Sloppy Joes For A Crowd

Quality ground beef enhanced with a tomato based sauce is the base for this delicious Sloppy Joes For A Crowd recipe.

A sloppy joe sandwich on a soft sesame seed bun on a white plate with potato chips in the background on a red and white napkin.

Big Batch of Sloppy Joes Recipe

Saucy Sloppy Joe meat generously fills a soft, fresh bun and is served along side potato chips to make a great way to feed a big crowd. This is one of our popular recipes for a crowd.

We make these Crock Pot Sloppy Joes regularly for our family and wanted to adapt the recipe to feed 30 people at Vacation Bible School at church. We’ve also made them and spaghetti for a crowd for a homeless shelter and served along with Peanut Butter Sheet Cake. All of these recipes got lots of compliments!

Just like our Shredded Chicken Sandwiches, this recipe holds really well on warm in a crock pot. While making Sloppy Joes For A Crowd takes some planning and preparation it is still a very economical and easy way to feed lots of people a quality meal.

Delicious sloppy joes for a crowd in a large black slow cooker with a spoon sticking out on a red and white napkin.

We also appreciate that this big batch ground beef recipe is easier to make and a bit more budget friendly than our Shredded Beef Sandwiches.

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For a cold sandwich selection a Deli Meat and Cheese Tray is also a great option.

Why This Recipe Works

  • Crock Pot Sloppy Joes for a crowd hold well on warm and are a hassle free way to serve a food at a fundraiser or concession stand.
  • Serve a family style meal at church or a family reunion.
  • Low stress meal to share with friends at a birthday party along with our famous Chocolate Cake With Pudding.
  • Easy to make ahead and reheat the day of the event.
  • The amount of sauce is a general guideline and can be varied based on how much meat is available.
A hearty sandwich generously filled with saucy sloppy joe meat on a fresh bun with ripple potato chips on the back of the white plate and a slow cooker in the background.

This is one of the recipes we have served at a local homeless shelter and our Chicken and Noodles in a Roaster is another one that was enjoyed.

Make Ahead Details

Brown the ground been a couple pounds at a time in a big skillet, drain and season. Pour into large self-sealing containers and refrigerate or freeze.

The day of the party or big meal heat the ground beef mixture in a large crock pot and stir often. Turn to low and serve.

Meal Prep Considerations

  • Have enough containers to allow the smaller batches to cool off a bit before chilling.
  • Putting 5 to 10 pounds of hot meat straight in the refrigerator or freezer is not safe because the meat will not chill evenly and quickly
  • Distribute smaller containers throughout the refrigerator and turn the temperature down for food safety.
  • If making Big Batches of Pasta Salad or Coleslaw for a Crowd plan refrigerator space accordingly.

How Much Hamburger for Sloppy Joes for 150

Use 20 pounds of ground beef to make 150 sandwiches with 1/3 cup of meat. This amount of meat works well on a medium sized bun.

Close up serving spoon of ground beef sloppy joe meat over top of a recipe full of sloppy joes for a crowd.

We always use a metal measuring cup and level off the top to guarantee equally sized portions. Using a serving spoon means the amount of meat in a scoop or sandwich will vary significantly depending who is scooping.

While testing this recipe we made a two pound batch (1/5 of the recipe in the card at the bottom of the post) and physically measured out how many servings.

How Much Meat Fits In A Crock Pot?

This big batch of sloppy joes uses 10 pounds of meat and fits in an 8 quart crock pot with just enough room to stir.

Cooked ground beef coated with tomato mixture with pieces of softened onions showing around the seasoned Sloppy Joe meat filling a large slow cooker on a red and white napkin.

If making a bigger batch I would use multiple crock pots or an electric roaster. I find that slow cookers are much easier to transport than roasters.

I can easily carry a warm slow cooker myself, but a warm roaster is more difficult since you need to hold it out away from yourself while walking.

Step By Step Instructions

Begin by softening all of the onions in a teaspoon or two of vegetable oil over medium high heat.

Stir often until the chopped onion is translucent. Set aside and divide into fifths when mixing into meat.

Chopped onion sautéing in butter in a non-stick skillet.

Cook and crumble defrosted ground beef in a skillet over medium or medium high heat.

Drain any fat. We like to use lean ground beef so there’s less to drain. Here’s great pictures on how to drain ground beef.

This is the most difficult step and the limiting factor in how much beef can be made at once.

Can of tomato sauce, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce poured over cooked, browned and crumbled ground beef on the stove.

Add 1/5 of the ketchup, tomato sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Stir well.

Close up big batch of sloppy joe meat with plenty of sauce and flavor.

Measure out 1/5 of the spices and sprinkle as evenly over the top as possible.

Mix well again.

Chili powder, pepper and garlic powder sprinkled over top of saucy ground beef mixture.

Add 1/5 of the softened onions and stir it up.

Tenderized chopped onion returned to the pot of tomato and ketchup flavored ground beef.

Allow to simmer on low for 10 – 15 minutes before serving or put in a crock pot on low.

Big batch of sloppy joe meat cooking in a large skillet.

If making the recipe ahead then pour into containers. We like to store 1 to 2 pounds of sloppy joes in each box so that it can cool more evenly which is important for food safety.

Recipe Tips & Tricks

  • Buns come in various sizes which will greatly impact the amount of meat used.
  • The limiting factor in how much you can make at once seems to be how much beef fits in your schedule and can be successfully drained.
  • If an exact amount of meat is available then use a measuring cup to share equal portions.
  • At an event with kids I like to have slider rolls available for people who prefer smaller portions. This helps save meat from being wasted.
  • Leftover meat is great on these Hawaiian Roll Sliders.
Over head view of large crock pot nearly full of sloppy joe meat with a silver stirring spoon sticking out.

More Recipes For A Crowd:

Close up of a homemade sloppy joe sandwich on a bun with sesame seeds and rippled potato chips in the background.

Sloppy Joes For A Crowd

Servings 75 sandwiches
Author: Jennifer
Quality ground beef enhanced with a tomato based sauce is the base for this delicious Sloppy Joes For A Crowd recipe.
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 5 hours
Total Time 6 hours


  • 10 pounds lean ground beef
  • 5 small onions
  • 60 ounces tomato sauce
  • 3 cups ketchup
  • 5 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 3 teaspoons chili powder
  • 3 teaspoons black pepper


  • In our home kitchen we divide the recipe into 5 batches for ease of handling.
  • Brown ground beef in two pound batches in a non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Drain fat.
  • Add 1/5 of all remaining ingredients to the skillet and stir together until mixed well.
  • Add meat mixture to a lined or greased slow cooker and stir well. Cook on low for 4 – 6 hours or high for 3 – 4 hours. Stir at least every hour.
  • OR once cooked, store in a self-sealing container and allow to cool before refrigerating or freezing. Defrost if necessary and heat on high in a crock pot for 2 – 5 hours depending how full the crock pot is. Stir every 45 minutes for best results and most even warming.


Calories: 102kcalCarbohydrates: 5gProtein: 13gFat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.2gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 37mgSodium: 251mgPotassium: 324mgFiber: 1gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 173IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 13mgIron: 2mg

Nutritional Disclaimer

“Plowing Through Life” is not a dietitian or nutrition professional. Any nutritional information shared is an estimate and can vary greatly depending on specific products are used. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through an online nutritional calculator of your choice.

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