Sloppy Joe Sliders are a fun, easy and festive party snack or appetizer that you can make in only about 30 minutes! You can make them in the traditional slider size for a heartier dinner or snack, or make them using mini party rolls for a cute, two bite appetizer!
Note: this post was originally published in 2020 and updated in 2021 with improved instructions and new photos. The recipe was also tweaked to include even more filling and cheese!
The classic sloppy Joe dinner transformed! These Sloppy Joe Sliders are now a fun party snack or appetizer, made in either the traditional slider size or as mini sliders! The sloppy Joe filling is tangy and sweet, plus, a slice of melty American cheese on top adds some extra indulgence.
These sliders are assembled in a pan and brushed with melted butter, then baked in the oven for a short time. This browns the tops of the buns and melts the cheese into the filling. These sliders are so easy to make and super delicious, they will be the hit of your next party. (And, they would go great served alongside my recipes for Dill Pickle Hummus or Easy Bean Dip!)
- Lean ground beef: I used 93% lean beef, which leaves very little extra grease in the pan after it's browned. So, there's no need to drain the beef before adding extra ingredients. If you have 85% lean beef on hand though, go ahead and use it, just drain it after browning.
- Sweet onion: a sweet onion adds a little more sweet flavor which I think works well with the sweet and tangy filling. If you don't have one however, feel free to use a yellow or white onion instead.
- American cheese slices: I like how well American cheese melts into the sloppy Joe filling, but feel free to substitute your favorite type of sliced cheese.
- Poppy seeds: these are optional and are just used to garnish the tops of the buns. You could use sesame seeds instead, or even a sprinkle of coarse salt and pepper. Or just leave the tops bare, they will still look beautiful and brown and shiny thanks to the melted butter!
- Rolls: you can use either regular slider buns, or mini "party" rolls. I explain more about each roll option in the Tips and tricks section below!
Step by step photos
1. First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Next, prepare the 9 x 13 inch pan by lining it with parchment paper and brushing it with melted butter, set aside.
2. Then, if you are using the mini rolls, slice them in half horizontally, keeping the tops and bottoms attached to each other. So, you will have two big sheets of top and bottom bun when you are done cutting. If you are using regular slider buns, this step isn't necessary since they come pre-cut.
3. Now brown the ground beef in a large skillet, then add the onion. Continue to cook until the onion is translucent.
4. At this stage, add the remaining ingredients for the sloppy Joe filling. Let the mixture simmer until it has reduced and thickened, like this:
5. Place the bottom buns in the prepared 9 x 13 inch pan.
6. Then scoop the sloppy Joe filling on top and spread it out evenly.
7. Add the cheese in a single layer overtop. To fill in the final edge at the top, I tore 2 of the slices in half.
8. Now add the top buns on top.
9. Brush the remaining melted butter on the buns, and sprinkle with the poppy seeds (if using).
10. Bake in the preheated oven until the cheese is melty and the buns are nicely browned.
11. Use the parchment paper overhanging on the side of the pan to lift the buns out all in one go.
12. Using a large knife, slice through the buns to separate and serve immediately. (If using regular slider buns, you can just pull them apart!)
Tips and tricks
Buns to use for sloppy Joe sliders
You have some options when it comes to the buns you want to use for this recipe. You can either make regular sized sliders, or cute mini sliders like I did here!
If you want to make regular-sized sliders, you will need 12, which is good because usually they come in packages of 12 (but not always, so make sure to check!). This would be a good option if you want to serve these for dinner or as a heartier party food.
If you want to make the mini sliders, great as a 2-bite appetizer, look for small rolls in packs of 24, each about 2 inches across. They are usually labeled "party rolls." Martin's and King's Hawaiian both make a version. I used the King's Hawaiian here, and they are labeled "Hawaiian Sweet Rolls Party Pack." Here are pictures of the two sizes of bread you can use, in a 9 x 13 inch pan for scale:
Other tips and tricks
- When slicing the mini buns horizontally to separate them, try to leave enough bottom bun to give structure to the sloppy Joe. If the bottom portion is too thin, the sliders will be harder to hold.
- When cutting the finished mini sloppy Joe sliders apart, don't worry about following the line of the top buns exactly since they probably won't be in perfect 90 degree angles. Just cut straight across, following the divisions in the buns as closely as you can. You won't be able to really notice after they are all cut!
You can make the filling ahead of time and store it in the fridge, covered, for 3 - 4 days. Then, when you want to assemble the sliders, just heat it up in the microwave or in a skillet, and continue on with the rest of the recipe instructions.
Because the sloppy Joe filling is so moist, you will need to assemble and bake the sliders right before serving so the bread doesn't get overly soggy.
You can definitely freeze the prepared filling. Once it's cooled down, just place it in an airtight container and freeze for 2 - 3 months. However, the prepared sliders need to be eaten right away for the best flavor and texture!
If you are serving these sliders as a dinner entrée, they would taste great with buttery corn on the cob, a green salad, or even a cup of smoky black bean soup!
For a party, they would serve well as a heartier, more filling appetizer, so the rest of the snacks could be a little lighter, like chips and dip, cut fruit, a cheese platter, etc.
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Sloppy Joe Sliders are an easy to make, crowd-pleasing party appetizer or snack! These hearty sliders can be made in only about 30 minutes.
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon neutral oil (canola, vegetable, etc.)
- 1 ½ pounds 93% lean ground beef (see notes)
- 1 large sweet onion, finely diced
- ¾ cup ketchup
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
- ¾ cup water
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 12 slider buns or 24 mini "party" rolls (for mini sliders)
- 10 slices American cheese (see notes)
- 1 teaspoon poppy seeds (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Line a 9 x 13 inch pan with parchment paper, leaving some to overhang on the sides. (See note.) Brush bottom of the lined pan with a thin layer of melted butter, reserve the remaining melted butter for the top of the buns. Set pan and remaining butter aside.
- For mini sliders using party rolls: Place the party rolls on a cutting board, leaving them attached. Using a large serrated knife, cut the party rolls in half horizontally. Set aside.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and cook for 2 - 3 minutes until beginning to brown, breaking up into small chunks with a wooden spoon. Season beef with salt and pepper.
- Add the finely diced sweet onion and continue to cook, stirring frequently, for 3 - 4 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Season again with salt and pepper.
- Turn heat down to medium-low. Add the ketchup, water, Worcestershire sauce, and tomato paste. Stir to combine and simmer for 4 - 5 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Taste the sloppy Joe filling and add more salt and/or pepper if needed.
- Place the bottom half of the slider buns or party rolls on the butter-brushed pan. Do not separate the bottom rolls from each other.
- Distribute the sloppy Joe filling evenly across the bottom buns. Top with sliced cheese. You may need to break a couple slices in half to better fit the last section of the pan. Then add the slider bun/party roll tops on top of the cheese (do not separate tops from each other).
- Brush the tops with remaining melted butter and sprinkle with poppy seeds (optional).
- Bake in the preheated oven until the buns are browned and the cheese is melted, 9 - 11 minutes.
- For mini sliders: Use the overhanging parchment paper to lift the mini sloppy Joe sliders out of the pan, and remove them to a cutting board. Cut the mini sloppy Joe sliders apart using the large serrated knife. For regular sliders: remove from the pan individually by hand or using a spatula. If needed, cut apart with the edge of a spatula or small knife. Serve immediately.
Using 93% lean ground beef saves you from having to drain excess grease from the pan after browning the meat. However, you can substitute other ground beef, just carefully drain any excess grease from the pan before adding in the liquid ingredients.
If you don't like American cheese, feel free to substitute any other type of sliced melting cheese you prefer. Good options would be Monterey Jack or mild cheddar.
Lining the pan with parchment paper with some overhang on the sides makes it very easy to lift out the mini sliders from the pan so they can be cut apart before serving. If you are using regular-sized slider buns, feel free to line the pan, but it's not as necessary since the buns can be removed more easily from the pan one-by-one. If you choose not to line the pan, still brush the bottom of the pan with butter.
Keywords: sloppy joes, sloppy joe sliders, mini sloppy joes