Plate of 6 Sloppy Joe sandwiches, stacked on top of each other

Old Fashioned Sloppy Joes

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Our Grandma Dorothy used to make the most amazing Sloppy Joes. She passed the recipe down to our mom and our mom passed it down to us. So, this here is a bonafide, old fashioned sloppy joe family recipe for y’all…and one that doesn’t involve a can of Manwich 🙂

I definitely fell down a weird internet rabbit hole while researching sloppy joes once we decided to make this our next recipe. Apparently there has been much debate about the origins of the ‘Sloppy Joe.’ The most popular theories I came across involved points of origin in Iowa, Florida and Cuba. And it seems to have come into existence in the earlier part of the 20th century. All that being said, check out these hilarious commercials by companies pedaling Sloppy Joes products:

Apparently nutritional mores have come a long way:

We hope you enjoy our family’s Sloppy Joe recipe. Seriously, I have never made this and not had rave reviews. This little bite of Americana is so simple, quick, and satisfying.

Bonus: as you can read about below, the recipe is pretty darn customizable for different dietary needs. Enjoy!


Have picky eaters?

    🍅Scale to size! Anyone who’s ever had a Sloppy Joe knows that it’s supposed to be a big, hearty, messy sandwich. Little dudes may be more likely to eat it if you scale it to their size. Buy some King’s Hawaiian Sweet Rolls and make mini Sloppy Joes. Kids will prefer a sandwich that’s their size and they’ll love the sweet flavor. It’s also easier to have seconds this way.

    🍅Kids pick the sides! Popular picks for our kids are baby carrots, frozen peas, steamed broccoli, applesauce, mashed potatoes, and corn chips.


Make the meal fit your dietary lifestyle!

    🍅Make it Vegan! First, replace the meat with pea protein crumbles. I’m a huge fan of Beyond Meat Beefy Crumbles. I’ve used them for years to make vegetarian chili and it is soooo delicious. I’m definitely a meat eater and I can’t tell the difference. Worth noting is that these crumbles are high in protein and also gluten-free. Second, worshtechire sauce is actually not vegan because it has anchovies. But Annie’s makes a really good vegan worcestershire sauce that you can use instead. Third, obviously eliminate the cheese. Violife makes a good vegan cheese substitute. Check out their vegan cheddar cheese.

    🍅Make it Vegetarian! See above for replacing the beef with pea protein crumbles.

    🍅Make it Gluten Free! All you have to do is buy some gluten-free buns. Everything else in the recipe is gluten free. Another idea is to serve the Sloppy Joe mix on top of rice…that’s delicious!

    🍅Make it Dairy Free! Simply ditch the cheese. Violife makes a good vegan, non-dairy cheese substitute. Check out their vegan cheddar cheese.

Note: This post contains affiliate links.

Old Fashioned Sloppy Joes
Total Time
28 mins
Servings: 6
  • 2 T cooking oil
  • 1/2 cup celery (finely chopped)
  • 1/2 cup green pepper (finely chopped)
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 clove garlic (minced)
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 cup chili sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese (shredded)
  • 1 t yellow mustard
  • 2 dashes worcestershire sauce
  • 6 hamburger buns
  1. Heat a large pan on low-medium heat. Add cooking oil and then saute celery, pepper, onion and garlic with the salt for 2-3 mins, stirring occasionally. 

  2. Increase heat to medium and add ground beef. Cook until beef is no longer pink, breaking up the beef and stirring frequently. Strain the meat (I like the fine mesh strainer that comes with this set) or use a baster to remove excess liquid when done.

  3. Add in chili sauce, cheese, mustard and worcestershire sauce. Stir until well blended.

  4. Spoon beef mixture onto hamburger buns and serve.



We recommend that all meals for children be served with milk.

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