Sloppy Joe!! by Montana Grant
By angelamontana

Posted: December 19, 2023

Years ago, if you saw a “Sloppy Joe”, you would be looking at an unkempt person. They may have been a Hobo or just disheveled. 

Sloppy Joes today are a wonderful sandwich that is perfect for wild game ground meat. This recipe has made many hunting and fishing campers fat, happy, and untucked, and unbuttoned after dinner. 

My father was also named “Joe”. During his stay in the Army Air Corps of the 15th air force, he was also nicknamed “Sloppy Joe” since he was never perfectly, neatly dressed. As a BIG man, like me, he was also called “Heavy”. A perfect name for a B-17 bombardier, that survived 50 combat missions over Europe. 

Like most famous fast-food sandwiches, there are arguments over where this “loose meat” sandwich was born. One story claims that their cook named Joe, who worked at the Floyd Angels Café, in Sioux City, Iowa, added some tomato sauce to ground meat and invented this unkempt burger like sandwich. With 1950’s fast food joints going wild, the sandwich was a hit. 

Another story claims that Jose Otero, who owned a bar in Havanna, Cuba invented the Sloppy Joe. At some point between 1917-1919, Joose served this sandwich with his booze. Ernest Hemingway would feast and drink at Jose’s bar. 

Later, after Ernest moved to Key West, Florida, he frequented a bar called the Silver Slipper. Its owner Joe Russell was convinced, by Hemingway, to change the name of his bar to “Sloppy Joe’s” so he could serve his favorite sandwich. You can still buy a Sloppy Joe sandwich at the bar in Key West. This story makes more “historical sense”. 

Whether you make Sloppy Joes as a sandwich or as a casserole, everyone will eat this sloppy and delicious sandwich.


  • 1 lb. of ground meat
  • Salt and pepper
  • ½ cup of chopped onion
  • 2 cloves minced Garlic.
  • 8 oz. of tomato sauce
  • 1/3 cup of Ketchup
  • ¼ cup of BBQ sauce
  • 1 tbsp. of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. of prepared yellow Mustard
  • ½ tsp. of garlic powder
  • 5 sturdy hamburger buns

Add the ground meat to a pan over medium heat. Season and cook until brown. Drain off grease. Add the onion and cook until soft. Stir in remaining ingredients. 

You can make this recipe your own using peppers, veggies, shredded carrots, Zucchini, or… Simmer for 20 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. During Turkey camp, we add chopped turkey into the beef. For an Asian flare, add some ginger and Hoisin sauce. Cucumber slices, chopped water chestnuts or shredded carrot change the look and flavor.

For a Hawaiian flair, add some pineapple chunks and more BBQ sauce. 

Serve warm on a toasted, sturdy bun, or sub roll. A kaiser roll works well.  

This recipe can be made ahead of time and frozen. 

Another fun way to make this recipe is as a casserole. Use a Dutch Oven to bake the Sloppy Joes topped with Tater Tots! Before adding the tots, spread shredded cheese over the sloppy joe mixture. This helps to hold things together. Bake until the tots are done. 

Get Sloppy and Happy!

Montana Grant

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