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Nerdy Science in the Kitchen

What Can You Serve with Sloppy Joes?



two sloppy joes on cutting board
What can you serve with sloppy joes? We’ve got classic and newer recipes to try.

A sloppy joe isn’t just a sandwich for most people. It brings back memories of school lunches and how much fun it was eating this messy but delicious meal.

Alongside those sloppy joe memories are baked beans, macaroni salad, and potatoes in different forms. Then and now, these are the classic side dishes that come to mind when deciding what to serve with sloppy joes.

A sloppy joe is already a delicious meal to eat by itself, but why not take it a notch higher? Aside from the classic sides that we love as much as the beloved sandwich, we have other, less common but still deliciously complementary side dish recipes to go with it.

We are sure that once you get ideas from our recipes about what to serve with sloppy joes, you and your family will be making new fond memories with this classic sandwich.

Click the type of side dish you want to create below, or take a look at all our side dish recipes to get inspired.

Sloppy Joe Side Dishes: Potatoes

Sloppy Joe Side Dishes: Salads

Sloppy Joe Side Dishes: Other Delicious Options

french fries on cutting board on checked tablecloth on wood table with condiments in jars on side
close up of tater tots with ketchup in metal ramekin
close up of sweet potato fries

Sloppy Joe Side Dishes: Potatoes

Anyone who grew up enjoying sloppy joes for lunch knows that potato sides are the best sides for this favorite sandwich. These starchy sides themselves are classic and everybody will find a favorite new side dish or two for sloppy joes.

We can never get enough of French fries. The best ones are double-fried, first at a lower temperature, and then again in very hot oil to bring them to golden perfection. They are a traditional side dish to sloppy joes, as well as for hamburgers, hot dogs, cheesesteaks, subs–pretty much any type of sandwich you want to make for your family.


  • 10 large russet potatoes, rinsed and peeled
  • 8 cups vegetable oil
  • Salt


  • Slice the potatoes into ½ inch thick sticks. If you have a French fry cutter, now is the best time to use it.
  • Soak the sliced potatoes in cold water for at least one hour.
  • Rinse the potato sticks twice with cold water. Lay the fries on paper towels or a clean cloth. Pat them dry.
  • Heat half of the oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven to 300°F. Use a slotted spoon to add potatoes. Fry in batches and add more oil as needed. Overcrowding the pot will make the French fries less crispy.
  • Fry for about 5-6 minutes. Place the cooked potatoes on a paper towel-lined plate. Fry the rest of the batches.
  • Increase the heat to 400°F and fry the potatoes a second time, one batch at a time, until they are golden brown and crisp.
  • Remove fries from the pot and place them on paper towels. As soon as the batch of French fries is on the paper towels, sprinkle them with salt.
  • Serve with sloppy joes.

Although it is tempting to buy frozen tots and just pop them in the oven or deep fryer, these homemade ones are actually easy to make and, like all homemade food, absolutely taste better than the store versions. Try making these delicious homemade tater tots to go with your sloppy joes.


  • 6 medium-sized potatoes, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and ground pepper to taste
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley for garnishing (optional)


  • In a large saucepan, put the potatoes and cover with cold water by one inch. Parboil the potatoes in boiling water for about 6-7 minutes. Drain and allow to cool.
  • Finely shred the potatoes using a box grater. Use a clean towel or cheesecloth to drain the shredded potatoes completely.
  • Transfer the shredded potatoes to a large bowl. Stir in the flour, garlic powder, and oregano. Then season with salt and pepper. Form potatoes into tots.
  • Heat the vegetable oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Put 5 to 6 tots at a time to the pot. Cook until the potato tots are evenly golden and crispy.
  • Garnish with chopped parsley if desired.
potato salad in white bowl on wooden table
onion rings in basket on wooden table with metal ramekin of ketchup
close up of corn on the cob with pat of butter
baked beans in cast iron casserole dish on wooden table with kitchen implements in background

Sweet potato fries are no longer trendy, but mainstream. The problem is that many times, sweet potato fries aren’t crispy enough. Well, say goodbye to soggy sweet potato fries. This recipe for a side dish for sloppy joes (or any sandwich) makes really crispy fries, and they stay that way even if you have to reheat leftovers later in the oven.


  • 2 large sweet potatoes, washed and peeled
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • 6 tablespoons ice water
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Vegetable oil for frying


  • Cut sweet potatoes into ¼ inch thick sticks. Rinse the sweet potatoes for about 10-15 seconds under cold water. Pat dry with paper towels or a clean dishcloth (will turn slightly orange).
  • Make a slurry by mixing the cornstarch with water in a large bowl. You can also use a large zip lock bag. Add one batch of sweet potatoes and toss to completely coat. Toss and fry by batch to prevent the cornstarch from settling.
  • In a pan, heat the oil to 350°F. Add the tots one at a time. Make sure to not overcrowd the pan and the potatoes don’t stick together. Fry for about 1-2 minutes. Do not brown the potato tots yet. Drain the oil using paper towels.
  • Once all the fries have been fried, fry the potatoes for the second time for two minutes, until they are browned and crispy.
homemade potato chips with salt and dill weed on wooden cutting board

Do you love potatoes, but aren’t a huge fan of fried ones? How about potato salad, then? Potato salad is a favorite summer side dish, but it doesn’t have to be just for summer. This classic recipe is the one you’ve grown up enjoying–throughout the year.


  • 5 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • ½ yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground mustard
  • ¾ cup mayonnaise
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, finely diced
  • 1 small green bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • ¼ cup sweet pickle relish


  • Put the potato chunks in a large pot and fill with water until there are 1-2 inches above the potatoes. Bring to a boil on high heat.
  • Reduce heat to medium-high and cook the potatoes for 6-8 minutes until they are still firm but can be pierced easily.
  • Drain water from the potatoes and transfer them to a large mixing bowl. Let them cool for 10 minutes.
  • Put the onion, celery salt, mustard, and mayonnaise in a food processor to combine. You can also use a whisk to combine, but you’ll need to grate the onion first.
  • In the bowl with the eggs, add celery, bell pepper, sweet relish, and the mayonnaise mixture. Mix everything gently, then refrigerate for at least two hours before serving.

Potato chips are fun and easy to make at home. You can even experiment with how thick or thin you want them to be. The best thing? You can serve them piping hot and taste the amazing difference between homemade potato chips and bagged ones. One thing’s for sure, they’ll be gone fast!


  • 7 medium potatoes, unpeeled
  • 2 quarts ice water
  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons celery salt
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground pepper
  • Vegetable oil for deep frying


  • Cut potatoes into very thin slices using a vegetable peeler or metal cheese slicer. Put sliced potatoes in a large bowl. Add the ice water and salt. Soak potatoes for 30 minutes. Drain the potatoes and place them on paper towels. Pat dry.
  • In a small bowl, combine the garlic powder, celery salt, and pepper. Set aside.
  • In a heavy skillet, put up to 1 1/2 inches of oil and heat to 375°F. Fry the potatoes in batches until they turn golden brown with frequent stirring.
  • Remove potatoes with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Immediately sprinkle with the prepared seasoning mix.

pink bowl of macaroni salad on white background
pasta salad in white bowl on wooden table
bottle of oil drizzling over green salad in wooden bowl with gray background

Sloppy Joe Side Dishes: Salads

If you’re looking for a healthy sloppy joe side dish, these classic salad recipes are the perfect sides for them, or for almost any dish for that matter. They are fresh, crunchy, and have a crisp mix of textures and flavors. They taste even better when chilled for at least an hour before serving–that is, if you can wait that long.

Here is another favorite classic recipe that is a definite crowd-pleaser. It is a simple but well-seasoned basic macaroni salad. The dressing is just right with a tangy and light mayo dressing. Double the recipe if you’re going to a potluck dinner because this recipe is a hit.


  • 1 pound elbow macaroni or other short pasta
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh celery
  • ¼ cup chopped onion
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vinegar
  • Salt to taste
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Pepper to taste


  • Cook the pasta in salted water according to package instructions. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold water. Shake the colander to toss the pasta for about five minutes to drain and cool.
  • Combine all the ingredients except for the pasta. Mix thoroughly into a dressing.
  • Add the cooled pasta into the dressing. Stir gently so as not to break apart the macaroni. Coat the pasta evenly.
  • Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Cover and chill the macaroni salad for at least two hours before serving.

It seems that people who like pickles REALLY like pickles. Make this sloppy joe side dish for the pickle-lovers in your life (even if it’s just yourself!). Dill pickles play a starring role in this creamy pasta salad recipe. They add lots of flavor and crunch.


  • 3 cups dry shell pasta
  • ¾ cup sliced pickles
  • 2/3 cup diced cheddar cheese
  • 3 tablespoons finely diced white onion
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
  • ½ cup pickle juice


  • 2/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • Cayenne pepper to taste
  • 4 tablespoons pickle juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Cook shell pasta al dente according to package instructions. Run under cold water.
  • Toss the pickle juice with the pasta and set aside for 5 minutes. Drain and discard pickle juice. Put pasta into a large bowl. Set aside.
  • Combine all dressing ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.
  • Add all the remaining ingredients into the pasta. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss very well. Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.

This salad has the best combination of flavors and textures. It’s fresh, crunchy, and tangy, with a surprise feta cheese topping. You can serve it as a side salad to go with any meal.


  • 1 head lettuce (romaine or iceberg)
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, cut into eighths
  • 1 medium red onion, cut into thin strips
  • ½ cup chopped green bell pepper
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • Salt to taste


  • Tear lettuce into pieces and put into a large salad bowl.
  • Place the sliced onions, bell pepper, and tomatoes on top of the lettuce.
  • In a small bowl, combine oil and vinegar and whisk together. Just before serving, pour dressing over the salad and toss.
  • Sprinkle salt to taste and add feta cheese. Toss again gently.

Sloppy Joe Side Dishes: Other Delicious Options

Sloppy joes are already incredibly delicious on their own, but they can still be paired with all kinds of side dishes. If you’re looking for something more unusual, we’ve got some more options for what to serve with sloppy joes that will work well with the hearty sandwich that everyone loves.

Just like French fries, onion rings are the classic sides for sloppy joes. But what if you’re watching you fat intake? Don’t fry them. These baked onion rings are perfectly crispy and delicious.


  • 2 large white or yellow onions, peeled and sliced to 1/2-inch rings
  • 2 cups buttermilk, divided into 2
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup + 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Put sliced onions in a large freezer bag and add 1 cup buttermilk. Let sit for at least 30 minutes with occasional turning of the bag.
  • Preheat oven to 425°F.
  • Mix the remaining 1 cup buttermilk, eggs, and 2 tablespoons of flour in a bowl. Continue mixing until smooth. Set aside.
  • In a separate bowl, combine breadcrumbs, olive oil, and seasonings.
  • Remove onion rings from the freezer bag and drain well.
  • Put ½ cup flour in a bag. Place the onions in the bag and shake to completely coat.
  • Dip the onions one by one into the egg mixture and then to the breadcrumbs to coat.
  • Place the onions on a parchment-lined pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Flip them over and bake for another 10 minutes or until they are browned and crispy.

This summertime staple is so easy to make, but the results are always tender, juicy, and sweet. Boiled corn on the cob is the perfect side dish to serve with sloppy joe, making your dish perfect. Don’t forget the butter, salt, and pepper!


  • 4 ears of corn
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Bring to a boil a large pot of water.
  • Remove the husks and silk from the corns. If you want, break each of the corn on the cob in half.
  • When the water is boiling, drop the corn cobs in and boil for one minute. Turn off the heat and cover the pot. Leave the corn this way from 10 to 30 minutes. Remove the water from the pot.
  • Place the boiled corn on the cob back into the still warm pot and add butter, salt, and pepper. Replace the lid and toss the boiled corn cobs until they are evenly coated with the butter.

In this side dish for sloppy joes recipe, the canned beans are amped up to make them taste as good as homemade. They make eating sloppy joes, well, sloppier, but also more fun. And no one will know you didn’t make them from scratch.


  • 2 cans baked beans with pork
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ¼ cup chopped onions
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 3 slices bacon (optional)


  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Mix baked beans, molasses, sugar, onions, and ketchup together in a greased casserole dish. Top with bacon (if using). Cover and bake until you see bubbling around the edges and hot in the center, about 15-20 minutes. Serve warm.
small white bowl of coleslaw on wooden table

Coleslaw is always a delicious option when you don’t know what to serve with sloppy joes. It is also a great–although sneaky!–way to add veggies to a meal without the kids complaining. Save this recipe for the next time you make pulled pork or grill brisket or ribs, because it goes great with those entrees, too.


  • 1 large head cabbage, shredded
  • 1 medium carrot, shredded
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon finely diced onion
  • 2 teaspoons celery seeds


  • In a large bowl, stir in together mayonnaise, mustard, apple cider vinegar, sugar, salt, onions, and celery seeds. Add the cabbage and carrots and toss until well coated. Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving. Toss again right before serving.

Tips to Make Sloppy Joes

  • Toast the buns before getting started. It makes all the difference.
  • For a smoky version of sloppy joes, replace ketchup with your favorite barbecue sauce.
  • If you want it spicy, add in ground cumin, chipotle powder, or a splash of hot sauce.
  • Watch the sauce while cooking. The sauce shouldn’t reduce too much, but you don’t want it watery, either.
  • The sauce is intended to be slightly sweet, but if you want a savory sauce, start with just a teaspoon of brown sugar. Taste and add more as you go.
  • To freeze, cool completely, then put in freezer containers. You can freeze sloppy joes for up to four months. To thaw, let the sloppy joes defrost overnight inside the fridge and reheat on the stove.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What can I serve with sandwiches besides chips?

Chips are traditionally served with sandwiches, but anything that has a crunch will do. For healthier options, try carrot and celery sticks, as well as crisp cucumber rounds.

The next most obvious sides to sandwiches are made from the humble potato. There are many options aside from French fries, though. You can have them grilled, baked, or as a salad ingredient.

Speaking of salads, they can be great sandwich side dishes, especially those that do not require any cooking, like coleslaw and make-ahead salads. You can also serve slices of dill pickles for an added zesty touch to your sandwich.

Is Sloppy Joe unhealthy?

Sloppy joes are usually made with ground beef. Although a good source of protein, iron, and a lot more nutrients, beef is also high in calories and saturated fat. Too much of these can lead to obesity and obesity-related conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

However, there are ways to make your sloppy joes healthier. Use lean ground beef, or try ground turkey or ground chicken or even ground venison. It will also make a big difference if you add diced vegetables such as bell peppers and onions to it. What’s great is that the veggies will cook down into the meat and sauce so that you (or any vegetable-disdaining kids) would hardly notice they’re even there.

You must also make the sloppy joe sauce from scratch, since this will let you control the amount of sugar and sodium you’ll be adding.

What do you put on a Manwich?

Manwich is technically a pre-made sauce you can find in the grocery store that is used to make sloppy joes. It is marketed as an easy way to make them.

When using Manwich in cooking sloppy joes, you just have to cook the ground beef, stir it in the sauce and let it simmer.

If you want a quick and simple meal, you should give Manwich a try. It has nice meat and tomato flavor to it. It also is good for a family on a budget.

Is mayo good on Sloppy Joes?

A lot of people like to spread mayo over toasted hamburger buns with sloppy joe, sliced pickles, and a piece of cheese.

Mayonnaise can be mixed with mustard and ketchup as a flavorful condiment for sloppy joes. It’s really just the three condiments stirred very well into a mixture.

This can also be used as a spread on the toasted hamburger buns instead of just plain mayo.

How do you spruce up Sloppy Joes?

While some people would just like their sloppy joe meat sauce slathered on a hamburger bun, there are ways you can spruce up and personalize your own sloppy joe version. You can add some pickles or even coleslaw as toppings.

You can also add melted cheese. The best cheese would be a sharp cheddar. Other great cheeses that go well on sloppy joes include crumbled blue cheese and feta.

Green bell peppers and onions can be added to the meat sauce too. Just dice them and let them cook in the sauce toward the end so they will still have a bit of a crunch.

You can throw in nearly anything to spruce up this delicious dish. There is almost no way you can mess up a sloppy joe.

What is Sloppy Joe sauce made of?

The sloppy joe sauce is a complex mix of ground beef, tomato sauce (or ketchup), onions, garlic, green pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and a few other seasonings. However, you can expand on these basics with things like:

  • Maple Sugar – pure maple syrup with all its liquid removed. It provides sweetness, maple aroma, and sweetness
  • Smoked Paprika – gets its smoky flavor from smoking dried chilies before they are crushed
  • Ground Mustard – hot, tasty, and wakes up the tomato part of the sloppy joe sauce

Additional Resources:

Kitchen Professor author
About the Author: Rhonda Richardson, Editor

Rhonda grew up with parents who gardened, hunted, fished, canned, and preserved food. Her mother was a professional cook and Rhonda credits her teaching everything from how to make homemade biscuits and gravy to what kind of meals to serve for different occasions. In the kitchen, Rhonda uses a mix of old-fashioned country cooking and up-to-date fads in the kitchen, often experimenting with replacing higher-calorie or fat ingredients with healthier options that still retain the delicious flavors of the originals.

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