Sloppy Joes: a classic American weeknight meal. Sure, you could take the easy route and whip this meal up in a breeze, but once you make homemade sloppy joe sauce and give it some time to simmer, you'll never want to crack open a can again! The way the flavors of the sauce become one with the venison is truly something special. Give it a try today!
Why This Recipe Works:
Most sloppy joe recipes have added sugar in them and it's really not necessary. You'll find that the sweetness from the ketchup is enough to give the sauce that classic sloppy joe flavor profile without being too sweet. Instead of adding extra sugar, this recipe focuses on developing more savory flavors.
It's tangy and flavorful with just a hint of smokiness and sweetness. It's a pretty simple recipe to make, but it definitely benefits from some low and slow simmering to really develop the flavor. But, this is the perfect recipe to do the work once, double or triple the recipe, and freeze the extras. Just thaw and heat for a fast weeknight meal!
- Ancho Chili Powder, Smoked Paprika, and Liquid Smoke: These ingredients are what give these sloppy joes their signature smoky flavor. If you're not into that flavor, omit the liquid smoke and use regular paprika and chili powder.
- Hot Sauce: This recipe uses a very small amount of hot sauce. You can omit it or add extra if you want to spice things up!
- Toppings: Pickle slices and sliced red onion add some texture to these sloppy joes but they're great without toppings or with whatever you like to top yours with!
- Dutch Oven: This recipe uses a Dutch oven because it holds the heat well for a low simmer. But you can use any other large pot as well. It can also be simmered in a crock pot.
Step by Step Instructions:
How To Make Homemade Sloppy Joe Sauce:
Making something that you can so easily buy in a can may seem intimidating, but it doesn't have to be! The ingredients for this sauce come together quickly and once you have it on the stove, it's practically hands-off until dinner time!
Pro Tip: If your sauce starts to dry out, add in some water a couple tablespoons at a time to bring the moisture level back up.
Putting it All Together:
Once your sauce is finished, all that's left is assembly and eating! You can toast your buns before serving or leave them as is. Pile the bottom bun high with sauce and top with pickle slices and sliced red onion, if desired. Homemade potato chips go great with sloppy joes. Serve with a fork and knife because it's about to get messy!
Sloppy joe sauce is typically tomato-based (ketchup or tomato sauce) and has many flavorful ingredients like Worcestershire sauce, spices, and veggies to make this delicious American classic.
You can eat your sloppy joe without toppings or add toppings like pickle slices, sliced red onion, cheese, coleslaw, you name it!
Adding a bit of hot sauce to your sloppy joes will kick up the heat a notch. Sauces like Tobasco and Louisiana hot sauce are great choices.
Other Recipes to Try:
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Ground Venison Sloppy Joes with Homemade Sauce
Meat and Veggies:
- 1 lb ground venison (or elk, antelope, moose, etc.)
- 2 tablespoon lard, oil, or butter
- 1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup ketchup
- 3 tablespoon mustard (any type but I use dijon)
- 3 tablespoon tomato paste
- ½ teaspoon hot sauce (optional)
- 2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
- ½ teaspoon liquid smoke
- 6 hamburger buns
- sliced red onion, for serving (optional)
- pickle slices, for serving (optional)
- Heat lard in large skillet or dutch oven over medium heat. Add ground meat and cook until meat starts to brown, about 2 minutes. Add in chili powder, smoked paprika, salt and pepper and stir until meat is well-coated. Add in diced onions, diced pepper, and garlic. Cook until meat is fully browned and vegetables are softened, 5-7 minutes.
- While meat is cooking, add ketchup, mustard, tomato paste, hot sauce, vinegar, worcestershire, and liquid smoke to pint jar. Place lid tightly on jar and shake until well-combined. Add sauce to pan and stir until combined.
- Bring mixture to a simmer, then reduce heat to very low. Mostly cover pot with lid, allowing for a small vent hole. Cook for 1.5 hours, stirring occasionally. Add in water a couple tablespoons at a time if mixture starts to dry out.
- Toast hamburger buns. Serve warm sloppy joe sauce on buns with sliced red onion and pickle slices, if desired.
- Make a double (or more) batch of the recipe. Cool the sauce and add half to a quart-size zippered bag. Freeze flat on a sheet pan. Thaw under refrigeration and reheat on the stove or in the microwave when ready to use.
Rikki Mills says
I’m gonna try this with antelope!
Annie Weisz says
That sounds great! I hope you enjoy the recipe!