Sloppy Joes

This post contains making sloppy joe meat using premade sloppy joe sauce, followed by a couple of attempts to make sloppy joes with homemade sloppy joe sauce!

Beef with Sloppy Joe Sauce (20110419)
Today I made sloppy joes using a can of sloppy joe sauce and some beef. I added Krazy Jane, plenty of paprika, and some pepper to the meat. Then I mixed it in with my hands. I didn't know if this was necessary, but that's what my friend Sapucaia did when she made Chicken and Beef Burgers; I also just wanted to get my hands into the meat!

As the meat cooked, I used chopsticks to separate it into little chunks. Then, after it had almost reached the right temperature, I added the sloppy joe sauce.

Overall, the sloppy joe meat was delicious.

The ingredients on the can of sloppy joe sauce looked simple enough to put together. Next time I'll try to make the sauce myself! I'll also buy hamburger buns for the full sloppy joe experience. This time around I just slapped the meat on top of regular whole wheat bread.

Beef (20110419)
[20110426][20161104 Edit]

About two weeks before today, I looked up four recipes and used them to determine a new one. At first, I observed they all had ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and onions. Upon doing so, I decided to normalize all the recipes to 1 cup of ketchup; I felt that would be more consistent than normalizing to the Worcestershire sauce or chopped onions. Then, after comparing and theorizing, I came up with a theoretical recipe (which you can find near the bottom of this post).

However, when it came time to make the sloppy joe sauce, I only used the short list of ingredients below.

Actual Ingredients Used:
1.01 lb. ground beef
1 cup ketchup
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 onion
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. vinegar
2-3 spoonfuls garlic
1 cup water
black pepper

Sloppy Joes (on hot dog buns) (20110513)
I placed the beef into my cast iron skillet along with the garlic and drained off the grease. I added the onion, pepper, water, and 3/4 cup of ketchup. I added the Worcestershire sauce which tasted a bit like BBQ sauce. Then I added another 1/4 cup of ketchup. The mixture was pretty watery; I probably added too much water. I added the vinegar and the sugar.

When I felt like the meat was cooked, I strained the excess water into a separate pan. I placed the beef mixture onto three hot dog buns and put shredded cheddar cheese onto one of them.

This dish was easy to make and delicious to eat.

Something I Learned (about the taste of Sloppy Joe sauce):
From making the sauce from scratch, I realized that the Worcestershire sauce is the main ingredient which makes a Sloppy Joe tastes like a Sloppy Joe. In comparison, the other ingredients don't stand out; they do, however, taste delicious together. And, despite the quantity ketchup, the sauce definitely didn't taste like ketchup. I suppose the Worcestershire sauce and vinegar play a heavy hand in that transformation.

Sloppy Joe Meat (20110513)
Something I Learned (about Onions Equivalencies):
When comparing the recipes, I had to convert onion sizes to onion amounts. One answer I found gave the following equivalences: 1 small onion equals 1/4 cup chopped, 1 medium onion equals 1/2 cup chopped, and 1 large onion equals 1 cup chopped.

[20121219][20161104 Edit]

I learned during my last attempt that buying and combining ingredients for sloppy joe sauce is quite easy. As such, today I decided to give making the sauce from scratch another go!

However, unlike last time, instead of combining ingredients from several recipes I simply used instructions from one I found on

Before any cooking was done, I cut up half an onion, four cloves of garlic, and a red bell pepper. Then, as my guest was willing to help, I let her do some of the cutting while I put the sauce together: 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce, 2 tablespoons tomato paste, 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon molasses, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, probably 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground salt, and freshly ground black pepper.

Sloppy Joe Meat (20110513)
With the sauce and ingredients prepared, I essentially follow the directions as indicated in the recipes: 1) Brown the meat and onion for 5 minutes (breaking the meat into crumbles as it cooks), 2) Drain the meat, 3) Add the garlic, red bell pepper, and mushrooms and Cook for 5 minutes, and 4) Stir in the sauce and Simmer for 5 minutes).

Finally I toasted the hamburger buns and put a slice of cheddar cheese on the bottom half of each pair with hopes that they would slightly melt, if not from the warmth of the bread, then from the warmth of the beef.

I don't know how this compared to my last attempt, but I enjoyed this attempt. Unfortunately, the sauce wasn't very thick, and so I had to eat my sloppy joe with a fork.

Something I learned (about Molasses):
I learned that I can find molasses in the breakfast aisle, next to the maple syrup.

[20121219][20161104 Edit]

Sloppy Joe (20121209)
Today (while visiting my parents in California), I decided to make sloppy joes using sloppy joe sauce from scratch once more. Using the same recipe I used the last time around, I checked for the ingredients available at home and then my sister and I went to Albertsons to pick up those that were missing. We picked up a little over a pound of ground beef (85% lean, 15% fat), tomato sauce, tomato paste, a jar of molasses, a red bell pepper, and some (whole wheat) hamburger buns.

When we got home I started by dicing up a white onion and three cloves of garlic. Then as I started cutting the red bell pepper. Meanwhile, my sister oiled a pan and simmered the onion. Then, as she browned the beef, I worked on collecting all the other ingredient: approximately 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce, 2 tablespoons tomato paste, (no white wine vinegar,) 1 tablespoon molasses, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, just 1/2 teaspoon salt (because my sister already added salt to the beef), and no black pepper (because my sister already added black pepper to the beef).

After she drained the beef, I added the red bell pepper and garlic to the the pan.

The ingredients which required chopping (20121209)
Then my sister offered the opinion that the peppers would cook better with the sauce. Finding her proposal reasonable, I poured the bowl of ingredients into the pan. Then, looking around the kitchen, I found that we had red wine vinegar and added a tablespoon of that - since it was in the original recipe.

My dad, watching us move about the kitchen, asked if we were going to add any chile or spice. With this reminder, my sister opened a packet of crushed chile pepper* and dumped the contents into the pan.

Finally, we toasted some hamburger buns in a conventional oven, scooped out some meat and let the meat cool a little.**

*My family had several packets saved up over the years from various fast-food pizza places.
**It's important to let it cool, otherwise, the heat detracts from the taste.

I like how the meat turned out. It wasn't overly salty and it was only mildly spicy. However, since I currently have a cold, it's possible that the sauce was spicier than I could detect. In particular, I mention that because while I could not taste the spiciness, my nose was runny by the end of my meal.

Sloppy Joe Meat (20121219)
I also liked how the red bell pepper had a crunchy texture.

As with my last attempt, I omitted the beans. In contrast with my last attempt, I used a full onion, one less clove of garlic, had red wine vinegar on hand, and added (crushed) red pepper.

As I realized this was cooking and not baking, I was less precise when it came to measuring.

Originally I was only going to add about half an onion, but it seemed to take up less surface area when it warmed and softened, so I decided to throw the entire onion in. On the other hand, it was smaller than the onion I was working with when I last made sloppy joes.

For Next Time:
From today's experience, I would suggest I use the following recipe the next time I make sloppy joe sauce from scratch:
1 to 1 1/2 lb. ground beef
1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup chopped onion = 1 medium onion = 1/2 large onion
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard (increased from 1)
1 tbsp. molasses or 2 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar or 1 tbsp. white wine vinegar or 2 tbsp. vinegar
3 or 4 cloves garlic
1 red bell pepper
some mushrooms
1/6 tsp. black pepper
3/4 tsp. salt
1 packet crushed red peppers

Sloppy Joe (20121219)
1) Add oil to the pan. Simmer the onions. Brown the beef, cooking together with the salt and black pepper. Drain occasionally to avoid steaming.
2) Add the garlic, mushrooms, and red bell pepper.
3) Add the remaining ingredients. Cook until the red bell pepper is beginning to become soft.

[20121219][Never posted on][20161104 Edit]

Relevant Links:
20110513: Sloppy Joe Sauce (
20110513: Mom's Sloppy Joes (
20110513: Barbecue Sauce for Sloppy Joes (
20110513: Sloppy Joes (
20121209: Sloppy Joes (

For 20110513, after comparing the four ingredient lists below, I came up with the following theoretical recipe. On 20121209, I followed a recipe and noted how it was different (in bold).

Theoretical Recipe: ( differences in bold)
1 lb. ground beef
1 cup ketchup // used tomato sauce and tomato paste
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce (subject to change depending on the taste)
1 onion between medium and large
2 tbsp. mustard // used half; 1 part dry mustard is approx. 3 parts mustard
2 tbsp. sugar (subject to change depending on the taste of the Worcestershire sauce) // used molasses
2 tbsp. vinegar // used red wine vinegar
4 cloves garlic (possibly drop this number to 3)
1 cup broth or water // didn't use
optional 1 med. green bell pepper
optional 1 celery stalk // didn't use
optional 1/4 tsp. basil // didn't use
optional 1/6 tsp. black pepper
optional 1 tsp. salt (omit if using broth instead of water)
// used jalapenos
// used beans

The following are the original ingredient lists found in each of the four recipes analyzed for 20110513. First, I went through and found which ingredient was in all four (====), in three of four (===), and in two of four (==). Second, among ingredients that were just in one of the four, I considered whether I would add the ingredient (+) or omit it (-).

This process is how I ultimately came up with the above theoretical recipe.

Original Ingredient List 1:
====1 cup catsup
====1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
====4 med. onions
===2 tbsp. mustard
==2 tbsp. sugar
==2 tbsp. vinegar

Original Ingredient List 2:
4/3 lb. lean ground beef
====1 cup ketchup
====8/3 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
====2/3 cup chopped onion
==4 cloves garlic, minced or 1/2 tsp. granulated garlic
==2/3 cup chopped green pepper
==1/6 tsp. pepper
==4/3 cup water or low sodium beef broth
+4/3 celery stalk, thinly sliced (optional)
-4/3 tbsp. flour

Original Ingredient List 3:
1 lb. ground round
====1 cup catsup
====1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
====1 med. onion, chopped
===1 1/2 tsp. prepared mustard
==2 tbsp. brown sugar
==1 med. green pepper, chopped
==1 tsp. salt

Original Ingredient List 4:
1 to 1 1/2 lb. ground beef
====1 cup ketchup
====2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
==== onion, minced or 1/2 tsp. onion powder
===2 tbsp. dry mustard
==2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
==4 cloves garlic, minced or 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
==1/4 tsp. pepper
==3/4 cup water
==1 tsp. salt
+1/4 tsp. basil

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