How many calories are in homemade Sloppy Joe meat?

Sloppy Joes are a classic American dish that have been around since the mid 20th century. They are made up of a saucy, tomato-based meat mixture served on a hamburger bun. While they may seem like a simple comfort food, you may be wondering just how many calories are packed into homemade Sloppy Joe meat.

What Are Sloppy Joes?

Sloppy Joes consist of ground beef or a combination of ground beef and ground pork that is browned and then simmered in a tomato-based sauce. The sauce often contains ingredients like ketchup, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, and various seasonings. Once the meat and sauce are fully cooked, they are served spooned onto the bottom half of a hamburger bun. The top half of the bun is placed on top to make a sandwich.

Sloppy Joes are considered an American classic and have long been popular family fare, often appearing in school cafeterias and church potlucks. They were invented in the 1930s, with the first commercial Sloppy Joe sauce hitting the market in the 1940s. Since then, they have become a staple meal across the country.

Nutrition Facts for Homemade Sloppy Joe Meat

When making Sloppy Joes at home, the specific ingredients and amounts used will determine the calories and nutrition information. However, we can analyze some typical Sloppy Joe recipes to estimate the average calories per serving of the meat mixture alone, without the bun.

Most homemade Sloppy Joe meat recipes call for 1 to 1 1⁄2 pounds of ground beef. Using the mid-range amount of 1 1⁄4 pounds of beef, and assuming that 85% lean ground beef is used, the calories would be:

– 1 1⁄4 pounds of 85% lean ground beef = About 510 calories

The sauce ingredients generally add relatively minimal extra calories, but do contribute nutritional value. A typical homemade sauce may contain:

– 1 cup ketchup = 300 calories
– 1⁄4 cup mustard = 20 calories
– 2 tablespoons brown sugar = 104 calories
– 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce = 20 calories
– 1 tablespoon vinegar = 3 calories
– Spices and seasonings = negligible calories

This would add about 447 calories to the Sloppy Joe meat mixture.

So the total estimated calories for a typical homemade Sloppy Joe meat recipe making about 6 servings would be:

– 1 1⁄4 pounds 85% lean ground beef: 510 calories
– Sauce ingredients: 447 calories
Total Calories: 957

Dividing this into 6 equal servings, each serving of the Sloppy Joe meat mixture (without the bun) would contain approximately 160 calories.

Of course, this estimate could vary depending on the exact ingredients and portions used. But in general, one serving of homemade Sloppy Joe meat can be expected to contain about 160 calories.

Detailed Nutrition Information

To get a fuller picture of the nutrition profile, let’s look more closely at the typical ingredients in homemade Sloppy Joe meat.

Ground Beef

Since ground beef makes up the bulk of Sloppy Joes, it contributes a significant amount of the calories and nutrients.

There are different lean percentages for ground beef, but 85% lean is a common choice for Sloppy Joes. Here is the nutrition information for 85% lean ground beef (based on a 100g serving):

Calories Protein Fat Carbs
200 17g 12g 0g

As you can see, ground beef is high in protein and also contributes a good amount of fat to Sloppy Joes. There are no carbs in pure beef.


Ketchup provides the tangy tomato flavor in Sloppy Joes, as well as natural sugars. A typical nutrition label for ketchup shows the following per 100g:

Calories Protein Fat Carbs
100 2g 0g 24g

The high carb count of ketchup comes from the natural sugars in tomatoes. Ketchup also provides some vitamin C.


Adding a yellow mustard to the sauce provides another layer of flavor. Mustard contains:

Calories Protein Fat Carbs
15 1g 0g 1g

Mustard adds a negligible amount of calories and carbs to Sloppy Joes. It’s mostly used for its tang.

Worcestershire Sauce

Worcestershire sauce is also commonly used in Sloppy Joes for a savory, umami flavor. Per 100g, it contains:

Calories Protein Fat Carbs
65 2g 0g 14g

Like ketchup, Worcestershire sauce contributes some carbs from natural sugars. It also adds small amounts of iron and vitamin B6.

Brown Sugar

A touch of brown sugar balances out the acidity of the tomatoes in the sauce. Here is the nutrition for 100g of brown sugar:

Calories Protein Fat Carbs
381 0g 0g 98g

Brown sugar packs a hefty carb load, almost all of which comes from sugars. These help make the sauce sticky and sweet.


Finally, adding a splash of vinegar brightens up the sauce with a hit of acidity. Nutrition info per 100g:

Calories Protein Fat Carbs
14 0g 0g 1g

Vinegar provides very minimal calories and carbs. It’s mostly used for flavor.


Most Sloppy Joe recipes include various seasonings like garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, paprika, salt, and pepper. These provide extra flavor but negligible calories.

Factors That Increase/Decrease Calories

While a typical homemade Sloppy Joe meat recipe contains about 160 calories per serving, there are some factors that can alter the calories higher or lower.

Leaner vs Fattier Beef

– Using a fattier ground beef like 73% lean will add more fat and calories. Going up to a 90% lean beef will lower the calories.

Portion Size

– The more meat mixture used per sandwich, the more calories it will have. Packing the bun fuller will increase calories.

Additional Toppings

– Adding cheese slices, bacon, etc can significantly increase the calories per serving. Going without the bun or top half of the bun will lower calories.

Cooking Methods

– Browning the beef in oil/butter will add some calories vs cooking spray. Simmering the sauce uncovered will reduce more liquid, concentrating the calories.

Sauce Ingredients

– Adding more sugar-heavy ingredients like ketchup, brown sugar, etc will increase calories. Using lower sodium tomato sauce will lower calories.

So while the typical Sloppy Joe meat has about 160 calories, the actual amount may range from around 120-250+ calories depending on portions, ingredients, and cooking methods. But the average homemade Sloppy Joe meat itself contains a moderate calorie count.

Comparing Homemade vs Canned Sloppy Joe Sauce

To put the calorie count of homemade Sloppy Joe meat in context, let’s compare it to some popular canned, pre-made Sloppy Joe sauces available at grocery stores:

Sloppy Joe Sauce Calories Per 2 Tbsp
Manwich 40
Hunt’s 20
Heinz 15

As you can see, the pre-made canned sauces provide far fewer calories, since they do not include the ground meat. Adding 1 lb of 85% lean ground beef to 2 tablespoons (1 serving) of these sauces would add about 250 calories.

So homemade Sloppy Joe meat and canned sauces can both result in sandwiches with similar calorie counts. The difference is that the homemade meat mixture likely has fewer preservatives and artificial ingredients than the canned commercial sauces.

Health Benefits of Homemade Sloppy Joes

Within a balanced diet, enjoying homemade Sloppy Joes in moderation can provide some benefits:


The ground beef supplies a good amount of filling protein needed for muscle maintenance, wound healing, and appetite control.

Vitamins & Minerals

The tomato-based sauce provides immune-boosting vitamin C and vitamin A for eye and skin health. Spices like chili powder also add antioxidants.


Cooking tomatoes releases more lycopene, a phytonutrient that may protect against cancer and heart disease.


The tangy sweet meat mixture and soft bun are deeply satisfying. This can prevent overeating and cravings.

When enjoyed in moderation in an overall healthy diet, homemade Sloppy Joes can be an energizing and nutritious meal option. Just be mindful of portion sizes.


To summarize, a typical homemade Sloppy Joe meat recipe made with 1 – 1 1⁄4 pounds of 85% lean ground beef and a tomato-based sauce contains approximately 160 calories per serving. This does not include the bun.

The exact calorie count can vary based on the specific ingredients used, cooking methods, and portion sizes. But in general, the Sloppy Joe meat mixture itself contains a moderate calorie level, especially when enjoyed in reasonable portions. It can provide protein, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and satisfaction.

Homemade Sloppy Joe meat has a similar calorie profile to Sloppy Joes made with canned sauces, when the ground beef is included. The difference is homemade often has fewer additives.

So feel free to enjoy some homemade Sloppy Joes – just be mindful of your portion size if watching your calorie intake. Made with high quality ingredients, Sloppy Joes can be a delicious and nutritious American classic.

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