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How to Can Sloppy Joe Filling

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We all need to eat and several times a day at that. On those days when life is just packed with stuff can make eating healthy and frugally a bit of a challenge. I combat that by having some quick meals that are easy to grab and eat ready in the pantry. These aren’t meals of processed foods in a box but rather meals I made in advance. One of the easiest meals to make in advance is to can sloppy joe filling.

Jars of canned sloppy joe filling in front of a loaf of bread.

Sloppy Joes are endlessly appealing it seems to kids and adults alike. They can take on many forms and flavors and whip up so easily both for the canning process and for reheating later. Some bread and vegetables on the side and dinner is ready in a flash.

The Perfect Winter Preservation Project

Most of us probably do our preserving when vegetables are coming in from the garden but canning sloppy joe filling is a great winter project. Use tomato sauce and ketchup that was canned over the summer as well as the beef broth that was put up earlier. Use chopped and frozen bell peppers here too, if available. Don’t have homemade versions? Store bought will work just fine.

Keep It Frugal

I buy a half a grass-fed cow every fall. There’s a lot of ground meat in that and so it’s the meat I use as a base for my sloppy joe filling. However, use whatever ground meat you have on hand – use wild game, venison is quite tasty here. Ground turkey or chicken work well too. A mix of different meats is good too, I’ve been known to use ground beef and a little Italian sausage on occasion. Match the broth in the recipe to the ground meat used.

Beef broth in the filling does add a certain depth of flavor to these sloppy joes, however; if none is available and frugality is of concern, use plain water. The water will create a delicious filling, too.

Jars of canned sloppy joe filling in front of a loaf of bread.

Pressure Canning

Meat must be pressure canned. It is simply unsafe to can it in a boiling water bath. A pressure canner is an expensive investment but one that will likely last you a lifetime and will easily pay for itself over time with meals like this at the ready. Please, I’ve seen the old articles and books, even seen it mentioned online now and then about canning meat for something like 3 hours in a boiling water bath – don’t, just don’t. Use a pressure canner.

Yield: 8 Pints

How to Make Sloppy Joe Filling

How to Make Sloppy Joe Filling

Make and can sloppy joe filling to have a quick and homemade meal ready in the pantry without the dubious ingredients of processed store-bought versions.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours


  • 4 Pounds Ground Beef
  • 3 Cups Onion, chopped
  • 1 ½ Cups Bell Peppers, chopped
  • 2 Cups Ketchup
  • 2 Cups Tomato Sauce
  • 2 Cups Beef Broth or Water
  • 1 Tablespoon Salt, more or less to Taste (use less if using salty broth)
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon Yellow Mustard


Make Sloppy Joe Filling

  1. Brown the ground beef. Drain off the fat.
  2. Put the beef and remaining ingredients into a large pot. Stir well.
  3. Bring to a boil and simmer 5 minutes.

How to Can Sloppy Joe Filling

  1. Fill jars with hot sloppy joe filling. Leave 1″ inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and wipe jar rims. Secure lids and bands.
  2. Process pints for 75 minutes, quarts for 90 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure. Adjust the pressure based on elevation and style of canner. I can mine at 15 pounds of pressure, for example. The National Center for Home food Preservation has a handy chart if you’re unsure. 
  3. Let jars cool and check seals. Remove rings and store sealed jars in the pantry. Store any unsealed jars in the refrigerator and use within a week or freeze for use later.


To Use

Pour the filling into a pot, cover, and bring to a simmer. Heat through. Serve on bread or buns, over rice or noodles.

Did you make this recipe?

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Friday 25th of September 2020

Does this come out thick or is it runny?

Kathie Lapcevic

Friday 25th of September 2020

It's somewhere in the middle and will vary greatly depending on the thickness of your tomato sauce and ketchup.

Sharon Isaac

Monday 14th of September 2020

How much water do I put on the bottom of the pressure canner to do 19 pints? I doubled your recipe.

Kathie Lapcevic

Wednesday 16th of September 2020

How much water in the bottom of the pressure canner is specific to the canner - you'll need to read your owner's manual for that information.


Sunday 12th of July 2020

Allergic to peppers. What else could I use?

Kathie Lapcevic

Monday 13th of July 2020

You could for sure just skip the peppers entirely or add more onions.

Debbie A

Monday 18th of May 2020

I made this and the flavor is wonderful but the consistency is a bit runny for buns. Any ideas on how I can thicken it when I warm it up?

Kathie Lapcevic

Friday 22nd of May 2020

Try boiling the excess water out a bit when you heat it. Or maybe add just a little tomato paste for thickening.


Saturday 21st of September 2019

How long can I keep this? What would be the expiration date ? Sorry new to this.

Kathie Lapcevic

Sunday 22nd of September 2019

All home canned goods should be used up with 1 year.