Sloppy Joes (recipe)

I ran a small faith-based community center for college students during my early 20s. One of my duties was preparing lunch one day a week for the university students and faculty. We would serve anywhere from 20 to 50 people in exchange for a free-will offering each Wednesday. One of the recipes in my rotation was Sloppy Joes. (There is a large percentage of readers from Brazil and the UK at so before I shock anyone, let me explain that a sloppy joe is a disgusting-looking but quite tasty loose meat sandwich. It’s an American classic, of course. After all, what other country would name something you eat with the word “sloppy” in it?)

I wrote a l-o-n-g story in another post about how this very recipe recently caused me to reminisce over two decades of friendship. I promised the recipe in that post. I had to dig deep for this one (tweaked quite a bit while cooking so I hope I wrote it down correctly!) as it’s not part of my typical grilled chicken and roasted veggies repertoire.

Homemade Sloppy Joes
(This is a recipe built for a small crowd so adjust accordingly.)


  • 3 lbs ground beef (season with salt & pepper while cooking)
  • 1 chopped onion (add/substitute/adjust quantities for all veggies to preference)
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 med or large chopped green pepper
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1.5 cup ketchup
  • 3.5-4 cups tomato sauce
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 3 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (can add more at end to suit taste)
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • salt & pepper to taste

Serve on buns/rolls (i.e., hamburger bun or kaiser roll)


1. Brown the ground beef. Drain well. I usually only do a pound at a time to ensure even cooking and to speed things along. The more you have in one pan, the longer it will take to cook.

1 pound of ground beef in each pan/skillet

2. Combine all cooked beef into one large pot. Add chopped veggies to meat and cook until just tender. (Varies depending on quantity.)



2. While the beef & veg mixture is cooking, mix all remaining ingredients for the sauce.

3. Add sauce to meat & veg mixture and let simmer for a minimum of 20 minutes. Could simmer up to an hour on the stove or for several hours on low in slow cooker.

As usual, I forgot to take a picture of the finished product, which for those Brazilian readers might be appreciated. Simply serve on bun as a sandwich.

Bon appétit! Don’t forget a napkin!

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