or month and a half.

  25. Scratch here, too! I’ve started adding a few lentils to all ground meat recipes and so far (six months) no one has complained, or possibly even noticed. Up until a couple years ago I didn’t even know there was a canned version. Never tried it, not interested.

  26. I make from scratch and can my own.

  27. Mostly scratch – does using ketchup and mustard count as “scratch”? I use Amy’s recipe from Amy’s Finer Things. If I brown the meat and freeze it ahead of time, it’s so quick, easy and cheap … I can’t imagine doing it any other way.

  28. Lanita canup says

    I make my own! Never have liked the can stuff!

  29. Martha Artyomenko says

    Ick, canned??? I have a recipe we all love!!

  30. I think I am in the minority here but I have never made them. My children probably do not even know what a sloppy joe is. To be honest, i do not think I have ever had one myself. Maybe I should look into this???

    • Karin Goodman says

      Denise – I agree with you. I do not think my kids know what they are. I’ve never made them. We are gluten-free, but even before going gluten-free I never made them. They sound interesting, but what does someone do instead of buns?

      • Those in my family that eat gluten free have used gluten free bread, although it is not quite the same that way. We also love sloppy joes served over baked potatoes. In fact since going gluten free that is the way we usually eat them. Not exactly sloppy joes that way, but the meat mixture makes a great potato topping.

      • My kids are 1 and 2 and they actually prefer them eating without buns. I just spoon some sloppy joe meat on a plate for them. And, like Lynn, we’ve eaten them over potatoes (really yummy and hubby actually prefers this). I think they would be good as tacos also…kind of change it up!

  31. From scratch – definitely.

    Brown and drain 1# hamburger, add minced onions, let heat about 5 minutes then add sauce and let simmer 5-10 minutes
    For my sauce, I use ketchup, BBQ sauce and mustard. Your choice of BBQ sauce and mustard can add more or less zing. In a 2 cup liquid measuring cup I add 1 cup ketchup and 1/2 c mustard and 1/2 c bbq sauce to taste. Scoop onto bread or bun of choice and enjoy!

  32. scratch, always!

    ketchup, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, garlic salt, maybe bbq sauce.

    it does change everytime, haven’t had the canned stuff since i was a kid!

    glad to see so many do the same!

  33. I always make mine from scratch. I have four different recipes that I use, depending on who’ll be eating the sloppy joes. Years ago, I used a canned sloppy joe mix that the family liked, but can no longer find it in my area.

  34. From scratch, the only way I eat it. Growing up it was only from a can and it was gross. I never knew how good they could taste till I made my own. I make my sloppy joes sweeter then the recipe calls for and honestly making them from scratch is not much more difficult then opening a can.

  35. Scratch. The canned stuff isn’t as good. It’s easy to toss together with basic pantry stuff. We get greedy with our sloppy joes. Have to make a big batch. I often make it a little different based on what we have, but sweet potato fries are a must

  36. Well, I was amazed to learn that the rest of the world’s sloppy joes were made with tomato products… a kid, my mom made us what she called sloppy joes but it wasn’t until I went to a friend’s party that I discovered what I was missing. HowEver, my husband and family actually preFer our version better:
    St.Louis Sloppy Joes
    1 lb ground beef chopped and cooked and drained.
    Add 1 can French Onion Soup.
    Simmer, stir in 1-2 tbls flour to thicken.
    Serve up sloppy on buns and enjoy.

  37. Scratch!!!! I make what the recipe calls is Chili sauce in the fall with my tomatoes and peppers from my garden. I make my sloppy joes with that and then add whatever it needs. My family loves it.

  38. Well, I’m in the minority here. I have several cans of this mix in my pantry for lazy Friday nights. My kids enjoy it and it’s an easy meal after a long week of work!

  39. scratch all the way! I used to have to eat them from the can when I was a kid and I hated them! I use The Pioneer Woman’s recipe

  40. I’ve made them from the can but when I do I add a can of mixed veggies to it. Usually make them from scratch though since they’re easy to make. I do add a can of mixed veggies to those as well.

  41. I used to use the can but decided they’re very easy to make from scratch. I read the ingredient label and was completely turned off by it. So it’s scratch for me.

  42. Haven’t thought about sloppy joes in a long time! When we do make them, it is definitely from scratch and I use turkey meat. Need to find the recipe….might make a batch and take it in to a meeting that we always do a potluck at. Always at a loss as to what to make and take and still feed DH.

  43. I prefer to make them from scratch. They are so easy and don’t have the added sugar that the canned variety does! I had the canned variety last summer on vacation–my parents got it b/c it was easy but we were staying in a cabin and had a kitchen. They just didn’t want all the extra ingredients (i.e. spices) leftover. I recently made these and they were a nice twist on the traditional–with more zip!

  44. The can really is nasty. Not only do I not know what’s in it, it’s unnecessarily sweet and odd. I make my own version called “Messy Jessies.” It consists of 1 lb. ground beef, Jack Daniels original BBQ sauce, and a handful of shredded cheddar cheese in the meat while it’s cooking to make it stick together. My family loves it. I need to try a version using my homemade BBQ sauce, but I haven’t yet. It’s not 100% the same, but I wouldn’t want it to be!

  45. From scratch! I use the recipe (with tweaks, of course) from Cooks Illustrated Skillet Suppers book (they also include variations for “Sloppy Jills” and “Sloppy Josรฉ’s!” If you ever see that book – get it! I have used more techniques and recipes from that book than any other cook book I have!

  46. I make the Easiest Sloppy Joes ever: brown however much ground round or sirloin you want and start adding Heinz Chili Sauce until you are satisfied that there’s enough sauce to meat. I usually add some dried onion flakes and maybe a few dried garlic pieces but that’s it! So very, very easy! And so very, very tasty!!!

  47. I make sloppy joes from scratch and if I am in a real hurry I make this recipe. Grandkids love it! Very tasty.

    Sloppy Joe Tacos (from Companyโ€™s Coming)
    These sloppy joes have a Mexican flair. Using tomato soup makes them quick and easy. Serve the toppings in separate bowls so guests can help themselves. Makes 12 tacos
    2 tsp cooking oil (I use canola oil)
    1 lb lean ground beef
    1 cup chopped onion
    1 10 oz can of condensed tomato soup
    1 tsp chili powder
    ยผ tsp garlic powder
    12 hard taco shells (I use soft tortilla wraps)
    2 cups diced tomatoes
    2 cups shredded lettuce, lightly packed (I use spinach)
    1 cup grated medium cheddar cheese
    ยฝ cup sour cream
    6 green onions
    I also add chopped red/green pepper

    Heat cookng oil in a large frying pan on medium. Add ground beef and onion. Scramble fry for about 10 minutes until beef is no longer pink. Drain.
    Add next 5 ingredients. Heat and stir about 5 minutes until heated through.
    Heat taco shells in oven according to package. Spoon beef mixture into shells. Layer toppings on top of beef mixture.
    1 taco: 211 calories, 12.1 total fat, 4.8 sat fat, 457 Na

  48. Melissa Miller says

    I make mine from scratch

  49. I do not serve them often, but when I do, it is almost always from scratch. It is easy enough to make (especially if I make it ahead and freeze it), is less expensive and has less “unknown ingredients”.

  50. I’ve done scratch – I usually go back to the canned!! Sloppy joes are a quick, I don’t feel like doing more than browning ground beef, meal. One recipe I found had over 12 ingredients and that was before adding the meat! Another recipe called for 4 hours in a crock pot – again, not a last minute quick and easy meal. All the recipes I’ve tried have been – good – but nothing that beats the ease of opening the can, dumping it in, stirring and I’m done!! Maybe someday I’ll find an quick, easy from scratch recipe that will make me change my mind and be far superior to the canned stuff – until then, my family likes the can.

  51. Kelly Garay says

    Scratch. My kids hate the canned stuff!

  52. We just had sloppy joes last night. My husband made them and they where from a can, but in our home we will do both, just depending on how we fill. I mostly try to cook from scratch when I cook, but my husband will not cook from scratch as often as I would when he cooks, and he does a lot of cooking in our home.

  53. I make sloppy joes from scratch. Never tried the canned stuff. I vary the recipe depending on what’s in the pantry/refrig and I use either ground turkey or ground beef. My family loves them and I always make enough to freeze a couple extra meals plus use them for lunch the next day. ๐Ÿ™‚ I also add chopped onions and green peppers (both of which I chop lots of during the summer and freeze to have a good supply all winter). And sometimes I make them with a can of chicken gumbo soup but not always. Thanks for all the great ideas and recipes!

  54. I use the canned stuff.

  55. From scratch, more or less.
    Brown the hamburger and/or ground turkey. Add in a chopped onion and about 1/2 c chopped green bell pepper. Drain off the grease and add Sweet Baby Ray’s Honey Barbeque sauce. Add about 1/3 c water and a little garlic powder. Cook until the water’s been cooked off and it’s hot all the way through!

  56. I make them from scratch. With only 5 ingredients, it is so quick & simple. I usuaully make enough for 4 dinners & freeze them. If I throw them in cold water in the mid-afternoon, then they are de-frosted for dinner. (Or defrost in the microwave if I am really late in my meal planning for the day. ๐Ÿ™‚

  57. I make them from scratch using my grandmother’s simple recipe. 1 lb ground beef browned with1 small diced onion. 1 c. ketchup 1-2 oz white vinegar 2 Tbs. brown sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice

  58. Yuck! Canned? ONLY made from scratch!

  59. I make mine from scratch. I make a big batch and freeze it in meal size portions. This is the recipe my husband made up when we didn’t have any of the canned stuff. Now my kids and I won’t eat any other type.

    1 Lb ground Turkey or Hamburger
    1/4 c. chopped onion (optional)
    Garlic powder to taste
    1/3 cup catsup with water to make 1/2 to 3/4 cup
    2 TBSP spaghetti or BBQ sauce
    1/4 tsp mustard
    Dash or 2 of Worcestershire sauce
    1/4 tsp salt.

    Brown meat, drain and rinse off fat. Add rest of
    ingredients and stir well. Cook in Microwave on high
    for 10 minutes (stirring after 5 min.) Or on Stove
    top for 25 minutes until liquid is gone.
    Serve on toasted hamburger buns with cheese.

  60. I make mine using a can of Manwich but I usually add onion and green pepper to the hamburger when I cook it.

  61. I’ve never made them. It’s not something we eat, although I remember having them as a kid.

  62. I always make them from scratch. I have a recipe that has more of a barbecue flavor to it. Everyone seems to really like them.

  63. I make sloppy joe’s from scratch, but my recipe is a little unusual. I use one pound of hamburger, some dried onions and a can of chicken with rice soup (no water added, but do not drain). I cook the hamburger, drain it, then add the onions and soup to the hamburger and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated. They are great on buns with mustard (I don’t like ketchup, but the kids do) and lots of dill pickle slices.

  64. scratch

  65. Scratch! Your slow cooker sloppy joes recipe is the only one that everyone in our house will eat ๐Ÿ™‚

  66. We donโ€™t eat sloppy joes. But we do eat taverns. They are not as saucy as sloppy joes. Here is my recipe,

  67. I alternate between a recipe from scratch and using the mccormick seasoning packet, but never the can – although I’m sure the mccormick seasoning packet is likely just as bad for us as the can – everyone except me prefers the packet seasoning in my family!

    I also like to switch up sloppy joes and make it into a casserole that has a fresh dough (with mustard in it for a little tang in the dough) on top like a lattice pattern from a recipe book I have. I just might have to make that this weekend!

  68. I LOVE Manwich sloppy joes, but since we started eating healthier and using less processed canned stuff, I found a recipe that is almost exactly like it. I now always make it from scratch because I *always* have these ingredients on hand while I didn’t always have the canned stuff.

    I lb meat
    2 T. minced onion
    1 cup ketchup
    1 teaspoon mustard
    1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
    1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
    Salt to taste

    Brown meat with onions. Once brown, add the rest and simmer through. Easy peasy!

    The quantities are actually for 2lbs of ground beef, but I like my joes “Wet” so I use the above exactly as written above and it works like a charm!

    I hope you like it too!

  69. Ack! It wont let me edit my post! The above should be 1 TABLESPOON of mustard >.<

  70. I know a lot of people say from scratch is cheaper but I’d disagree. I’d rather pay $.89-1.09 for a can of mix then pay around $3.00-5.00 (depending on what’s on sale) to make it from scratch. I’d love to make homemade all the time…it’s better for you, you know what you’re actually putting in (no mystery ingredients). However a can of sloppy joe mix is cheaper than actually making it homemade. When I’m in a crunch w/my money or time or if my daughter wants to cook dinner that night, I always go for the can.

  71. ALWAYS from scratch! Sooo much yummier that way ๐Ÿ™‚ Plus we don’t do preservatives and limit our pre made food to a few things. So canned meat is definitely never in our house ๐Ÿ™‚ (actually I didn’t eve know you could buy sloppy joes in a can before this post!)

  72. I’m one of the disgusting people who use Manwich :-P, specifically the Manwich Bold.

    At my house sloppy joe’s are a lazy night meal and actually making the sauce would complicate things. Also, humorously, I have craved sloppy joe’s quite a bit this pregnancy (#3)! We use ground turkey and call them sloppy tom’s.

    • I am all for having quick and easy inexpensive meals to serve your family, so if Manwiches work for you I say serve them to your family. Especially when you are pregnant and need all the shortcuts you can get. ๐Ÿ™‚

  73. I LOVE sloppy joes. My hubby, on the other hand, does not.

    I like my mom’s recipe best (beef, cream of mushroom & BBQ with some dry oatmeal to make it stick) but in order for hubby to eat it, it has to be ketchup, mustard and some spices.

    I think I had the canned stuff once. That was enough. ๐Ÿ™‚

  74. I always make mine from scratch. Love sloppy joes! I never had the canned stuff…not sure I want to try it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  75. I am in the minority I think. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the stuff in the can. SO MUCH. I now make it from scratch using Heavenly Homemaker’s recipe since we’ve cut out a lot of processed food, but I do miss the taste of the canned ๐Ÿ™‚

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