Homemade Sloppy Joes
These Homemade Sloppy Joes are made in the Instant Pot and always impress, thanks to a flavorful sauce made with dried spices, tomatoes, and Worcestershire sauce to coat tender ground beef.
❤️ Why You’ll Love This Recipe: This is recipe is perfect for feeding a crowd. The flavors are elevated and deeper than traditional sloppy joes, but it couldn’t be easier to make!
If you’re looking for a go-to recipe for a family gathering, community event or church potluck, this is the perfect place to start. It’s always a crowd-pleaser and you don’t have to spend any time babysitting your stove!
I’ve always been picky about sloppy joes, and this is the first sloppy joe recipe that I really, really like. It’s not too sweet, but not like spaghetti sauce on a bun either. A perfect middle-ground!
This is one of our go-to Instant Pot ground beef recipes. It’s great for entertaining or meal prepping, and all you need is hamburger buns. Or, if you’re feeling like going the extra mile, homemade buns!
Our completely from-scratch Sweet-and-Spicy Sloppy Joes in our Electric Pressure Cooker Cookbook was created over five years ago! Since then, we’ve learned a few new tips and tricks, so we decided to update that recipe with this new and improved version.
Fancy Sloppy Joe Ingredients
Here’s what you need for this fast Sloppy Joe recipe:
- Ground beef. I use 85% lean ground beef, but any kind will work.
- Brown sugar. You can use light or dark brown sugar.
- Seasonings. The sloppy joe sauce is flavored with paprika, chili powder, dry mustard, coriander, and red pepper flakes.
- Tomatoes. Use crushed, canned tomatoes and be sure to include those savory juices.
- Ketchup. This adds an extra touch of sweetness.
- Tomato paste. For extra umami flavor.
- Aromatics. The sauce has a flavor base from diced onion and minced fresh garlic.
- Beef broth. Use low-sodium canned or homemade beef broth.
- Red wine vinegar. This adds a bright, acidic finish to the dish. You can also use apple cider vinegar.
- Cornstarch. To thicken up the sauce so it’s spoonable.
How to Make Homemade Sloppy Joes in an Instant Pot
This easy recipe will work in any brand of electric pressure cooker, including the Instant Pot, Ninja Foodi, or Power Pressure Cooker XL.
Start by tossing the beef with 2 tablespoons water, salt, and baking soda. Let it sit for about 30 minutes.
Select Sauté to preheat your Instant Pot. When it’s hot, add 1 tablespoon oil. Add the diced onion and the remaining baking soda and stir to coat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds.
Next add the beef. Cook until the beef is browned and crumbled. Add the spice mixture and stir until the spices are well combined, about a minute.
Add the beef broth and scrape any browned bits up from the bottom of the pot. Make sure the ground beef is distributed evenly on the bottom of the pot. Pour in the tomato mixture and do NOT stir. Lock the lid in place. Select High Pressure with a 20 minute cook time.
When the cook time ends, turn off the pressure cooker. Let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, then finish releasing the pressure with a quick release. When the valve drops, carefully remove the lid.
Stir in the red wine vinegar. Then use a potato masher to mash the beef into small bits, about 1 minute. Select Sauté again and cook the sauce for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, to reduce it slightly.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and cold water until smooth. Add the cornstarch slurry to the pot, stirring constantly until the Sloppy Joe mixture thickens, about 1 minute. Season to taste with additional salt, sugar, and vinegar.
When you’re ready to serve, scoop heaping spoonfuls on toasted sandwich buns. Top with pickles, if you like, and serve immediately.
Important Tips for Making a Tender Sloppy Joe Sauce
Tossing the beef with baking soda before you start cooking helps keep the beef tender and juicy as it cooks under pressure. You’ll also add baking soda to the skillet with the onion when it starts cooking. This helps the onion break down so the flavor infuses into the entire dish.
If you decide to use 90% lean ground beef, expect it to be a little less tender.
Remember that the mixture will thicken as it cools!
Frequently Asked Questions about Homemade Sloppy Joes
Yes, you can skip the baking soda. However, you will likely need to brown the meat in batches and drain off any fat, so it may not save as much time as you’d hope.
Store leftover filling in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days. Reheat on the stove or in the microwave to serve.
To freeze leftovers, let the sloppy joe filling cool fully. Then transfer it to a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to six months. Reheat from frozen or thaw overnight in the fridge.
Yes! No need to change anything about the cook times if you swap in ground turkey for the beef.
I honestly cannot eat or even talk about Sloppy Joes without singing the Adam Sandler sketch from SNL. “Sloppy joes, slop, sloppy joes…”
MORE Instant Pot Ground Beef Recipes
You’ll love these other simple recipes using ground beef in the pressure cooker:
- Easy Instant Pot Ground Beef Tacos are a taco tuesday must-have at our house for kids and adults.
- No-Grill Instant Pot Hamburgers are super juicy and a great way to bring the flavor of the grill inside!
- American Chop Suey (Beefaroni) is a classic with short pasta, tomato sauce, and ground beef.
Do you LOVE this recipe?
Leave us a review below to tell us why!
Homemade Sloppy Joes
This Homemade Sloppy Joes recipe is full of flavor from dried seasonings, tomato paste, and brown sugar. The extra time softening before pressure cooking helps the beef cook up extra tender.
- 2 pounds 85% lean ground beef
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda, divided
- 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 can (15 oz) crushed tomatoes in puree
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1/2 cup tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus more as needed
- 1 cup finely diced onion
- 4 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed
- 3/4 cup beef broth
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, plus extra for seasoning
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon cold water
- 10 to 12 hamburger buns, toasted
- In a large bowl, combine beef, 2 tablespoons water, salt, and 3/4 teaspoon baking soda. Mix until well combined, then let sit for 20 minutes.
- In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, paprika, chili powder, dry mustard, coriander, and red pepper flakes. In a separate small bowl, stir together the crushed tomatoes, ketchup, tomato paste, and Worcestershire sauce. Set aside.
- Select Sauté to preheat the pressure cooking pot. When hot, add 1 tablespoon oil. Add the onion and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon baking soda and stir to coat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, about 30 seconds.
- Add the beef to the cooking pot and cook until beef is browned and crumbled. Add the spice mixture and stir until the spices are well incorporated, about 1 minute. Do not let the bottom of the pot burn.
- Add the beef broth and scrape the bottom of the pan well to remove any browned bits. Make sure the ground beef is distributed evenly on the bottom of the pot. Pour the tomato mixture over the ground beef in the cooking pot. Do NOT stir. Lock the lid in place. Select High Pressure and 20 minutes cook time.
- When the cook time ends, turn off the pressure cooker. Let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, then finish with a quick release. When the valve drops, carefully remove the lid.
- Stir in the vinegar. Use a potato masher to mash the beef until it is fine-textured, about 1 minute. Select Sauté and cook, allowing the mixture to cook down for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
- In a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch and cold water until smooth. Add the slurry to the pot, stirring constantly until the Sloppy Joe mixture thickens, about 1 minute. Season with additional salt, sugar, and vinegar to taste.
- To serve, place a heaping spoonful on a toasted sandwich bun. Serve immediately.
Keep in mind the sloppy joe will continue to thicken as it cools, so don't over-thicken.
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I have to admit, I hesitated when I saw the long list of ingredients. .After reading the recipe instructions I saw that it would come together pretty easily. It was easy and the times you mentioned were pretty much how long it took. I loved it! Had to walk away so I didn’t go back for more. Have to save some for tomorrow. I made half the recipe in case I messed up. LOL!! Sorry now that I didn’t make the whole thing. The spices were perfect for my taste. Not too hot and not just tomato sauce. This is a keeper sure to be made on a regular basis.
Thanks for the rave review Carol! Glad it was a big hit.
I made this last night because I found it intriguing with the steps involved and I am a big fan of both the instant pot and sloppy joes. I was not disappointed at all. Yes, it was a little tomato strong, but left alone for a while (with the pot off) it was much better after a while, in my opinion, then when it was first made. It does need a little heat so don’t leave out the red pepper flakes. Overall, this was a hit and I will make it again. I too, was baffled about adding the baking soda, but really enjoyed watching it bubble on sauté. Maybe it absorbed grease? I am fortunate to have very good beef and it was not greasy at all. For anyone wanted a homemade version of sloppy joes, I highly recommend this recipe. Keep the instant pot recipes coming!
Thanks for the detailed review Rose! Glad it was a hit.
Why do you say DO NOT stir? I accidentally stirred. I guess stirring is so automatic I didn’t stop myself.
Hi Liane – occasionally tomato ingredients can settle on the bottom of the pot as the pressure cooker is coming to pressure and cause a burn notice. So if you don’t stir it in, that helps prevent that problem.
OK, I’m intrigued by this… it’s chilli in a bun, which I must admit I hadn’t considered before… and I’m a HUGE chilli aficianado, adding peppers, courgette and carrot slices, cucumber, onions, shallots, crushed garlic cloves and every bean I have available (including string beans)… just a veritable veg feast to simmer in (lots of) cheap red wine then enjoy over multiple sittings.
I used to make this in my massive wok (yeah, total misuse of a fine instrument and took hours) but the constant ‘hovering over/tending’ was tedious. My 6ltr Instant Pot just rocks! Chuck it all in and leave… (after sauteing the garlic and onions/shallots in butter or oil first). I like that the carrot slices remain al dente if you leave them large enough. You also have to be really careful with the courgette and cucumber slices. I’m waiting for a steamer insert so, in the meantime, I just steam them really quickly in the microwave and add them right at the end to heat up and infuse the chilli goodness.
My apologies but the name/term ‘Sloppy Joes’ is unknown to this UK follower of your awesome blog. It just sounds like ‘chilli in a bun’… or have I missed something? I’m not meaning to be rude (‘cos chilli is absolutely AWESOME) but where did the ‘Sloppy Joe’ nomenclature come from? (Yes, I’m aware of all the different spellings of ‘chilli’.)
Many thanks for the link, Liane. Now I know… 🙂
This looks like Sloppy Joe’s kicked up a notch or maybe two. It looks delicious.
I’m wondering, what is the purpose of the baking soda?
This looks like it might make a good topping for a sweet potato.
Sounds like a great idea – thanks for sharing Sandy!
Wondering if you could substitute ground turkey and what adjustments you would make. Would you still use the softening step?
Susan, this is what Barbara wrote in response to that question, “Can I use ground turkey instead of beef?
Yes! No need to change anything about the cook times if you swap in ground turkey for the beef.”
While she didn’t say, I suspect one could use ground chicken as well. Or I bet one could use a pound of ground beef and a pound of ground turkey or chicken.
Can the ketchup be halved or completely eliminated to cut down on the sugar? Seems like the recipe taste would be tomato strong with the ketchup, crushed tomatoes, and tomato paste.