Go Back
+ servings

Smoky Homemade Sloppy Joes Recipe

Sloppy Joe sandwich
Tried this recipe?Tell others what you thought of it and give it a star rating below.
3.76 from 29 votes
Try this flavorful homemade sloppy joe recipe and you'll never go back to store bought sauce.

Serve with: a cola.

Main Course


Servings: 5 sandwiches


Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours


  • 2 strips bacon
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1 sweet red bell pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon ancho powder or American chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder or hot sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon Mortons coarse kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup smoky Kansas City style barbecue sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 pounds lean ground beef or ground meat blend
  • 5 rolls
About the salt. Remember, kosher salt is half the concentration of table salt so if you use table salt, use half as much. Click here to read more about salt and how it works.
About the meat. You can use all beef or a blend of beef and other meats or whatever meat you like. Get lean meat because you are not going to get a chance to render the fat in the pan like conventional recipes.
Optional add-ins. A lot of the outcome depends on your choice of barbecue sauce. Want to make it goopier? Add more sauce and cook it down more. Sweeter? A tablespoon of molasses or dark brown sugar or maple syrup. If it needs zing, add a splash of vinegar.
Finishing touches. Want to take this dish to the moon? Toast the buns and then top the meat with caramelized onions, pickle slicespickled onions, or even Cowboy Candy for a real treat.
Metric conversion:

These recipes were created in US Customary measurements and the conversion to metric is being done by calculations. They should be accurate, but it is possible there could be an error. If you find one, please let us know in the comments at the bottom of the page


  • Prep. Peel and chop the onion. Peel and chop the carrot. Remove the stem and seeds from the bell pepper and chop. Peel and mince the garlic.
  • Cook. Make 1/2-inch thick hamburger patties from the meat and put them on a grill in indirect heat with lots of smoke or on put them on a smoker. Shoot for about 225°F and let them smoke for about 30 minutes. This should give the meat a nice smoky flavor but not cook them all the way through. We don't want to dry out the meat. Remove from the smoke.
  • In a frying pan over medium heat, cook the bacon until it gets to the texture you like. Remove it and drain on paper towels. When it is cool, chop it into bits.
  • Set aside some of the chopped onion to be used as a raw onion topping for the sandwiches. Add the rest to the pan with the carrot and bell pepper. When the onions are translucent add the garlic, ancho powder, chipotle powder, salt and black pepper, stir and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the barbecue sauce and Worcestershire and let it simmer and thicken a bit. Then add the bacon and the smoked meat and simmer about 15 minutes, just enough to cook the meat through and coat it with sauce.
  • Serve. When it is the right thickness, taste, adjust any of the ingredients to your preference, and make your sandwiches. Give them a few minutes to cool. Sloppy Joes are molten hot out of the pan! Wear a bib.