Dinner Freezer Meals Make Ahead - Heat & Serve Recipes

Sloppy Joes from Scratch

Sloppy joes severed on a toasted hamburger bun with pickles on the side.

The sloppy joes of old were an inexpensive, easy to whip up, family style dinner recipe that moms everywhere kept in their repertoire for busy weeknight meals. But it seems like people aren’t making sloppy joes as often as they used to. I’m here to remind you that this classic favorite was a favorite for a reason… sloppy joes from scratch are heavenly.

Most local markets sell pre-mixed spice packets for all sorts of meals, including sloppy joes, that make cooking ultra simple. This recipe for sloppy joes from scratch is so much more flavorful and satisfying though and hardly takes any additional effort. After tasting this recipe you’ll never buy another sloppy Joe spice packet again.

These sloppy joes from scratch have all of the delicious seasonings and sweetness of the classic recipe and are given a little upgrade from the addition of crumbled sausage and chopped vegetables. Serve this saucy meat on toasted hamburger buns and grab some extra napkins!

About the Ingredients

Ground sausage and beef – sweet Italian sausage removed from the casings mixed with ground beef is the protein combination.

Chopped vegetables- onion, green bell pepper, celery and garlic all get cooked together.

Seasonings – rather than a store bought spice packet use a combination of chili powder, brown sugar, dry mustard, paprika, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper.

Hamburger buns – for serving. Toasting them just a little will keep them from getting too soggy and also give that little extra crunch of texture to each bite.

Close up of sloppy joes simmering in the skillet.

How to Make Sloppy Joes from Scratch

Begin by removing the sausages from their casings. Using a very large skillet, brown the sausage and beef together while stirring to a crumble. Once there’s no more pink you can transfer the meat to a plate and set it aside. Pour off the excess fat from the skillet but leave about 1 tablespoon for the next step.

Sauté the veggies. Once they begin to soften, season them with the chili powder. They should get nice and thick as you stir it all together.

Now you can and the meat back to the skillet and add the remaining ingredients for the sauce (just not the buns ?.) There should be a lot of liquid in the pan now. Bring it to a simmer and let it cook down. This is where the flavor magic happens so don’t rush it. The longer you simmer it the thicker the sauce and the deeper the flavors will get. After about 30 minutes (or longer if you have some extra time) your sloppy joes will be ready to serve. Scoop some meat onto a toasted bun and serve it up.

Sloppy joes severed on a toasted hamburger bun with pickles on the side.

Recipe Substitutions & Variations

Sloppy Joes can be served either sandwich style or open faced. I find with kids especially that serving them open faced and cutting everything up is way less messy and easier to eat. I just mix the cut up bun right in with the meat and they love it.

If you want to lighten up the recipe a little, try substituting the ground beef for ground turkey. Turkey meat is a little drier but there is plenty of sauce in this recipe to compensate without compromising flavor.

FAQ’s and Recipe Tips

What should I serve with Sloppy Joes?

Try serving Sloppy Joes with coleslaw, pickles, or Sweet Cucumber Salad.

How do I make Sloppy Joes ahead of time?

Prepare the meat as instructed in the recipe and store in the refrigerator when done. To serve it, reheat the meat in a skillet, toast the buns and serve hot.

Can I freeze Sloppy Joes?

Yes. Prepare the meat mixture according to the recipe. Seal it in an airtight container or vacuum sealed bag and freeze it for up to 2 months. When to defrost, place the meat still sealed in it’s container, in a room temperature water bath for 1-2 hours. Then reheat the meat and serve on toasted buns.

Sloppy joes in the skillet, ready to be plated.

The Recipe for Sloppy Joes from Scratch

The recipe is attached below for easy downloading and printing.  If you test it out be sure to leave a note in the comments below. I’d love to hear what you thought. Enjoy!

Sloppy joes severed on a toasted hamburger bun with pickles on the side.

Sloppy Joes from Scratch

No need for store bought spice packets! All of the flavors you need are already in your pantry. An old-fashioned family dinner recipe that everyone will love.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 6 people


  • 3 sweet Italian sausages
  • lbs ground beef
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 4 stalks celery chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper chopped
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 7 oz ketchup
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • tsp dry mustard
  • tsp salt
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • cups water
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Worcester sauce
  • 6 hamburger buns


  • Remove the sausage meat from the casings. In a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, brown the sausage and beef together while stirring to a crumble. Once cooked all the way through, about 8 minutes, remove to a dish and set aside.
    3 sweet Italian sausages, 1½ lbs ground beef
  • Pour off excess fat leaving just 1 tablespoon in the pan. Add the onion, garlic, celery and green pepper. Cook until the vegetables soften, about 5 minutes.
    1 large onion, 1 clove minced garlic, 4 stalks celery, 1 green bell pepper
  • Stir in the chili powder and cook for 2 minutes more.
    1 tsp chili powder
  • Return the meat to the pan. Stir in the remaining ingredients through Worcester sauce. Bring the pan to a simmer and cook uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    7 oz ketchup, 1 tbsp brown sugar, 1½ tsp dry mustard, 1½ tsp salt, 1 tsp paprika, ¼ tsp pepper, 1½ cups water, 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar, 1 tbsp Worcester sauce
  • Serve on toasted hamburger buns.
    6 hamburger buns


Serve these sloppy joes either sandwich style or open face. 
Make the meat ahead of time and then just reheat and toast the buns when ready to serve!
Keyword beef, burger, sandwich, sausage

More Recipes You Might Like

1 Comment

  1. I’ve been looking for a good Sloppy Joe recipe! This looks great!

Leave a Comment | Did you make this recipe? Comments encourage other readers to try the recipe too. Thank you so much for your support!

You may also like...

Apple Fritter Skillet Cake Recipe Make Ahead Back to School Dinners 10 Healthy Summer Dinner Recipes Best Sloppy Joe Recipe Barbecue Sandwich Recipes