Our Spicy Sloppy Joe recipe is simple to make in 15 minutes, for a kid-friendly comfort food with a kick of south-of-the-border flavor.
These Mexican sloppy joes are SO scrumptious!! This recipe makes an easy dinner on a busy night, and it’s fantastic for tailgating, too!
I don’t think anyone will deny the fact that cooking is more enjoyable when the recipes are quick and easy to make.
Being able to get dinner on the table in under 20 minutes is a win for everyone! This is exactly why I think you’ll love making these Mexican sloppy Joes so much!
Spicy Sloppy Joe Recipe
So, what makes these Mexican sandwiches so special?
- Quick to make– This dinner is ready to eat in 15 minutes!
- Budget-friendly– Of course, prices vary depending on your location, but on average, this meal costs $2.00 per serving. You’ll never see those prices at a restaurant!
- Easy recipe– No rocket science or special ingredients required. If you know how to brown ground beef on your stovetop, you’re all set.
- Robust flavor– Standard sloppy joes include seasonings of salt, pepper, and ketchup. We use Mexican spices and green chiles to add some zip, without making it too spicy for kids and sensitive stomachs.
- Homemade! While it’s technically true that homemade sloppy joes and Manwich are the same things, they do NOT taste the same! Canned sauces like Manwich have a lot of sodium and very little seasoning. I think sloppy joes from scratch always taste better.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
You won’t need any expensive ingredients to make this sloppy joe recipe, and the boost in flavor is delicious! Here’s what you’ll need:
- Lean ground beef
You want to have a little fat for flavor and juicy joes; 85 to 88 percent lean is perfect. Using this percentage of fat is great because usually, you won’t need to drain off the grease.
- Diced green chiles
I use a whole 7-ounce can but feel free to use less to suit your family’s tastes.
A little kosher salt, black pepper, and a Mexican seasoning blend. I have a recipe for homemade Mexican seasoning blend in the recipe card below.
I make up a large batch of Mexican Seasoning Blend (recipe is from our cookbook, The Simple Kitchen, and use it in all of my quick fix Mexican style recipes. But, in a pinch, you can substitute Mrs. Dash Southwest Chipotle Seasoning Blend or even taco seasoning.
- Buns– Now, part of the fun of homemade sloppy joes is their messy nature. But, you want to be able to hold the sandwich, too! I recommend using buns with some structure, like brioche or sesame seed hamburger buns. Also, toasting the buns helps hold the sandwich together better.
- Butter– For toasting the buns.
- Skillet– One key to cooking any type of ground meat is to use a skillet large enough to hold the meat without crowding it. I recommend using a skillet that is at least 10 inches in size.
- Spatula or ground meat chopper
- Baking sheet– I line a baking sheet with parchment paper and use it to lightly toast the inside of the buns.
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Storing and Freezing Sloppy Joes
Homemade sloppy joes mixture freezes well, so this is a great make-ahead meal or meal prep idea.
Store the meat (or any leftovers of it) in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will keep well there for 4 to 5 days.
To freeze for later use, first, allow the mixture to cool to room temperature. Then, portion it into zip-top freezer bags or freezer-safe food storage containers. Sloppy joes will keep well in the freezer for about 3 months.
Spicy Sloppy Joe Recipe FAQ
What sides go with sloppy joes?
There are a lot of options when it comes to side dishes to serve with the sandwiches. You can keep things simple by serving a side of potato chips. Or, turn the meal into a complete Mexican fiesta!
Here are a few side dish ideas:
- Spanish rice
- My copycat recipe for Chipotle Cilantro Lime Rice
- Potato salad (I love this Southern Style Potato Salad recipe!)
- Macaroni salad
- Fruit salad
- Steamed veggies
- Simple garden salad
How to accommodate special diets
Gluten-free– If you need to keep this spicy sloppy joe recipe gluten-free, serve the sandwiches on a bed of corn tortilla chips or homemade air fryer tortilla chips. I like to top them with Mexican shredded cheese and cilantro.
Low carb– Serve the meal in a bowl with thin slices of red onion, fresh jalapeno pepper slices, and cilantro leaves. You could even add some shredded cheese, diced green pepper and sour cream on top, too!
With love, from our simple kitchen to yours.
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Spicy Sloppy Joe Recipe
- 2 pounds lean ground beef, I use 88% lean
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons Mexican seasoning blend, recipe below
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 7 ounces diced green chiles, canned
- 1/4 cup water
- 8 brioche hamburger buns, or sesame seed buns
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, optional, for garnish
- corn chips, optional, for topping
Homemade Mexican Seasoning Blend
- 2 teaspoons New Mexico chile powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Split and butter the inside of the brioche buns. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil, buttered sides up. Set aside.
- Warm a large (10-inch) skillet over medium-high heat. Add ground beef and salt. Cook until meat is browned and cooked through, using a spatula to break up the ground beef as it cooks.It isn't necessary to drain the beef drippings unless the beef is drowning in them.
- Sprinkle Mexican seasoning over the beef and stir to combine.
- Add tomato sauce, diced green chiles, and water. Stir to combine and continue cooking until the sauce thickens up, about 5 minutes.
- Toast the hamburger buns in preheated oven for 6-10 minutes, or until they are lightly golden brown.Remove pan from oven and switch setting to broiler.
- Sprinkle a tablespoon or so of cheese onto the insides of each of the top and bottom buns and place under the broiler for 1-2 minutes until just melted. **Don’t walk away from the oven – they can go from melted to burned in a blink.
- Spoon a heaping portion of spicy sloppy joe on the bottom cheesy buns. Top with a small handful of Fritos and cilantro leaves, if desired. Cover with top cheesy bun. Serve and enjoy!
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 March 2020. Updated and republished June 2022.
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