Hawaiian Sloppy Joes

These easy Sloppy Joes are smothered in the most delicious sweet and tangy Hawaiian BBQ Sauce your whole family will love and 1000X better than any can!  This sloppy Joe recipe is incredibly easy, make ahead, great for crowds and freezer friendly!  

This Hawaiian Sloppy Joe recipe is not only delicious but one of the easiest and least expensive recipes you can make for a crowd!  You can also prep the meat filling ahead of time and either keep warm in the crockpot or simply warm up on the stove when ready to serve. You can also freeze it in advance for instant heat and eat dinners! Eazy peazy! 

up close of easy sloppy joes with filling spilling out of the soft bun


Sloppy Joes

Are you a Sloppy Joe fan?  My husband wasn’t a fan until he tried my homemade easy Sloppy Joes, or more accurately, my mom’s homemade Sloppy Joe recipe.  I don’t think homemade is always better, but in the case of Sloppy Joes, homemade is 1000x better than any canned variety.

Growing up, I always looked forward to my mom’s Sloppy Joes when the cousins came over, or last minute company dropped in or for casual get togethers around the pool.  No matter the occasion, the tray boasting the Sloppy Joes was always licked clean.  Nothing sloppy every remained with zero leftovers Sloppy Joes.

Sloppy Joe Recipe

As I mused about my mom’s Sloppy Joes, it dawned on me that they would make the perfect Game Day food –  and even more perfect if they were fancied up a bit with homemade (to live for) Hawaiian BBQ Sauce to make Hawaiian Sloppy Joes!   So while there are tons of Game Day recipes to choose from (see Favs HERE), these Hawaiian Sloppy Joes are not only some of the most delicious but some of the easiest and least expensive – not to mention you can easily make the meat filling ahead of time and either keep warm in the crockpot or simply warm up on the stove when ready to serve.

So what makes these Hawaiian Sloppy Joes so unbelievably delectable?  I’ve merged my favorite worlds of my mom’s easy Sloppy Joes’ Sauce, my favorite homemade BBQ Sauce, and crushed pineapple to create otherworldly sweet and tangy Hawaiian BBQ Sauce to smother your tender sloppy beef.  I guarantee you will be shoveling this filling into your mouth long before it has time to adorn a bun.


There are a few conflicting stories about where the Sloppy Joe originated, but it is widely believed to have been made by a cook named Joe in Sioux City, Iowa in 1930.  Joe added tomato sauce to a loose meat sandwich and the Sloppy Joe was born.  What everyone does agree on, however, is that Sloppy Joes are SLOPPY!  Just try and eat a Sloppy Joe without any of the filling spilling out!

What Ingredients do I need for Easy Sloppy Joe Recipe?

I love this easy Sloppy Joe Recipe not only for the juicy, sweet and tangy, melt-in-your-mouth filling but also because it is made with pantry friendly ingredients!  You can keep everything on hand (and even freeze the buns) so you can make these homemade Sloppy Joes at a moments notice!  For this easy Sloppy Joe recipe, you will need:

  • 10 Hawaiian Sandwich Buns or regular hamburger buns
  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, minced

Hawaiian BBQ Sauce

  • 1 8 oz. can crushed pineapple (in 100% juice) NOT DRAINED
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp EACH chili powder, salt
  • 1/2 tsp EACH ground ginger, smoked paprika, pepper
  • Hot sauce to taste

Can I Add Green Bell Peppers to Sloppy Joes?

Absolutely!  Chop your green bell pepper small and add them with the beef and onions.

Can I make Sloppy Joes with Ground Turkey?

Yes!  Replace the lean ground beef with lean ground turkey.  To help it taste nice and beefy, omit the salt and add 2-3 teaspoons beef bouillon then add salt to taste.  This is my secret in all my turkey recipes like my Turkey Chili and Turkey Tacos.


Yes!  Substitute the ground beef with an equal amount of plant based protein such as crumbled firm tofu, lentils, mushrooms, etc.

Can You Add Cheese to Sloppy Joes?

Classic Sloppy Joes don’t include cheese – but that doesn’t mean you can’t add cheese!  You can either spread the bottom of the buns cut side up on a baking sheet, layer with cheese and bake until melted OR place cheese directly on top of the meat piled on the bun while its hot.

How To Make Sloppy Joes

This easy Sloppy Joe recipe comes together in minutes- literally!

Step 1:  To make this easy saucy filling, brown you beef, onions and garlic then drain of excess grease.

Step 2:  Next, stir in your pantry friendly Hawaiian BBQ Sauce ingredients of crushed pineapple, ketchup, molasses, brown sugar, soy sauce, mustard, cider vinegar and spices of chili powder, ginger, smoked paprika etc.

showing how to make sloppy joes by adding beef, onions, ketchup, mustard and spices to a pan

Step 3:  Let the saucy beefy filling simmer together for 15 minutes to let the flavors meld as the the aroma tempts you for the longest 15 minutes of your life.

showing how to make sloppy Joes by simmering filling in a skillet

Step 4:  Pile the Sloppy Joe filling on Hawaiian rolls or traditional hamburger buns and dig in!

Helpful Tips to Make Easy Sloppy Joes

  • Consistency:  When you simmer the Sloppy Joe filling, it should take approximately 15 minutes to reduce BUT it might take more or less time depending on you stove/pot, etc. so watch closely so it doesn’t reduce too much – we want slightly saucy Sloppy Joes and not dry Sloppy Joes.  If your mixture is too “wet” after 15 minutes, then continue to simmer to reach desired consistency.
  • Customize Flavor:  This Sloppy Joe recipe is slightly sweet and tangy but you can customize it to suite your personal tastes:
    • For sweeter – add additional brown sugar.
    • For more savory – add less brown sugar or add hot sauce to balance the sweet.
    • For tangier – add additional apple cider vinegar or yellow mustard.
    • For saltier – add additional soy sauce.
    • For spicier – add hot sauce to taste or cayenne or chipotle chili powder.
  • Other fixings:  You can keep your Sloppy Joes plain and traditional or add anything your heart – or belly – dream up such as bacon, cheese, pickles, jalapenos, pepperoncinis, Fritos, potato chips, etc..


Yes, you can certainly make Sloppy Joes in the crockpot, but I prefer just warming the meat filling in the crockpot because Crockpot  Sloppy Joes tend to have a softer texture and you still have to brown the meat on the stove first any way.

To make Crockpot Sloppy Joes, follow step 1 in the instructions in which you brown the beef and onions, then add the garlic and drain off excess fat.  At this point, you can transfer the beef to the crockpot followed by all the remaining Hawaiian BBQ Sauce ingredients.  Give everything a good stir to combine and cook on LOW for 4-6 hours.  I recommend removing the lid the last 30 minutes or so some of the moisture can evaporate.

Can You Make Sloppy Joes Ahead of Time?

The Sloppy Joe filling can be added to the slow cooker after it has simmered to stay warm for Game time/party time/crowd time or simply ready for dinner/family time with just the lifting of the lid.  That is my type of Hawaiian paradise.

What Buns are Best For Sloppy Joes?

For these Hawaiian Sloppy Joes, I recommend Hawaiian Sweet Rolls.  You can also use traditional hamburger buns, pretzel buns, brioche buns and if you’ve forgotten the buns, serve extra sloppy sandwiched in between white bread!

up close of homemade sloppy joes on a whtie plate with potato chips

How Do You Toast Buns for Sloppy Joes?

I love Sloppy Joes with extra soft buns, but this sometimes means they get soggy extra quickly.  Toasting the buns provides a nice buttery barrier against the soggy savory filling and keeps the buns from getting soggy as quickly. To toast the buns, you can either:

  • Spread softened butter on the inside of both sides of the buns.  Place buns cut side up on a baking sheet and broil for 3 minutes or until golden, watching closely so they don’t burn
  • OR  heat about a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat.  Once hot, add buns, cut side down and cook until toasted, about 2-3 minutes.

What Sides Should I serve with Sloppy Joes?

Sloppy Joes are fabulous with just a big green salad and side of fruit.  If you want to get a little extra fun and flirty, try Sloppy Joes with some of these sides:

How Do You Store Sloppy Joes?

Store Sloppy Joe filling separate from the buns in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Can You Freeze Sloppy Joes?

Yes, Sloppy Joe filling freezes wonderfully!  To freeze:

  1. Let filling cool to room temperature (you can place in the refrigerator to speed up the process).
  2. Add filling to either a freezer size bag for a large quantity or to smaller sandwich bags for individual portion sizes.
  3. Squeeze out excess air, seal and label.
  4. Freeze Sloppy Joe meat for up to 3 months.
  5. When ready to eat, let meat thaw overnight in the refrigerator and then remove from plastic bag to a bowl to microwave (for smaller portions) or to a skillet to to reheat over the stove.


Classic Sloppy Joes are served sandwiched in between a soft bun, but the meat is still delicious so many other ways!  Here are just a few:

  • serve over rice with green onions
  • serve on bread, add cheese and grill for Sloppy Joe Grilled Cheese!
  • serve on top of French Fries
  • server over mashed potatoes or baked potatoes
  • add on top of hot dogs to make Sloppy Joe Chili Dogs
  • add to scrambled eggs
  • add to tortillas with cheese and make burritos or grill and make quesadillas
  • roll up tightly in a tortilla and bake to make taquitos
  • make stuffed bell peppers
  • add to macaroni and cheese
a hand picking up a Sloppy Joe with filling spilling out

You might also like these sandwiches:

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©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com

30 Minute Hawaiian Sloppy Joes smothered in the most delicious sweet and tangy Hawaiian BBQ Sauce your whole family will love! Incredibly easy, make ahead and great for crowds!

Hawaiian Sloppy Joes

30 Minute Hawaiian Sloppy Joes smothered in the most delicious sweet and tangy Hawaiian BBQ Sauce your whole family will love!  Incredibly easy, make ahead and great for crowds! You can also prep the meat filling ahead of time and either keep warm in the crockpot or simply warm up on the stove when ready to serve.
Servings: 8 -10 sandwiches
Total Time: 25 minutes
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

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  • 8-10 Hawaiian Sandwich Buns or regular hamburger buns
  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, minced

Hawaiian BBQ Sauce

  • 1 8 oz. can crushed pineapple (in 100% juice) NOT DRAINED
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp EACH chili powder, salt
  • 1/2 tsp EACH ground ginger, smoked paprika, pepper
  • Hot sauce to taste


  • Brown hamburger and onions together in a large skillet over medium heat, breaking up any clumps. Add garlic and cook 30 additional seconds. Drain any excess fat.
  • Add all remaining Hawaiian BBQ Sauce ingredients and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer then reduce heat to low. Simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and add additional cider vinegar for tangier or more brown sugar for sweeter if desired.
  • Serve on Hawaiian sandwich buns or traditional hamburger buns. Enjoy!


Crockpot Sloppy Joes

You can keep the Sloppy Joe filling warm in the crockpot or make it in the crockpot.   To make Crockpot Sloppy Joes, follow step 1 in the instructions in which you brown the beef and onions, then add the garlic and drain off excess fat.  At this point, you can transfer the beef to the crockpot followed by all the remaining Hawaiian BBQ Sauce ingredients.  Give everything a good stir to combine and cook on LOW for 4-6 hours.  I recommend removing the lid the last 30 minutes or so some of the moisture can evaporate.

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  1. Laurel says

    Sounds divine! Can’t wait to try these! (I’m a sucker for anything Hawaiian) I think I’ll save it for summer though; sloppy joes are one of my favorite ways to use up summer produce – a pound of ground turkey along with TONS of shredded eggplant, zucchini, and carrots! Same texture, but a whole lot more nutrition. One of my favorite ways to cram a whole bunch of veggies into my kids in one sitting. 😉

    • Jen says

      Hi Laurel! I love your idea of cramming veggies into Sloppy Joes – brilliant! I hope your entire family loves this new flavor spin!

  2. Marisa Franca @ All Our Way says

    Your Sloppy Joes sound wonderful! And I love Laurel’s idea of the veggies. I’ve yet to see a little person who didn’t like Sloppy Joes and then the boost of veggies is terrific. I bet the addition of the pineapple really make them scrumptious! Have a great weekend.

    • Jen says

      Thank you Marisa! And agreed, Laurel’s idea of adding veggies is fantastic – they won’t even know they’re there! I think you will really love the addition of pineapple and the sweet and tangy Hawaiian Sauce – its a fun departure from the traditional sauce without being too far off 🙂

    • Jen says

      Thank you Cara! I hope you all love them!

  3. Allie says

    Looks like another keeper…..I hope to remember to give a little review after making these (and others of yours!).
    I don’t know how much work it takes to do all your postings with pics,, …….so, thanks…and even though some of us don’t comment, YOU are appreciated!!

    • Jen says

      What a thoughtful comment Allie, than you so so much! I followed food blogs forever before my own and never commented and now I know how nice it is to get comments – they are always so appreciated! So thank you for this one and thank you in advance :)!

  4. Allison says

    Made it tonight! We loved it. I did swap out pork for beef.

    • Jen says

      Awesome Allison! I love that you made it already and am so happy it was a hit, thank you for taking the time to comment!

  5. Jessa Cooper says

    I made these for my somewhat picky family tonight and they were a huge hit!!! Seems like a lot of ingredients but that’s what makes it so delicious! Thank you for a wonderful recipe that my entire family loves!!

    • Jen says

      Awesome Jessa! I am so happy to hear these Sloppy Joes were a winner with your entire family! Thank you so much for taking the time to comment!

  6. Carolyn says

    Made this last night, followed just as described, only cut it in half as I only used 1lb of beef. Turned out AWESOME! It has great flavor – not too spicy, also not too ‘Hawaiiainy’, I was worried it might be too sweet as sometimes happen with Hawaiian flavored dishes, but this was the perfect balance. Added as a regular in our house 🙂

    • Jen says

      Hi Carolyn, I am thrilled you loved these Sloppy Joes so much and that they are now a new regular in your house! Thank you!!!

  7. Marcia says

    Made these last evening and they were DELICIOUS!! Thank you for a recipe that will definitely show up in a regular rotation! I halved the recipe…. other than that, I didn’t change one thing. Thank you!

    • Jen says

      You are so welcome Marcia! Thank YOU for taking the time to comment! I am happy to hear you loved them enough to make them a new regular!

  8. Therese says

    Have made these SEVERAL times now because they are a big hit with my family. It’s been an easy meal when camping with a large crowd! It is now a hit with my bible study group!! 🙂 This has replaced my old school sloppy joe recipe. Still making and enjoying all your recipes! 🙂

    • Jen says

      YAY! I’m so happy you love these so much they’ve replaced your old recipe and have been hit with everyone! And you are so right, one of the easiest meals for a crowd! Thank you Therese!

  9. Jessi says

    I cook this one and eat it for lunches during the week. This is fantastic!!! Haven’t found a recipe I don’t enjoy of yours. My go to page! I stopped cooking for a long time, due to ptsd. I found one of your recipes on facebook and it made me want to return to my kitchen. It helps that all my spices are the ones you use and I buy often. Thank you again!

    • Jen says

      Thank you for all your comments Jessi, I love hearing from you and it’s fun to see which recipes you’ve tried! I am so honored my page is your go-to and that it has helped you get back into the kitchen. That seriously means so so much to me! I hope you continue to find many new favorites!

  10. Rusty says

    I came across your website at work and now I can’t wait to get off and try this recipe over the weekend!

    • Jen says

      Welcome to my site Rusty! I hope you absolutely love these Hawaiian Sloppy Joes and have fun exploring the rest of my recipes!

  11. Mercedes says

    Your recipe calls for yellow mustard, is this the prepared yellow mustard or ground mustard?

    • Jen says

      This is the prepared yellow deli mustard – enjoy!

  12. Kimberly M says

    Another recipe of yours that didn’t disappoint!! Made for rival football Saturday! Perfect grab and go meal following the heavy recipes from Thanksgiving! Best sloppy joes I’ve ever had! I’ll never make them without pineapple again!!!

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much for making my recipes Kimberly! That is awesome these are the best Sloppy Joes you ever had!

  13. Susan says

    These were actually very good. I made them for our Saturday Game Night with friends – we do an appetizer, buffet style. I used my crock pot to keep the filling warm and made some Hawaiian Rolls (recipe on Cooks Illustrated) to use as slider buns. Everyone really enjoyed them. I didn’t have Smoked Paprika, so I added 1/3 cup of Kinder BBQ sauce to add a bit of smokey flavor. Everyone who had them just loved them. Not overly sweet and sort of hit that perfect spot of Hawaiian Night flavor.

    • Jen says

      Thank you, Susan! That sounds so fun – I love a game night! I am so happy it was a hit with everyone! Thanks for commenting!