Sloppy joe sliders are a perfect appetizer for parties and game day gatherings. This simple sloppy joe recipe uses everyday ingredients in as little as 20 minutes. Perfect on yeast dinner rolls, these easy, homemade ground beef sloppy joes are simmered in a sauce with brown sugar, Dijon mustard, and ketchup. So tasty that even kids will be taking extras of these sloppy joe sliders!
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One thing that I love about the idea of sliders is that they are mini versions of sandwiches. You make any sandwich into a slider! Which perfect because sometimes I only want a little bit of a sandwich, especially if I’m at a party and there’s a ton of other food to try. #firstworldproblems I know. These sloppy joe sliders are the perfect appetizer! Let me tell you the story behind this recipe.
The last restaurant I worked at before starting on this food blogging journey, was owned by one of the most renowned chefs in Phoenix. I had always heard about him but never dreamed I would ever work with him. Then the stars aligned and I had the privilege of working at one of his casual restaurants. Casual because they had a sloppy joe sandwich on their menu. But don’t scoff, this sloppy joe sandwich was probably one of the best I’ve ever had. This is an attempt to recreate this chef’s recipe for sloppy joe in a way that you can entertain guests.
This chefs’ take on sloppy joe was incredible. He ran onions and red bell peppers through a food processor so that they melted in perfectly with the ground beef. For a 60 pound batch of sloppy joe, he would add 144 ounces (9 pounds) of brown sugar. His philosophy on his homemade sloppy joe recipe “this is like meat candy!” and it had a sweet side to it!
How To Make Sloppy Joes From Scratch
Making sloppy joes, without that Manwich can, is super simple. Let me show you.
The ingredients of this simple sloppy joe recipe are:
- Ground beef
- Red bell peppers
- Dijon mustard
- Brown Sugar
- Salt and pepper
- Splash of red wine vinegar
Some recipes call for celery… I’m not a huge fan of celery and avoid buying it whenever possible. I love the sweetness that the red bell peppers bring to this homemade sloppy joe recipe.
The secret to making these sloppy joe sliders absolutely delicious is the splash of red wine vinegar! So not as to sound too science-y, there is a lot of fattiness from the ground beef that the acidity from the vinegar cuts through the fat and helps your tastebuds absorb more flavor from the other ingredients. I add this at the end of cooking so that it doesn’t evaporate through the cooking process.
What is Sloppy Joe Sauce
The sauce of these sloppy joe sliders, couldn’t be any simpler than what I am about to show you.
This sloppy joe sauce is quite reminiscent of meaty sauces like Bolognese. I start out by browning my ground beef, making sure to break up the meat into small pieces. I always find it good practice to season my sauce as I go, with salt and pepper. Learn more tips like this in my 7 Simple Hacks to Elevate Your Dinner.
Unlike my chef, I finely chopped up my onions and red bell peppers by hand; cutting by hand adds more texture to the sloppy joe mix. If, however, you want to puree the onions and bell peppers like my chef did, I would use my food processor and pulse until you achieved a puree consistency.
Add the veggies next to the ground meat and allow to juices to condense and the veggies to become soft.
Now comes the saucy part!
To be a true ode to my chef, I added a lot of brown sugar to this simple sloppy joe recipe. I added about 1 cup of brown sugar. You’re going to think Marlee!!!! That’s too much! Well, once you add the ketchup and Dijon mustard, it really evens itself out.
Then to finish it off, use my secret weapon and add a bit of red wine vinegar to make these the best sloppy joe sliders ever!
Picking the Perfect Bread for Sloppy Joe Sliders
Now, I’m going to be a bit biased with my choice but you can definitely suit these sliders to your taste. But I honestly think that these sloppy joe sliders are the best with a simple yeast dinner roll! A perfect way to use them up after Sunday dinner, right?! But you can feel free to use Hawaiian rolls if you would like.
What makes these sloppy joe sliders stand out from others I’ve had is the addition of a sliced cornichon on the slider. Cornichons are tiny cucumbers that are pickled in a slightly sweeter pickling brine. It brings a fresh, astringent, and sweet accent to these sloppy joe sliders. These are a must!
Now if you happen to have a lot more of sloppy joe than bread, you can feel free to freeze the meaty sauce for about 3 months. Reheating is super simple. We would always place the bag of sloppy joe mix in a pot of boiling water and let it warm up that way. You can also thaw overnight in the fridge and heat up in a skillet. Either way, it’s super easy and the flavor remains uncompromised.
These sloppy joe sliders are seriously the best! They would make a perfect addition to any game day, summer party, or family game night appetizer spread you might have. You might not even have leftovers because these are the best sloppy joes you’ll have.
What are your favorite sliders to have? If you like this recipe and feel like it’s the best sloppy joes you’ve ever had, be sure to leave a comment and rate the recipe down below!
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- 1 pound ground beef
- ½ yellow onion finely diced
- 1 red bell pepper finely diced
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup ketchup
- ¼ cup Dijon mustard
- Splash red wine vinegar
- To taste salt and pepper
- 40 slider buns
- 19 cornichons sliced into thirds
- Warm a large skillet over medium high heat with 1 tablespoon olive oil on the bottom of the pan.
- Brown ground beef in the pan until there is no pink left. Season meat with salt and pepper while cooking. Drain liquid from the pan.
- Add vegetables to the browned meat and saute until transparent and liquid has reduced, about 5 minutes.
- Add sugar, mustard, and ketchup. Stir to be well combined and allow sauce to reduce and thicken. Adjust seasonings and add vinegar.
- Spoon sloppy joe onto a slider bun and place a sliced cornichon on top.