Crock Pot Sloppy Joes

THIS CROCK POT SLOPPY JOE RECIPE IS SUPER EASY, MAKE AHEAD, GREAT FOR CROWDS, AND FREEZER FRIENDLY all smothered in the best SLoppy Joe sauce!  


This Crock Pot Sloppy Joe recipe is perfect to feed a crowd or just your hungry family because the slow cooker does all the work! Simply brown the pork, toss it in the slow cooker with your zesty sauce, and let it slow roast while you go about your day. It’s another recipe for your back pocket when you need an easy, stress free, make ahead dinner that’s deeply satisfying and everyone loves. This Sloppy Joe recipe can also be made in advance and kept warm in the crockpot or made up to 24 hours in advance and simply rewarmed in the crockpot (instructions included).  These Crockpot Sloppy Joes also freeze beautifully for a scrumptious instant dinner any night of the week.

Photo of a Crock Pot Sloppy Joe on a plate with a sesame bun.

EASY SLOPPY JOE RECIPE

Savory, sweet and tangy Sloppy Joes are summer comfort food at its most drool worthy. Growing up, my mom always whipped up a big batch of homemade Sloppy Joes for casual big get togethers.  Her sweet and zesty barbecue-like sauce was so addicting, I would eat any leftovers for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  

This easy Sloppy Joe Recipe is packed with the same lip-smacking goodness – and even easier.   No browning onion, meat, etc., simply throw all the ingredients into the crockpot while you go about your day, not having to babysit the stove, heat up the house or worry about “what’s for dinner?”  Because tender, juicy homemade Sloppy Joes are for dinner. 

If you are planning a party or serving a large crowd, this easy Sloppy Joe recipe is the answer -again.  It is virtually hands-off, you can have the meal all prepped and ready ahead of time (YAY for stress free!) you can keep the meat warm in the crockpot, guests can assemble their own sandwiches with their favorite toppings, and everyone loves them!

When I’m entertaining, I dump all the homemade Sloppy Joe ingredients into the crockpot in the morning and don’t have to think about it again for hours.  When the guests arrive – it’s chow time without all the last-minute hustle and bustle.

HOMEMADE SLOPPY JOES

Just when you thought this Sloppy Joe recipe couldn’t’ get any better – I’ve saved the best for last.  Sloppy Joes are only as good as the sauce and this from scratch sloppy joe sauce is sensational!  It is zesty, tangy barbecue-like goodness is easy to make with ketchup, mustard, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar and seasonings.  And best of all, you don’t have to worry about what you’re feeding your family.  So, please forever skip the Manwich!

These Homemade Sloppy Joes with their flavor exploding, melt-in-your-mouth pulled pork get piled on cheesy toasted buns with crunchy, light coleslaw.  I added provolone cheese to the buns and then broiled them, because everything is better with toasty, gooey, cheesy buns, and then topped the pork with light coleslaw which adds the perfect crunch to the Crock Pot Sloppy Joes. 

That being said, these homemade Sloppy Joes are completely customizable with YOUR favorite toppings or none at all. All you really need is the finger-lickin’ good pork – literally – and you will love this Sloppy Joe recipe forever and ever.

Sloppy Joe Sauce Ingredients:

Homemade Sloppy Joe Sauce is made with pantry friendly ingredients with the ability to customize the sauce to make it perfect for YOU. Want it sweeter? – add more sugar. Want it tangier? – add more vinegar. Want it more tomato-y? – add more ketchup. Want it spicier? – add more hot sauce. That being said, we love it as written. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • ketchup
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • yellow mustard
  • brown sugar
  • white vinegar
  • garlic
  • onion
  • seasonings:  chili powder, dried thyme, salt, pepper
  • hot sauce 

How to Make Sloppy Joes

  • Brown pork: this step is optional but highly recommended. Browning the pork only takes minutes and creates the Maillard reaction resulting in deep, complex, rich flavor that can’t be achieved any other way. It also insulates the pork and keeps it from drying out when cooking for an extended period of time.
  • Add ingredients to crock pot:  add pork and sloppy Joe sauce to the slow cooker.
  • Cook until tender.  Cook on high 3-4 hours or on low 6-8 hours.  If the pork isn’t tender, it just needs more time, so cook on!
  • Shred pork:  When tender, shred pork and allow to cook an additional 30 minutes.  This  additional thirty minutes allows the pork to soak up all the flavor. 
  • Make coleslaw: Add ingredients to a large bowl and mix until well combined. Taste and add additional sugar, vinegar, salt to taste.
  • Melt cheese on buns: When ready to serve, lay bottom of buns in a single layer on a baking sheet. Top with sliced provolone and broil until melted, approximately, 1-2 minutes.
  • Assemble: Top provolone buns with shredded pork followed by coleslaw and serve nice and warm!
Crock Pot Sloppy Joe with coleslaw on a plate with a blue place mat.

BEST CHEESE FOR HOMEMADE SLOPPY JOES

Cheese isn’t always served with homemade Sloppy Joes, but I love adding cheese because it makes everything better.  I like to use sharp white cheddar or pepper Jack but even more subtle cheeses would be delish.  Here are a few ideas:

  • sharp white cheddar
  • sharp cheddar
  • provolone
  • Pepper Jack
  • Monterrey Jack
  • Gruyere
  • pimiento

They key to melting cheese on these Crock Pot Sloppy Joe recipe, or any other sandwiches like brisket sandwich, Philly cheese steak, is to melt the cheese right when you are ready to serve otherwise you will cold, hard cheese instead of ooey, gooey cheese. 

Instead, assemble the buns with the cheese on them but wait to actually melt the cheese until you are ready to assemble the sandwiches.  Also, you want a healthy dose of cheese otherwise the cheesiness will just get lost.  And you can never go wrong with more cheese!

SLOPPY JOE CONDIMENTS

Sloppy Joes can be be served plain just with the juicy filling or you can serve it with my sensational coleslaw.   The coleslaw is made with:

  • 16 oz. angel hair coleslaw
  • 1-2 shredded carrots
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise (I use fat free)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar or more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoons celery seeds
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

To make, simply add all the ingredients to a large bowl and mix until well combined. Taste and add additional sugar, vinegar, salt to taste.

If coleslaw isn’t your thing, you can dress your Crock Pot Sloppy Joes up with other condiments and even create a topping bar so your eaters can customize their own sandwiches. Here are a few ideas:

  • bacon
  • pickles
  • pickled vegetables
  • red onions
  • jalapenos
  • pepperoncinis
  • onion jam
  • onion rings
  • avocados
  • horseradish sauce
  • hot sauce

WHAT SIDES GO WITH CROCK POT SLOPPY JOES?

These Crock Pot Sloppy Joes are already tantalizing and don’t need a lot to turn the hearty sweet and savory sandwich into a complete meal.  You can serve them with a simple green salad, chips and watermelon and call it a day or you can serve with any of these sublime sides: 

HOW DO I STORE Crock Pot Sloppy Joes?

To store, you can either transfer Sloppy Joe meat to an airtight container or back into the slow cooker.  To store in the slow cooker, cooled to room temperature, remove the pot from the slow cooker and put the whole insert (lid on) in the refrigerator.  Store in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.

Crock Pot Sloppy Joes on a table with a blue place mat.

HOW DO I REHEAT SLOPPY JOE RECIPE?

Slow cooker:  To reheat your Crock Pot Sloppy Joes from the refrigerator, place the ceramic insert back into your slow cooker and heat on low for 1-2 hours.

Stove:  Alternatively, you can reheat large batches on the stove over medium low heat, stirring occasionally until the meat is heated through to 165 degrees F. 

Microwave:  For smaller batches or individual servings, you can use the microwave.  Transfer sloppy Joe meat to a microwave-safe dish, cover with a microwave-safe lid or paper towel.  Microwave for 1 minutes, stir, then continue to microwave for 30-second intervals, if needed.

Can I make Crock Pot  Sloppy Joe Recipe in advance?

Yes!  These Crock Pot Sloppy Joes can be made completely in advance for an easy make ahead dinner: simply make the sloppy Joe meat, including shredding it but do not cook the additional 30  minutes after shredding. You can reheat your meat on LOW in the slow cooker, stove or oven according to above directions. 

CAN I FREEZE Sloppy Joes?

I don’t recommend freezing assembled Sloppy Joes because the buns will get soggy but you can absolutely freeze Sloppy Joe meat:

  1. Cool: Allow meat to cool completely before freezing to preserve the integrity of the ingredients.
  2. Package:  Transfer meat an airtight freezer safe container or freezer bag.  You can even use sandwich size plastic bags for individual portions.  Squeeze out any excess air to prevent freezer burn and label
  3. Freeze. Freeze for up to 3 months.
  4. Defrost/Reheat. When ready to use, thaw overnight in the refrigerator then reheat in the microwave, crockpot or stove according to aforementioned instructions.

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Crockpot Pulled Pork Sloppy Joes

This Crock Pot Sloppy Joe recipe is super easy, make ahead, freezer friendly, great for crowds all smothered in the best sauce! This Crock Pot Sloppy Joe recipe is perfect to feed a crowd or just your hungry family because the slow cooker does all the work! Simply brown the pork, toss it in the slow cooker with your zesty sauce, and let it slow roast while you go about your day. It’s another recipe for your back pocket when you need an easy, stress free, make ahead dinner that’s deeply satisfying and everyone loves. This Sloppy Joe recipe can also be made in advance and kept warm in the crockpot or made up to 24 hours in advance and simply rewarmed in the crockpot (instructions included). These Crockpot Sloppy Joes also freeze beautifully for a scrumptious instant dinner any night of the week.
Servings: 8

Ingredients

  • 8 large buns
  • 8 slices white cheddar, pepper Jack, Gruyere, etc.

Pork

  • 2 pounds pork shoulder/butt trimmed of excess fat
  • 1 tablespoon Vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce or more to taste

Light Coleslaw

  • 16 oz. angel hair coleslaw
  • 1-2 shredded carrots
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise (I use fat free)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar or more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoons celery seeds
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  • Pulled Pork: Spray your slow cooker with non stick cooking spray. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a large cast iron skillet. Using tongs or 2 forks, sear pork on all sides until lightly browned. Transfer pork to slow cooker.
  • Add all of the pork ingredients and stir. Cook on high 3-4 hours or on low 6-8 hours. When tender, shred pork and allow to cook an additional 30 minutes, or until the pork absorbs the excess liquid.
  • Coleslaw: Add ingredients to a large bowl and mix until well combined. Taste and add additional sugar, vinegar, salt to taste.
  • Buns: When ready to serve, lay bottom of buns in a single layer on a baking sheet. Top with sliced provolone and broil until melted, approximately, 1-2 minutes.
  • Assemble: Top provolone buns with shredded pork followed by coleslaw.

Notes

Storage

You can either transfer Sloppy Joe meat to an airtight container or back into the slow cooker.  To store in the slow cooker, cooled to room temperature, remove the pot from the slow cooker and put the whole insert (lid on) in the refrigerator.  Store in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.

REHEAT INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Slow cooker:  To reheat your Crock Pot Sloppy Joes from the refrigerator, place the ceramic insert back into your slow cooker and heat on low for 1-2 hours.
  • Stove:  Alternatively, you can reheat large batches on the stove over medium low heat, stirring occasionally until the meat is heated through to 165 degrees F. 
  • Microwave:  For smaller batches or individual servings, you can use the microwave.  Transfer sloppy Joe meat to a microwave-safe dish, cover with a microwave-safe lid or paper towel.  Microwave for 1 minutes, stir, then continue to microwave for 30-second intervals, if needed.

MAKE AHEAD INSTRUCTIONS 

Yes!  These Crock Pot Sloppy Joes can be made completely in advance for an easy make ahead dinner: simply make the sloppy Joe meat, including shredding it but do not cook the additional 30  minutes after shredding. You can reheat your meat on LOW in the slow cooker, stove or oven according to above directions. 

FREEZER INSTRUCTIONS

I don't recommend freezing assembled Sloppy Joes because the buns will get soggy but you can absolutely freeze Sloppy Joe meat:
  1. Cool: Allow meat to cool completely before freezing to preserve the integrity of the ingredients.
  2. Package:  Transfer meat an airtight freezer safe container or freezer bag.  You can even use sandwich size plastic bags for individual portions.  Squeeze out any excess air to prevent freezer burn and label
  3. Freeze. Freeze for up to 3 months.
  4. Defrost/Reheat. When ready to use, thaw overnight in the refrigerator then reheat in the microwave, crockpot or stove according to aforementioned instructions.

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14 Comments

  1. Susan says

    I like the way you explain how messy you are and then, you list a number of recipes that look like they are also very messy to eat…can I assume you believe in misery loves company? A friend of mine invariably always has stains on her clothes from eating…I should send these recipes to her. I knew you were a kindred soul when you mentioned eating your mother’s sloppy joes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. If I make something that I love, I can eat it for every meal! I know some people cannot understand eating unusual foods for breakfast, but if I like something, the time of day doesn’t matter.
    Am going to try this recipe. You had me at-” No browning onion, meat, etc., simply throw all the ingredients into the crockpot. Done!” My kind of recipe, thanks!

    • Jen says

      LOL! I love the idea of sending these recipes to your messy friend. She will inevitably have even more stains on her clothes 🙂 I rarely have “breakfast” food for breakfast when they are tasty leftovers, otherwise I will just keep craving the leftovers and have 2 breakfasts! Love that you get me on that one 🙂 I hope you enjoy this recipe and have a fun, messy time eating it as well! PS You are delightful Susan, I love your comments!

    • Jen says

      Thank you Sophia! Quick, easy and delicious 🙂

  2. Nicole @ Or Whatever You Do says

    You come up with the most unique combinations! I’ve never thought to do sloppy joes with anything other than ground beef, but really? Why not? I bet it is just as good, if not better, with some juicy pulled pork!

    • Jen says

      Hi Nicole, thank you! I try and think of flavor combos that I think would be delicious and then figure out how to make them 🙂 And yes, juicy pulled pork is just as delicious!

  3. layne says

    well hello deliciousness! I was surprised how the coleslaw completed the sandwich. Super yummy!!

    • Jen says

      Thanks Layne! I love this coleslaw – its my go-to!

  4. Kacey says

    I am excited to try this, but I am also intrigued by your Asian Caramel Pork. Where’s that glorious sounding recipe?!

  5. Debbie says

    Hi Jen a lot of receipes call for using a cast iron pan. I don’t use one I have a glass top stove and is afraid of scratching it with such a heavy pan. Would the receipes taste different if used a regualar metal or non stick pan. ThankDebbie

    • Jen says

      Hi Debbie, cast iron heats more evenly and can heat to a higher heat and that is why I use it a lot BUT you can certainly make any recipe with what you have!

  6. Hunter says

    This recipe turned out really well and flavorful! Thank you!

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much Hunter, I’m so pleased it was a winner!