Slow Cooker Sloppy Joes, made with ground beef soaked in a savory sauce of tomatoes, ketchup, barbecue sauce and spices. Makes enough to feed a crowd or to freeze for later!
If you have never had homemade Sloppy Joes, you are in for treat. Easy comfort food right out of your slow cooker! Once you have tried it, you will never want the canned variety again. This recipe makes a sweet and spicy beef mix that is great served on regular hamburger, onion or sesame buns.
For years, canned Sloppy Joe mix made my work life easy. Just brown some hamburger, pour in a can of that sweet and spicy mix, heat and eat. I was sold. It took me a while, and a change in food culture, to actually read the ingredients on the can. Maybe I didn’t want to know. Anyway, there it was – the high fructose corn syrup staring back at me. Rather than give up eating Sloppy Joes, I made my own recipe that is even tastier than the stuff in the can. And no corn syrup. Don’t get me wrong, there is still plenty of brown sugar in the ingredients, but if you make your own, you can control how much.
When I make this recipe, I use all-natural or no-sugar added ketchup and my own homemade barbecue sauce. Recipes always turn out better when you use ingredients you know you already like, so feel free to use those.
Here’s my secret for adding onions to a recipe so no one will know. Put the onions in a food processor and pulse the onions until they are almost like slush. The onions will melt into the other ingredients while cooking, giving you all the flavor but no tell-tale onions to be seen!
HOW TO MAKE SLOW COOKER SLOPPY JOES
Slow cooking is an easy way to make “cook once and eat twice” recipes. Why cook everyday when your freezer can store cooked meals that you only have to pop in the microwave to re-heat. This recipe makes enough to feed a crowd, or to freeze for later in plastic freezer bags.
To get started, get out a large skillet to brown the ground beef. After all the pink is gone, drain the beef and transfer from the skillet to the slow cooker insert.. Leave about 1 tablespoon of fat in the bottom.
Add the celery and onions to the skillet, and saute until just translucent, about 3 minutes. Scrape onions and celery into the slow cooker.
In a large bowl, mix all of the remaining ingredients, except buns, and stir into the beef and veggies in the slow cooker. Or, add everything right into the slow cooker and stir into the beef and veggies. Stir.
Set the slow cooker to Low and cook for 6 – 8 hours, or to High for 3 – 4 hours. Stir the mix occasionally and watch for sticking.
Soft buns are best for serving Sloppy Joes. This full recipe will fill about 20 -24 hamburger buns.
STORING LEFTOVER SLOPPY JOE MIX
Leftovers can be stored up to 3 days covered tightly in the refrigerator.
If you are freezing a portion of the meat, let it cool slightly, then package into labeled plastic bags. After filling, lay the bag flat and spread mixture out. This allows it to freeze faster. Remove any extra air from the bag. Store lying flat in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Slow Cooker Sloppy Joes, with ground beef in a savory sauce of tomatoes, ketchup, barbecue sauce and spices. Enough to feed a crowd or to freeze for later!
- 3 pounds ground beef, 80% or leaner
- 3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup all-natural ketchup
- 1/2 cup bottled barbecue sauce or homemade
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons pepperoncini brine (from the jar)
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1-1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon table salt
- soft buns for serving
- In a large skillet, brown ground beef until no pink remains. Drain, leaving 1 tablespoon of fat in skillet. Scrape browned beef into slow cooker insert.
- Add celery and onions to skillet and saute over medium-high heat until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add to beef in slow cooker.
- Add all other ingredients to slow cooker and stir to combine.
- Set slow cooker to Low and cook for 6 – 8 hours, or High for 3-4 hours. Stir occasionally.
- Spoon about 1/3 cup beef mixture onto buns and serve.
You may substitute 1 tablespoon vinegar or pickled banana pepper brine for pepperoncini brine. If using vinegar, regular or apple cider vinegar provides the best flavor.
Omit or reduce the added the brown sugar if you like your Sloppy Joes less sweet.
Keywords: slow cooker sloppy joe, homemade, ground beef, recipe