Wondering how to doctor up Manwich sloppy joes? Learn easy add-ins, flavorings, toppings, and more to transform canned sauce into almost homemade sloppy joes.
You’ve been there, right? You buy a can of something that is supposed to make dinner prep quick and easy. Then when you taste it, you get grumpy because it doesn’t taste as good as the picture on the tin can looks.
Using a can of Manwich is supposed to make sloppy joes effortless. However, Manwich alone does not make the most flavorful sloppy joes. What can you do to make Manwich sloppy joes taste better?
The best way to improve the taste of Manwich sloppy joes is to combine ground beef and sausage. Then stir in onions, bell peppers, seasonings, spices, and the Manwich sauce. Serve the sloppy joes on a toasted brioche hamburger bun with a crisp topping like coleslaw or Fritos.
Many seasoning flavor combinations and veggies can be effective in doctoring up the Manwich sauce and the overall sandwich. But discovering the different combinations can be overwhelming.
This article will introduce several add-ins and flavor options that you can try. And at the end, I’ve included a complete recipe of the way we doctor up Manwich sloppy joes over here. The whole family will love this easy meal comfort food.
Making sloppy joes? Don't forget the bread. Check out the best bread and buns for sloppy joes.
1. Start with the Meat
The meat you choose makes a HUGE difference in the taste of Manwich sloppy joes.
If you are only using ground beef, you are missing out. Don’t do what most people do. Take your sloppy joes to a higher level.
Add ground sausage!
Yup. That simple addition to the ground beef adds flavor and spice AND makes the kids beg for seconds.
Most people agree that using only sausage can make the sandwich deviate too far from the sloppy joe taste they expect. You may not want a sausage-y joe.
Using a mixture of the two types of meat is the way to go. One pound of ground beef and one pound of ground sausage.
Or use half a pound of each. But since the meat is usually sold by the pound, it is easier to make a big batch. It freezes beautifully, so you won’t have to worry about wasted leftovers.
You may also be interested in how to make canned refried beans taste like restaurant-style.
2. Throw in Some Veggies
Depending on the flavors you like, mix and match these veggies to make your Manwich sloppy joes taste better.
What add-ins will be your favorites?
- Onions. Sloppy joes just aren’t sloppy joes without some cooked onion pieces in the sauce. I don’t know about you, but I expect onions to be in sloppy joes. They make the meat sauce complete with flavor and texture.
- Green bell peppers. I usually prefer red bell pepper in recipes. But sloppy joes are one exception. The flavor of green pepper is what you want in sloppy joes.
- Jalapeños. I seldom cook ground beef without chopping up a jalapeño or two to throw in. Cooking the beef and jalapeño together doesn’t necessarily make the meat spicy. Instead, it adds some subtle flavor.
The longer the jalapeño cooks, the less spicy it gets. Add the jalapeños near the end if you want your sloppy joes to have more heat. Cook them just until they are soft.
- Chopped celery. Sloppy joes are a wonderful way to use up leftover celery. Bonus points for sneaking some veggies in with the meat.
3. Use Flavor Enhancers
Now that we’ve got the bulk of the sloppy joes taken care of let’s turn to the Manwich sauce itself.
Manwich sauce is about the thickness and consistency of tomato sauce. The regular version veers toward the sweet side, and the bold version is a tad spicier. Although it isn’t truly spicy.
What is in Manwich sloppy joe sauce? The main Manwich ingredients are tomato paste, high fructose corn syrup, vinegar, dried green and red bell peppers, carrot fiber, chili pepper, garlic, citric acid, and spices.
The easiest way to enhance the flavor of any sauce is by adding spices. A few different types of seasonings and spices can pull out more flavor in the Manwich.
- BBQ sauce. The simplest way to improve the flavor of Manwich sauce is to add your favorite BBQ sauce. If you love BBQ sloppy joes, you will like adding just one ingredient.
- Paprika and cumin pair well with the flavors present in the Manwich sauce. They enhance the overall taste and savoriness of the sloppy joes.
- Chili powder, adobo sauce, red pepper flakes, or siracha sauce gives the sauce a kick. If you like spicy sloppy joes, these ingredients will turn up the heat.
- A pinch of cinnamon contributes warmth and a little something different. Subtle but effective.
- Brown sugar or maple syrup change the bland sweet that comes from corn syrup into sweetness with depth. Go lightly with this addition.
- Worcestershire sauce. A tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce enhances the umami and meatiness of the sauce.
- A1 steak sauce. A1 contributes to the umami like Worcestershire sauce.
- Red wine vinegar. Add an acid like red wine vinegar if you think your sloppy joes need a little brightness. It can perk things right up.
- Mustard. Powdered or prepared mustard gives Manwich sauce some interest. In fact, Manwich’s bold sloppy joes does have some mustard in it.
- Liquid smoke. A little goes a long way to bring in the flavor of smoked meat.
4. Don't Forget the Toppings
If you are after a scrumptious sloppy joe, don’t forget the toppings. The right topping can supply flavor and texture. Plus, it stretches the meat mixture even further.
There are a lot of sloppy joe toppings to choose from. Each one offers its own unique taste and changes the overall flavor of the sloppy joes.
- Cheese. According to the Manwich, a melty slice of American cheese is the favorite topping. The warmth of the ground meat melts the cheese when the sandwich is assembled. Shredded cheese is also popular in our house.
- Coleslaw. Some people (like my hubby) can’t eat a sloppy joe without topping it with coleslaw. The cool, crisp crunch paired with the warm meat makes a crave-worthy sandwich.
- Fritos or potato chips. What? You didn't grow up putting chips on top of your sloppy joes? Well correct that tragedy today. Sprinkle some Fritos on top and crunch away.
- Bacon. Doesn’t everything taste better with bacon? The best sloppy joes are topped with a slice or two of bacon.
Get the best instructions for cooking bacon in the oven. It’s my favorite way to cook a whole package of bacon at once.
- Pickled jalapenos. My son’s new favorite topping for just about every sandwich or burrito. Pickled jalapenos give you a sour and spice combo.
- Pickles. Sweet, dill, or butter pickles each deliver a unique taste when thrown on top of a sloppy joe. Choose the kind of pickle you like best.
- Banana peppers. Mildly sweet and spicy, banana peppers are the perfect choice to add some color, flavor, and texture to the sandwich.
- Fried onions or caramelized onions. Homemade or store-bought fried onions can be mixed with the meat sauce or topped on the sandwich.
Caramelized onions take such a long time to make that I’d only use them on the sandwich if I had leftovers. They are incredible on sloppy joes, though.
- Hot sauce. Your favorite hot sauce + Manwich = a spicier version of the sandwich. This is one of the quickest ways to doctor up a Manwich sloppy joe.
- Sauerkraut. Maybe not as popular as coleslaw, but the fermented cabbage is a great sloppy joe topping.
- BBQ sauce. Slightly sweet and tangy, BBQ sauce is another easy way to jazz up Manwich sloppy joes.
- Sour cream. Cool and tangy, a smear of sour cream gives the sandwich creaminess. It is the perfect way to tone down a spicy sauce.
5. Use the Tastiest Bun
The most common bun used for sloppy joes is hamburger buns. Been there, done that. Hamburger buns do not do much to enhance the flavor of Manwich sloppy joes.
Unless…you toast them first.
Toasting a plain hamburger bun in a tiny bit of butter or olive oil adds richness and flavor to the whole sandwich.
If you don’t want to add any fat, toasting or even just warming the bun makes a difference in the taste of the Manwich sandwich.
Brioche buns are the trendy bun for burgers right now. Why not try them with sloppy joes?
Brioche buns are soft and lean toward the sweeter side. They are heavenly when piled with sloppy joe filling.
But toasting them first takes them up a notch. Serve doctored-up Manwich sloppy joes on a toasted brioche bun, and your family will think you picked up take-out.
Rather than using a bun, try making a sloppy joe sandwich with garlic bread. It might be your new favorite sloppy joe bread.
Garlic bread delivers a buttery garlic flavor to the sloppy joe sandwich. The flavors complement one another ridiculously well.
Hot Dog Buns
A split-top hot dog bun might be the answer if you love the taste of sloppy joes but are not a fan of the mess. Less meat falls out of a hot dog bun.
Though it won’t improve the sandwich’s flavor (unless you get a brioche hot dog bun), it can keep dinner a little cleaner. And if you are serving kids, that may be your #1 objective.
Check out the best bread for burgers according to the top restaurants.
Best Sides to Serve with Sloppy Joes
- Potato chips or Fritos
- French fries
- Green side salad
- Jello salad like Mandarin orange jello salad with sherbet.
- Pasta like baked mac and cheese bites
How to Make the Best Manwich Sloppy Joe Sandwich
This sloppy joe recipe is savory with the right balance of veggies and meat. Serve it on a toasted brioche bun with your favorite toppings.
- Ground meat. Use a combination of ground sausage and ground beef.
- Veggies. Add a jalapeño pepper, green bell pepper, and yellow onion.
- Manwich sloppy joe sauce. Original-flavor Manwich sloppy joe sauce in the 24-ounce size if cooking up 2 pounds of meat.
- Spices and other flavorings. This recipe calls for cumin powder, smoked paprika, garlic powder, and salt to taste. It also includes Worcestershire sauce, low-sodium soy sauce, and prepared mustard.
- Some type of bun. We prefer brioche hamburger buns over here.
- Cheddar cheese slices
- Pickled jalapenos
- Fritos corn chips
- Wash the jalapeño pepper. Remove the stem and seeds and dice the pepper.
- Wash and dice the green bell pepper. Dice the yellow onion.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meat.
- Brown ground beef and sausage in a large skillet. When it is about halfway done and still pink, stir in the jalapeño peppers.
- When it is finished cooking, add the bell peppers and onions. Cook for 5 minutes or until the veggies are soft. Drain the excess grease.
- Add the Manwich sauce to the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, and mustard. Taste and add more salt if needed. Cook for 2 to 5 minutes or until the sloppy joes are heated through.
- Turn off the heat and remove the pan from the hot burner. Cover with the pan lid and set aside while you warm the buns.
- Open the buns.
- Heat a clean skillet over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add a pat of butter. Place the bun halves in the skillet and heat for 1 to 2 minutes or until they get toasty and warm. Flip the buns over and heat for another minute.
- Transfer the buns to a serving bowl.
- Serve the toasted buns and sloppy joes with sliced cheddar cheese, coleslaw, and pickled jalapeños.
How to Store Leftovers
Store any leftover sloppy joe mixture in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will last for up to three days.
For longer storage, freeze for up to 6 months. Be sure to use a freezer container or freezer zip-top bag. And don’t forget to label the container with the contents and date.
If you have individual serving-size freezer containers, use them. Individual containers make it easy to pull out just what you need instead of thawing everything. Sloppy joe lunch the easy way.
Thaw the sloppy joe mixture overnight in the refrigerator.
How to Reheat Leftover Sloppy Joes
The easiest way to reheat an individual serving of Manwich sloppy joes is in the microwave.
- Spoon the filling into a microwave-safe bowl. Cover it with a damp paper towel.
- Microwave on high for about 30 seconds (depending on the amount of meat). Test the temperature. If necessary, heat again.
- Serve on a warm, toasted bun with your favorite topping.
The easiest way to reheat a large portion of the sloppy joes for a family meal is in a pan on the stove.
- Pour the filling into a lidded pan. Add a few tablespoons of water.
- Cover with a lid and heat over medium-high heat until the mixture starts to bubble (about 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the amount of leftovers).
- Remove the lid and stir. Cook for 1 to 2 more minutes or until the sloppy joes are heated through.
- Serve on a warm, toasted bun with your favorite toppings.
Want to add some pizazz to your leftover filling? Find out this list of all the delicious, creative leftover sloppy joe recipes.
You should drain the grease after the meat has finished cooking when making Manwich sloppy joes.
The Manwich instructions on the tin can skip this step, but you shouldn't. Otherwise, you will end up with greasier joes and unnecessary fat in the meal.
After cooking the meat and adding the Manwich sauce, cook for about 5 minutes so the sauce is heated through. Sloppy joes are a hot sandwich.
For some reason, the instructions on the Manwich can skipped these instructions too.
The Manwich ingredient list does not include ketchup. However, tomato sauce and paste, vinegar, and high fructose corn syrup are on the ingredient list. Those items happen to all be ingredients in ketchup.
Original Manwich is much sweeter than the bold. Bold is more savory and has a faint bitter flavor.
Both sauces contain tomato paste, high fructose corn syrup, vinegar, and undisclosed spices. However bold Manwich also contains Worcestershire sauce, mustard seed, turmeric, and natural mesquite smoke flavor.
Easy Manwich Sloppy Joes
- 1 large or 2 small jalapeño peppers
- ½ green bell pepper
- 1 medium onion white or yellow
- 1 pound of lean ground beef
- 1 pound of ground sausage
- 1 large 24 ounce can of Manwich sloppy joe sauce (original flavor)
- 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon of low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons of prepared mustard
- ½ teaspoon of cumin powder
- ½ teaspoon of smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon of garlic powder
- Salt to taste usually ½ to 1 teaspoon
- 1 dozen brioche hamburger buns
- Cheddar cheese sliced
- Pickled jalapenos
- WASH the jalapeño pepper. Remove the stem and seeds and dice the pepper. I recommend using food safety gloves to protect your skin.
- WASH AND DICE the green bell pepper. Dice the yellow onion.
- HEAT a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meat.
- BROWN the ground beef and sausage in a large skillet. When it is about halfway done and still pink, stir in the jalapeño peppers.
- When it is almost finished cooking, ADD the bell peppers and onions. Cook for 5 minutes or until the veggies are soft. Drain the excess oil.
- POUR IN the Manwich sauce and stir to combine. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, and mustard. Taste and add more salt if needed. Cook for 2 to 5 minutes or until the sloppy joes are heated through.
- TURN OFF the heat and remove the pan from the hot burner. Cover with the pan lid and set aside while you warm the buns.
- OPEN the buns.
- HEAT a clean skillet over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add a pat of butter. Place the bun halves in the skillet and heat for 1 to 2 minutes or until they get toasty and warm. Flip the buns over and heat another minute.
- TRANSFER the buns to a serving bowl.
- SERVE the toasted buns and sloppy joes with sliced cheddar cheese, coleslaw, Fritos, and pickled jalapeños.
- Don't forget to drain the excess oil after cooking the meat and before adding the Manwich sauce. You won't notice a difference in flavor when you remove the fat.