Just as delicious as the original — but a lot less messy — sloppy joe pizza is easy to make and will satisfy your comfort food cravings any time of year.
Who’s Sloppy Joe?
If you didn’t already know, this pizza is based on an all-American sandwich called the sloppy joe, a thick, tangy-sweet mixture of ground beef, ketchup, onion, and other seasonings heaped inside a hamburger bun.
One origin story states that the sandwich was invented in the 1930s at a restaurant in Sioux, City, Iowa, when a cook (named Joe, of course) added tomato sauce to the state’s popular loose meat sandwich. Others claim that the sandwich was created more than a decade before in Cuba (by a man named José), then brought to Key West by none other than Ernest Hemingway.
By the 1970s, the sandwich was so popular in the US that ConAgra Foods and Hunt’s launched a canned sloppy joe sauce called Manwich, which is still around today.
How do you make sloppy joe pizza?
Let’s start by asking, “why did it take me so long to pizzafy sloppy joes?” The sauce is basically a sweetened ragu, perfect for spreading on pizza dough. And when you cover it with cheese and bake it until golden, the result has all the flavor of classic sloppy joe sandwiches — without the sloppiness.
Yep. Shredded or sliced Colby, Monterey jack, or any other mild, semi-hard cow’s milk cheese will work great.
Since the meat sauce is pretty heavy, you should probably stay away from more delicate doughs like Neapolitan or thin-crust. For this recipe, I like to use my 1-Hour, Overnight, or New York Style dough.
(This one came from my 6-year-old son.) No, technically you don’t need the sliced scallion or chopped parsley garnish, but I think it gives the pizza a nice kick of texture and brightness.
Great idea! First, make a batch of sheet pan pizza dough. If you want to make a full-size grandma-style pizza, double the sloppy joe sauce recipe and number of cheese slices, and use these baking instructions. If you want to make a Detroit-style version, freeze half of the dough, make the sauce recipe as is, grab a few extra cheese slices, and use these baking instructions.
Want to try more comfort foods in pizza form? Check out the Pizzafied Classics archives.
Sloppy Joe Pizza
Don’t be fooled by the long ingredient list. This sloppy joe pizza recipe is super easy to make and will satisfy your comfort food cravings any time of year.
Makes: 1 (12- to 14-inch) pizza
For the sloppy joe sauce
- ½ medium yellow onion
- ½ medium green bell pepper
- 2 medium cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- ½ pound 90% lean ground beef
- ⅔ cup ketchup
- ⅓ cup water
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- ½ tablespoon yellow mustard
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
- Freshly ground black pepper
To make the sloppy joe sauce
Finely chop the onion and pepper, and mince or press the garlic. Or, save some time by quartering the veggies and pulsing them all in a food processor until very finely chopped.
Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and cook, breaking it up into small pieces with a wooden spoon or spatula, until it’s no longer pink, 3 to 5 minutes.
Add the onion, pepper, and garlic and cook until the veggies are soft and fragrant, another 3 minutes or so.
Stir in the ketchup, water, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, chili powder, salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Turn the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated and the sauce is nice and thick.
Scrape the sauce into a large bowl and let it cool on the counter while you prepare your dough and other toppings.
To make the pizza
Preheat the oven to 500°F (if using a baking sheet) or as high as it will go (if using a baking stone/steel; place the stone in the top third or place the steel in the bottom third of the oven before you start preheating). Let the oven preheat for at least 30 minutes. Then, if you’re using a baking stone or steel, switch the oven to Broil on high.
Stretch or roll out your dough to a 12- to 14-inch circle, then transfer it to a baking sheet / pizza pan or a lightly floured pizza peel (if using a baking stone/steel).
Prick the dough all over with a fork and brush the edges with a little olive oil.
Spoon the sloppy joe sauce onto the dough, spread it out evenly, then top with the cheese slices.
Transfer the pizza to the oven and bake until the crust is evenly browned on the bottom and the cheese has charred in spots—8 to 10 minutes on the baking sheet, 5 to 8 minutes on the baking stone/steel.
Remove the pizza from the oven, sprinkle it with salt, and finish with the sliced scallions or chopped parsley. Slice and serve!
- Want to make sandwiches instead? Just double the sauce recipe to make about 6 sloppy joes.
- Want to make Grandma- or Detroit-style Sloppy Joe Pizza? Make a recipe of Sheet Pan Pizza Dough. If you want to make a full-size Grandma-style pizza, double the sloppy joe sauce recipe and use these baking instructions. If you’re making a half-sheet-pan Detroit-style pizza, freeze half of the dough and use these baking instructions.