Oh gosh how I love Sloppy Joes. When I was in elementary school, I went to an after school program called Club One Love, and my favorite lunch there was Sloppy Joes. We would make them with ground turkey, tomato something (sauce or purée – I don’t know what), and Sloppy Joe seasoning, all sandwiched between a soft hamburger bun. And to me, that was one of the most delicious combination of ingredients imaginable. Oh how I looked forward to the days when we would have Sloppy Joes! I eagerly sat there, waiting for my plate, and then again when I hoped for seconds. What wonderful memories.

And then I left elementary school for the big world of middle school, and for some reason I forgot about Sloppy Joes. Sad, but true. How could I forget about something so great? Only recently, in the past year or two as I approach the end of my high school years, have those memories resurfaced and I find myself craving Sloppy Joes again. I think I might have had them once last year around this time? Maybe? It might have just been a dream.

So now, since I’ve become so interested in cooking, I’ve decided to give making Sloppy Joes a try. But I’m not using the original recipe – No, not this time, I’ll save that one for another day. I’ve decided to take the much more time-consuming method found in The Joy of Cooking. This involves making your own sauce and what not, so of course I’m sitting here and stirring every once in a while as the sauce reduces for a couple hours. It smells really good though, let me tell you, like good quality ketchup. The ketchup that I assume tastes good to the ketchup lover (I do not like ketchup at all. Sorry, I’ve never really been much of a condiment person).

The Sloppy Joes are done! They don’t look at all like I expected. The Sloppy Joes I remember were all red from the sauce. These ones are flecked with yellow and white… hmm.. Different, but still pretty tasty. I must say, I am not disappointed.

Joy of Cooking Sloppy Joes

From Joy of Cooking

1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil

1 Small Onion, finely diced

1 Small Red or Yellow Bell Pepper, finely diced

4 Cloves Garlic, minced

1 Large Celery Stalk, finely diced

1 Tsp Fresh Thyme Leaves (optional)

Salt and Ground Black Pepper to taste

1& 1/4 Pounds Ground Beef Chuck or Sirloin (I used Ground Turkey)

1/2 Cup Chili Sauce, plus more if desired (see below)

1/2 Cup Beer or Water

3 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce

Hot Red Pepper Sauce to taste

6 Large Seeded Rolls, halved


Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the Onion, Bell Pepper, Garlic, Celery, Thyme (if using), and the Salt and Pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is softened but not browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a plate.

Add the Meat to the skillet and cook, breaking any lumps with a wooden spoon, until just browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the onion and pepper mixture back to the skillet, along with the Chili Sauce, Beer or Water, Worcestershire Sauce, and Hot Sauce. Partially cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the flavors are blended and the sauce is slightly thickened, about 15 minutes.

Toast the buns and serve with few large scoops of the Sloppy Joes.


Chili Sauce*

Adapted from Joy of Cooking

1 Poblano Pepper, coarsely chopped

1 Bell Pepper, coarsely chopped

2 Large Onions, coarsely chopped

4 to 5 Pounds Ripe Tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped

1 Cup Cider Vinegar

1/2 Cup Brown Sugar, not packed

1 to 2 Teaspoons Salt

2 to 3 Dashes Dry Mustard

2 to 3 Dashes Ground Black Pepper

2 to 3 Dashes Ground Allspice

1 to 2 Dashes Ground Cloves

1 to 2 Dashes Ground Ginger

1 to 2 Dashes Ground Cinnamon

1 to 2 Dashes Ground Nutmeg

1 to 2 Dashes Celery Seed


In batches in a food processor or blender, chop the Fresh Peppers and Onion medium-fine. Transfer the blended vegetables to a nonreactive saucepan.

Stir in the rest of the ingredients and blend thoroughly. Bring to a boil over medium heat and reduce to a simmer, stirring often to prevent scorching. Let simmer until the sauce reaches the desired thickness, about 3 hours. Taste and adjust the seasons as desired.

Can the sauce while hot or let cool, cover, and refrigerate for up to 1 month.

*The original recipe makes an outrageous amount of sauce (8 pints). So I cut down the recipe for the number of peppers that I had on hand. I estimated how much I would need, so feel free to make adjustments.