Beef, Main Dishes, Recipes

Not Your Summer Camp’s Sloppy Joes

Up until this past spring, I had a strong dislike for Sloppy Joes. I liked them well enough growing up, but working at a summer camp for two years–aka two summers’ worth of kid food–kind of killed any liking I had for childhood staples like Sloppy Joes. I had visions of salty, goopy, ketchup-y, messy sandwiches that came out of an industrial food service can. Don’t get me wrong, not all food at Camp T was bad. Some was pretty darn good! Others though, I chose to load up on the salad bar and PB&J and pray it was my night off so I could get some real food for dinner.

However, my distaste for Sloppy Joes changed after my mom mentioned she was making them and my sister said how good they were. After getting over the initial shock [if you knew my mom you’d be surprised to know she was making Sloppy Joes], I promptly got the recipe, made it for myself, and was hooked.

Not Your Summer Camp’s Sloppy Joes

This Sloppy Joe recipe is sweet and savory and fast, perfect for a busy night. I love the slight crunch of the green pepper, and think this could be veggied-up some more… I just haven’t tried yet. Ben loads it up with extra hot sauce; I like mine as is. This is a great base recipe for Sloppy Joes that works as is or can be adjusted to meet your tastes. Enjoy!

Not Your Summer Camp’s Sloppy Joes

  • Servings: 6
  • Print

from The Neelys


  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 green or red pepper, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 4 ounces tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup BBQ sauce [I use Sweet Baby Ray’s original–different kinds of BBQ sauce would give it a different flavor profile.]
  • 1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce


In a large skillet on medium heat, cook peppers and garlic in oil for about 3 minutes or until they are just getting soft. Season with a dash of salt and a generous amount of pepper. Add beef and cook through. Drain well. Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, BBQ sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce. Stir to combine. Simmer about 10 minutes or until thickened. If needed, add a pinch of flour or cornstarch to thicken sauce to your liking.

Question of the Day: What was your favorite school lunch growing up? I bought lunch a few days a week, and breakfast for lunch day was always one of them! Sloppy Joes was not. In fact, I would always bring my lunch on Sloppy Joes day. If my school made Sloppy Joes this way, there would have been no contest. 🙂


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