How do we explain a Sloppy Joe Casserole? It’s like taking the sloppy joe sandwich we all love and giving it a total upgrade. We’re talking about a seriously hearty and oh-so-delicious meal that totally rocks those busy weeknight vibes.
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Easy Sloppy Joe Casserole
Imagine that classic sloppy joe goodness, jazzed up with a shortcut canned tomato sauce, mixed in with some cozy pasta comfort.
We’re not stopping there. Nope, we’re topping this masterpiece with a gooey layer of cheese that’s basically a hug for your taste buds.
This recipe is also a total time-saver. Whip this up, and you’ll be wondering where it’s been all your life (plus it’s a great freezer meal too).
The whole family is gonna be singing its praises.
Best of all, we’re going to take a shortcut and make an easy sloppy joe casserole with Manwich sauce.
What’s a Sloppy Joe?
Sloppy Joes are a popular American sandwich made with ground beef, onions, tomato sauce (or a mix of tomato sauce and ketchup), and seasonings, served on a hamburger bun.
The sloppy joes casserole version of this classic dish incorporates the same flavors, but instead is baked in a dish with added ingredients like pasta, cheese, and sometimes vegetables.
Ingredients Needed for Sloppy Joe Pasta Casserole
I know you’ve probably seen a lot of sloppy joe tater tot casseroles or a cornbread version, but our carb for this dish is pasta.
- Lean ground beef.
- Pasta. We used fusilli, but you can try a wide egg noodle, rotini, farfalle, penne rigate, etc. Look for pasta that will hold on to the sauce and keep its shape. I have some suggestions in the pasta options section.
- Beef broth. Tip: look for a low-sodium variety, as this recipe has a fair amount of salt with the cheese and sauce.
- Manwich Original Sloppy Joe Sauce. It’s not cheating, it’s saving time and taking one extra thing off your plate, but we’ll share a simple homemade sauce as well.
- Corn. Drained canned corn or frozen corn is fine (just make sure you give it a rinse if it’s frozen to thaw it quickly).
- Velveeta Shreds (the original one). I’ll make a note for substitutions below.
- Cheddar cheese. I personally prefer a sharp or old cheddar. You’ll want to shred it.
Lean Ground Beef: You can swap it for regular ground beef or leaner options like ground turkey or chicken.
Beef broth: Use vegetable broth if you prefer.
Manwich: Switch it for your preferred brand or you can experiment with your own sauce (recipe in the next section).
Corn: Use whatever vegetable you prefer, I like green peppers and onions sauteed with beef.
Velveeta: Replace the Velveeta with 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese (or pepper Jack). If your store doesn’t have the Velveeta Shreds you can use 2 cups of regular Velveeta.
What to Add to Sloppy Joe Casserole
As we created a basic “canvas” for the recipe, feel free to add extra vegetables.
Here are some add-ins to try:
- green peppers
- red peppers
- shredded carrots
- diced tomatoes
- cooked bacon
- fresh herbs like oregano, thyme, parsley, or basil
- beans (this is great for extra protein)
- a variety of cheese (tex mex blends, pepper jack, etc)
Homemade Sloppy Joe Sauce
If you would rather make it homemade vs eating it out of a can, here is a simple recipe:
- Tomato sauce
- Worcestershire sauce (if you’re gluten-free, check the ingredients or try this one)
- Spices like garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika.
Adjust the ingredients to suit your taste preferences – just remember to balance the sweet, savory, and tangy flavors.
Here’s a quick breakdown of how to prepare your Sloppy Joe Casserole:
- Cook the ground beef with onions (I like to add green peppers), and seasonings in a skillet until browned.
- Prepare the homemade sauce by mixing the tomato sauce, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and spices together.
- Taste and adjust the seasonings.
What Kind of Pasta Should Be Used for Sloppy Joe Casserole?
When choosing a noodle for your dinner, select one that will hold up well to the hearty sauce.
Here are some great options for sloppy joe pasta casserole:
- Rotini: These spiral-shaped pasta pieces have nooks and crannies that catch sauce and hold onto flavors.
- Penne: Penne pasta is excellent for trapping sauces and adding texture.
- Ziti: Ziti’s long, tubular shape is perfect for trapping sauce inside, making each bite flavorful.
- Farfalle (Bow Tie Pasta): These cute pasta shapes not only hold sauce but also bring a delightful visual appeal to your casserole.
- Macaroni: Classic macaroni is a popular choice for casseroles, especially in dishes like macaroni and cheese.
- Fusilli: These corkscrew-shaped pasta twists are great for holding onto creamy sauces and chunky ingredients.
- Rigatoni: With its large, ridged shape, rigatoni pasta is ideal for capturing hearty sauces and fillings.
- Cavatappi: These spiral-shaped tubes are not only fun to eat but also fantastic for scooping up the sauce. I call these “fancy macaroni”.
- Shells (Conchiglie): Pasta shells create little pockets that can hold delicious fillings and sauces.
Helpful Supplies and Kitchen Tools
Can I Cook It In a Slow Cooker?
It’s easy to adapt this easy sloppy joe casserole recipe to a slow cooker recipe.
First, cook your ground beef in a skillet as usual. Then, transfer it to your slow cooker.
Add the remaining sauce ingredients (except the cheddar cheese), and stir to combine. Cook the casserole on low for 4-6 hours.
When you’re ready to serve, cook your pasta separately according to package instructions, and then add it to the slow cooker. Stir everything together.
Top with the cheddar cheese and chopped parsley, put the lid on and let the cheese melt.
How to Make Sloppy Joe Casserole
Grab a big pot and heat it up over medium. Toss in the ground beef and cook it up for around 5-7 minutes until it’s not pink anymore.
Remember to drain any extra fat.
Using the same pot, add the pasta, beef broth, two cans of Manwich sauce, and corn.
Bring it all to a small boil for about 15 minutes. Stir every now and then.
Add the Velveeta and mix it in till it’s all melted and dreamy.
Then transfer everything to a 9×13 casserole dish.
Sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese on top.
Pop that dish into the oven and let it bake for 10 minutes.
While it’s doing its thing, grab some fresh parsley and give it a good chop.
Sprinkle it on top before serving.
Make it Ahead
To make this Manwich casserole ahead of time simply follow the instructions and after you transfer it to a casserole dish, let it cool.
Add the cheese, cover with foil, and put it in the fridge. (You can also freeze it at this step too.)
When you’re ready, take it out of the fridge 30 minutes before you want to cook, and bake for 10-15 minutes at 375F.
Storing and Freezing
When storing it in the refrigerator, place the casserole leftovers in an airtight container to keep it fresh.
It will last for about 3-4 days.
You can freeze the 30 minute sloppy joe casserole to eat it another time (or if you made a freezer meal).
Let the casserole cool completely, then transfer it into a freezer-safe container, lay foil over the top of the top layer, and then secure it with an airtight lid.
Label the container with the date and contents, and place it in the freezer.
Properly stored in the freezer, your Sloppy Joe casserole can last up to 3 months.
When you’re ready to enjoy your make-ahead freezer meal, simply thaw the casserole in the refrigerator overnight, then reheat it in the oven until heated through.
Be sure to keep an eye on the dish while reheating to prevent overcooking or drying out.
You can also microwave it.
What to Serve with Sloppy Joe Casserole
Remember this dinner is a filling and flavorful main dish, so it’s great to serve with lighter side dishes.
Here are some great side dishes for this quick sloppy joe casserole.
- Green salad
- Steamed vegetables
- Raw veggies (a veggie tray is a win here to reduce extra cook time)
- Garlic bread
You can also make these sloppy joe fries for some comfort food!
More Casserole Recipes
If you like this, then try our other comfort food casseroles here on Busy Day Dinners.
- Beef Noodle Casserole
- Beef Enchilada Casserole
- Crack Chicken Casserole
- see all our easy casserole recipes.
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Sloppy Joe Casserole Recipe
- Preheat the oven to 375F.
- Heat a large pot over medium heat, add the ground beef and scramble fry for 5-7 minutes, or until it's no longer pink. Drain off any fat.
- To the same pot, add the pasta, beef broth, the two cans of manwich, and corn. Bring it to a boil for 15 minutes, and stir every so often.
- Add the Velveeta and mix until melted.
- Transfer to a 9×13 casserole dish and sprinkle the shredded cheddar cheese on top.
- Bake of 10 minutes and sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley before serving.
Depending on the variety of pasta you use, you may need to adjust the cooking time. I don’t recommend spaghetti – it might break while mixing. Look for pasta that will hold sauce and have some strength to it. Beef Substitutions
Swap beef for chicken or turkey. Skip adding salt to beef, as Manwich and cheese provide ample flavor. Add some extra flavor Feel free to dress it up by adding 1 cup of onions and 2 garlic cloves to the ground beef while cooking. You can also add a diced green pepper as well. If your store doesn’t have the Velveeta Shreds you can use 2 cups of regular Velveeta. Make it a One Pot Meal
If the pot you used is oven safe (like a dutch oven) you can add the cheese on top and bake it in the same dish. Less dishes!