Sloppy Joes sure are delicious, but for me, the sauce is what makes them heavenly. If you wonder how to make them finger-licking good, you may want to consider changing the sauce. I’m not saying that Sloppy Joes are only as good as the sauce you use, but it does make a huge difference.
Sloppy Joes are my go-to comfort food and a snack I love sharing with my friends and family. So, I have quite a few aces up my sleeve to add some magic and zest to these delicious sandwiches. In this article, I will give you nine sauce ideas you can try out to make your Sloppy Joes a bit sloppier.
Classic Sloppy Joe Sauce
It is only appropriate to start this list with the classic sauce, as a sauce made specifically to complement Sloppy Joes. It is tangy, sweet, savory, and, most importantly, easy to make at home. What I love most about it is that you can adjust the flavors according to your preference.
The main ingredients you’ll need are ketchup, water, brown sugar, yellow mustard, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Combine the ingredients in a saucepan and simmer until the mixture thickens.
Add as much as you want, as the amount of sauce you use is completely up to you. Still, the standard amount is 1 to 1.5 cups of sauce to a pound of beef.
If you like the classic recipe but you want to experiment and give it a twist, the BBQ sauce is where you should start. It will give your Sloppy Joes a smoky, tangy, and slightly sweet flavor, delivering a taste similar to the classic one but with a more rustic style.
It’s easy to make at home using a few simple ingredients, and you’ll need everyday ingredients such as ketchup, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, yellow mustard, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, and salt.
The BBQ sauce amount you add to your Sloppy Joes depends on your taste and the amount of beef. Add all the ingredients to a saucepan and cook until the mixture thickens. The recommended standard is 1-1.5 cups of sauce per pound of ground beef, but nothing is set in stone, so mix and match as you like it.
Buffalo sauce is another simple and delicious idea to give your Sloppy Joes a new image. It is spicy, tangy, and slightly buttery, which perfectly complements the beefy sandwiches. You’ll need a few simple ingredients to make it, including hot sauce, butter, and a splash of white vinegar for added tanginess if you are into it.
The making procedure is a little more demanding compared to those I mentioned above, but still, it is pretty basic. Melt the butter and mix it with the hot sauce and vinegar. As a general rule of thumb, you need about 1/2 to 3/4 cups of buffalo sauce for every pound of ground meat but feel free to adjust the amount to your preference.
Buffalo sauce needs a little melding time, as it is a bit fattier than most on this list. I usually cook the meat thoroughly, mix it with the buffalo sauce and let the mixture set for about 15 minutes before I assemble the sandwiches.
And here’s my favorite through and through — teriyaki sauce Sloppy Joes.
If you like trying out new things and experimenting, I recommend trying your Sloppy Joes with teriyaki sauce. This sauce will give your dish a bit of an Asian twist resulting in a sweet, savory, and slightly tangy taste. To make it at home, you’ll need soy sauce, brown sugar, mirin (sweet rice wine), garlic, ginger, and cornstarch if you want your teriyaki sauce thicker than usual.
The making procedure is as simple as it can be. Just mix the ingredients into a saucepan and cook until you get the desired thickness. As with the previous sauces, you can adjust the amount and add as much as you want, though the recommended amount is 1-1.5 cups per pound of beef.
Probably the simplest one on this list, the Chipotle sauce doesn’t involve cooking, and mixing skills are all you need to make it. It will infuse your Sloppy Joes with a smoky, spicy, and slightly tangy flavor, which is precisely why it is among my top three.
It is creamy from the mayonnaise and zesty from the lime juice, making it an absolute must. You probably already have everything you need to make it — mayonnaise, adobo sauce (from a can of Chipotle peppers), and lime juice. Mix the ingredients in a bowl until they homogenize, and you are done!
Although the general rule says 1/4 to 1/3 cup of sauce per pound of ground meat, you can always add more or less to sync up the sauce amount with your preferences.
If you like your Sloppy Joes combined with the irreplaceable Mexican liveliness and zest, you should try the enchilada Joes. The enchilada sauce is tangy, slightly spicy, and savory, with a rich tomato base and a blend of spices like chili powder, cumin, and oregano, giving your Sloppy Joes a completely different zing.
You will make your enchilada sauce in no time by calling for nothing more than tomato sauce or puree, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper. The best thing about the enchilada sauce recipe is that it is open to experimentation, so you can add other veggies to make it more to your liking.
I add chopped onions and some chicken broth.
It goes without saying that you can adjust the spiciness level any way you like it and add as much sauce as you want to your Sloppy Joes. The standard measure of 1-1.5 cups of sauce per pound of ground beef applies here too, but you can absolutely add more or less if you want it that way.
To give your Sloppy Joes an Italian charm, use the marinara sauce to spruce them up. The sauce is tangy, savory, and slightly sweet, with a rich tomato base and very easy to make at home. It combines flavors of tomatoes, garlic, onion, and herbs giving your Sloppy Joes a slight Bolognese style.
The marinara sauce is probably the simplest one on this list in terms of ingredients calling only for canned crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic, onion, vegetable broth, olive oil, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning (basil, oregano, and thyme). I love it because I always have the ingredients lying around.
Sauté the onions in olive oil, and add the crushed tomatoes, paste, garlic, and seasoning that you’ve previously blended in a food processor. Let it simmer for 20-30 minutes, and you are done. Since the marinara sauce is thinner than the sauces I discussed earlier, you should probably add more of it to your Sloppy Joes.
The standard amount is about two cups of marinara sauce per pound of beef, but feel free to adjust the quantity any way you like it.
If you want an umami Sloppy Joe, hoisin sauce is the way to go. It is sweet, tangy, and slightly salty with a hint of umami. You may not be as familiar with it as with the previous sauces, but believe me — it’s definitely worth a try.
Made from soybeans, sugar, vinegar, garlic, and various spices, it is complex and definitely out of the ordinary. Making it requires nothing more than just mixing the ingredients together. However, you may need to go shopping before making it as it calls for soy sauce, black bean paste, honey or brown sugar, rice vinegar, garlic, sesame oil, Chinese five-spice powder, and red chili paste as a non-mandatory ingredient.
It is a pretty strong-flavored and thick sauce, so adjust the dose accordingly. The standard amount is ½ cup per pound of ground beef, but I always start with less and increase the amount gradually, trying the beef each time.
Delicious but mellow, Sloppy Joes could surely use some fiery spiciness. If you are anything like me and like adding some extremeness to your food, I warmly recommend chili sauce for sloppy joes.
It gives the dish a hearty, robust, and slightly spicy flavor bringing together the earthiness of the spices, the sweetness from tomatoes, and the heat from chili peppers. And, worry not, you probably already have everything you need to make it.
Tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, paprika, onion, garlic, and kidney beans (optional). To make the sauce, you just add the ingredients to a saucepan and simmer until it thickens.
Don’t add too much from the get-go. I advise you to start with ¼ cup per pound of beef and go from there.
The Best Marinara Sauce for Sloppy Joes
- 1 can crushed tomatoes (28 oz)
- 1 can tomato paste (6 oz)
- 3 cloves garlic (chopped)
- 2 ½ tbsp Italian seasoning (basil, oregano, and thyme)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion (finely diced)
- ½ cup vegetable broth (you can also use chicken broth or wine)
- Put the tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic, and spices into a food processor and blend them together.
- Heat up the oil in a saucepan, and cook the onion on medium until soft.
- Put the mixture into the saucepan, add the broth, and simmer for 20-30 minutes.
- Now you can add the sauce to your Sloppy Joes!
- The standard amount is about two cups of marinara sauce per pound of beef, but feel free to adjust the quantity any way you like it. Enjoy!