Easy Sloppy Joe Recipe

with Sharon Peterson
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Sloppy Joes. Two words that makes the average kid come running with eyes wide and lips smacking in anticipation. Though the basic sloppy Joe recipe is incredibly simple - ground meat and tomato sauce – the history of its origin is questionable. 

Regardless of which story you believe, the sloppy joe or ‘loose meat sandwich’ was invented in the 1930’s. The world was just coming out of the Great Depression and most dishes had minimal ingredients.

Today, the sandwich has evolved to include other ingredients that have redefined what most people consider ‘normal.’ The greatest part about the simplicity of the original recipe is you can add to it and make it incredible. It also happens to be a  perfect dish to use some of your home-canned goods.

This is our version of Homemade Sloppy Joes. It uses home canned tomatoes, venison or elk. You can easily use beef or any other ground meat as a substitute.

Homemade Sloppy Joe Recipe


  • 2 quarts home canned tomatoes
  • 2 lbs ground elk (could be done with beef or venison)
  • 1 medium onion - chopped
  • 1 cup chopped green pepper or celery - optional
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 shakes Tabasco sauce or more depending on taste
  • salt to taste - (approx 1 tsp)

In a skillet, brown the ground elk (or your substitute) with the chopped onion. If you opted to include celery and/or peppers, add them in as well.

Drain the 2 quarts of your home-canned whole tomatoes. TIP: Don’t toss that liquid! It will make a fantastic soup base for another meal. Just another way to get the most for your efforts! 

Add the drained tomatoes to the meat once it is fully browned. Add Worcestershire 

Sauce and Tabasco sauce or whatever else you prefer. This combination is a nice tangy, zesty flavor without overdoing the spice.

Salt to taste. 

If the mix seems a bit dry, add a little of the reserved liquid from tomatoes if you need it. I don't usually need to do this but it depends on how well drained you got your canned tomatoes. 

Stir well and bring it back to a low simmering heat. Once it begins bubbling (it won’t take long), remove from heat. Serve over the bread of your choice. Add a slice of cheese on top!

Hamburger buns are traditional but I also like to serve this over my homemade wheat bread. I butter my bread add a slice of cheese and broil until lightly toasted and cheese is melted. Add a scoop of meat on top and serve.

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