Nana’s Sloppy Joe’s

Sloppy Joe’s was created in 1930 in Iowa, by a man named Joe at Floyd Angell’s Cafe. What he did was take a can of tomatoes and ground beef and mixed it together and threw it on a bun. It was a BIG hit. Soooo big that, it was named Sloppy Joe’s.

So many variations of Sloppy Joe’s have been made. Everyone has their own spin. I have taken my Nana’s and I have added to it. Every time my Nana, visited us, she would make her Sloppy Joe’s. I only got them twice a year, Christmas time and Spring time, when she visited us from FL. I would help her make them, and we would stand at the stove together with the pot in front of us. She would get out all her ingredients – ground beef, ketchup, onions, Worcestershire sauce, sweet pickle relish, and her secret ingredient that I was never allowed to say. My mom would bug me all the time for it. But it was mine and my Nana’s little secret. Even as an adult, when she was still with it, she always made sure I never told a soul. It was our thing. A memory I will alway cherish.

I have now passed this down to my son. He loves Sloppy Joe’s. He wants to make them with me now. Which is special. I always tell him when I make them with him, about Nana and I making them together. Even though my Nana is still with us, she isn’t with us. She is 93 and doesn’t remember us anymore. But I’m keeping her alive with stories I tell.

I have switched up her recipe. I have added veggies to it. As you see above, there is only onions. Ketchup doesn’t count. I have gone ahead and added sweet potatoes and or butternut squash whatever I have on hand at that time. I also add red bell pepper. I sometimes switch it up with the relish. If I don’t have relish I cut up bread and butter pickles, and I add chili flakes. I also have added garlic. The base of ingredients my Nana has is the same. That I have not and will not change.

So I dice up the following 1/2 red onion, half a sweet potato (about a cup. Can do the same for butternut squash) one whole red bell pepper, 1/2 cup sweet pickle relish or sweet pickles diced up, 2 garlic cloves and a chili flakes. Set that all all aside.

In a large sauté pan, add a small amount of olive oil and start to sauté the onion and 1/4 tsp of chili flakes.

Once onions are sautéed for about 5 mins. Add your 2lbs of 15/85 ground beef. Start browning that meat and then added your garlic.

Once your meat is browned, you can now add your sweet potato or butternut squash. And you want to cook for about 5 mins to start to soften the veggie.

Once that has cooked you going to added your bell peppers and cook for another 2-3 mins. You don’t want the pepper soft. You still want to keep a small amount of crunch.

Now add all your other ingredients, ketchup, Worcestershire Sauce, relish, and brown sugar. Mix that all up and let simmer for about 10 mins before serving.

Now your ready to serve. Take a hamburger bun or whatever you want to use for a sandwich. Place your sloppy Joe’s on the bun, top with cheddar cheese and serve.

Now if your like our son, he hates bread products period. So we just give him a good spoonful and cut up cucumbers. He likes to put the meat between two slices and eat like a sandwich. For whatever he loves it this way. And to be honest it doesn’t taste bad, it’s really good. But I love my carbs way too much to drop the bun.

Prep & Cook time 40 mins

Serves 4-6


• 2lbs ground beef 15/85

• 1/2 red onion diced

• 1 cup of sweet potato or butternut squash diced

• 1 whole red bell pepper diced

• 2 garlic cloves diced

• a pinch of chili flakes you can add more depending on how spicy you like it.

• 3/4 cup of ketchup

• 1/4 cup of sweet pickle relish or diced up sweet pickles

• 1/4 cup brown sugar

• 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

• S & P

• Hamburger buns

• cheddar cheese


1. In a deep skillet, add a little bit of olive about 1-2 Tbsp worth. Heat on medium- high. Add your onion and chili flakes. Sauté until a little browned.

2. Add your ground beef and garlic, plus some salt and pepper. You want to brown your meat.

3. Once meat is browned add your sweet potato or butternut squash and let that cook for about 5 mins.

4. Now add your bell pepper. Stir and let cook for 2-3 mins. Still wanting to keep the crunch.

5. Your welcome to now add the rest of the ingredients. Stir to make sure everything is combine. You may need to add more ketchup. You want the mixture to be wet and not dry. So it can be sloppy. Now simmer on low for about 10 mins.

6. Take a bun and pile the meat on. Top with cheese and close it up. ENJOY!

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