Sloppy Joes

Sloppy Joes recipe, Homemade sloppy joe sauce recipe, not sweetened sloppy joe recipe

Sloppy Joes

They are called Sloppy Joes for a reason and this recipe for Sloppy Joes doesn’t disappoint. Sloppy as ever, but without added fat or added sugar or ketchup, this homemade version is really quick to prepare, very tasty,  reheats beautifully for lunches, but you better put on an “eatin’ shirt” before you dig in! 

Mr. Saucy coined the term, “Eatin’ shirt.” An “eatin’ shirt” is some shabby old thing you don’t mind gettin’ food all over when you’re fixin’ to stick your face into some messy grub. Whenever he comes into the kitchen, spies what I’m cooking, and proclaims, “I’d better go change into an eatin’ shirt,” I may rest assured I’ve hit on something he knows he’s going to love. He just adores messy grub.

Sloppy Joes are pretty messy, but they are so darned good! And they transport me to my childhood. I’m sure you’ve been there. You sit, staring down a big ol’ bun overflowing with seasoned tomato-ey ground meat; anticipating picking it up, taking a bite, and having that mound of filling squish out the other side of the bun. It’s like magic. Kid magic. And it’s a challenge to keep most of it from falling into your lap! Food fun…there’s nothing better…even for us kids-at-heart.

Unless, of course, it’s the flavourful food you’re eating; this recipe for Sloppy Joes is certainly that, filled with flavour…it’s my idea of Sloppy Joe perfection.

This recipe does not contain any added sugar. It does have a slight essence of sweet, by the addition of a bit of barbecue sauce. I don’t use ketchup (which is sweetened), rather I use a pure tomato sauce that has no sugar added.

Also, this recipe contains no added fat. Rather than sautéing the vegetables in oil, they are softened along with the ground meat as it browns. Then, even that fat is removed.

With it just being the two of us, this recipe makes a lot! But it reheats beautifully and we’ll eat the leftovers for lunches. I’m guessing this recipe will generously fill 6-8 large-sized hamburger buns.

Indulge your inner sloppy! Put on an eatin’ shirt and dig into these Sloppy Joes!


5.0 from 5 reviews
Sloppy Joes
Prep time
Total time
No sugar and no fat added Sloppy Joes are the perfect sloppy indulgence. Ground meat mixed with onion, garlic, sweet bell peppers, tomato sauce and bbq sauce, with a hit of heat from some hot sauce makes for "eatin' shirt" food at its best.
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 6-8
  • 2 pounds ground meat
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2- 8 ounces cans tomato sauce
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • ½ cup barbecue sauce (I have used my own recipe, and I have also used some Stubbs brand, neither of which contain high fructose corn syrup)
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Tabasco (or your favourite hot sauce - this seems like a lot, but it isn't too hot at all)
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Hamburger buns
  1. In a large skillet, over medium heat, add the ground meat.
  2. Using a spatula, break the ground meat up.
  3. Add the onion, red bell pepper and garlic.
  4. Cover and allow the meat to brown and the onions, peppers and garlic to soften, about 8 minutes or until the meat is no longer pink.
  5. Drain off any excess fat, either by using the lid as a strainer, or by dumping the meat mixture into a colander and returning the mixture to the pan.
  6. Once the fat has been drained off, add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, barbecue sauce, Worcestershire and Tabasco.
  7. Stir to combine.
  8. Add salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  9. Simmer to thicken, about 10 minutes.
  10. Serve hot on hamburger buns.


About P ~ The Saucy Southerner

I started cooking when I was ten years old. For me, the process of cooking, from inception of a dish, to the execution, to the washing of the pots is sheer delight. I am now retired from a business I still own, in partnership with my husband. I used to work six days a week and still cook every night. Now, I'm gardening, still cooking, always having fun and hoping to share my joy with you. Thank you for reading...and commenting! P~
This entry was posted in Entrée, Meats, Sandwiches, Sauces. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Sloppy Joes

  1. Oh I love sloppy joes and this looks great. I love how careful you are to avoid HFCS! 🙂

    • P~ says:

      I’m not a fan of the sweet, and so many sloppy joes have so much sugar added. These are perfect for my taste buds.

      As to HFCS, to be quite honest, I was shocked, really shocked, when I started reading labels. P~

      • oh my, it’s in so many things. I was trying to buy prepared horseradish last week and it was in nearly all of them. Had to settle on one that has soybean oil and sugar in it. Sigh. 🙁

        • P~ says:

          Addie, I use Woeber’s brand. It’s a pure horseradish with only horseradish root, vinegar and salt. Maybe you can find some in your area.

          It is disheartening to realize how pervasive it is in our foods. P~

          • Yeah, I was crunched for time and couldn’t make it out to Whole Foods, where I’m sure I can find a good brand. I’ll keep Woeber’s in mind, too.

            And don’t get me started on how the only thing I could find was prepared horseradish. No pure horseradish to be found at my local grocer. I think that’s cuz pure horseradish isn’t real popular here. I much prefer it to prepared any day!

          • P~ says:

            Surprisingly, (I say this because I live in a teeny, tiny town) I can find both at my local market. Mr. Saucy has made the mistake of picking up prepared instead of pure when I’ve asked him to go to the market…unless I draw a map of where to find things, that happens. 😉

  2. Sarah Myers says:

    This recipe is a new favorite in our home. Thank you… 🙂

  3. Amanda says:

    Finally! Sloppy Joe’s are one of my brother’s favorites but I can’t eat it because I absolutely hate ketchup!

  4. Jenny says:

    Made this tonight. Excellent recipe!

  5. Jen says:

    Just made these tonight in preparation for a late softball game night tomorrow for my girls. After a sample bite my hubby and I are hooked- Sloppy joes were always one of my favorites but now with watching the processed foods I’m not a fan of ketchup. If our kids like it as much as we do, it will be our new go to recipe. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Tim says:

    I live in the UK and wanted to see what all the ‘Sloppy Joe’ fuss was about.

    However unlike many recipe authors I struggle to see ketchup as an ingredient, rather than a condiment – and many recipes then call for sugar on top of that!

    The couple of recipes I tried were still very good, but I was looking for something a little more…wholesome.

    Can’t wait to try this

    • Tim, I hope you’ll like them and would love to hear back. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment! P~

      • Tim says:

        I have just finished making your recipe – delicious!

        I had some ingredients left from other recipes I tried so below I will paste the ingredients list I used – the method is still much the same

        I will definitely make this again!

        • 1kg ground meat
        • 2 large diced onions
        • 1 diced red bell pepper
        • 1 diced green bell pepper
        • 5 cloves garlic, minced
        • 2- 8 ounces cans tomato sauce
        • 7 tablespoons tomato paste
        • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
        • 2 table spoons apple cider vinegar
        • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
        • 1 tablespoon Tabasco
        • 2 teaspoons mustard powder
        • salt and ground black pepper to taste
        • sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes

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