Best Sloppy Joes Ever

Sloppy Joes. Everyone was so pleased to dig into my updated Sloppy Joes. Slow cooked goodness seasoned with Aleppo pepper and sumac. Regular tomato paste is fabulous, but I like to change it up sometimes and additionally include some of my homemade red pepper paste. My family was excited to have cheesy bread, accompanied by my homemade pickles and these delicious fried shallots I’ve been enjoying.

Best Sloppy Joes Ever


  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, seeded & finely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 6oz can tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 Tbsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon fresh dry mustard (if yours is from 1989 it’s time to invest in a new one)
  • 1 teaspoon sumac (if you don’t own sumac, now is the time)
  • 1 – 14 oz. can fire roasted tomatoes, pureed
  • 2 oz. chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, pureed (this can be omitted)
  • 2 teaspoons salt (but likely more)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • A sprinkle of cayenne pepper, to taste
  • A few dashes of hot sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. Aleppo pepper (if you’ve never had this, you’re about to love me…a lot)

In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, cook the beef with the onion, celery, bell pepper and garlic, stirring to break up the meat, about 8 to 10 minutes. Keep stirring. When the meat is cooked through, leave on medium and add the remaining ingredients, a couple at a time, stirring to combine well, as you go. I like to watch the ingredients go in and see the dish change as things combine. Keep combining and stirring till you’ve added them all. At this point you can transfer your mixture to the slow cooker, use a Bain Marie, or just leave it in the Dutch oven and place it into a larger pan with water in the preheated oven.

Cover and cook at 200 degrees for about six hours – but if you think it’s done sooner, by all means enjoy. I open, take it out and stir about every 90 minutes, and it’s fun to watch it transform. Make sure to replenish water in the pan when needed, if it evaporates. I like to try a bit along the way and decide when it tastes perfect. (We generally can’t wait much longer than 5 or 6 hours because anyone who comes within a mile of my kitchen or happens to call me on the phone that day is eager to eat it.) You may end up cooking between 4-6 hours, depending on your idea of the perfect Sloppy Joe. Add more sugar or vinegar as desired. Serve on a beautiful white hamburger roll.


 For gluten free, just remove the Worcestershire and serve on gluten-free roll.

For Paleo, remove the brown sugar and Worcestershire. Be sure to use Whole30 compliant ingredients (I’m not lying to say that although it is quite a tasty paleo version, they do lose the magic without that molten brown sugar). Also, add an extra can of tomato paste. If possible, re-hydrate 3 chipotle peppers by placing them in very hot water for an hour (or more), until they are soft. Then remove the seeds and puree the skins in the tomato paste. 


1 thought on “Best Sloppy Joes Ever

  1. I wanted to make this but couldn’t factor in the long cooking time, so I decided to try it in my Instant Pot — it came out great! I cooked the ground beef, onions, celery and bell pepper right in the IP using the Saute function, then added all the other ingredients and selected Bean/Chili function which cooked it for 30 minutes, then let the steam release naturally. It was so tender, rich and flavorful — yes, the BEST sloppy joes! I highly recommend trying it using this method to save time!

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