How To Make Sloppy Joes In Crock Pot [COMPLETE GUIDE]

Sloppy Joes are a classic and comforting American dish that involves ground beef, tomato sauce, and a blend of savory seasonings. Making Sloppy Joes in a crock pot is a convenient and fuss-free way to enjoy this hearty meal. With the slow cooker doing most of the work, it’s an ideal option for busy days and when you want to have a delicious dinner ready without much effort. In this comprehensive guide, we will take you through the process of selecting the right ingredients, preparing them, and using your crock pot to achieve the perfect Sloppy Joes.

Quick Answer: How Long To Make Sloppy Joes In Crock Pot

The actual cooking time for Sloppy Joes in a crock pot can vary depending on the specific recipe and the heat setting of your slow cooker. However, as a general guideline, you can expect the Sloppy Joes to cook for approximately 4-6 hours on the low setting and 2-3 hours on the high setting.


Ground Beef

Selecting the right type of ground beef is crucial for making delicious Sloppy Joes. Opt for ground beef that has a higher fat content as it adds flavor and moisture to the dish. Ground beef with a fat content of around 80% is a good choice.

Tomato Sauce

Choosing the right tomato sauce is essential for achieving a rich, savory flavor. Look for a high-quality canned tomato sauce with no added sugars or artificial flavors. You can also use tomato paste for a thicker, more concentrated flavor.


The seasonings are what give Sloppy Joes their distinctive taste. Common seasonings include garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, chili powder, Worcestershire sauce, and brown sugar. Ensure that your seasonings are fresh and of good quality to enhance the overall flavor of the dish.


For serving the Sloppy Joes, opt for soft hamburger buns that can hold the filling without falling apart. You may also consider toasting the buns lightly to add a bit of crunch and warmth to the meal.


Browning The Ground Beef

Before adding the ground beef to the crock pot, it’s important to brown it in a skillet. This step not only enhances the flavor of the beef but also helps to render excess fat. To brown the ground beef, heat a skillet over medium-high heat, add the beef, and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until it’s no longer pink.

Chopping The Vegetables

Sloppy Joes typically include chopped onions, bell peppers, and sometimes garlic. Prepare these vegetables by dicing them finely, ensuring that they cook evenly and infuse their flavors into the dish.

Measuring The Ingredients

Accurately measuring the ingredients is crucial for achieving the right balance of flavors. Use measuring spoons and cups to ensure the correct quantities of seasonings, tomato sauce, and other components are added to the dish.

Crock Pot Cooking Times For Sloppy Joes

As with most slow cooker recipes, the cooking time for Sloppy Joes depends on the heat setting of your crock pot. For best results, follow the recommended cooking times below:

  • Low Setting: Cook for approximately 4-6 hours. This longer cooking time allows the flavors to meld together, resulting in a rich and deeply flavorful dish.

  • High Setting: Cook for approximately 2-3 hours. If you’re short on time, using the high setting will expedite the cooking process while still yielding delicious Sloppy Joes.

How To Make Sloppy Joes In Crock Pot

Now that you’ve selected the ingredients and prepared them accordingly, it’s time to assemble everything in the crock pot and let the slow cooker work its magic.

Step 1: Browning The Ground Beef

Begin by browning the ground beef in a skillet as mentioned in the preparation section. Once it’s fully cooked, drain off any excess fat.

Step 2: Adding To The Crock Pot

Transfer the browned ground beef to the crock pot. Add the diced onions, bell peppers, and any other vegetables, followed by the tomato sauce, seasonings, and any additional flavorings such as Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar.

Step 3: Mixing And Setting

Gently stir all the ingredients together in the crock pot until well combined. Place the lid securely on the slow cooker and set the heat to either low or high, based on your preference and available time.

Step 4: Monitoring And Adjusting

During the cooking process, it’s beneficial to check on the Sloppy Joes occasionally, especially if you’re preparing them for the first time. Stir the mixture to ensure even cooking and taste the flavors, adjusting the seasonings if necessary.

Step 5: Serving

Once the Sloppy Joes have cooked to perfection, they’re ready to be spooned onto soft hamburger buns and served. Add a slice of cheese or pickle if desired, and enjoy a comforting and satisfying meal.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Too Watery

If your Sloppy Joes turn out too watery, try removing the lid from the crock pot during the last hour of cooking. This will allow excess moisture to evaporate and thicken the mixture.

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Too Dry

On the other hand, if the Sloppy Joes appear too dry, you can add a small amount of beef broth or tomato sauce to restore moisture and improve the consistency.

Adjusting Seasonings

If the flavor of the Sloppy Joes seems lacking, adjust the seasonings by adding a pinch of salt, a dash of Worcestershire sauce, or a sprinkle of additional spices to enhance the taste.

Storage And Reheating

If you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. When reheating, place the Sloppy Joes in a saucepan over low heat, adding a splash of water or broth to prevent them from drying out.

Making Sloppy Joes in a crock pot is a straightforward process that yields delicious, savory results. By carefully selecting high-quality ingredients, preparing them thoughtfully, and utilizing the appropriate cooking times, you can create a hearty and comforting meal for you and your family. Whether it’s for a casual weeknight dinner or a gathering with friends, Sloppy Joes made in a crock pot are sure to be a hit, offering convenience and incredible flavor in every bite. With these detailed steps and tips, you can confidently master the art of making Sloppy Joes in your crock pot, elevating this beloved dish to new levels of culinary delight.

Achieving Perfect Texture

Sloppy Joes are a classic comfort food that brings back fond childhood memories for many. This delicious and messy sandwich is made with ground beef cooked in a tangy and savory sauce, usually served on a bun. While the stovetop method is commonly used to make Sloppy Joes, using a crock pot can be a convenient and foolproof way to achieve perfectly cooked and flavorful Sloppy Joes.

One of the key elements of a great Sloppy Joe is the texture of the meat filling. It needs to be tender, juicy, and easily spreadable on a bun. Cooking the ground beef in a crock pot allows for a slow and gentle heat distribution, which helps to break down the meat fibers, resulting in a moist and tender texture. To achieve this, start by browning the ground beef in a skillet before transferring it to the crock pot. This will help seal in the juices and enhance the overall flavor.

Once the ground beef is browned, drain off any excess grease and transfer it to the crock pot. Add your desired seasonings, such as garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce, to infuse the meat with delicious flavors. Mix the beef thoroughly with the seasonings, ensuring an even distribution.

Flavor Infusion

The beauty of making Sloppy Joes in a crock pot is the ability to infuse the meat with layers of flavors. By using a crock pot, the meat has plenty of time to absorb the seasonings and ingredients, resulting in a rich and complex taste. Apart from the basic seasonings mentioned earlier, there are several additional ingredients you can add to enhance the flavor profile of your Sloppy Joes.

One popular addition is diced onions and bell peppers. These aromatic vegetables add a subtle sweetness and crunch to the Sloppy Joes. Sauté them in a skillet until they are softened and slightly caramelized before adding them to the crock pot. This step will further enhance the flavor and texture of the final dish.

To give your Sloppy Joes an extra kick, consider using spices like chili powder, paprika, or cayenne pepper. These spices add a hint of heat that balances perfectly with the tangy sauce. Adjust the amount of spices according to your preference, keeping in mind that slow cooking can mellow the intensity of spices over time.

For a smoky and robust flavor, try adding a splash of liquid smoke or a small amount of barbecue sauce to your Sloppy Joe mixture. This addition will give your dish a mouthwatering depth that is sure to please your taste buds.


The aroma is an important aspect of any dish, and a crock pot can help intensify and fill your kitchen with tantalizing scents. Slow cooking allows the flavors to meld together, creating an irresistible aroma that will make your mouth water as you anticipate your meal.

As the Sloppy Joes simmer in the crock pot, the combination of spices, meat, and vegetables will release a fragrant aroma that wafts through the air. This aroma can evoke feelings of warmth and comfort, making your mealtime even more enjoyable.

Cooking Techniques

While making Sloppy Joes in a crock pot is a relatively simple process, there are a few techniques that can help you achieve the best results. Here are some tips to ensure your Sloppy Joes turn out perfectly:

  1. Cook on low heat: It’s best to cook Sloppy Joes on low heat in a crock pot. The low heat allows the flavors to develop slowly and prevents the meat from becoming tough or overcooked. Set the crock pot to low and let it simmer for 4-6 hours, or until the meat is tender and the flavors have melded together.

  2. Thicken the sauce: Sloppy Joes are known for their saucy consistency, but sometimes the excess liquid can make the sandwich soggy. To avoid this, you can thicken the sauce by adding a slurry of cornstarch and water during the last hour of cooking. This will give the sauce a velvety texture that clings to the meat.

  3. Stir occasionally: While slow cooking in a crock pot requires minimal effort, it’s important to stir the mixture occasionally. This ensures that the seasonings and ingredients are evenly distributed and prevents any sticking or burning. Give the Sloppy Joes a gentle stir every hour or so to keep everything well combined.

  4. Adjust seasoning: As the flavors develop over time, you may find that the seasoning needs adjustments. Taste the mixture periodically and add more salt, pepper, or spices to achieve the perfect balance. Remember, it’s easier to add more seasoning gradually than to overpower the dish with too much at once.

Crock Pot Tips For Sloppy Joes

When using a crock pot to make Sloppy Joes, there are a few additional tips that can help you achieve the best results:

  • Choose the right size: Make sure your crock pot is suitable for the amount of Sloppy Joes you are making. A 4 or 6-quart crock pot works well for most recipes. If you’re cooking for a large crowd, you may need to use a bigger crock pot or make multiple batches.

  • Preheat the crock pot: To ensure even cooking, preheat the crock pot for 15-20 minutes on the low setting before adding the ingredients. This will help bring the temperature up gradually and prevent any sudden temperature changes that can affect the cooking process.

  • Use caution with dairy: If your Sloppy Joe recipe includes dairy products like cheese or sour cream, it’s best to add them towards the end of the cooking time. Dairy products can separate or curdle when subjected to prolonged heat, so adding them at the end preserves their texture and flavor.

  • Store leftovers properly: If you have any leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Sloppy Joes can be reheated easily in the microwave or on the stovetop. To prevent them from drying out, you can add a splash of water or broth while reheating.

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Creative Crock Pot Sloppy Joes Recipes

While the classic Sloppy Joe recipe is timeless, there are numerous variations that you can try in your crock pot to add a twist to this beloved dish. Here are a few creative recipes to inspire you:

1. Barbecue Bacon Sloppy Joes

This recipe combines the smoky flavors of barbecue sauce and crispy bacon to create a mouthwatering twist on the classic Sloppy Joes. To prepare this variation, start by browning the ground beef in a skillet along with diced onions and garlic. Drain off any excess grease and transfer the mixture to the crock pot.

Add a cup of your favorite barbecue sauce, a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, and a pinch of brown sugar to the crock pot. Stir to combine everything thoroughly and cook on low heat for 4-6 hours.

During the last hour of cooking, fry some bacon until crispy and crumble it into the Sloppy Joe mixture. Stir well to incorporate the bacon into the sauce.

Once the cooking time is complete, serve the barbecue bacon Sloppy Joes on buns, topped with a slice of cheese and pickles for added flavor and texture.

2. Tex-Mex Sloppy Joes

For those who love Southwestern flavors, this Tex-Mex Sloppy Joe recipe is sure to please. Start by browning ground beef along with diced bell peppers, onions, and garlic. Drain off any excess grease and transfer the meat mixture to the crock pot.

To infuse the Tex-Mex flavors, add a can of diced tomatoes with green chilies, a tablespoon of chili powder, a teaspoon of cumin, and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Stir well to combine all the ingredients and cook on low heat for 4-6 hours.

Just before serving, garnish the Tex-Mex Sloppy Joes with diced fresh tomatoes, chopped cilantro, and a squeeze of lime juice. This variation adds a fresh and zesty twist to the classic Sloppy Joes.

3. Mushroom Swiss Sloppy Joes

For a rich and savory twist, try making Mushroom Swiss Sloppy Joes in your crock pot. Begin by browning ground beef and onions in a skillet. Drain off any excess grease and transfer the meat mixture to the crock pot.

Add sliced mushrooms, beef broth, a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, and a teaspoon of Dijon mustard to the crock pot. Stir well to combine the ingredients and cook on low heat for 4-6 hours.

During the last hour of cooking, sprinkle Swiss cheese on top of the Sloppy Joe mixture and cover the crock pot, allowing the cheese to melt.

Serve the Mushroom Swiss Sloppy Joes on toasted buns, garnished with additional sautéed mushrooms for an indulgent and satisfying meal.


Using a crock pot to make Sloppy Joes is a convenient and foolproof way to achieve a delicious and satisfying meal. The slow and gentle cooking process infuses the meat with flavor and ensures a perfect texture. With the right techniques, such as preheating the crock pot, adjusting seasoning, and adding complementary ingredients, you can elevate your Sloppy Joes to a new level.

Experiment with different variations, such as barbecue bacon, Tex-Mex, or mushroom Swiss Sloppy Joes, to add your own twist to this classic comfort food. Whether you’re cooking for a family dinner or a casual gathering, making Sloppy Joes in a crock pot will tantalize your taste buds and fill your kitchen with mouthwatering aromas.


What Ingredients Are Needed To Make Sloppy Joes In A Crock Pot?

To make a batch of delicious sloppy joes in a crock pot, you will need a pound of ground beef, one chopped onion, a can of tomato sauce, a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, a teaspoon of garlic powder, a teaspoon of yellow mustard, a teaspoon of paprika, salt, pepper, and hamburger buns.

Is It Necessary To Brown The Beef Before Adding It To The Crock Pot?

Yes, it is necessary to brown the beef before adding it to the slow cooker since it will help to render the fat and give a better texture to the dish. To brown the beef, you can cook it in a skillet over medium-high heat.

How Long Should I Cook The Sloppy Joes In A Crock Pot?

You should cook the sloppy joes in a crock pot for about four hours on low heat or two hours on high heat. This will give enough time for the flavors to meld together and create a savory and delicious dish.

Can I Freeze Leftover Sloppy Joes?

Yes, you can freeze leftover sloppy joes in an airtight container for up to three months. To reheat, thaw overnight in the fridge and then heat it up in a skillet or microwave until hot.

Can I Add Other Ingredients To My Crock Pot Sloppy Joes?

Absolutely! You can customize your sloppy joes to your liking by adding bell peppers, jalapeños, diced tomatoes, hot sauce, or any other seasonings that you prefer. Just be sure to tailor the cooking time accordingly!