Recipe Makeover: Homemade Sloppy Joes Better Than Manwich

Recipe Makeover: Homemade Sloppy Joes Better than Manwich

You’ll never buy Hunt’s Manwich Sauce in a can again.
This is my homemade version of Manwich Sloppy Joes that I’ve been making at home since I was a teen. It is so simple, and as Brian says, “it’s the bomb!”.

This is a recipe using 2 lbs of ground beef. You could use 1 lb, but this is so good, and freezes so well (if it makes it that far) that you should go with the 2 lb version. I use my Le Creuset dutch oven, but a large cast iron skillet works as well.


  • 2 lb ground beef (80/20)
  • 1 1/2 large onions, chopped, about 2 cups total (I use Vidalia when available)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 Tbs fresh ground black pepper (we grind a lot ahead of time and keep it in a sealed container)
  • 2 1/2 cups Hunt’s or Del Monte Ketchup (NOT Heinz, it’s too salty)
  • Kosher Salt to taste, about 1 tsp
  • Water – 1 to 1 1/2 cups


Brown the ground beef until all the water is cooked out and only grease remains, then throw in the onions and cook until they just start to turn transluscent.

Then add the garlic and onion powder, black pepper, ketchup and salt.

Combine well, then add water to almost cover the mixture. This helps absorb the meat absorb the flavors, and gives a good fine texture, instead of hard chewy lumps.

Cook over medium heat until moisture dissipates, stirring every 10 minutes or so, then turn to low. This takes about 30 minutes, so go have a beer.
When the meat reaches a good thick, wet consistency, check for flavor and add what you think it needs. More garlic? More pepper? More ketchup? Whatever you like. I also sop up any extra grease with a paper towel to cut down on the fat factor.

Serve on a lightly toasted Kaiser or potato roll, along with a side of cole slaw, potato chips, and homemade onion dip, and you’ve got a great quick meal for the family. This is also perfect for potlucks and family reunions….I’ve never come home with any leftovers! Ever!


Homemade Onion Dip

Oh, and the onion dip… easy, and a huge hit with my sons, who used to swear by Helluva Good brand, but they like this better…

8 oz Cream Cheese, softened
3 Tbs. minced onion
Pinch Kosher salt
3 Tbs milk.

Blend (or smoosh with a fork) the cream cheese with the minced onion (don’t go by taste at this point, as the onion flavor gets stronger as it sits), and add a pinch or 2 of coarse Kosher salt. Add milk gradually to reach desired consistency. BE CAREFUL, it gets too thin really quickly if you add too much milk, so be sure to mix in each tablespoon until you reach Nirvana in the onion dip realm. Let it sit for at least 15 minutes. OMG, this stuff is so good!

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  1. That’s just about the same way I make sloppy joes. I don’t measure anything out but I use the same ingredients. Sure does beat the heck out of Manwich.

    1. Yea, I’m always floored by how good this is, considering how simple the recipe is. Marilyn rocks!

  2. My better half had a killer recipe with a lot of the above ingredients plus mustard and cumin. She hasn’t made it in years as the boys don’t care for sloppy joes (can you believe that? Kids that don’t eat sloppy joes? Well, my boys don’t.).

  3. That is one nice looking sloppy joe, not even sloppy;)

    You’re right, once you’ve made them from scratch, you can never enjoy the can again.

  4. Nice! I personally love Hunt’s Manwich, but can’t stand that it has HFCS*! Nice to see a recipe I can make myself and still eat healthily!

    (*High Fructose Corn Syrup. Bad stuff….
    Nuff said…)

    1. Hi Daniel,

      Wow, it’s great to see comments still coming in! If you like Manwich, and lots of folks do, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with this recipe. I hope you’ll try it and give us your honest feedback . Yes, HFCS is bad, but it’s in so many things it’s hard to get away from.

      Again, thanks for commenting!

  5. HI, came to get your 3-2-1 margarita recipe and saw this. We make it like this but use a can of tomato soup and then add some spice with peppers or sauce on the side so people can doctor their own. A little green pepper in with onions helps cut the sweetness of the soup, too. LOVE the addition of garlic, gonna try it fresh next time. Really fun site, keep up the good work!

  6. My kids love Manwich. I don’t like how it has all the unnecessary ingredients (high fructose corn syrup and such). We tried your recipe but the amount of black pepper was a bit much for us. We will definitely try it again and tweak with the pepper. Thanks for the great recipe.

    1. You’re quite welcome Marie! I can understand how the amount of black pepper I used might be a tad much for some folks, so I appreciate that you’re gonna give it another try 🙂

  7. Your homemade sloppy Joe looks yummy…I’m sure it’s yummy too. Thanks for sharing your recipe.

  8. I made this tonight and it was really good. I added in some vinegar and a little sugar. Thanks for the recipe, will definitely make this again!

    1. Kathy, I might have to try adding a little vinegar next time. I find that the brand of ketchup you use makes a lot of difference, probably for just that reason….. different brands have different amounts of vinegar and sugar. I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  9. We have recently been relocated to Denmark and needed an “American” food for UN day at the kids school. Couldn’t find Manwich here for love or money. This recipe was an enormous hit! I reduced the pepper and added a little vinegar and we love it.

    1. Awesome Deb! So glad you shared that with us. I bet the added vinegar gave it some tang that would be a welcome addition.

  10. Good but not for small kids. Also, this is not a case where the homemade beats prepackaged in healthfulness or budget. I was disappointed.

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