If it’s not sloppy, is it just a “a joe?”

Simplicity is the essence of the sloppy joe — meat + canned product + bun = done — and there’s something slightly pompous about a sloppy joe made from scratch.

Still, when I saw a FreshDirect One-Click Recipe for Not-So-Sloppy Joes (and seeing as No matches were found for “manwich” on FreshDirect (not that I live and die by the FreshDirect offerings, but I am lazy and don’t want to schlep to Key Food if I can help it), I decided to try it.

not-so-sloppy(-but-really-it-kinda-was) joe

Here’s the recipe (with a few adjustments I made):

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 pound ground beef
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1.5 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
0.25 teaspoon black pepper
pinch (or two) ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
sour cream

Heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper, and cook until softened. Add the beef and cook until no pink remains. Stir in the tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, black pepper, cinnamon, and salt, and 1.5 cups (or two tomato paste cans) of water. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens. Spoon the beef mixture onto bun and top with sour cream.

This was… really close to being great.

The sour cream— something I never would have thought to add to a sloppy joe— added a much-needed tanginess that the meat alone was lacking. If the sauce had, I don’t know, some vinegar or even a diced pickle ((I seem to remember there being a recipe for TVP Sloppy Joes in How It All Vegan that used pickle in it.)) in it, it could have been much better.

But for a recipe in which you probably have most ingredients on hand (ground beef languishing in the freezer, tomato paste you bought and promptly forgot about), it’s quite good and really easy.

And, yes, sloppy.


  • Terry B

    Another way to get some of that tanginess the sour cream added would be with some hot sauce. I’m thinking Tabasco, Crystal or Louisiana brand might add some vinegary tang along with a little heat.

  • Andrea

    Oh! My mom has the best sloppy joe recipe that I just went through my recipe files to find. You’ve reminded me to make it (and maybe add some sour cream??)I think the recipe uses a brown sugar-tomato-vinegar combination..

  • Alyce

    The hub made sloppy joes from scratch recently. My recollection is that recipe was from Alton Brown or Bobby Flay or maybe epicurious. It called for chipotles which are canned in vinegar (often). Problem is, hub used 1 can instead of the called for 1 T. OUCH!
    Anyway… i’d say vinegar and tomato and brown sugar sounds like a good combo to get the sweet and tangy together.

    Try again and tell us how it turns out!