Ground beef, onion, barbecue sauce and Worcestershire sauce are the four ingredients most easy Sloppy Joe recipes have in common. Brown the beef and onion together in a skillet, then combine them with the sauces. Serve the mixture on a hearty, but soft bread, such as hamburger or Vienna rolls.
Whether semi-homemade or completely homemade, Sloppy Joe is a fairly low-maintenance dish. Browned ground beef combined with Sloppy Joe sauce is sufficient, but the addition of onions and bell peppers lends extra flavor and extends the meat.
Adding beans ratchets up the protein content, but omitting them does not subtract from the dish. Like most meat and vegetable dishes, such as chili and stew, Sloppy Joe is a blueprint that allows cooks to experiment. Add a dash of garlic powder, maple syrup or brown sugar. Introduce a bit of acidity with some mustard. Toss in an aromatic, such as a bay leaf or a fresh herb. Add ingredients in small increments, tasting between each addition to gauge the intensity of flavor.
Top each Sloppy Joe with French fried onions. For fresher toppings, serve diced onions, bell peppers and shredded cheese.
If there is no barbecue sauce available, substitute with ketchup. Experiment with leaner meats, such as turkey or chicken. For a quick vegetarian version of traditional Sloppy Joe, use lentils and carrots instead of meat, and leave out the Worcestershire.