No-Ketchup Sloppy Joes

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


Appears in

Slow Cook Modern

Slow Cook Modern

By Liana Krissoff

Published 2017

  • About

Sloppy Joes fall into the same category of food nostalgia for me as s’mores: loved them as a kid, and appreciate the concept in general, but now find the original versions so cloying as to be (almost) inedible. Following is my correction to the usual oversweet, sticky Sloppy Joe, no ketchup needed. To my adult palate it tastes exactly as I remember it tasting as a kid—and my daughter probably has no idea that this messy sandwich she likes so much is usually a whole lot sweeter.


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3 pounds (1.4 kg) ground beef (chuck is best here)
  • 1 small red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 (14.5-ounce/411-g) can crushed tomatoes
  • 4 heaping tablespoons (85 g) tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup brown sugar, or more to taste
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Soft buns, split



In a large skillet or sauté pan, heat the oil over high heat. When it shimmers, add the beef and cook, stirring and breaking it up, until no pink remains, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain off excess liquid, then dump the beef into the slow cooker. Stir in the bell pepper, tomatoes, tomato paste, onion powder, mustard powder, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, brown sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, and several grindings of black pepper. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.


Toast the buns in a toaster or on a baking sheet under the broiler. Season the beef with more salt, pepper, and brown sugar, if needed, then serve on the buns.