Sloppy Joes (Manwich)

Sloppy Joes (Manwich)

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I have no less than 6 recipes for sloppy joes. Curious, isn’t it? For this recipe, I’ll combine the ingredients that are fairly consistent across the stack. I actually think this recipe evolved over time. Hopefully, this will be the mature culmination of simplicity, taste and consistency.

My first recipe reads like this:

Sloppy Joe

  • Tomato Paste & water
  • Red & Green Pepper
  • Chili Pepper
  • Garlic
  • Salt & Sugar

My second recipe reads like this:

  1. Cook 1 lb gb in 1T butter. Drain.
  2. Add: 1/2 onion 1/2 gp 3 cloves garlic
    Cook 4 min.
  3. Add: 3/4 c ketchup 1T brown sugar
    1t chili powder 1/2 t mustard
    1/2 c water
    Stir. Salt, pepper
  4. Add: 1T tomato paste, Worcestershire
  5. Butter & Fry Buns

You can tell from my shorthand that my second job was taking phone orders for Little Caesars Pizza.

The 5th recipe looks like this: Sloppy Joes (2)

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 chopped onion
  • 1 chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard
  • Worcestershire
  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 T. brown sugar
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 red pepper
  • 1/2 can tomato paste
  • Tabasco
  • Chili powder
  • 1/2 cup water

  1. Ground Beef, Drain Fat
  2. Add onion, peppers, garlic. Cook ’till soft.
  3. Ketchup, Paste, water, salt, pepper, Worc. & Tabasco. Stir.
  4. Sugar, Mustard, pepper, garlic powder. Simmer 20 minutes.
  5. Serve on buttered, Grilled buns.
Sloppy Joe/Copycat Manwich Ingredients

I think the point was to create a copycat Manwich recipe. The important part being that the fresh ingredients are yours, and the seasonings are all optional. For example, you can use fresh chopped onion, half an onion or 1/2 cup — or you can just use onion powder. But it should have a tiny bit of onion flavor.

Sloppy Joe Meat

It’s not Sloppy Joe without the green pepper.

But I didn’t have one, so I just used a red bell pepper.

Even just a little, make sure there’s some in there. The red pepper is optional, or you could use crushed red pepper flakes (or both). Chili powder was pretty consistent across all the Sloppy Joe recipes, or some form of chili pepper. You could use a dash of Tabasco, 1/2 tsp chili powder, or a diced Chile pepper. Change up the measurements/combinations of peppers to your liking.

The tomato base is also customizable – you could use tomato paste & water, or tomato sauce, but in the end, I think tomato puree is the best in flavor and consistency. Ketchup is necessary, as well. This enriches it, adds more sloppy to the Sloppy Joe, and is important for the vinegar & sugar flavoring. If you have an aversion to vinegar, you can reduce the ketchup, or skip it altogether — just make sure you add some sweetness with sugar, brown sugar or both, and that you have enough tomato flavor and sauce base.

My first recipe did not include Worcestershire sauce because I was young and didn’t understand its importance in Wisconsin German households. Always add Worcestershire to your beef, but careful not to over-do it (I learned this the hard way). Add it to your cream cheese dips, too. It’s not Schwager dip without the Worcestershire.

The rest of the flavorings are all optional. Salt & pepper are traditional, but you can manage sodium by skipping the salt. I even had a recipe that called for celery seed. Like I was trying to make a Bloody Mary burger, I don’t know… Most recipes seem to use some form of mustard, whether its “prepared mustard”, yellow mustard, or dry mustard. So, I wouldn’t skip that. They all call for garlic, as well. Just like the onion, make sure your Sloppy Joe has a bit of garlic, unless you have stomach issues. The smallest amount was 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic, and the largest was 5 cloves of garlic. You could use 1/4 tsp of garlic powder, too.

Some people like to add a slice of American cheese, but I think that’s just weird. I like my loose meat sandwich. I like ’em sloppy! Pair it with your favorite potato, and you’ve got a classic school lunch. I prefer homemade french fries, Five Guys-style.

Sloppy Joes (Manwich)

A classic school lunch for dinner. Try it with tater tots!
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4
Calories: 360kcal
Cost: $8


  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 c green bell pepper chopped
  • ½ c onion diced
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1 c tomato puree
  • 1 c ketchup
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp Yellow mustard, prepared (French's)
  • 1 dash Tabasco
  • ½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper


  • Brown the ground beef on medium-high heat and drain any fat.
  • Add the fresh vegetables (green pepper, onion, garlic) and cook until soft (about 4 minutes).
  • Add the remaining ingredients (tomato products, seasonings), stir, and reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer 20 minutes.
  • Serve on toasted buns.


Sloppy Joe/Manwich Nutrition Label

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