This Homemade Sloppy Joes recipe was originally designed to serve while living out of a hotel room - while providing a LOT of nutrients - but they’re also the BEST Sloppy Joes you’ll ever have, in general!
Originally published June 30, 2013. Updated on 5/12/2022
This is always an exciting time of year for us, but after the past 6-10 months we've had... we really need this. Time to just get away from everything and kick back with the local geek community in a BIG way.
Also: We get to break out the Weeping Angel costumes again!
This year, with the convention bigger than ever, we decided to plan ahead with regards to food.
In an effort to save both money and a parking spot (which will be hard to come by!), we've decided to make a big batch of food to share with our roommates.
This version is a relatively simple recipe that is an upgrade on the family favorite - Rather than using a canned sauce, my easy sloppy joe recipe used real ingredients - including “hidden veggies” - to bulk out the beef mixture.
The result is an easy meal that tastes like classic sloppy joes ... but is loaded with protein and vegetables. You know, two things that can be hard to come by - or skipped altogether - in the midst of convention festivities!
It’s an easy sloppy joe recipe that can be made ahead and frozen - not only saving time in the precious days leading up to the convention, but also to add as "ice" in the cooler until used.
Also, leaving it to simmer all afternoon in a crock pot only enhances the flavor!
Other Hotel Room Recipes
These are great sloppy joes for regular rotation, home use - quick meals on random weeknights, sure to please the tastebuds of even the picky eaters in your family!
Don’t let the length of the ingredient list intimidate you - they’re all ingredients that you can find in any grocery store.
This makes a big batch - it was the best way to not only feed a crowd, but to really pack in a variety of nutrients.
This freezes REALLY well, though - it was designed to - so it’s a great way to save effort on future meals!
Sloppy Joe Meat
To make the sloppy joe sauce / filling, you will need:
I used a few types of green pepper - Poblano, Jalapeno, and Green Bell Pepper - along with some Red Bell Pepper. This provides a LOT of flavour for the base.
I use really basic canned tomato sauce - the kind with the canned tomatoes, not the kind in the pasta section.
That said, you can use whatever pasta tomato sauce you like - I just like to use a really clean, basic tomato taste, letting the rest of the flavours shine!
In addition to the peppers and tomatoes, I use:
- Red Onion
- Yellow Onions
... Trust me, this tastes amazing, but it doesn’t taste “vegetable-y”.
I use 3 kinds of ground meat in this: lean ground beef, a ground Chorizo-type sausage (Mexican style, not Spanish), and Ground Pork.
If one or more of those aren’t available / are undesirable for whatever reason, you can swap in more of the other(s) meats, just try to keep the overall weight of meat about the same.
Rounding out the sauce, you will need:
- Fresh garlic cloves
- Vinegar (You can use Apple cider vinegar if you like)
- Steak spice (I use my Homemade Montreal Steak Spice)
- Ground black pepper
Oh, and hamburger buns, obviously!
A Few Notes About This Sloppy Joes Recipe
- I created this recipe specifically to be made ahead and frozen, specifically for use in a slow cooker. See the end of the recipe for how to tweak this for immediate use - it’s also great as an easy dinner at home, and would be awesome for a party!
- We did this based on what we had on hand, and it came out amazing. If you want to swap out types of pepper, add or subtract onion, etc... go nuts 🙂 It's a very versatile recipe.
- Pro tip: Having a food processor comes in really, really handy for this recipe. You can totally chop everything by hand, but food processors make REALLY easy work of this recipe!
- Usually, you would serve Sloppy Joes on a toasted bun, and on a proper plate. In honour of Convergence - and for the sake of "Convention Food" authenticity - we have photographed this on an untoasted bun, and on a styrofoam plate 🙂
- Depending on our mood, we’ll usually serve this with potato chips (especially at a convention) or side salad (Especially at home).
As I mentioned earlier, this recipe is HIGHLY customizable to your tastes. Here are some options:
Not only can you change around the proportions of the meats I called for, you can swap them out entirely. To better suit your dietary needs and restrictions, you can use ground turkey, ground chicken, and/or vegan ground meat substitutes.
Like a sweeter sloppy Joe? Add a little brown sugar, to taste.
More Sandwich Recipes
Love sandwiches, or just want some new ideas for your lunches? We've got you covered!
Apple Chicken Burgers with Basil & Gouda
Buffalo Chicken Buns
Copycat White Castle Burgers
Dukkah Spiced Falafel Burgers
Dukkah Spiced Lamb Burgers
Fancy Tea Sandwiches
Juicy Goosey Burger
Moroccan Spiced Lamb Burgers with Pea Hummus, Goat Cheese, and Beets
Muffaletta Sandwich Recipe
Pesto Chicken Panini
Spinach Feta Salmon Burgers
Spinach Hand Pies
Tandoori Spiced Chicken Burgers with Mango
Ultimate Lobster Rolls
Vegetarian Chorizo Burgers with Grilled Poblano & Cilantro Pesto
Vegetarian Donairs (and Vegan Donair Meat)
Wild Rice & Mushroom Polenta Sandwich
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The Best Homemade Sloppy Joes
- 1 lb Mushrooms Chopped
- 1 Poblano Pepper Seeded and chopped
- 3 Jalapeno Peppers Chopped (seeded if you choose)
- 4 Green Bell Peppers seeded and chopped
- 3 Red Bell Peppers Seeded and chopped
- 2 Red Onions Peeled and chopped
- 1 Yellow Onion Peeled and chopped
- 6-7 Celery Ribs Chopped
- 6 Carrots Peeled and grated
- 2 teaspoon Salt
- 4 lbs Ground Beef
- 2 lbs Ground Chorizo-type Sausage
- 1 lbs Ground Pork
- 8 cups Tomato / Spaghetti Sauce of Choice
- 12 Garlic cloves Peeled and minced
- ¼ Cup Vinegar
- 2 teaspoon Ground Pepper
- 1 tablespoon Steak Spice
- In a LARGE pot (You may want a stock pot for this!), combine all of the vegetables and 2 teaspoon of salt.
- Cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until vegetables are soft and most of the water has come out of them – it will look soupy.
- Once you set the vegetables to cook, combine all three meats in another large pot / pan / Dutch oven. Cook over medium high heat – stirring frequently and breaking up chunks into smaller pieces – until browned and cooked through.
- Strain meats off of any fat and drippings, and add to vegetables. Stir well to combine.
- Add remaining ingredients (tomato/spaghetti sauce, garlic, vinegar, pepper and steak spice) to the meat mixture, stir well to fully combine.
- Bring just up to a simmer, then turn the heat off – mixture should be way more loose / wet than a standard Sloppy Joe filling, do not cook it down!
- Taste mixture, adjust seasonings as desired. Feel free to add more vinegar if you want more of an acidic bite to it.
- Cool to room temperature, transfer sloppy joe mixture to freezer safe containers, and freeze until use.
- Thaw out (At a convention, place it in your bathroom sink in the morning when you’re done with it, fill with cool water)
- Several hours before serving, transfer mixture to Crock Pot (doesn’t need to be fully thawed), heat on high for a few hours, stirring every hour or so (Good to coordinate this with roomies!)
- Once mixture cooks down to a nice thick consistency, turn heat down to low or medium-low heat until serving. If mixture gets too thick, see if a vending machine has a bottle of V8, add a little to thin it out.
- Serve on buns.