Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes are hot, meaty, cheesy comfort food inspired by the ultimate cheesesteak sandwich – but easier and less expensive!
These Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes will quickly become a family favorite! They combine the best of two worlds: the flavorings and cheesy goodness of a Philly Cheesesteak with the ease, economy and sauciness of Sloppy Joes. Does it get any better?! It is meaty, cheesy, flavor-packed, insanely delicious comfort food at its finest. This recipe makes a fabulous low-cost alternative to cheesesteaks and is perfect for easy weeknight dinners, get togethers or game day. This make-ahead friendly recipe is made with juicy ground beef, sautéed bell peppers, and onions topped with melty cheese sandwiched in a toasted brioche bun. Serve your Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes will Loaded Potato Salad and Creamy Bacon Pea Pasta Salad for a dinner the whole family will LOVE!
Philly Cheesesteaks are a beloved favorite at our house! Their classic flavor has inspired Philly Cheesesteak Dip, Philly Cheesesteak Egg Rolls, Philly Cheesesteak Soup, Philly Cheesesteak Pizza (one of my first posts, terrible pics but SO GOOD) and now these Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes! What’s next?!
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About this Sloppy Joe Recipe
These Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes are easy, messy, comforting, sandwiches you won’t be able to get enough of! Not only do they consist of juicy, melt-in-your-mouth filling on a buttery brioche bun, but they’re mixed with everything that makes cheesesteaks wonderful – melty cheese, onions, and peppers, all cooked to perfection in brown beef drippings.
These Sloppy Joes aren’t just to be enjoyed during this football season but your family will be begging for them all year round. And that’s great news for you because they are one of the easiest and most delicious meals you can make!
Why you’ll love this sloppy joe recipe:
- Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes are cravable anytime, anywhere. They are serious comfort food that even the pickiest eaters will be gobble up. Your family and friends will thank you with every cheesy savory bite!
- They are so easy to make and comes together in minutes. Just brown the beef with the bell peppers and onions, simmer in sauce, then bake for a few minutes for the blanket of cheese to melt.
- The Sloppy Joes are on your table in just over 30 minutes. This means you’ll be spending less time in the kitchen and more time with your family.
- They are less expensive than traditional Philly Cheesesteaks– you might even love them more. You get the classic flavors of cheesesteaks with tasty juiciness of budget friendly Sloppy Joes!
- You can make the filling and toast the buns ahead of time. Either reheat the filling or keep it warm on the stove or in the crockpot
- The ingredients are simple, versatile, and pantry friendly – you probably already have them on hand! This means you can make them any time the cravings strike or when you need a quick and easy dinner.
- You can easily customize your Sloppy Joes. Add mushrooms, hot sauce, extra cheese, more veggies, etc. because this recipe is YOUR recipe!
SLOPPY JOES VS. CHEESESTEAKS
Before we dive into the recipe, let’s take a closer look at each of the contributing players and how they make up the epic invention of Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes :
What are SLOPPY JOES?
We can thank a cook named Joe in Sioux City, Iowa in 1930 for creating the first Sloppy Joe. Joe added tomato sauce to a loose meat sandwich and the Sloppy Joe was born. Today, Sloppy Joes can be described as a loose meat sandwich made of ground beef, onions, tomato sauce or ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and seasonings served on a hamburger bun.
Since the original Sloppy Joe, there have been countless variations such as Hawaiian Sloppy Joes, Greek Sloppy Joes, Korean Sloppy Joes, Breakfast Sloppy Joes, Cuban Sloppy Joes, Big Mac Sloppy Joes of course these Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes. You just can beat, juicy, saucy filling in any flavor profile stuffed in between two soft buns.
WHAT IS A PHILLY CHEESESTEAK?
There must have been something in the water in 1930 because that’s also when the Philly Cheesesteak was invented. Pat Olivieri, a hot dog vendor, got a crazy idea to throw beef on his grill to make a sandwich and the rest is history.
A traditional Philly Cheesesteak is made of thinly sliced ribeye steak browned on a griddle or skillet then chopped into finer pieces, then topped with American, Provolone or Cheese Whiz. Once the cheese melts, it is scooped up with a spatula and loaded into a hoagie roll. Sometimes sautéed onions are included in the mix, or added on top. Contrary to popular belief, bell peppers are not part of a traditional Philly Cheesesteak.
Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes combine the best of Philly Cheesesteaks (the flavorings and cheese) with the best of Sloppy Joes (the texture and sauciness) to create an inexpensive hot, beefy, and melt-in-your-mouth weeknight option.
For those purists out there – let me clarify that this recipe is inspired by Philly Cheesesteaks – because bell peppers are not traditional, and obviously there are no real Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes – or Philly Cheesesteak egg rolls, pizza, or dip for that matter!
sloppy joe INGREDIENTS
You will love that this recipe 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 moment’s notice! For this easy recipe, you will need:
- Brioche hamburger buns: You’ll need 6 of these buns. These buttery, golden, soft pillowy buns pair amazingly with the savory filling. They toast up beautifully and don’t become soggy quickly. Brioche buns can usually be found in the bakery section of the grocery store or in the pre-sliced bread section.
- Lean ground beef: One pound of ground beef will do the trick – make sure it’s lean so the filling will be tender but not greasy. I use 85/15 percent lean.
- Seasonings: Many recipes skimp on the seasonings, but this is an easy way to enhance the dimension of flavor and create the best Sloppy Joes yet! You will need paprika, red pepper flakes, dried oregano, dried parsley, salt and pepper.
- Onion: I used a yellow onion, but any kind will work, just be sure to finely dice it.
- Bell pepper: Is not traditionally found in Philly Cheesesteaks, but I love the subtle texture and earthiness it brings, so take it or leave it.
- Garlic: Now for the good stuff! Mince 4 cloves of garlic or you may also use 1 teaspoon garlic powder – but the real stuff is so much better.
- Beef broth: Get that saucy, beefy flavor from 1 cup of beef broth. Please use reduced sodium beef broth so you have the luxury of adding concentrated beef bouillon. Please do not use chicken broth or vegetable broth because they do not have the same richness of beef broth.
- Beef bouillon: Is a secret ingredient that adds a complex depth of flavor. Use 1 ½ teaspoons of beef bouillon, better than bouillon, or granulated beef bouillon. If using cubes, crush and add directly to the sauce – don’t dissolve in water first.
- Ketchup and Dijon: These add a subtle complex tanginess, reminiscent of Sloppy Joes but you won’t be able to put your finger on these everyday ingredients.
- Cornstarch: Is needed to thicken the sauce so its luxuriously rich instead of watery.
- Worcestershire sauce: This is a flavor bomb all packed into one bottle. Use 2 tablespoons to deepen the Sloppy Joe filling with its intense umami flavor from the soy mingled with sour from tamarind and vinegar, sweetness from molasses and sugar, and dimension from the cloves, celery seed, and chili pepper extract.
- Provolone: A must for this melty Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joe recipe. Provolone is a favorite for its mild flavor and consistency. You’ll need 6 slices – or go crazy and add more!
- Sharp Cheddar Cheese: This is what makes the magic happen. Instead of just melting provolone over the filling, I’ve chosen to add cheddar directly to the filling as well. The cheddar mimics the flavorings of Cheez Whiz while avoiding processed cheeses. Ideally, you’ll want to shred your own cheese because pre-shredded cheeses are coating in anti-clumping chemicals which prevent them from clumping in the package which also inhibits their melting ability.
Sloppy joe recipe VARIATIONS
Make this recipe your own! Use ground turkey, add veggies, make it spicy, etc. Here are a few ideas:
- Use a different protein: Replace the lean ground beef with lean ground turkey or ground chicken. To help it taste nice and beefy, omit the salt and add 2-3 teaspoons additional beef bouillon then add salt to taste. This is my secret in all my turkey recipes like my Turkey Chili and Turkey Tacos.
- Use ribeye: This goes back to Philly Cheesesteak roots. Slice the ribeye into thin slices across the grain (it’s easiest to slice if it has been frozen for 30-60 minutes), then slice the other direction so it’s finely chopped. Cook the steak in the skillet separately from the onions and peppers then add it back to the skillet with the sauce ingredients.
- Switch up the cheeses: There are many wonderful and melty cheeses that can be used in the filling or topping, even if they aren’t traditional – because Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes aren’t traditional to start with! To the filling you can add more provolone, American, Colby, Cheez Whiz, Gouda, Havarti, pepper Jack, etc. and mozzarella or Swiss to top the filling.
- Switch out the Buns for Your Favs: If you’re wanting something besides a brioche hamburger bun, try switching them for pretzel buns (for a little more crunch) or Hawaiian sandwich buns (for a little more sweetness). You can also use any of your favorite hamburger buns or even add them to hoagie rolls.
- Don’t use buns! Alternatively, try adding the filling to pitas, wraps, or go low carb with lettuce wraps.
- Change the flavor profile: Make them tangier by adding additional Worcestershire sauce or spicier by adding additional red pepper flakes or your favorite hot sauce.
- Add veggies: You can add any veggies you wish! Mushrooms are commonly added to cheesesteaks (although not Philly cheesesteaks). Zucchini, corn and even sweet potatoes would be tasty.
- Make them vegetarian: Substitute the ground beef with Beyond Meat or Impossible Meat – both are great options for producing a juicy texture. You could also try substituting the ground beef with an equal amount of plant-based protein such as crumbled firm tofu, lentils, mushrooms, etc.
- Make them gluten-free: Switch out the brioche hamburger buns with a gluten-free option. Canyon Bakehouse’s gluten-free buns are a great substitute. You’ll also want to double check that your Worcestershire sauce is gluten free.
HOW TO MAKE PHILLY CHEESESTEAK SLOPPY JOES
If you are in a dinner rut, this recipe is the perfect way out. Are you ready to see just how easy these Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes are to make? Let’s do it! (Full ingredients and measurements in the recipe card at the bottom of the post):
- Step 1: Prep your buns. You can’t beat soft and crispy buns! Lay the buns cut side up on a large baking tray. Lightly brush the cut sides with softened butter or mayonnaise. The mayo/butter is optional but, as you can see by the pics, it is very affective at creating crispier/more flavorful buns – win-win! The buttery barrier also helps prevent the buns from becoming soggy once the filling is added. Bake the buns for 5 minutes to get nice and toasty. While the buns are toasting, you can continue with the rest of the recipe.
- Step 2: Brown your beef and onions. Add beef, onions and bell peppers cook until beef is browned and onions are softened, about 7 minutes. Add garlic, and sauté 30 seconds.
- Step 3: Add the sauce ingredients. In a (liquid) measuring cup, whisk the beef broth, cornstarch, and beef bouillon together until smooth. Add this to the beef, followed by the ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon and all seasonings.
- Step 4: Make them saucy. Simmer the mixture until most of the liquid has been absorbed, but the mixture is still a little saucy – about 5 minutes.
- Step 5: Make them cheesy! Finish the filling off by stirring in the sharp cheddar cheese until it’s completely melted.
- Step 6: Assemble. Divide the mixture between the bottom toasted buns, and add a slice of provolone cheese on top of each one.
- Step 7: Bake. For the finale, bake the sandwiches until the cheese is completely melted. Slap the tops on and serve them while they’re hot, and enjoy the best Sloppy Joes ever!
HELPFUL TIPS TO MAKE THE BEST PHILLY CHEESESTEAK SLOPPY JOES
This Sloppy Joe recipe is quick and easy, but here are some helpful tips for success:
- Don’t skipping toasting the buns! A soggy bun can ruin your sandwich. Toasting the buns is especially important in this recipe because the filling is extra juicy. Toasting the buns provides a nice buttery barrier which helps prevent the juices from soaking into the bun and making it a soggy mess.
- Use a large skillet: There is a lot going on in the skillet with the beef, onions and bell peppers. If you don’t have large cast iron skillet, cook the beef first, remove it from the pan, then sauté the bell peppers and onions. You want plenty of room to move that filling around.
- Make sure that your pan is nice and hot: Get the oil hot and sizzling before adding the ground beef, onions and peppers so the juices evaporate as they are released. This ensures the filling is extra flavorful and not diluted and watery. The best pan for this is cast iron. It heats up quickly and retains the heat, continuously evaporating any moisture.
- Test the onions for doneness: Make sure the onions are soft before you add the garlic because they won’t soften much after sautéing – you don’t want crunchy onions!
- Fully dissolve the cornstarch: Make sure the cornstarch is completely dissolved in the beef broth because once the mixture is added to the hot skillet any lumps are here to stay.
- Watch the sauce consistency: The Sloppy Joe filling can take more or less time to reduce depending on your stove/pot, etc. The key is to watch it 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 5 minutes, then continue to simmer until it reaches desired consistency.
What toppings can I add to Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes
The sky is the limit! Keep the Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes more “traditional” or add anything your heart – or belly – dream up such as:
- Sautéed mushrooms
- Caramelized onions
- Roasted red peppers
- Jalapenos or pickled jalapenos
- Crispy bacon
- Potato Chips
- Thinly sliced red onions or pickled red onions
- Crispy onion rings (like in this recipe)
- hot sauce
WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH SLOPPY JOES MEAT?
This Sloppy Joe filling is incredibly versatile and can be used on anything and everything from pasta to potatoes. Here are some fun variations to try because the Philly Cheesesteak filling is SO GOOD, you’ll want it on everything!
- Grilled cheese: Toast the filling stuffed bread in butter or use a panini press.
- Rice: Serve the filling over or stirred directly into rice.
- Pizza: Top your favorite pizza dough with the filling followed by cheese and bake according to directions. You can also use the pizza dough to make Stromboli or calzones.
- Stuffed peppers: Combine the Sloppy Joe filling with some rice and follow this recipe for baking instructions.
- Potatoes: Serve over mashed potatoes, French fries or baked potatoes (detailed below).
- Baked Potatoes. Poke holes in washed, dried potatoes. Place on a foil lined baking sheet and lightly brush with oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake for 1 hour or until potatoes are tender and the skin is crispy. Slice open the potatoes, top with Sloppy Joe filling and provolone then place back in the oven for 5 minutes or until the cheese melts. Top with sour cream, green onions, etc.
- Mac and cheese: Stir filling into your favorite mac and cheese recipe – and drool.
- Pasta and ramen: Keep the Sloppy Joe filling extra saucy and stir it into pasta or ramen.
- Taquitos or flautas: Roll the filling in quality corn tortillas or flour tortillas and either fry or bake like in this recipe.
- Tacos: Top warm tortillas with provolone cheese, filling and desired toppings such as mushrooms, tomatoes, pico de gallo, black bean corn salsa, avocado corn salsa, etc.
- Baked tacos: Line stand-up taco shells in a 9×13 baking dish. Sprinkle some cheese on the bottom of each taco shell and bake at 350 degrees F for 8 minutes (baking crisps up the shells and the cheese prevents the shell from becoming soggy). Top the filling with more cheese. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15-18 minutes or until cheese is completely melted. Top with your favorite toppings such as mushrooms, pimentos, tomatoes, pico de gallo, black bean corn salsa, avocado corn salsa, etc.
- Burritos: Layer a burrito size tortilla with provolone, beans, Sloppy Joe filling and toppings, fold, then toast in a skillet like I do in this recipe.
- Quesadillas: Layer a burrito size tortilla with cheese and filling and grill until golden, cheesy perfection.
HOW TO STORE AND REHEAT SLOPPY JOES
- Storage: Store the Sloppy Joe filling separate from the buns in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- To reheat in the microwave: Transfer small portions of the filling to a microwave safe dish, heat for one minute, stir then continue to heat at 30 second intervals. Toast the buns.
- To reheat on the stove: Rewarm the filling gently in a large skillet, stirring often. Add a splash of water if the filling seems dry.
- Slow cooker: Heat on low for 1-2 hours.
CAN YOU FREEZE THIS RECIPE?
Yes, the buns and Sloppy Joe filling freeze wonderfully if kept separate. To freeze the filling:
- Let the filling cool to room temperature then either add to a large freezer size bag or smaller sandwich bags for individual portion sizes.
- Squeeze out excess air, seal and label.
- Freeze for up to 3 months.
- When ready to eat, let meat thaw overnight before reheating.
HOW TO PREP AHEAD
The Philly Cheesesteak filling can be prepped completely ahead of time and refrigerated then gently reheat on the stove. The filling can also be added to the slow cooker to stay warm for game time/party time/crowd time or simply ready for dinner/family time with just the lift of the lid. Now just toast those buns and you’re all set!
WHAT TO SERVE WITH PHILLY CHEESESTEAK SLOPPY JOES?
These Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes are heavenly with simple sides, such as pickles, potato chips, Baked Fingerling Fries, a big green salad or Caesar Salad. However, if you want to fancy up your sides a notch, they perfectly pair with any of these sides:
- Comforting sides: A big scoop of Million Dollar Macaroni and Cheese, Best Bake Beans with Bacon and Brown Sugar or Slow Cooker Ricotta Creamed Corn always hit the spot.
- Pasta Salad: Bacon Pea Pasta Salad, Greek Pasta Salad or Italian Pasta Salad are always favorites.
- Potluck Salads: You can only do right with Bacon Ranch Potato Salad, Kicked Up Classy Creamy Potato Salad, Bacon Broccoli Salad Corn Salad or Perfect Fruit Salad.
- Veggies: Are easy to throw together but incredibly delish! Roasted Asparagus, Glazed Carrots, Sautéed Lemon Garlic Brussels Sprouts, or Roasted Broccoli.
Commonly asked questions
Yes, start by browning the meat, peppers and onions in the Instant Pot in “Sauté” mode. Remove the grease and then add all the remaining ingredients except the cheese. Cook the mixture on “Manual” for 5 minutes and then do a quick release. Open the lid and the cheese and stir to melt.
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 anyway so it doesn’t save any time.
This recipe for Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes includes lots of cheesy goodness – but you can certainly add more! There are a few ways to add cheese to this recipe: mix cheese directly into the filling, place cheese directly on top of the meat to melt while still in the skillet, place cheese on top of the filling on the buns to melt in the oven or place cheese on top of the meat piled on the bun while it’s hot.
Philly cheesesteak is typically made with juicy, finely chopped ribeye with caramelized onions and bell peppers. There isn’t a specific sauce, but rather plenty of melted provolone or American cheese. In this Philly Cheese Steak Sloppy Joe recipe, however, a sauce is made by simmering the ground beef with beef broth, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce and Italian seasonings. We like our sandwiches saucy and sloppy! If you’d like even more of a sauce, feel free to go crazy and add a store-bought cheese sauce.
Cornstarch is the thickening key to achieve the best Sloppy Joes sauce consistency. It is mixed with the beef broth and added to the meat to simmer. Be sure to get rid of the clumps of cornstarch before adding to the skillet.
You can use traditional hamburger buns, pretzel buns, brioche buns, or, if you’ve forgotten the buns, serve extra sloppy and sandwiched in between white bread!
Thinly sliced ribeye steak is the best meat for cheesesteak because it is tender, juicy and flavorful without needing a marinade. You can certainly use ribeye in this recipe, but for making Sloppy Joes, we prefer less expensive, but still juicy, flavorful ground beef.
There are a few different cheeses that would be tasty: Cheese Whiz, Swiss Cheese, American Cheese, Pepper Jack Cheese or Colby Jack Cheese.
Yes! Traditional Philly cheesesteak sandwiches are served on hoagie rolls making them hoagie sandwiches. Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes are traditional served on brioche hamburger buns.
Technically yes, but that doesn’t mean you should! Cold Philly Cheesesteaks won’t boast any gooey, melty cheesiness. They are best served hot so cheese is soft and melty.
Tools Used in This Recipe
Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes
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- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup reduced sodium beef broth
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 ½ teaspoons beef bouillon
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp EACH dried oregano, dried parsley
- ½ tsp EACH salt, pepper, dried basil, paprika
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, more or less to taste
- 3/4 cup freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 6 brioche hamburger buns
- softened butter or mayo for brushing (optional)
- 6 slices provolone cheese
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Split buns and lay them cut side up on a large baking tray (15×21). Lightly brush the cut sides with softened butter or mayonnaise (optional for crispier/more flavorful buns). Bake for 5 minutes to toast the buns. Meanwhile you can continue with the recipe:
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef, onions and bell peppers and cook until beef is browned and onions are softened, about 7 minutes. Add garlic, and sauté 30 seconds.
- In a liquid measuring cup (or small bowl), whisk the beef broth, cornstarch and beef bouillon together until smooth. Add to the meat mixture followed by the ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon and all seasonings.
- Gently simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has been absorbed, but the mixture is still a little saucy, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the sharp cheddar cheese until melted. Taste and season with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes to taste (I like more salt). Keep in mind the flavors will be diluted with the cheese and buns.
- Divide mixture between the bottom toasted buns and top each with a slice of provolone cheese. Bake (leaving both top and bottoms cut side up) at 400 degrees F for 5-10 minutes or until cheese is completely melted. Top the sandwiches and serve immediately.
Tips and Tricks
- Beef bouillon: Is a secret ingredient that adds a complex depth of flavor. Use 1 ½ teaspoons of beef bouillon, better than bouillon, or granulated beef bouillon. If using cubes, use 1 1/2; crush and add directly to the sauce – don’t dissolve in water first.
- Turkey: Feel free to replace the lean ground beef with lean ground turkey or ground chicken. To help it taste nice and beefy, omit the salt and add 2-3 teaspoons additional beef bouillon then add salt to taste. This is my secret in all my turkey recipes like my Turkey Chili and Turkey Tacos.
- Recipe Variations: See post for many more tasty variations and fun ideas how to use the filling such as on potatoes, taquitos, grilled cheese, etc.
- Prep Ahead: The filling can be prepped completely ahead of time and refrigerated then gently reheat on the stove. The filling can also be added to the slow cooker to stay warm for game time/party time/crowd time or simply ready for dinner/family time with just the lift of the lid. Now just toast those buns and you’re all set!
HOW TO STORE AND REHEAT
- To store: Store the filling separately from the buns in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- To freeze: The buns and filling freeze wonderfully if kept separate. To freeze the filling, let it cool completely then transfer to an airtight freezer safe container. Freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to eat, let meat thaw overnight before reheating.
- To reheat in the microwave: Transfer small portions of the filling to a microwave safe dish, heat for one minute, stir then continue to heat at 30 second intervals.
- To reheat on the stove: Rewarm the filling gently in a large skillet, stirring often. Add a splash of water if the filling seems dry.
- Slow cooker: Heat on low for 1-2 hours.
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