Homemade Manwich (Sloppy Joe Sauce)

October 15, 2014

Truth time: I love Manwich. Are you all full of judgment over that? You shouldn’t be, it’s delicious. Buuuuuut, let’s not talk about how the second ingredient is sugar. And the 4th. And the 6th. True, there is added sugar in my homemade version. True, there’s even two kinds of sugar. But they’re a bit more natural and better fit into the realm of things I like to eat. Not saying I don’t like eating sugar, I just normally prefer to keep sugar in cookies and not in my dinner.

Homemade Manwich (Sloppy Joe Sauce)

Plus, look at the ingredients list. There’s fresh veggies (not weirdo dehydrated ones — why dehydrate something before you add it to a sauce and can it?) and some spice. I start with tomato paste and tomato sauce as the base ingredients. If you’re not into buying canned, you can make these yourself (I often make and can tomato sauce). I normally opt for a tomato paste that has tomatoes as the only ingredient and tomato sauce that contains just tomato, salt, and a couple of spices. Simple, easy, delicious.

Homemade Manwich (Sloppy Joe Sauce)

What do you do with sloppy joe sauce once you have it? Uhhh, make sloppy joes. Duh! The Manwich website has a variety of suggestions of what you can do with it if you want to get creative — 1 1/2 c of this sauce = 1 can of theirs. I mixed it with 2 c of prepared soy crumbles and heated it on the stove until hot, but you could use cooked lentils, crumbled tempeh or tofu, chopped up veggies (sautéed carrots and mushrooms!), or even *real*  meat if you’re into that. This recipe makes a little over 3 c, so it’s like having two cans of sauce. Perfect if you’re feeding people with multiple diets in one house. If you only need one can worth, you can store the rest in the fridge (I used mine about a week later and it was still perfect) or in the freezer.

Homemade Manwich (Sloppy Joe Sauce)
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 14

  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 small stalk celery
  • 1 small carrot, peeled
  • 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 3 tbsp. agave nectar (can swap for honey but will alter taste slightly)
  • 1 tbsp. molasses
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard

  1. Very finely mince the garlic, bell pepper, celery, and carrot or pulse in a food processor. Add to a nonstick pan over medium heat (spritzed with nonstick spray or lined with a small amount of water). Sautee 5 minutes.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 – 10 minutes until the flavors have melded.
  3. Use as you would sloppy joe sauce. Typically 1½ c per 2 heaping cups meat substitute (such as soy crumbles, crumbled tempeh/tofu, veggies) or even “real” meat, if desired.
  4. Store extra in a sealed container in the fridge or freezer.

1½ c = 1 can (15 oz) sauce. Can suggests preparing with 1 lb of ground meat, prepared. I found ~2c meat substitute (usually 1 frozen package) was perfect. This recipe makes 2 cans worth.
If you don’t like the finely minced vegetable pieces in the sauce, you can pulse in a food processor or blender until smooth (cool slightly first).
Opt for tomato paste and tomato sauce with as few ingredients as possible to keep this sauce loaded with real ingredients.

Nutrition Information
Serving size: ~ 3½ tbsp Calories: 40 Fat: 0 Carbohydrates: 10 Fiber: 1 Protein: 1

Interestingly enough, this even has 30 fewer calories per serving than the canned variety! Win 🙂

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    Liz @ I Heart Vegetables Oct 17, 2014

    I haven’t had a sloppy joe since I was a kid! (Finding veggie versions are pretty rare!) I’m totally going to try this though. I’m sure my husband would love it!

    Dulcie @ Foodie Fiasco Oct 16, 2014

    This recipe is ingenious, Kelly! I wonder if I swapped the traditional “Manwich” out with this at a football get-together if some fellas would notice…hmm sneaky sneaky. Regardless, this recipe looks so delicious and nutritious! I agree that I’d rather have a sugary dessert than dinner! Thinking of how sweet many processed foods are now reminds me of Buddy the Elf’s idea of a food pyramid: candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup.

      Kelly Oct 16, 2014

      The taste is seriously identical! It’s amazing 🙂

    Joanne Oct 16, 2014

    Haha I can’t say I’ve ever had Manwich (that I remember) but I love the sound of your sloppy joe sauce! i definitely see some in our future. Haven’t had one in FOREVER.

      Kelly Oct 16, 2014

      Whaaa? Did you have a childhood full of homemade goodness and no crazy from-a-can sauces? I have some pretty found memories of eating Manwich as a kid!

    Isadora Oct 15, 2014

    I can’t remember the last time I had a sloppy joe, but now that I’m looking at these I can’t think of a single reason why I don’t eat them all the time! I love making homemade versions of storebought things like this that always have strange ingredients in them. Homemade is always so much better! I’m gonna have to make some of these mamwiches soon 🙂

    Hannah @ CleanEatingVeggieGirl Oct 15, 2014

    Awesome idea, Kelly! It is nice to see ingredients that are REAL! This would be perfect with temph or lentils 🙂