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America's Test Kitchen Classic Sloppy Joes (Ep 2014)


Classic Sloppy Joes

Serves 4

Tossing the beef with baking soda in step 1 helps keep it tender and juicy; adding baking soda to the skillet with the onion in step 2 helps the onion break down. You may substitute 90 percent lean ground beef in this recipe, but the cooked mixture will be a bit less tender. Serve the Sloppy Joes with pickle chips, if desired.


  • 2 tablespoons water, divided
  • ½ teaspoon plus ⅛ teaspoon baking soda, divided
  • 1 pound 85 percent lean ground beef
  • ½ teaspoon plus ⅛ teaspoon table salt, divided
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • ½ onion, chopped fine
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons packed brown sugar, plus extra for seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • ⅓ cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, plus extra for seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ teaspoon cornstarch
  • 4 hamburger buns

INSTRUCTIONS 1. Combine 1 tablespoon water and ½ teaspoon baking soda in small bowl. In large bowl, toss beef with baking soda mixture and ½ teaspoon salt until thoroughly combined. Set aside.

2. Heat oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and remaining ⅛ teaspoon baking soda and stir to coat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in sugar, paprika, pepper flakes, and remaining ⅛ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring constantly, until paprika is fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until paste is rust-colored, 3 to 4 minutes.

3. Add beef and cook, breaking up meat with wooden spoon, until beef is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Mash beef with potato masher until fine-textured, about 1 minute. Add ketchup, vinegar, and Worcestershire and stir to combine, scraping up any browned bits.

4. Combine cornstarch and remaining 1 tablespoon water in small bowl, then pour cornstarch mixture over beef and stir to incorporate. Cook, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens and coats beef, about 1 minute. Season with salt, extra sugar, and extra vinegar to taste. Spoon beef mixture onto buns and serve.