Homemade Sloppy Joe Sandwiches


Ground beef, carrots, and sweet tomato sauce come together to make an easy yet comforting sandwich.

Homemade Sloppy Joe Sandwiches | www.chocolatemoosey.com

Growing up, my parents often relied on canned and boxed ingredients to help make dinner – Lipton noodles, jarred sauces, even canned Chinese food. One meal we had often were Manwiches, aka sloppy joes. Manwich is sauce in a can to make sloppy joes because it was a man’s sandwich (hence the name). I ate them without hesitation, but as I grew up, I started to realize how much I didn’t like them. Overly sweet and overly processed. I was lucky I could even eat one sandwich anymore. Fast forward to cooking on my own, I am constantly looking for easy dinner ideas that don’t involve pasta. Pasta consumption is something I need to watch since I could easily eat it 5 times or more per week. Sandwiches make a fast and effortless dinner. I decided to tackle Homemade Sloppy Joe Sandwiches (and even included a healthy secret ingredient).

If you break down a typical sloppy joe sandwich, it’s nothing more than ground beef and tomato sauce. If you can make tacos, you can easily make these sandwiches. I used America’s Test Kitchen’s recipe as a starting point. After all, their recipes have yet to let me down. The key is not to overcook your meat. You want the meat to still be slightly pink when you add the sauce ingredients because the meat will still cook afterwards.

Homemade Sloppy Joe Sandwiches | www.chocolatemoosey.com

So what’s my healthy secret ingredient? Carrots! That’s right – I added chopped carrots to my sloppy joes. The inspiration came from a recipe for taco salad that called for carrots cooked right in the beef. Hey every little bit of healthy helps, right? You can also add chopped bell peppers, but I didn’t have any in the fridge at the time.

These sandwiches were so good, I’m actually quite excited to make these for my parents and brother next time they visit. Who actually says “I’m making you sloppy joes when you visit?” But they were honestly that good. A little bit of sweetness, a little bit of spice. So much better than the Manwiches Mom used to make (sorry, Mom).

Yields 4

Homemade Sloppy Joe Sandwiches
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1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 pound ground beef, thawed
1/2 cup carrots, chopped into small matchsticks
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 cup tomato puree
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons water
4 hamburger buns


  1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil until hot and shimmering. Add the onion and salt, reduce the heat, cover, and cook until onions are soft, roughly 8-10 minutes. Add garlic and chili powder; cook for 30 seconds.
  2. Add the beef and break up with a wooden spoon. Then add the carrots. Cook until just pink (do not completely cook through), about 3 minutes. Add brown sugar, tomato puree, ketchup, and water. Simmer until the sauce thickens, 8-10 minutes. Remove from the heat and serve on hamburger buns.

Source: Slightly adapted from The Best Of America’s Test Kitchen
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  1. Thanks for the shout out on my Cheeserteak Sloppy Joes! Yours look great – Manwich always gives me heartburn, so i need to try making them homemade – your recipe looks like the perfect place to start!

  2. Oooooh, I know the Manwich all too well from my childhood. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve had a sloppy joe since I left my parents’ house. These are making me re-think that, though… they look delicious and so un-Manwichy! :)

  3. These Joe’s look so good. I love good ol’ comfort food. Your photos look amazing.

  4. Carla, you totally read my mind. I love sloppy joes and I’ve been thinking about doing a scratch-Manwich sauce. And you did all the hard work for me! Now, if you could just send some of that sauce my way….

  5. great idea!!!

  6. Since they’re healthy, I can have as many as I want, right?

  7. Making this next week!

  8. I’ve never had a manwich before but I remember seeing all of those commercials when I was a kid for the stuff in the can. And I’m terrified at the thought of “Chinese food in a can.” What the heck was that?! Good on ya for making a homemade, healthier version. This looks delicious. I think I see a manwich in my near future!

  9. I also grew up on those Manwich things. The carrots are a great idea!

  10. My Mom would make sloppy joes like this when she had time and they were everyone’s favorite! Thanks for sharing!

  11. Yum..I love the simple-ness of Sloppy Joes, especially on days you don’t feel like cooking. Since I love spicy, I like to add Cayenne and Sriracha to mine to give it that extra kick!

    I can so relate to how your palate/food preferences change as you grow up. I remember loving the Sloppy Joes as a kid during my elementary school lunch days. It was like one of my fav school lunches. Now I can’t even fathom eating that garbage lol.

  12. Carla,
    I love stuffing carrots/celery/peppers/onions/zucchini in with ground meat. You may add it to be healthier, I’ll add it since I’ve got piles of vegetables and to stretch a pound of ground meat further. Either way, the end result is a flavorful meal. Have you tried sloppy joes with a squirt of yellow mustard on the bun and a slice of cheese? Delicious.

  13. Oh I love your healthy addition to these great sloppy joes!

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