How to Make Manwich Sloppy Joe Sauce

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Start to Finish: 45 minutes

Servings: 6

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Difficulty: Beginner

A staple American comfort food, sloppy joes are fast to make and the sauce, once prepared, can be easily reheated for a last-minute weeknight meal. Manwich sloppy joe sauce is a tangy, tomato-based sauce that contains cooked veggies and can range from mild to spicy. The pre-made sauce means all that needs to be done is to fry up some ground meat, mix them together and serve on hamburger buns for a meal that only takes a couple of minutes to prepare. This recipe for sloppy joe sauce is similar to Manwich sloppy joe sauce, and is adapted from the kitchn.



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  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 2 cups carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cups celery, chopped
  • 1/4 cup sweet red pepper, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf, dried
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Water
  • Ground black pepper
  • Cayenne powder
  • Red chili pepper flakes, optional


Heat the vegetable oil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped onions once the pan is warmed, cooking until the onions are translucent, around 7 minutes.

Add the minced garlic to the onions, stirring to coat with oil. Cook for 5 minutes, until the garlic is fragrant and just starting to brown.


Add the celery seeds, carrots, celery and red pepper, cooking for 10 minutes. Add the bay leaf, tomato paste, ketchup, vinegar, Worchestershire sauce, brown sugar, salt and 2 cups of water.


If using red chili pepper flakes, add them at this stage. Add only a small amount, as the spiciness will grow the longer the sauce is stored for. The sauce can always be made spicier later with cayenne pepper.

Bring the mix to a fast boil over high heat, then cover, lower the heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes. The onions will turn clear and the celery and carrots will begin to soften.



Add water as needed to achieve the desired consistency and cook, stirring regularly, for another 5 to 10 minutes. Cook until the carrots and celery are very soft.

Add black pepper and cayenne powder to taste, adjusting the seasoning level with salt as needed. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature before transferring to an airtight container and storing in the fridge.


Storage Tips

The sauce will keep in the fridge for 3 to 5 days. It can also be frozen. Leave a 1/4-inch of headspace in an airtight, freezer-safe container. The sauce will keep frozen for 3 to 5 months.


Using the Sauce

The sauce only needs to be heated before it is ready to eat. To use, treat it like regular Manwich sloppy joe sauce.

Toast four hamburger buns and fry up 1 pound of ground meat, either beef, turkey or chicken.


Pour in 1 1/2 to 2 cups of sauce, and bring the mix to a fast boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, adding water as needed to achieve the desired consistency. Spoon over the toasted hamburger buns for Manwich-style sloppy joes.


Increase the amount of vegetables used by 1/2 to make chunkier, thicker sauce. Other vegetables can also be used, such as chopped fresh mushrooms, chopped green pepper and chopped fresh tomatoes.


Top the finished sloppy joes with a squirt of barbecue sauce and grated melting cheese, such as Monterey Jack or cheddar, for a cheesy, smoky sloppy joe variation.

In place of ground meat, use chopped leftover brisket, ham or pulled pork for a fusion dish of Southern barbecue done sloppy joe style.