grannie geek, super sloppy joesI bet everyone has a favorite recipe for Sloppy Joes.  This all-American sandwich is a standard I bet eaten in most households in one form or another.  I bet, too, that most of us make the sauce using a powdered pre-packaged mix or sauce from a can.  I get it – it’s easy and quick.  Great in a pinch when you have to get a meal on the table in a hurry, and one that the family will enjoy.

While I was raising my children, I got into the habit of making food from scratch.  I thought pre-packaged mixes, noodles, rice, and the like had too much fat and salt.  If I made dishes from scratch, I could control seasonings and change up the recipe in any way I wished.  As a result, I’ve turned into a spice junkie.  A visit to Indiana is not complete unless I shop at Penzey’s Spices.  Gee – they have everything!

I like this recipe, because it is quick to put together.  I try to have already browned ground beef on hand as a time saver, a tip that might come in handy, too.  And it is helpful to have all the wet and dry ingredients measured out and ready to go.

One of my favorite TV cooks is Robin Miller.  She used to have a show on Food Network “Quick Fix Meals” where she would prepare all her ingredients over one weekend day for the next week’s entire dinner menu.  A real time-saving concept for organized working and busy parents.  So, using Robin’s method, you can brown ground beef for one meal while you’re preparing another. Put the cooked beef in a container in the fridge, and it’s ready for the next recipe.  Does that make sense?  I guess I’m getting carried away.

Anyway, these Sloppy Joes are very flavorful.  And you can hide vegetables in the mix, too – another of my favorite ways to slip nutritious ingredients into the tummies of unsuspecting vegetable haters.  When my husband was in the hospital a few weeks ago, I cooked up a batch, put half in a wide-mouthed thermos, and took it for he and I to share for dinner.  Or you could take a thermos-ful to a fall picnic or tailgate.

grannie geek, caphalon dutch oven
Besides my 12″ Tramontina® non-stick skillet, I use this trusty Caphalon 5-quart dutch oven the most.  It has a glass lid and is lightweight, both pluses in my mind.



grannie geek, food scale
Another kitchen must have is a food scale. My daughter gave this one to me as a Christmas present several years ago.  It’s invaluable for families of two, like ours.  I can weigh out exact quantities for pared down recipes.  The scale is also useful for baking when precise measurements are crucial.

OK – let’s get started.

grannie geek, sloppy joes ground beef
Brown two pounds of ground beef, I used 85/15, in a dutch oven or large skillet.  (My mom used a 12″ chicken fryer, because it had high sides.)  Drain the fat off the meat, and return ground beef to the pot.  Note:  I do not add oil to brown the ground beef to help cut down on the fat in the recipe.


grannie geek, sloppy joes vegetables
Chop one medium onion (I used a red onion.) – fine or coarse is up to you – and add it to the beef.  Throw in one diced red or green bell pepper, and 1/2 cup diced celery.  If you want to add one finely diced jalapeno for some heat, now is the time.  Stir the beef and vegetables together.  Heat over medium heat until the vegetables are soft, 3-5 minutes.

Add the remainder of the ingredients in the following steps.

First, add ancho chili powder and paprika.  Stir into the beef/vegetable mixture.  Next, add the ketchup, tomato sauce, tomato paste, and water.  Stir until all ingredients are combined. Finally, stir in the vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, brown sugar, honey and molasses. When the mixture begins to bubble, cover and cook over medium heat for an additional 15 minutes.  You may want to stir again once or twice to make sure the Sloppy Joes aren’t sticking to the bottom of the pan.

This recipe will make 6-8 hearty sandwiches.

grannie geek, super sloppy joes


You can butter and toast the buns, if you wish, or use Kaiser rolls, or these Outstanding Hamburger Buns, if you have time to make them.  And serve with Perfect Macaroni Salad, coleslaw, or chips and pickles.  Don’t forget napkins!


Super Sloppy Joes
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A spin on the traditional all American sandwich, flavored with ancho chili powder, honey, and vegetables.
Recipe type: Main Dish, Beef, Quick Meals
Cuisine: American
Serves: 6-8
  • 2 pounds of ground beef, 85/15 or whatever you prefer
  • 1 medium onion, chopped or diced
  • ½ cup celery, diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, finely minced (Optional)
  • 3 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
  • 1½ cups ketchup
  • 1 8oz can tomato sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 Tablespoons ancho chili powder
  • 1 Tablespoon paprika
  • 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard or yellow mustard powder
  • 2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 2 Tablespoons molasses
  • Salt and ground pepper to taste
  1. Brown ground beef and drain. Return to pan.
  2. Add onion, garlic, green pepper, celery, and jalapeno (if using) to the beef, and cook over medium heat until the vegetables are soft - 3-5 minutes.
  3. Over medium heat, add ancho chili powder and paprika to the beef/vegetable mixture. Stir to combine the ingredients.
  4. Add ketchup, tomato sauce, tomato paste, and water. Stir to combine all the ingredients.
  5. Add the mustard, cider vinegar, brown sugar, honey, and molasses. Stir to combine and cook over medium heat until the mixture begins to bubble.
  6. Cover the pan and continue cooking for an additional 15 minutes, until the sauce is slightly thickened. Stir the Sloppy Joes once or twice to make sure the mixture isn't sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  7. Serve on toasted buns or Kaiser rolls with your favorite sides: macaroni salad, coleslaw, chips, sweet pickles.