The Best Sloppy Joes

This is weeknight comfort food at its finest. We created a homemade sauce that is tangy and flavorful but also quick and easy. We used both ketchup and canned tomato sauce for lots of tomato-y zip and just a touch of brown sugar for a bit of sweetness and slight caramel finish. Green bell pepper is a key addition; it really enhances the other ingredients, elevating the flavor profile into the realm of a true sloppy joe.
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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 30 min
  • Active: 30 min
  • Yield: 4 to 6 sandwiches
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2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 medium onion, diced 

1 green bell pepper, diced 

1 clove garlic, minced 

1 pound lean ground beef 

12 ounces (1 1/3 cup) tomato sauce  

3/4 cup ketchup 

2 tablespoons brown sugar 

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce 

1 tablespoon yellow mustard 

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar 

1 teaspoon paprika 

Pinch of cayenne pepper 

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 

6 hamburger buns, toasted 


  1. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and starting to caramelize in some spots, 6 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the beef and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon or spatula, until it is browned, no longer pink in the middle and cooked through, 7 to 8 minutes.
  2. Stir in the tomato sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, red wine vinegar, paprika, cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon salt and a generous amount of black pepper and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened and heated through, 5 to 6 minutes. Spoon the meat onto the toasted buns. 
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