10 Easy Ways, Upgrade Sloppy Joe To Ultimate Manwich

The Magnificent World of Manwich

Who doesn’t remember digging into a messy, saucy Manwich as a child face first?! A classic staple in American dinners, it’s been bringing that saucy flair to family tables for ages. The rich tomato sauce, that hint of brown sugar, all lovingly enveloped by soft hamburger buns. The whole family gathers around, eager for that first delicious bite. It’s a scene familiar to many, but did you know there are countless ways to elevate the humble Manwich to the next level? Today, we’re diving into the top Manwich recipe add ins that’ll make your Manwich night the talk of the town. Ready to relive those delicious memories and make some new ones, too?

Meaty Matters: Swapping the Protein

Traditionally, lean ground beef sizzles in a large skillet, melding perfectly with that canned sauce. But why stop there? Ground turkey offers a healthier alternative, with a slightly sweeter side that pairs wonderfully with a tangy sauce. It’s a great way to shake things up, and it’s an easy dish to whip up on a busy evening. And for those looking for something even more adventurous, ground chicken or ground sausage could be your ticket to the most flavorful sloppy joe your taste buds have ever encountered. The meat mixture, irrespective of the type of meat you choose, is the heart of the sloppy joe sandwich, and experimenting with it is an easy way to personalize this classic dish.

Chili powder, green bell pepper, red bell pepper, and olive oil dance in the pan, creating a symphony of flavors. For those on the lookout for a vegetarian option, crumbled tofu or lentils are perfect substitutes. Simply saut√© them on medium-high heat until they’re golden, and then pour in your Manwich sauce. Whether you’re using the classic canned sauce from the grocery store or an easy homemade sloppy joes recipe, the protein you choose will play a starring role. So, the next time you’re at the grocery store, consider picking up a different type of meat or meat alternative and take your Manwich to the next level.

Seasoning the Seasons: Spice and Everything Nice

There’s no denying that the Manwich sauce is tasty, but with a few simple ingredients, you can elevate its flavor profile. This is one of the easiest Manwich recipe add ins you can do. Start by sprinkling in some chili powder and garlic powder. These spices, when combined with the tomato paste in the Manwich sauce, bring out a richer depth of flavor. But if you’re looking to turn up the heat, red pepper flakes or a dash of hot sauce might be just what you need. The extra heat complements the sweeter elements like the brown sugar, making every bite a tantalizing mix of sweet and spicy.

The best sloppy joes have a balance of flavors, and Worcestershire sauce is the perfect way to achieve this. It introduces a tangy, umami-rich note that’s hard to resist. And for those who like their Manwich on the sweeter side, a touch of brown sugar or even a splash of red wine vinegar can do wonders. It’s all about finding that perfect balance, and with these Manwich recipe add ins, you’re well on your way to creating the most delectable sloppy joe mixture.

But wait, there’s more! Ever thought of giving your Manwich an Asian twist? Soy sauce and a hint of ginger can transport your taste buds straight to the streets of Sioux City. Or if you’re in the mood for something a bit more Mediterranean, a sprinkle of oregano and a splash of olive oil can transform your dish. The possibilities are endless, and with each new addition, you’re crafting a Manwich that’s uniquely yours.

Say Cheese: Melting Moments in Manwich

Imagine this: your sloppy joe meat is simmering away, the aroma filling your kitchen. You reach for a slice of cheese, letting it melt into the meat mixture, and suddenly, your classic sloppy joe has been transformed. Cheddar cheese, with its sharp and tangy flavor, pairs beautifully with the tomato-based Manwich sauce. It’s a match made in heaven and is sure to be a hit with the whole family.

But why stop at cheddar? Mozzarella cheese, with its stringy, gooey goodness, can add a touch of luxury to your dish. Or if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, crumbled blue cheese or feta can introduce a whole new dimension of flavor. Each cheese brings its unique taste profile, and when combined with the tangy sauce and meat mixture, the result is a sloppy joe sandwich that’s out of this world.

Of course, cheese isn’t just about the flavor. It adds a creamy texture that contrasts beautifully with the toasted bun. Whether you’re a fan of brioche buns, classic hamburger buns, or even hot dog buns, the addition of cheese elevates the entire eating experience. So, the next time you’re whipping up a batch of Manwich, consider reaching for your favorite cheese. It’s a simple addition, but it makes a world of difference.

Veggie Voyage: A Colorful Crunch

Now, let’s talk veggies. Green peppers and red bell peppers are classic additions, introducing a crunchy texture and a fresh taste. Saut√© them in a little olive oil on medium heat, and they’ll become tender, their natural sweetness enhancing the overall flavor of your sloppy joe mixture. And while we’re on the subject of peppers, let’s not forget the humble green bell pepper. Its crisp texture and mild flavor make it a favorite in many a Manwich recipe add ins list.

But why limit yourself to just peppers? Onions, finely diced and saut√©ed until translucent, can add a depth of flavor that’s hard to beat. And for a touch of luxury, mushrooms, saut√©ed in olive oil until they’re golden brown, can be a game-changer. Each vegetable brings its unique flavor and texture, and when combined with the Manwich sauce, the result is a sloppy joe that’s both delicious and nutritious.

So, the next time you’re at the grocery store, consider picking up some extra veggies. Whether you’re a fan of the classics like green peppers and onions or want to experiment with zucchini or spinach, there’s no shortage of options. And the best part? Veggies are a great way to sneak in some extra nutrition, making your Manwich both tasty and healthy.

Herb Hub: Freshness in Every Bite

Have you ever considered dressing up your Manwich with herbs? They’re the silent heroes of many a dish, aren’t they? Especially when we’re talking about Manwich recipe add ins. 

The Italian touch with basil and oregano: There’s nothing quite like the aromatic combo of basil and oregano to take your sloppy joe mixture to the next level. As your meat mixture simmers on medium-high heat in a large skillet, sprinkle in these herbs, and watch as they meld beautifully with the tomato sauce and brown sugar. Their fragrant notes perfectly complement the tangy sauce, making every bite an Italian-inspired delight.

Cilantro and parsley for a refreshing twist: If you’re looking for an easy way to brighten up your classic sloppy joe, cilantro and parsley have got your back. These herbs, when added just before serving, infuse the meat mixture with a fresh, zesty punch. So, the next time you’re whipping up an easy homemade sloppy joes recipe, consider this duo. They’re not just garnishes; they’re game-changers.

Robust choices with rosemary and thyme: These hardy herbs are not commonly associated with the sloppy joe world. However, adding them to the simmering pot, especially if you’re using a slow cooker, can introduce a woody, aromatic flavor profile. Their earthy undertones pair particularly well with ground sausage and beef, making your sloppy joe sandwich one for the books.

Saucy Suggestions: Drizzles and Dollops

There’s more to the world of Manwich recipe add ins than meats and veggies. The right sauce can elevate your sandwich from good to “Where has this been all my life?” 

The smoky touch of BBQ sauce: While Manwich sauce already packs a flavorful punch, a drizzle of BBQ sauce can push it to new heights. The smokiness of the BBQ melds with the sweeter side of the tomato paste and brown sugar, adding depth and richness to the sloppy joe mixture. Plus, it’s a great way to introduce a hint of smokiness without firing up the grill.

Umami-rich soy and Worcestershire sauce: For those who love a burst of savory goodness, adding a splash of soy or Worcestershire sauce to your meat mixture as it cooks on medium heat is the perfect way. These sauces are rich in umami, enhancing the meaty flavors of your sandwich. They complement the tomato sauce, balancing out its acidity, and making every bite a savory treat.

Honey and mustard for a sweet and tangy dance: For a twist on the traditional sloppy joe, consider adding a mix of honey and mustard. The honey brings out the sweeter notes of the tomato sauce, while the mustard adds a tangy kick. It’s a balance of flavors that’s sure to have the whole family coming back for seconds.

Bread Bazaar: Beyond the Usual Bun

While the classic sloppy joe is usually served on hamburger buns, exploring different types of bread can add an exciting twist to your Manwich night. 

The luxury of brioche and ciabatta: These two bread types, with their soft interiors and slightly crispy exteriors, are a match made in heaven for the sloppy joe mixture. The buttery richness of brioche or the airy pockets of ciabatta can soak up the sauce, ensuring every bite is juicy and flavorful.

Whole grain and rye for a rustic charm: For those looking for a healthier alternative, whole grain and rye buns offer both nutrition and flavor. Their nutty undertones pair beautifully with the meat mixture, and their sturdy structure ensures they hold up well, even when generously filled.

Unique flavors with pretzel and garlic buns: If you’re feeling adventurous, pretzel and garlic buns can be game-changers. The slightly salty crust of the pretzel bun contrasts beautifully with the sweet and tangy Manwich sauce, while the garlic bun adds an aromatic kick, making your sloppy joe sandwich truly gourmet.

Kiddo Corner: Fun-Filled Flavors

Alright, parents, this one’s for the little ones! Making Manwich recipe add ins kid-friendly doesn’t mean compromising on flavor. In fact, it’s an opportunity to get creative and playful! 

Sweet delights with pineapple chunks and apple slices: Kids tend to lean towards the sweeter side of things, and adding pineapple chunks or apple slices to their sloppy joe sandwich can be a hit. The natural sweetness of these fruits complements the tomato sauce, while their crunch adds a delightful texture.

Fun shapes and rainbow veggies: Make mealtime fun by using cookie cutters to shape slices of cheese, or by adding colorful veggies like red bell peppers and green bell pepper strips. Not only do these additions make the dish visually appealing, but they also sneak in some extra nutrients.

Dippable sides for added fun: Pair that sloppy joe sandwich with homemade potato wedges or veggie sticks. Kids love to dip, and having a side that they can dunk into some leftover Manwich sauce or a simple homemade sauce can make mealtime interactive and enjoyable.

Top It Like It’s Hot: Final Flourishes

The finishing touches can make all the difference, turning your sloppy joe from a weekday staple to a gourmet treat. Let’s explore some Manwich recipe add ins that are sure to impress. 

The creamy layers with avocado and sour cream: These two toppings can add a creamy texture to your sandwich. Avocado slices or a dollop of sour cream can balance out the spicy and tangy notes of the sloppy joe meat, offering a cool and refreshing contrast.

Crunchy additions with coleslaw and pickled veggies: If you’re a fan of contrasts, adding some homemade coleslaw or pickled onions and jalape√Īos can elevate your sandwich. Their tanginess and crunch add layers of flavor and texture, making every bite an experience.

The spicy finish with jalape√Īos and red pepper flakes: For those who like to walk on the wild side, adding some heat to your sloppy joe can be exhilarating. Sliced jalape√Īos or a sprinkle of red pepper flakes can introduce that extra heat, making your sandwich fiery and flavorful.

Kids Vs Adults – What are their favorites?  

Little Tastes, Big Flavors: Kiddo-Approved Manwich Makeovers!

Cheese-a-palooza: The Gooey Goodness Kids Adore
Kids have an almost universal love for cheese, and it’s no wonder why. The creamy, melt-in-your-mouth texture of cheese makes it a delightful addition to many dishes, including Manwich. When added to the classic sloppy joe mixture:

  • Cheddar Cheese: Its sharp yet creamy taste complements the tangy Manwich sauce. When melted, cheddar offers a velvety texture that appeals to kids and adults alike.
  • Mozzarella Cheese: If you’re aiming for that stretchy, pizza-like cheese pull, mozzarella is the way to go. Its mild flavor won’t overpower the Manwich, but will give the sloppy joe a fun, pizza-esque twist.
  • American Cheese: This classic sandwich slice melts beautifully and offers a rich creaminess. It’s a familiar flavor for many kids, making it a safe and popular choice.

Sweetening the Deal: Balancing Tang with Sweetness
Sometimes, the tanginess of the Manwich sauce might be a tad overwhelming for young palates. Introducing a touch of sweetness can balance out the flavors, making the dish more kid-friendly:

  • Pineapple Chunks: These add a tropical sweetness and a fun texture. The juicy bursts of pineapple can make every bite exciting and can be a great way for parents to introduce fruit in a savory setting.
  • Brown Sugar: A sprinkle of brown sugar can round out the flavors of the Manwich sauce. It caramelizes as it cooks, adding a hint of molasses-like sweetness that can make the dish irresistibly delicious for kids.
  • Honey or Maple Syrup: Natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup can be drizzled in moderation to provide a gentle sweetness. They also bring their unique flavors, adding depth to the dish.

Keeping it Simple: The Texture Game
Kids can be particularly sensitive to textures. When modifying a Manwich for them:

  • Smooth vs. Chunky: While some kids love the chunks of green peppers or onions in their sloppy joes, others might prefer a smoother texture. Consider pur√©eing the sauce or finely dicing ingredients to ensure a consistent texture.
  • Bread Choices: Soft hamburger buns are usually a hit. They’re easy to bite into and hold the sloppy joe mixture well. For a fun twist, mini slider buns can be used to make bite-sized sloppy joes. We use Hawaiian rolls for the sweetness, size, and convenience!
  • Add-ins with Familiarity: Ingredients like corn kernels or small pasta shapes can be mixed into the Manwich. They not only add a fun texture but are also familiar and loved by many kids.

When it comes to kids and food, the key is balancing flavors and textures they love with slight variations to expand their palate. With Manwich, the possibilities are endless, and with a bit of creativity, it’s easy to whip up a meal that’s both parent-approved and kid-loved!

Manwich Makeovers: Adulting the Sloppy Joe

Cheese: The Melted Marvel
Cheese is universally loved, and its addition to the Manwich mix is nothing short of genius. Cheddar, with its sharp and tangy profile, melds beautifully with the sweet and savory notes of the Manwich sauce. As the cheddar melts into the hot meat mixture, it creates a creamy texture that contrasts delightfully with the slightly chunky consistency of the sauce.

For those who like a bit of heat, pepper jack is a popular choice. The spicy undertones of this cheese add an extra layer of flavor to the dish, giving it a kick that many adults crave. The meltiness of pepper jack, combined with its subtle spiciness, makes for a Sloppy Joe that’s both comforting and exciting.

Vegetables: A Textural treat

Sautéed onions are another adult favorite when it comes to Manwich add-ins. When caramelized, onions take on a sweet flavor that complements the tanginess of the Manwich sauce. Their soft texture blends seamlessly into the mix, making every bite a harmonious blend of flavors.

Bell peppers, both green and red, are also a popular choice. They add a crunchy texture to the mix, which contrasts nicely with the softness of the meat and sauce. The slight bitterness of green bell peppers and the sweetness of red bell peppers offer a flavor balance that many adults appreciate.

Jalape√Īos, either fresh or pickled, are for those who like their Manwich with a bit of a kick. The heat from the jalape√Īos cuts through the richness of the meat and cheese, making for a more complex flavor profile.

Customization: The Key to Food Creativity
The beauty of Manwich is its versatility. While it’s delicious on its own, it serves as a blank canvas for adults to customize according to their preferences. Some might add hot sauce for extra heat, while others might throw in some mushrooms for an earthy flavor. Worcestershire sauce or a splash of red wine can deepen the flavor, making it more robust and mature.

Ultimately, the most popular add-in for Manwich among adults is the one that satisfies their individual palate. It’s all about experimenting, mixing, and matching until you find that perfect combination that takes your Sloppy Joe from good to gourmet.

It seems both kids and adults have spoken in the great Sloppy Joe debate… and the unanimous winner is Cheese! 

To Top It All Off: The Manwich Mastery

As you can see, the world of Manwich recipe add ins is vast and varied. From herbs to sauces, bread, and toppings, there are countless ways to customize and elevate the classic sloppy joe.

At the heart of it all, however, is the joy of just being creative and trying new things! It’s about taking a beloved classic and making it uniquely yours. Whether you’re cooking for yourself, hosting a party, or serving up a weekday dinner for the family, remember that the best ingredient is always love. So, next time you’re at the grocery store, grab that can of Manwich and let your imagination run wild!

Gourmet Family-Friendly Manwich Delight

Recipe by kitcheneasylifeCourse: Dinner, Lunch


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This Manwich Deluxe recipe, with its specialty pretzel buns and unique French fry crunch, offers a delightful blend of textures and flavors that will be a hit with both kids and adults. Enjoy!


  • 1 can of Manwich Original Sloppy Joe Sauce

  • 1 lb lean ground beef or ground turkey

  • 1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped

  • 1 red bell pepper, diced

  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

  • 1/2 cup crispy French fries, slightly crushed

  • Salt and pepper, to taste

  • 4-6 pretzel buns, toasted

  • Optional toppings: sliced avocado, sour cream, and diced tomatoes


  • Saut√© the Vegetables:¬†In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the olive oil. Add the onions and red bell peppers. Saut√© until they are soft and translucent, approximately 5 minutes.
  • Cook the Meat:¬†Add the ground beef or turkey to the skillet. Cook until browned, breaking it apart with a spatula. Drain any excess fat.
  • Add the Sauce:¬†Pour in the can of Manwich sauce, then sprinkle in the smoked paprika, salt, and pepper. Stir well, ensuring the meat is evenly coated. Allow the mixture to simmer for about 10 minutes.
  • Cheese Time:¬†Add the shredded cheddar cheese to the skillet and stir until it’s melted and well-incorporated.
  • French Fry Crunch:¬†Gently fold in the slightly crushed crispy French fries into the Manwich mixture, ensuring they are evenly distributed. ¬†Make sure the pieces are not too big.
  • Assemble the Sandwich:¬†Spoon the Manwich and French fry mixture onto the toasted pretzel buns. If desired, top with slices of avocado, a dollop of sour cream, and some diced tomatoes.
  • Serve:¬†Serve the sandwiches immediately while warm.


  • Pair with a side salad or coleslaw to add a fresh element to the meal.
  • For those who prefer a little heat, offer some hot sauce or jalape√Īos on the side.
  • A refreshing beverage like iced tea or lemonade would complement the rich flavors of the sandwich.

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