Quick and Easy Sloppy Joes

Family-Sized and Party-Sized Recipes are both included!

Even after I developed a BBQ sauce recipe that I enjoyed, I still avoided Sloppy Joes like the plague. I had disliked them my entire life, so I figured, why try it again? That all changed one busy Friday night. I was directing my school’s production of The Little Mermaid, and we had sold out so many of our shows that we decided to do two shows in a row on Friday after school, with only an hour in between to feed the kids. The parents were so kind and volunteered to bring in Sloppy Joes for everyone. We got all the kids lined up in the theater basement and served them their food. As the director, I was running around trying to make everything perfect and ready for the second show of the evening. What can I say? I’m a workaholic. Thankfully, my choreographer realized I hadn’t hit the pause button to feed myself, handed me a plate with two Sloppy Joes on it, and forced me to sit down and eat. I didn’t have much of a choice, I needed to eat something, so I inhaled two sandwiches, and shocked myself by enjoying every bite. 

This was my wake up call – I realized I could enjoy Sloppy Joes if they were homemade, and not the kind that comes out of a can. From that point on I was hooked. With a combination of my Sweet and Spicy BBQ Sauce, pickles, and my meat of choice, Sloppy Joes are now my go-to meal when I have a busy night and need to make dinner quickly!

Ingredients

1 lb Ground Round or Venison (I prefer venison, but both work!)

⅓ cup Diced Green Pepper

1 tbsp Brown Sugar

1 ½ cups Sweet and Spicy BBQ Sauce (This is the equivalent of one batch of sauce.)

Dill Pickle Slices

Burger Buns

Family-Sized Directions (8-9 Sandwiches)

1. Dice a green pepper into small ¼ inch squares. Set the ⅓ cup needed off to the side and flash freeze the rest for future use.

2. Make up a batch of Sweet and Spicy BBQ Sauce, or if this has been made up ahead of time, heat on medium low in a medium-sized pot. 

3. Heat a large skillet to medium-high and start to brown the meat. 

4. When the meat is halfway cooked, add in the pepper, and continue to cook until the meat is done. 

5. Add the brown sugar to the mixture, and continue to heat and stir until the sugar is melted/mixed in. 

6. Use a slotted spoon to scoop the meat mixture into the BBQ Sauce. Simmer in the sauce, on low heat, for 15 – 30 minutes. The longer this simmers the more the flavors will infuse together. 

Kitchen Tip: If all of your slotted spoons have large slots, you may need to use a strainer instead before adding the meat into the sauce. 

7. Use a slotted serving spoon to put meat on each bun, top the meat with 3 pickle slices, and place the top bun back on. 

This recipe is so easy, and I promise that even if you have never tried pickles on a Sloppy Joe before, it truly brings the whole dish together. Cole recommends adding a slice of pepper jack cheese on top too, but I prefer my sloppy joes sans cheese.

For a delicious, filling meal serve this with my Oven Baked Seasoned Steak Fries

Party-Sized Directions (35-40 sandwiches)

Because this dish is so easy, it can be great to serve a crowd, or bring to a potluck. Below are my tips for making both my Sweet and Spicy BBQ Sauce and Sloppy Joes for a large group of people! 

*This recipe makes enough to fit two 6 quart slow cookers

Party-Sized Sweet and Spicy BBQ Sauce Ingredients

6 tbsp Butter

2 tbsp Dried Onion Flakes

4 tbsp Minced Garlic

6 cups Ketchup (Fructose Free)

1 ½ cups Vinegar

1 ½ cups Water

¾ cup Brown Sugar

6 tbsp Chili Powder

6 tbsp Ground Mustard

1 tbsp Salt

6 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce

1. In a large pot, melt the butter and sauté the minced garlic and onion flakes for 2-3 minutes. 

2. Pour the ketchup, vinegar, and water into the pot and turn it down to medium low. Stir until all the ingredients come together and it is lightly bubbling. 

3. In a mid-sized bowl whisk together the brown sugar, chili powder, ground mustard, and salt to get rid of any large clumps within the spices; then add the spices into the saucepan. Stir to combine.

4. Add the Worcestershire sauce into the mix, stir, then split the sauce evenly between two slow cookers.

Party-Sized Sloppy Joe Ingredients

8 lbs Ground Round or Venison

2 ½ cups Diced Green Pepper (About 3 Large Peppers)

½ cup Brown Sugar

Sweet and Spicy BBQ Sauce (My recipe multiplied times six. These instructions are listed above.)

1 Jar Dill Pickle Slices

40 Burger Buns

1. Dice the green peppers into small ¼ inch squares.

2. Make up the Sweet and Spicy BBQ Sauce using the directions listed above, this is the equivalent of multiplying the original recipe times six. 

3. Heat a large skillet to medium-high, and start to brown the meat. 

Kitchen Tip: You will probably need to divide the total amount of meat up into four in order to fit it in the skillet. Divide the other ingredients up accordingly too. There is no need to measure this division exactly, since all of the ingredients are going to combine in the slow cookers eventually.

4. When the meat is halfway cooked, add in the peppers, and continue to cook until the meat is done. 

5. Add the brown sugar to the mixture, and continue to heat and stir until the sugar is melted/mixed in. 

6. Use a slotted spoon to scoop the meat mixture into the slow cookers that already have BBQ sauce in them, and stir the meat and sauce together.

Kitchen Tip: If all of your slotted spoons have large slots, you may need to use a strainer instead before adding the meat into the sauce. 

7. Heat the slow cookers on low for about four hours before serving.

I always like to provide my guests with a nice buffet table and let them create their own sandwiches. When serving Sloppy Joes, my table consists of buns, the slow cookers full of meat, jars of dill pickle slices, a cheese platter with an array of cheese choices, and potato chips to serve on the side. Hopefully the year 2021 will allow us all to host parties again, so you can try out this party food recipe! It’s a great meal for a game day!

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