Today we are all about easy and affordable. Specifically, I’m talking this tangy, delicious, easy sloppy joe recipe. I used a lot of organic products to make these sloppy joes, and I was still able to stay within a $20 budget, so I call that a win.

Plus, the sweet and sour sauce I used is made almost exactly like my favorite tomatoey, sweet and sour appetizer sauce, cream cheese and red sauce. If you like these hot ground beef sandwiches, I think you’ll also really enjoy the red sauce!

For other supper ideas, here are all of my meat recipes in one place.

I originally wrote this recipe as a sponsored post for
local supermarket chain Harris Teeter® to highlight their HT Organics products.

All opinions and the recipe are my own. You may also be pleasantly surprised at the number of HT Organics products I was able to use and still stay within a $20 budget! Thank you, Harris Teeter!

A sloppy joe on a sesame seed bun with coleslaw and ruffled chips as side dishes.

Easy Sloppy Joe Recipe, At a Glance

✔️Skill Level: Beginner
✔️Skills: Sauteeing vegetables and meat
✔️Type: Easy Supper
✔️Number of Ingredients: 11
✔️Prep Time: 10 minutes
✔️Cook Time: 30 minutes
✔️Yield: serves 8

Jump Straight to the Recipe

Why Make This Recipe

For this easy sloppy joe recipe, I decided to go in a sweet and sour direction.

So, some of the ingredients you might not expect to see in a traditional sloppy joe. For example:

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  • honey
  • lemon juice
  • vinegar
  • steak sauce

But man, if you’re a fan of sweet and sour, you won’t be able to resist these.

And as a bonus, you probably have everything you need to make these guys either in your pantry or in your refrigerator. What are you waiting for?!

Close up of sloppy joe sandwich on a sesame seed bun on a white plate.

If these sound right up your alley, you can jump straight to the recipe.

And if you do make these, I have a favor to ask:

When you do make this recipe, it will help me and other readers if you:
✅Rate the recipes using the stars in the recipe card⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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Thank you!😘

How to Make Them

Here are lots of the organic ingredients I used to make these.

They will be just as delicious if made with conventional products, so buy what suits you best.

A cutting board with an array of organic products on it including mustard, honey, ketchup and sweet peppers.

Ingredients and Substitutions

Labeled images of all the ingredients needed to make easy sloppy joes: vegetable oil, onion, garlic, red bell pepper, ground beef, ketchup, honey, lemon juice, mustard, red wine vinegar, and A1 steak sauce.
  • vegetable oil: Any neutral vegetable oil or light olive oil will work here. You could also use a little bacon fat if you prefer. The fat is just to carry intense heat to brown the onions and ground beef.
  • onion: chopped sweet, yellow, or white onion. Onions are an aromatic, so they contribute to both the flavor and aroma of the dish
  • garlic: Freshly minced, minced from a jar, or granulated garlic will all work fine here
  • red bell pepper: Adds a sweet vegetal note that’s really nice. For a more pronounced pepper flavor, use green bell pepper. Or go off in your own direction with a poblano or other mild red or green pepper
  • ground beef: I generally like 80/10, but you can go leaner, especially since sloppy joes are saucy and the meat won’t dry out. Substitute ground chicken or turkey for the beef if you prefer
  • ketchup: Provides a nice tomato base with a sweet tang of its own. Substitute cocktail sauce for a kick of horseradish, or use a prepared barbecue sauce for a smoky flavor
  • honey: Adds a bit more sweetness and contributes to the consistency of the sauce. If you don’t have honey on hand, substitute a bit of brown sugar
  • lemon juice: Provides a sharpness that balances the sweet of the ketchup and honey. If you don’t have any lemons on hand, double the vinegar
  • mustard: Contributes a bit of sharpness. You can substitute ground mustard or use a standard yellow or brown mustard that you like
  • vinegar: Works with the lemon juice to provide acid and bite. If you’re out of vinegar, double the lemon juice
  • A1 Sauce: I love the particular flavor of A1, so it needed to join this party. If you don’t like it, sub your favorite steak sauce or even a tablespoon or so of tamarind paste


This is a pretty straightforward dish to make, and you should be able to have dinner on the table–or sloppy joe mix ready for reheating–in about 30 minutes.

  1. Saute onions in oil.
  2. Add garlic and red pepper. Cook until softened.
  3. Add ground beef and cook until completely browned.
  4. Add the sauce ingredients and simmer.
  5. Enjoy!

Sloppy Joe Recipe Q & A

4 ground beef sandwiches on sesame buns piled on a pewter plate.
How long with sloppy joes keep?

Keep the meat in a tightly covered container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Freeze for longer storage. Be sure to reheat to at least 165F for 15 seconds when it’s time to serve.

Can I freeze them?

Yes. You can freeze the filling or individual sandwiches. I like to wrap each sandwich in a square of foil, freeze them, and then store in a freezer bag. When I want one, I just grab one, unwrap, and microwave until hot and squishy.

Can I use this beef mixture for anything else?

Sure. You can heat it in a skillet, and then crack eggs over. Finish cooking the eggs in the oven or under the broiler until set to your liking. That’s a really great way to serve this “loose meat” for breakfast!

Side Dish Options

As far as I’m concerned, sloppy joes are about as retro as it gets–and I mean that in a good way–so retro side dish recipes are the order of the day.

Try serving them with my mom-style macaroni salad or spicy succotash, an old-fashioned southern side dish I love to make.

If you want to indulge in all the comfort food at one meal, make some creamy mac and cheese to go with.

If you want to lighten things up a bit, maybe go with a strawberry spinach salad, mashed rutabaga, or this fantastic Brussels sprouts salad.


If you have any questions about this post or recipe, I am happy to help.

Simply leave a comment here and I will get back to you soon. I also invite you to ask question in my Facebook group, Fearless Kitchen Fun.

If your question is more pressing, please feel free to email me. I should be back in touch ASAP, as long as I’m not asleep.

5 golden stars for rating recipes

Easy Sloppy Joes

Jennifer Field
This easy sloppy joe recipe makes enough to feed a family of four. Twice. Most of the ingredients are organic from Harris Teeter and their HT Organics brand, and you can certainly make them all organic by purchasing organic beef and steak sauce.
5 from 7 votes
Tried this recipe?Please give it a star rating!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Cuisine American
Servings 8 servings
Calories 513 kcal


  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil or neutral vegetable oil
  • 1 medium-sized sweet onion
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 red bell pepper medium dice
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 pounds ground beef 80/20 preferred
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2-3 Tablespoons honey depending on how sweet you like things
  • 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons A-1 Steak Sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon yellow mustard

To Serve

  • 8 sandwich buns of your choice


  • Heat a large skillet over medium heat until hot. Add the oil and heat for a few seconds.
  • Add the onion along with a heavy pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until vegetables are translucent.
  • Add the garlic and red bell pepper and cook for another 5 minutes.
  • Make a space in the center of your pan and add the 2 pounds of ground beef, breaking it up well with a spatula. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Cook until the beef shows no remaining pink, stirring the vegetables back in as you cook. This step will take about 7 minutes.
  • Move the meat and vegetables to one side of the pan and tilt the pan so the fat gathers in the "empty" side. Spoon off as much of the fat as you would like. Leave at least a couple of tablespoons behind, but you can leave more if you choose.
  • Spread the meat back out in the pan and add the ketchup, honey, vinegar, lemon juice,  A-1, and yellow mustard.
  • Stir together and simmer for 5-10 minutes to marry the flavors. Taste and adjust seasonings.

To Serve

  • Add a heaping 1/3 cup of the sloppy joe mixture to each of 8 buns, and serve with sides of your choice. Save extra sloppy joe mixture in a covered container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Did You Make Any Changes?



Store the sloppy joe mix in a tight-fitting container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Reheat to a temperature of 165F before eating.

To Freeze Sandwiches

Prepare your sandwiches by putting your desired amount of meat mixture on buns. Wrap each sandwich individually in a square of aluminum foil and freeze on a tray. 
Once frozen, store the sandwiches in a heavy-duty freezer bag and remove as needed. Thaw and reheat in the microwave until at least 165F.


Calories: 513kcalCarbohydrates: 48gProtein: 28gFat: 23gSaturated Fat: 7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 77mgSodium: 744mgPotassium: 588mgFiber: 2gSugar: 15gVitamin A: 633IUVitamin C: 24mgCalcium: 90mgIron: 5mg
Keyword cranberry ketchup recipe, ground beef, onions, red bell pepper, sloppy joes
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  1. 5 stars
    This recipe was really good over white rice, like picadillo. It’s not especially “gluey”, so it mixes nicely through the grains of rice, while not scattering hither and yon (especially yon!).
    Try it!

  2. What a great combination of savory-tangy-sweet sauce ingredients! This is delicious 🙂 Thank you for your specific ingredients and teachniques, even down to the size of chop and type of component. Every recipe provides a great dish AND a little education.

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