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Your BEST sloppy Joe recipe please!

My local watering hole does recipe "throwdowns" every couple of months. They aren't really contest, but more of an excuse to enjoy each other's cooking and company.

However, once a year we have a "Sloppy Joe Festival." This really IS a contest and is a HUGE deal. It's always on a weekday and starts at 2:00pm. So close to 100 people chose to leave work early to go to the bar, drink, listen to bands, and eat and vote on their favorite sloppy joes.

Here's where I need your help. I decided to enter the contest this year. However, I've never been able to perfect the Manwichy deliciousness that I remember from my youth from scratch. Fellow hounds, what's your FAVORITE sloppy Joe recipe?

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  1. I'll put in a plug for Lauren Groveman's recipe for Sloppy Joes (it's available on her web site or just Ggoogle her name and Sloppy Joes). I am not a huge fan of Sloppy Joes but I have made them several times, particularly for children who love this version. It's my go to recipe when asked for. The sauce is time consuming but easy and it freezes well.

    4 Replies
    1. re: KateBChi

      If the kids like it, it's got to be good!

      1. re: KateBChi

        I want to try that recipe but pray tell, what is bovril? Where do I get it?

        1. re: kmlmgm

          Bovril is concentrated liquid beef bouillon. It's a little umami bomb that also contains MSG. I have only purchased one bottle in my life, for this recipe, and I got it at a local Grocery store and it was not hard to find at all but I've had it several years now. Home cooks used to use it as a flavor enhancer for gravies and other meat based dishes. If you look at recipes from the 50's through the 1970's you might see it in locally published Junior this or that recipes much like the flavor additive Accent (basically MSG).

          1. re: kmlmgm

            Another one of her sloppy joes recipes calls for Better than Bullion. I'm wondering if you could sub that?

        2. I haven't had a sloppy joe in years .. growing up in MN, the common thing to do was add a can of Campbells Gumbo soup to the sloppy joe mix. It was tasty (that I recall) but would not win any awards!

          1 Reply
          1. re: eperdu

            Yikes! Yes, i don't think that would win any awards. LOL.

          2. What does from scratch mean? Does that eliminate all condiments?

            I've made some exceptional sloppy joes by going thru the crisper and finding what needs to be cooked.

            Finely diced onion, celery, carrots, peppers, hot peppers, garlic, tomatoes. Add it to ground turkey or ground beef

            and for me the Manwich can is a condiment, just like ketchup. If you don't have any fresh hot peppers, add a little heat from rooster sauce or shiracha or red pepper flakes.

            Oh and always serve them on the best sesame seed hamburger style soft sandwich roll I can find.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Bellachefa

              From scratch means no Manwich. Funny story though, last year one guy decided to cheat and use Manwich, but he also doctored it up. He claims he probably would have won if he had just left it alone!

              1. re: ludmilasdaughter

                Well if from scratch means no Manwich, then just use the other not from scratch condiment ingredients --- ketchup, vinegar, mustard, brown sugar, worcestershire, and a big dollop of hamburger relish.

              2. re: Bellachefa

                Bellachefa, I disagree that Manwich is another condiment. It is a sauce made for a specific dish, and ostensibly includes all the ingredients needed for a sloppy Joe except the ground beef.

                None of the other condiments listed can become sloppy joe filling with only ground beef added.

              3. This may be too far afield, but I enjoy a version I call sloppy Jose. Sautee diced onion, poblanos, and jalapenos, combine 1/2 jar mole sauce with equal (or more) amount chicken stock, pick apart a rotisserie chicken, combine the chicken with the mole liquid and sautéed veggies, heat on low and serve on seeded buns.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Veggo

                  Won't work for this crowd, but that's DEFINITELY something I'm trying at home. Thanks!

                    1. re: FetaCheese

                      I actually think that recipe looks really good! I shall make it sometime. Thank you!

                    2. Whatever ingredients, ratio of ingredients, or sauces, or knicknacks you decide to use, just remember two little words and you will have those judges sending out a search party for your recipe.

                      BACON and GREASE.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        Everything is better with BACON! I'll have to find a way to incorporate it!

                      2. This is the Betty Crocker recipe for Sloppy Joes that I have used since forever.


                        After growing up on packaged dry Sloppy Joe mix (which I loved), back in the 80s, I tried this one in a Betty Crocker Cookbook that I had just gotten. Never made the packaged stuff again. This is wonderful with shredded sharp cheddar on top, on a sesame bun.
                        I add lots more ketchup than the recipe calls for, then cook it down till it's good and thick.

                        1 Reply
                        1. My mom made sloppy joe's or, as we called them, hamburg bbq. We loved them. Nothing special to the sauce but they rocked.

                          Fast forward to now. These days I live in a very bbq-centric part of the south. One of our local smokehouse restaurants does a smoked brisket sloppy joe that knocked my socks off. The sauce seemed pretty tradtional (tomato/ketchup-based, mustard, cider vinegar, onion, maybe a splash of worcestshire, and a little brown sugar) but combined with that glorious smoked brisket and some sauteed diced onion and pepper it was, well, so daggone good. Top that with either a vinegar-based or mayo-based slaw on a brioche bun and you've got a winner, lady. ;)

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: lynnlato

                            Sounds fantastic, but I don't have a smoker. I have a friend who does so maybe he'll let me borrow it.

                            1. re: ludmilasdaughter

                              Perhaps you could just slow-cook a brisket in the oven and maybe utilize a little bit of that liquid smoke and a good rub. Then proceed with sloppy joe sauce after slow-cooking it and finish with the slaw and brioche bun. :)

                          2. This thread reminded me I have not had Sloppy Joe's in a while. On a whim, I did Ming Tsai's recipe last night.


                            The local market did not have ground chicken thighs so I went ahead and sub'd gound sirloin for it. In all, I was quite pleased with the results. I've added the recipe to my file and will do it again.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: mike0989

                              interesting, but that's a lot of hoison sauce

                              1. re: Bellachefa

                                I thought so too at first, but it makes the dish.