2/23/2023 | By Laura Rege

What’s a sloppy Joe casserole? It’s everything you know and love about a sloppy Joe contained in a neat casserole that you can enjoy with a fork. Rather than smash the filling between a bun, we topped our casserole with irresistible golden garlicky slider rolls and added in melted cheese – because what really is a casserole without cheese?

A great vegetable side is perfect alongside a cheesy casserole (think: broccoli, cauliflower, or asparagus, but a simple side salad also does the trick). The slider buns have the carbs covered, but if you want to skip them, the filling is also really great served over cooked rice or pasta.

A few tips

Wipe down the sides of the casserole dish. This casserole is as easy as can be, but one step I like to emphasize is wiping down the sides of the baking dish after stirring the sloppy Joe mixture. It’s not going to change much in terms of the flavor of the dish, but it’ll help when you clean up! Splatters up the sides of the pan can char, requiring extra elbow grease.

Cook the filling in batches. This recipe serves a crowd, and you can’t cook the meat and vegetables together all at once. Cook the filling in two batches, then transfer it into a baking dish to finish baking in the oven with the slider roll topping.

Sloppy Joe Casserole

Serves 10 to 12


ground beef in a skillet, preparing for a Sloppy Joe Casserole
  • 1 large yellow onion (about 10 ounces)
  • 2 small red bell peppers (about 6 ounces each)
  • 6 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 2 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans tomato sauce
  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons prepared yellow mustard
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 8 to 12 ounces shredded Mexican blend cheese (2 to 3 cups)
  • 12 slider buns or soft dinner rolls
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoons poppy seeds


  1. Dice 1 large yellow onion (about 2 cups). Trim and finely chop 2 small red bell peppers (about 2 cups). Mince 6 large garlic cloves (about 3 tablespoons).
  2. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 375 F. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion and bell peppers, and season with 1/4 teaspoon of the kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent and the peppers are just tender, about 7 minutes.
  3. Add 2 tablespoons of the garlic and cook, stirring often, until fragrant and light golden brown, about 2 minutes. Scrape into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
  4. Return the pot to high heat. Add 2 1/2 pounds lean ground beef and season with the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt. Cook, breaking up the beef into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon, until cooked through, 5 to 8 minutes. Meanwhile, place 2 (15-ounce) cans tomato sauce, 3/4 cup ketchup, 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar, 2 teaspoons prepared yellow mustard, and 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce in a medium bowl.
  5. Add the tomato sauce mixture and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
  6. Scrape into the baking dish and stir to combine with the onions and peppers. Wipe off any splatters on the sides of the baking dish with a paper towel. Sprinkle evenly with 8 to 12 ounces shredded Mexican cheese (2 to 3 cups). Arrange 12 slider buns or dinner rolls on top of the sloppy Joe mixture in a single layer.
  7. Melt 4 tablespoons unsalted butter in a small saucepan over medium heat or in the microwave. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon garlic and 1 tablespoon poppy seeds and stir to combine.
  8. Brush the butter mixture onto the slider buns. Bake until the sloppy Joe mixture is bubbling and the buns are golden-brown and crisp, 10 to 15 minutes; check at 8 minutes and loosely cover with aluminum foil if the rolls are browned before the filling is hot.

Recipe notes:

Make ahead: The sloppy Joe mixture can be made up to five days in advance, cooled, and refrigerated in an airtight container. Reheat over medium heat before transferring into the baking dish and topping with cheese and buns.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to five days. Store the buns separately from the filling.

Laura Rege is a contributor to, a nationally known blog for people who love food and home cooking. Submit any comments or questions to

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Laura Rege

Laura Rege is a food stylist and recipe developer based in New York City. Formerly a senior member of the editorial teams at Food & Wine and Martha Stewart Living, she is still a contributor to many national food-focused websites and media, including, a nationally known blog for people who love food and home cooking.