Slow Cooker Sloppy Joes are always a family favorite. Tangy-sweet ground beef in a delicious sauce served on hamburger buns will also please your family.

If there is one dinner, my kids clamor for it, which is Sloppy Joes. They can’t get enough of these classic hot sandwiches, and I’ve been making them with the same recipe for years. It’s a slow cooker sloppy joe recipe handed down to me from my grandmother and it’s an easy dinner the whole family will love.

photo of two sloppy joes stacked on top of each other

When it comes to homemade sloppy joes, these are the only ones my family will eat. The recipe has been tested time and time again, first by my grandmother and then by me after she shared it. It’s the perfect balance of sweet and tangy, and it couldn’t be easier to make. 

I’ve adjusted the original recipe over time, but not too much because it really is perfect. The original recipe did not include brown sugar, but it’s an ingredient I’ve added. My grandmother’s brown sugar meatloaf is another family favorite, so I was inspired by that recipe to add brown sugar to the sloppy joes.

I also omit some spices in the original that instructed wrapping whole cloves and allspice in cheesecloth that you later pluck out. I’ve tried it with and without and we can’t tell the difference. So it’s just a tad less fussy without losing anything.

I love this recipe because it calls for simple ingredients I always have on hand. It’s comforting and filling, and one thing the whole family can agree on is that it’s amazing—they can’t get enough of it. I make it for weeknight dinners and camping trips.

It is the best sloppy joe recipe, and I am happy to share it with you. Old family recipes are always the best.


  • Ground beef
  • Diced yellow onions
  • Ketchup
  • Water
  • White vinegar
  • Brown sugar
  • Flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • Garlic powder
photo of the ingredients in the slow cooker

Recipe Tips

  • Brown the ground beef first on the stove in a large skillet. Then, transfer it to the slow cooker and add the other ingredients. Stir to combine them.
  • Set the slow cooker to low and simmer the beef for 6 hours or high for 3-4 hours.
  • It also makes a big batch, so it’s perfect for a crowd. You can save the leftovers, which keep well for upto five (5) days in the refrigerator in an airtight container. It’s delicious served warm on hamburger buns, but I also like it cold on sandwich bread with lettuce and pickles.
photo of the brown sugar being added to the slow cooker

Can I Make this Recipe on the Stove?

You can easily make it on the stove instead of the slow cooker. Here are the simple steps:

  • You will need a large skillet to brown the beef. Cook it until it’s no longer pink.
  • Add all of the other ingredients and turn the heat up to bring it to a simmer. Lower the heat, cover the pan, and simmer the beef for about an hour.
close-up photo of the sloppy joes in a slow cooker

Different Ways to Serve Sloppy Joes

The classic way to save up all that savory beef and sauce is on soft hamburger buns.

You can also use regular sandwich bread and add a few toppings, such as crispy lettuce leaves, sliced pickles, and a slice of tomato. This works either hot or cold.

Sometimes, I mix in some shredded cheddar cheese, and once it’s melted, serve the sloppy joe mixture with tortilla chips or corn chips. Everyone dips in and enjoys.

photo of a sandwich with a bite taken out of it

Wherever we go, my kids have never met another sloppy joe that is better than this recipe. I can’t imagine even trying another recipe – my grandmother’s is all we need. I hope you love it as much as we do.

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collage image of sloppy joes, two image one with bun and one in slow cooker

Slow Cooker Sloppy Joes

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 1 hour
Servings: 16 servings
Calories: 308 kcal
I've been making this sloppy joe recipe for years after my grandmother handed it down to me. Its an easy dinner you can make in your slow cooker with simple ingredients you might already have on hand.
photo of a sandwich with a bite taken out of it


  • 4 pounds hamburger
  • 2 small yellow onions diced
  • 18 ounces ketchup
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder


Slow Cooker Directions

  • Brown the beef in a large skillet on the stove until it's no longer pink. Transfer it to the slow cooker.
  • Add all of the other ingredients and stir to combine. Cover the slow cooker and cook the beef on high for 1 hour or on low for 2 hours.
  • Remove the lid and stir the sloppy joes. Serve on hamburger buns.

Stove Top Directions

  • Brown the beef in a large skillet on the stove until it's no longer pink. Add all of the other ingredients and stir to combine. Cover the skillet and cook over low heat for 1 hour.
Calories: 308kcalCarbohydrates: 5gProtein: 20gFat: 23gSaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 81mgSodium: 385mgPotassium: 331mgFiber: 1gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 9IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 25mgIron: 2mg
photo of a sandwich with a bite taken out of it
Tried this recipe?Let us know what you think!

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  1. That looks really yummy. I wish the recipe had been about 1/4 size for my husband and I. Four pounds of hamburger is huge.
    Also, could you use bbq sauce instead of ketsup.? I don’t have any, ketsup, and with the pandemic, I don’t have any grocery store trips planned. I’m using only what I have on hand.

    1. Thank you! You can click on the serving size number and a bar will pop up. If you slide it to the left it will automatically adjust the ingredient amounts to your liking. If you quarter the recipe, you’ll only need about half a cup. You can use bbq sauce if you’d like, it will have a different flavor though. If you have tomato puree, sugar, and vinegar you can make ketchup from home! Let me know what you figure out!

  2. 5 stars
    I love an easy to make dinner! Sloppy joes are always a family favorite and so happy to see that I have everything already in my kitchen to make this tomorrow.

  3. 5 stars
    This is one of the best sloppy Joe recipes I’ve made. I whipped this up yesterday, and it was so good. I love being able to throw everything together and just let it sit while I’m at work.

  4. 5 stars
    We love sloppy joes for a good weeknight dinner and I will definitely be making them this way from here on out!

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