Nailed It or Failed It: Best Ever Sloppy Joes

Published 8:19 am Monday, December 31, 2018

In my quest to find quick and easy meals for supper, I ran across today’s recipe for Best Ever Sloppy Joe’s in the stacks of recipes I’ve saved over the years. The recipe came from

Best Ever Sloppy Joe


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— 1 Tablespoon olive oil

— 1/2 cup minced carrots (can sub chopped bell pepper)

— 1 cup finely chopped onion (about 1 medium onion)

— 1/2 cup finely chopped celery

— 2 cloves garlic, minced

— 1/2 teaspoon salt

— 1-1/4 lb. ground beef

— 1/2 cup ketchup

— 2 cups tomato sauce (or one 15 ounce can whole tomatoes, pureed)

— 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

— 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar

— 1-1/2 Tablespoons brown sugar

— Pinch ground cloves

— 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

— Pinch cayenne pepper

— 2 turns of freshly ground black pepper

— 4 hamburger buns


Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium high heat. Add the minced carrots and sauté for five minutes (if you are using bell pepper instead of carrots, add those at the same time as the onions).

Add the chopped onion and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally until onions are translucent, about five more minutes.

Add the minced garlic and cook for 30 more seconds. Remove from heat. Remove vegetables from the pan to a medium sized bowl, set aside.

Using the same pan (or, to save time, you can cook the meat in a different pan at the same time you are cooking the vegetables), crumble the meat into the pan. You will likely need to do this in two batches, otherwise you will crowd the pan and the beef won’t easily brown.

Sprinkle with salt.

Do not stir the ground beef, just let it cook until it is well browned on one side. Then flip the pieces over and brown the seasoned side. Use a slotted spoon to remove the ground beef from the pan (can add to the set-aside vegetables) and repeat with the rest of the ground beef.

If you are using extra lean beef, you will likely not have any excess fat in the pan. If you are using 16 percent or higher, you may have excess fat. Strain off all but one tablespoon of the fat.

Return the cooked ground beef and vegetables to the pan. Use a wooden spoon to break up any chunks of ground beef into smaller bits.

Add the ketchup, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar and brown sugar to the pan. Stir to mix well. Add ground cloves, thyme, and cayenne pepper.

Lower the heat to medium low and let simmer for 10 minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Serve with toasted hamburger buns.

Growing up, we didn’t eat sloppy Joes, so I thought it was about time I tried them.

I liked the fact this recipe included vegetables. If your kids don’t like veggies, this may be a recipe to hide some inside.

Chop the vegetables fine so they would be hidden in the meat and the kids, or some adults, would never know.

While my sister-in-law was visiting, I had a few recipes lying on the counter.

One day when I came home from work, she’d chopped all of the vegetables for this recipe. When I stepped into the kitchen she said, “The vegetables are chopped and I’ll let you do the rest.”

She’d asked Brad if he wanted carrots or bell pepper included in the recipe and he said he’d like both.

I remembered we had shiitake mushrooms in the refrigerator and I knew Brad wouldn’t mind having some of them in the Sloppy Joe mix; his sister Jill loves them too. I chopped a few up, not too small though, because I wanted to be able to pick them out of my portion of the meal.

I heated the oil in a pan and began sautéing the carrots. After about five minutes, I added the green bell pepper, onion and the celery. I let it cook until the onion was translucent. Then I stirred in the minced garlic and added the mushrooms.

By this time the kitchen smelled delicious. Vegetables sautéing always smell good and make me hungry.

When the veggies were done, I poured them in to a bowl and then added the hamburger to the same skillet I’d just used and let it begin to cook.

The recipe said to cook the meat in two batches, but I didn’t have time for that so I just put all of it in at once. Also, instead of letting it brown and then crumbling it up, I crumbled as I went. I have a masher I use when cooking ground beef and it gets the meat mashed up into fine pieces, which is perfect for tacos, spaghetti sauce and other dishes that call for crumbled ground beef (I don’t like my ground beef chunky but if you do, you don’t have to mash yours up so much for this recipe).

I let the meat cook until it was browned (that’s where you get the flavor, so don’t be afraid to let it brown a bit, but don’t let it burn).

I used ground chuck and didn’t have much fat left in the pan so I didn’t have to drain any excess grease off.

When the meat was browned, I dumped the vegetables back into the pan and added the wet ingredients along with the spices.

I let the concoction simmer for 10 minutes, then let it continue to simmer just so the liquid would reduce.

When we were ready to eat, Brad blessed the food and we dug in.

I toasted hamburger buns and we all loaded them up with the sloppy Joe mixture.

After a few bites we all agreed it was really good. Jill thought it would make a good sauce to pour over spaghetti. I liked the carrots and bell peppers in it, Brad and Jill liked the mushrooms.

The next day while I was at work, Brad and Jill reheated the Sloppy Joes for lunch. They tried it with tortilla chips and said it was good as a dip.

With another winner under my belt, I’d say this is probably the Best Ever Sloppy Joe recipe, and it is headed to my self-made cookbook. If you need something easy for a party, give this one a try.

Happy New Year!

Sarah Condley is an amateur baker and chef who is compiling a cookbook of her favorite recipes.