Crock Pot Sloppy Joes are here to make dinner easier than ever! Not only is this a super easy sloppy joe recipe for the crock pot — the meal is super tasty! A scrumptiously saucy weeknight slow cooker meal that the whole family will love.
Crock Pot Sloppy Joes
Don’t get me wrong, I love cooking for my family. But sometimes I just need something easy to whip up while I finish the other 1,000 things on my to-do list!
That’s where slow cooker sloppy joes come into play. You only need 15 minutes for prep, and then your meal cooks itself!
This sloppy joe recipe for the crock pot simplifies and perfects this family favorite!!
All you need are some ground beef, a few common pantry seasonings, and of course, a crock pot!
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
The secret is in the sauce: a combo of ketchup, vinegar, mustard, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and a few other special seasonings that create the perfect balance of tangy and sweet.
Mix with a whole pound of ground beef and pile it high onto soft buns. SO simple, right?!
- Ground Beef – Lean ground beef works well, as it prevents any excess grease from soaking into the meat while it’s in the slow cooker.
Really, any type of ground beef works, because the flavor is all in the sauce. In fact, you could even use a protein alternative!
Ground chicken or turkey would be healthier and just as tasty.
- Onions and Bell Peppers – I like to use yellow onions and red bell peppers for crock pot sloppy joes because of their crispness and sweetness, but any color variety of either will do just fine.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – This adds a much-needed acidity to the sauce!
There are a lot of alternatives you could use: rice wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, or even malt vinegar.
- Brown Sugar – This ingredient sweetens and flavors.
Regular white sugar could work as a substitute, but will definitely take away some of the depth of flavor in your crock pot sloppy joes.
- Dijon Mustard – Creamier and spicier than your average yellow mustard, that’s for sure!
But you could easily swap in yellow mustard for only a minor change to the sauce.
- Worcestershire Sauce – You can mix up some vinegar, soy sauce, and ketchup if you need a substitute for Worcestershire sauce.
But it’s definitely worth having a bottle if you love savory slow cooker meals!
Tips for Making Sloppy Joes in Crock Pot
- Brown the meat.
You will need to cook the beef on the stove, along with the peppers and onions, before adding them to the slow cooker.
This ensures everything is cooked evenly and cuts down on how long it takes to make sloppy joes in the crock pot.
- Toast the buns.
A toasted bun helps control the sloppiness of your crockpot sloppy joes.
Brush the insides with a bit of butter and garlic, toss them onto a hot skillet or in a toaster oven to brown, and your sandwiches will be tasty from the inside out!
- Spice Things Up!
Add some hot sauce of your choosing to the sloppy joe sauce, or sprinkle in some cayenne pepper for an extra kick.
Personally, I’d recommend using New Mexico Chili Powder!
Perfect Sides for Crockpot Sloppy Joes
Feeding a crowd? You can’t go wrong with my Nana’s famous Southern Style Potato Salad!
Storing and Reheating Leftovers
If you love freezing meals for later, then this slow cooker sloppy joes recipe is for you!
The ground beef and sauce will last in the freezer for up to 3 months. Store in portion-sized airtight containers and move to the fridge the day before serving.
If you don’t plan to freeze the leftovers, refrigerate them in a covered container and use them up within 4 to 5 days.
To reheat, microwave in 15-second bursts until warmed through the center.
Slow Cooker Sloppy Joes FAQ
It takes anywhere from 3 hours and 15 minutes to 4 hours and 15 minutes to make this sloppy joe recipe in a crock pot.
The exact timing will depend entirely on the make and model of your slow cooker, so check the pot periodically once you hit the 3-hour mark.
You can. Draining eliminates excess grease, which alters the texture and is healthier for you.
However, we make use of the grease in the sauce and while frying the garlic, so I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it.
When you slow cook sloppy joes in your crockpot, the sauce should have plenty of time to reduce and thicken.
But if it still isn’t as thick as you’d like, you can add a bit of cornstarch or flour to the mixture.
You could also omit the water in the sauce recipe — this will also make for a much stronger, more flavorful sauce.
With love, from our simple kitchen to yours.
Other Super Easy Comfort Foods
Crock Pot Sloppy Joes
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup ketchup
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 6 ounce can tomato paste
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 6 sesame seed hamburger buns
- Mozzarella cheese, optional
- In a large skillet, brown the ground beef, diced onion, and bell pepper over medium heat. Cook for 8-10 minutes until the beef is no longer pink and the onions and peppers are soft.
- Add the garlic to the skillet and cook for an additional minute.
- Transfer meat and vegetable mixture to the crockpot. Sprinkle it with salt and pepper.
- Add ketchup, apple cider vinegar, mustard, tomato paste, water, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir to combine the ingredients.
- Cover with a lid and cook on LOW for 3-4 hours.
- Stir the sloppy joe mixture and pile onto hamburger buns. Top with a slice of cheese if desired.
All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.
Originally published August 2022, updated and republished June 2023
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