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Elevate Your Sandwich Game: Top 5 Sloppy Joe Alternatives

Sloppy Joes, the popular American pub food that makes everyone’s mouth water.

It’s traditionally served on a hamburger bun and often has the base of ground beef with other ingredients cooked in a tomato-based sauce.

But if you don’t eat meat, how else can you satisfy your craving for this classic dish? Never fear – there are some great substitutes for Sloppy Joes.

Read on to learn how to make and serve traditional Sloppy Joes as well as discover five of the best plant-based swaps available.

Enjoy an exciting twist on a classic dish with these delicious meals.

What is Sloppy Joes?

what is sloppy joes

Sloppy Joes are a classic American sandwich made with ground beef, onions, green peppers and a spicy tomato sauce.

It is traditionally served on hamburger buns, but it can also be served over rice or mashed potatoes.

It is an easy meal to make and popular with both adults and kids alike.

Sloppy Joes have been around since the 1930s, but the recipe may have changed over the years.

Traditionally, Sloppy Joes are served on hamburger buns with a few slices of yellow cheese.

This version of the dish is referred to as the original “Manwich” Sloppy Joe.

The name comes from reputed inventor Joseph Pfeiffer who operated a tavern in Sioux City, Iowa.

According to legend he customers would often ask for “something sloppy” and so he came up with this concoction of ground beef, tomatoes and onions in one convenient package.

Making your own Sloppy Joe sandwich at home is easy – simply brown your ground beef in a skillet on medium heat until fully cooked.

Add in diced onions and green peppers (or whatever vegetables you like) into your ground beef until vegetables are softened (about 7-10 minutes).

Then add your tomato sauce or Manwich sauce, stir everything together until evenly encompassed and simmer for an additional 10 minutes before serving over either hamburger buns or any type of bread that you prefer.

The 5 BEST Alternatives for Sloppy Joes

Although Sloppy Joes are a timeless favorite, there are several delicious alternatives to the traditional recipe that you may want to explore.

Here are five of the best alternatives for making Sloppy Joes.

1 – Barbecue Sandwiches

barbecue sandwiches

Barbecue sandwiches are one of the most popular alternatives to Sloppy Joes.

Unlike traditional Sloppy Joes that use ground beef, barbecue sandwiches typically use shredded or chopped pork or beef, which are then combined with barbecue sauce.

They are served either open-face or with two pieces of bread as a traditional sandwich.

Barbecue sandwiches can be tweaked and customized based on your own preferences and taste.

Try adding some jalapenos to give it a bit of spice, or add extra sauce for an even sweeter flavor.

2 – Chili Burger

chili burger

Chili Burger is an easy and tasty alternative to traditional Sloppy Joes.

This dish combines hamburger with chili—either homemade or canned—and is served on a hamburger bun.

Depending on your palate, you can choose to add diced tomatoes, onions, and/or cheese to the chili burger mix before spooning it onto the bun.

Making chili burgers can be a great way to use up leftovers too.

Chili burger is often garnished with ketchup or pickles, making it a delicious and satisfying meal for everyone.

3 – Picadillo


Picadillo is a traditional Latin American dish.

Ground beef is simmered with diced tomatoes, onions, peppers, garlic, and flavorful spices.

It is typically served over rice or used in tacos or burritos.

You can make it spicy by adding chili peppers to the mix, or keep it simple for the kids.

Picadillo can easily be made ahead of time and reheated to serve Sloppy Joes style sandwiches.

Slather your favorite roll with some mayonnaise or butter and fill with the spicy meat mixture for an easy dinner that everyone at the table will love.

4 – Bagel Toast

bagel toast

For those who want a lighter bite, hot bagel toast is an ideal sloppy Joe alternative.

Simply toasting a bagel in a hot skillet over medium heat until it is golden brown, adding a dollop of your favorite store-bought tomato sauce, and topping it with fresh mozzarella makes for the perfect sandwich.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you could also try making your own tomato sauce from scratch for an extra zing of flavor.

With its crispy outside and juicy center, bagel toast takes the best elements of classic sloppy Joes and reworks them into an exciting food experience.

Add some fresh herbs and spices to really bring out all the flavors.

5 – Beef On Weck

beef on weck

Beef On Weck is a popular sandwich served in Buffalo, NY, and dates back to the 19th century.

It’s a combination of roast beef on a kummelweck roll, which is a Kaiser roll topped with pretzel salt and caraway seeds.

The name “Weck” comes from the German word for roll.

The sandwich is usually served with horseradish or au jus on the side and sometimes topped with giardiniera (Italian pickled vegetables).

The combination of flavors makes it an ideal substitute for Sloppy Joes.


In conclusion, Sloppy Joes are a delicious and hearty sandwich filled with ground beef and a tomato-based sauce.

While this classic American favorite is sure to be loved by all, it might not always be the healthiest option.

Thankfully, there are a number of healthier alternatives if you’re looking for something more nutritious or lower in calories.

These five recipes offer great options for anyone looking to switch up their weekly weeknight meal without sacrificing flavor.

Whether you choose one of these 5 recipes or design your own spicy concoction, make sure to enjoy the next sloppy joe with friends and family.

alternatives for sloppy joes

The 5 BEST Alternatives for Sloppy Joes

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Substitutes
Servings 1 Serving


  • Barbecue Sandwiches
  • Chili Burger
  • Picadillo
  • Bagel Toast
  • Beef On Weck


  • Choose your preferred substitute from the list of options.
  • Organize all of your ingredients.
  • Use the proper substitute to cook your recipes.
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