Go Back
+ servings
Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Sloppy Joes with Spicy Crispy Onions

Red peppers, ground beef and onions cooked in a rich tomato sauce served on a toasty bun. Terrific served with a big pile of spicy crispy onions too!
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: beef, onion, sandwich, spicy
Servings: 6 hearty sandwiches
Calories: 488kcal
Author: Tricia


For the Sloppy Joes:

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 ½ pounds lean ground beef 90-95% fat
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper chopped, seeds and ribs removed
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar packed
  • 2 tablespoons Montreal Steak Seasoning low-sodium from McCormick
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper optional
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 15 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 5 tablespoons tomato paste (3 ounces)
  • 6 toasted buns or rolls for serving

For the spicy, crispy onions:

  • 1 large sweet onion like Vidalia, halved and thin sliced
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • Vegetable oil for frying


To make the Sloppy Joes:

  • Heat a large saucepan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat. 
  • Add the ground beef. Cook stirring frequently to break up the meat. Once there's no more pink beef visible, add the onion and red bell pepper. Cook for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are crisp tender. Add the brown sugar, seasoning, cayenne, garlic powder, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, tomato sauce and tomato paste. 
  • Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently. Keep warm while preparing the crispy onions if using.

To make the crispy onions:

  • Place the onions in a medium mixing bowl and pour the buttermilk over the sliced onions. In a shallow bowl combine the flour, cayenne, salt and pepper. Line a baking sheet or large platter with paper towels. Set all aside.
  • Add vegetable oil to a large deep saucepan set over medium-high heat. Heat the oil until it reaches 375°F. Grab a handful of the onions and drain slightly before scattering in the bowl of flour. Toss to coat with the flour, shake off excess and carefully place in the hot oil. °
  • Cook, stirring gently to break up the onions until browned and crispy, about 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to the paper towel lined platter. Continue cooking until all onions are fried.
  • To serve, spoon Sloppy Joe mixture over toasted buns and top with a handful of crispy onions. Serve immediately.


  • The prepared Sloppy Joe mixture can be frozen for up to 30-days. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and cook over medium heat until bubbly.
  • Cooked crispy onions can be reheated on a baking sheet at 300F for about 15 minutes.
  • Leftover tomato paste can be flash frozen in 1 tablespoon mounds on a parchment lined baking sheet. Once frozen, transfer to an airtight container and freeze until needed.
  • Sloppy Joe mixture adapted from Rachel Ray
  • Crispy Onions inspired by Half Baked Harvest
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. When multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.


Calories: 488kcal | Carbohydrates: 61g | Protein: 34g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.4g | Cholesterol: 75mg | Sodium: 1010mg | Potassium: 1064mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 20g | Vitamin A: 1410IU | Vitamin C: 39mg | Calcium: 177mg | Iron: 7mg