Every time I hear “Sloppy Joes,” in my head I see Chris Farley dancing as the lunch lady and Adam Sandler singing, “Sloppy Joe…sla…sloppy Joe!” I just can’t help it. I love that those two put a memorable song to something most of us middle agers grew up with. Our kids cringe when my husband and I start singing it, but hey, it’s good stuff! So are these Instant Pot Sloppy Joes. My husband’s a classic American food kind of guy at heart, even though he appreciates more gourmet food as well. He grew up enjoying the canned sauce version, but I was never a fan, I prefer homemade sloppy joes. We have varying tastes on some comfort food classics, but this is one we both agree on! Our kids took a while to enjoy eating sloppy joes, (It might be because of school lunches) but now it’s one of their favorite recipes. This is a perfect, easy recipe for busy weeknights when you want to add a little comfort with tons of flavor to a family dinner.
Where did Sloppy Joes come from?
There are varying stories out there as to how the original recipe for how these loose meat sandwiches originated. One story is that a Spanish bartender named Jose who was nicknamed “Sloppy Joe” opened up his own bar in Havana, Cuba. He got the nickname from his American friends who always commented on how messy his establishment was. Here’s a great article from Chow Hound on “Who Really Invented Sloppy Joes?” The thought is that the name came from a mix of 2 of his Cuban classics, ropa vieja which is shredded beef with tomato and picadillo which is ground beef with spices. This bar was apparently frequented by Ernest Hemingway and was a popular stomping ground for Americans.
Later on, in Florida, after Prohibition, a bar was renamed after the Havana hotspot per Hemingway’s suggestion. To this day “Sloppy Joe’s Bar” serves these sloppy shirt-staining sandwiches every day.
How to Make Instant Pot Sloppy Joes
Making sloppy joe sandwiches in an electric pressure cooker isn’t a traditional cooking method, but it’s now become my favorite way to cook this recipe. It’s just so easy in the Instant Pot. Start by sautéing your onions & pepper till tender. Add your ground beef and brown the meat. Then, add your garlic, seasonings and remaining ingredients to make your sloppy joe sauce. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits of sloppy joe meat along with the liquid. Set your Instant Pot to 5 mins on high pressure and let the magic begin. While you’re waiting on the meat to cook, toast your buns. Once your buns are toasted, you’re ready to serve your sloppy joes as is or with your favorite toppings. You can see the full recipe instructions on the recipe card below.
Sloppy Joes Ingredients
- Ground Beef– I prefer using organic or grass fed ground beef. Most of it is 85/15, but 80/20 is fine too. I have used the Kirkland Organic Ground Beef sometimes for this recipe which comes in 1.34 lb. packets which is fine for this recipe as well since it’s just shy of 1.5 lbs. Also, if you prefer ground turkey you can make ground turkey sloppy joe’s.
- Onion– I like to use a sweet onion for this recipe since the end flavor is slightly sweet in sloppy joes.
- Bell Pepper– sweet bell peppers are a standard ingredient for sloppy joes. They just help add a little texture and sweetness to the sandwich as well.
- Fresh garlic– if you don’t have fresh you can sub out for a decent amount of granulated or powdered garlic
- Corn Starch– To make a cornstarch slurry to help thicken the sauce.
- Salt- I prefer coarse sea salt.
- Black pepper- coarse or fine ground pepper is fine.
- Paprika– I use smoked paprika a lot, just because I love that added smoky flavor
- Worcestershire sauce– you can substitute with a little bit of soy sauce if you prefer
- Dijon mustard- If you don’t have dijon, use yellow mustard and add about 1/2 tsp of apple cider vinegar.
- Brown sugar- any type is fine.
- Ketchup– I prefer using organic limited ingredient ketchup.
- Water– Good old fashioned water. You can use broth if you like, I just try to keep down sodium levels when possible and I know this already has great flavor without using broth. Between the ketchup and water it makes just enough liquid.
Optional– Add 1/2 tsp of liquid smoke if you want to add a little smoky flavor to it.
How & What to serve with Sloppy Joes
- Hamburger Buns– Toast the buns! I think this is a must for sloppy joes. You can also try heartier brioche buns. Since they are juicy and messy sandwiches, it helps the sloppy joes from getting soggy too quickly which is ideal! No one likes a super soggy sandwich. Sloppy, yes, but soggy…not ideal.
- Pickles– Sandwich sliced or pickle chips are great with sloppy joes if you’re a pickle fan of course. We really like Grillo’s Pickles for these that we get at Costco.
- Onions– Sliced rounds of sweet or red onion is a great addition as well. Not necessary, but gives it a nice crunch if you love onion.
- Jalapeños– Sliced raw or pickled jalapenos are fabulous on these if you like to add a little heat to your sweet and savory sloppy joes.
- Cheese– A couple of my kids like a little monterey jack cheese sprinkled on them or a slice of cheese.
- Slider Option– My kids also sometimes like them served on slider or sweet Hawaiian rolls, served as sliders. You can toast these mini buns just the same, but they toast much faster since they’re sweeter.
I hope you give these Instant Pot Sloppy Joes a try! The whole family will enjoy this sloppy joe recipe and lucky for you, it make for a really easy dinner! Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below or on our social media, @WholeMadeLiving.
Happy Sloppy Cooking! =)
Easy Instant Pot Sloppy Joes
- 1.5 lb lean ground beef
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- ¾ cup sweet onion diced
- 1 bell pepper diced (About 1 ½ cups)
- 2 large cloves of garlic minced
- 1 Tbsp corn starch
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp black pepper fine ground
- 1/4 cup water
- ½ tsp paprika sweet
- ½ cup ketchup
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar packed
- 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce if you don’t have Worcestershire you can sub for some soy sauce
- ½ Tbsp Dijon mustard
- Set your Instant Pot to the saute setting.
- Once ready, add oil and sauté onions & pepper till tender, about 4 mins. Stirring occasionally.
- Add ground beef and brown about 4-5 mins, breaking it up into small pieces.
- Add garlic to pot and cook another 30 secs to 1 mins.
- In a small ramekin, mix together 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with salt, pepper, and paprika. Then add 1/4 cup of water and stir with a fork until thoroughly combined to make a "cornstarch slurry." Set aside.
- Add ketchup, Worcestershire, brown sugar and mustard, give it all a good stir through to the bottom of the pot.
- Then add the cornstarch slurry. Give that a quick stir into the pot and close the Instant Pot to the sealing position.
- Set the Instant pot to 5 mins on high pressure.
- While you're waiting for the beef to cook, you can toast your buns. Warm a skillet to medium high. Spray them with cooking oil on cut/flat side (I use avocado oil spray). Then set them flat side down on the skillet for just a couple mins till they're toasted to your liking. Keep a close eye on them. Do not walk away.
- Once your buns are toasted, you're ready to serve your sloppy joes with your favorite toppings or just the sloppy joe mixture and ENJOY!!