The Smoky Upgrade You Need For Canned Sloppy Joe Sauce

A sloppy joe sandwich
A sloppy joe sandwich - Lauripatterson/Getty Images

You never know where the craving for something hearty and indulgent might take you. Sometimes, it comes back to a good old sloppy joe sandwich and its heavenly, flavor-bursting bites. This is why it's always handy to have a can of sloppy joe sauce in the pantry, ready to bust out for a quick put-together. The downside is the flavors may not be as satisfying as a sauce made from scratch. Luckily, there are many ways to upgrade canned sloppy joe sauce, and one of them is liquid smoke. Is it a little strange for sloppy joe sandwiches? Perhaps, but it's an oddity that works better than you'd imagine.

Although more commonly known as a barbecue specialty, liquid smoke has no problem blending into sloppy joe sauce. True to the name, it replicates the smoky tone of smoke-cured food, with nuances varying between different brands and flavors. When infused into the sauce, it perfectly captures grilled food's magic, but without the hassle of firing up the grill. The smokiness is an enthralling undertone lingering behind after the sauce's savory, hearty richness has blessed your taste buds. Only a few drops of this unique condiment will amp up your sloppy joe sauce, giving your sandwich the intricate depth it deserves.

Read more: Tips You Need When Cooking With Ground Beef

Lots Of Fun Combinations To Try Out With This Pairing

A bottle of liquid smoke
A bottle of liquid smoke - The Image Party/Shutterstock

The beauty of canned sloppy joe sauce is you can just skip the multi-step preparation and jump straight to tossing it into the pan for a quick reheat. That's also where the liquid smoke joins the mixture. You won't need much, only a tablespoon is enough for imparting the flavor without overwhelming the dish.

In addition to the liquid smoke, consider adding BBQ sauce for a sloppy joe sandwich redolent of that grilled food goodness. It adds a touch of tangy sweetness to the sauce, diversifying the flavor profile even further. While you're at it, a few pieces of bacon isn't such a bad idea, either. For those who like a spicy kick, go with chili powder and smoked paprika. You can also try a mash-up with another beloved classic — a grilled cheese sandwich — for an ultra-satisfying eating experience.

Stepping beyond the sandwich realm, there's a myriad of other dishes you can make with your sloppy joe sauce. When game day rolls around, sliders are a pretty solid choice. You may also find this sauce to be an unexpectedly splendid addition to casseroles, fries, quesadillas, pasta, and generally anything that calls for savory flavors. Typically, sloppy joe sauce goes hand-in-hand with ground meat, but if you're looking for a vegan option, consider swapping it out for a legume instead (like we did with our Instant Pot lentil sloppy joe recipe).

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