Lunch Lady Sloppy Joes

Lunch Lady Sloppy Joes are a fun twist on sloppy joes and an easy dinner for any night of the week. Hotdog buns, stuffed with a mozzarella cheese stick and topped with hot sloppy joe sauce for a string-cheesy and delicious dinner.

Lunch Lady Sloppy Joes l

Let’s talk dinnertime, shall we?

More often than not I find myself in a bit of a struggle when it comes to what to make for dinner. Sometimes I just want to eat popcorn and Hershey kisses and be done with it. But I have these responsibilities. You know, kids.

Well, tonight was one of those nights. And no, we didn’t eat popcorn and Hershey kisses. After working a couple of twelve-hour shifts, I was only in the mood to cook something that didn’t take a whole lot of thought or time. So as I started flipping through my ever growing stack of recipes, I was suddenly struck by a memory of a childhood favorite.

Lunch Lady Sloppy Joes l

First before we move on, let me say that before today this recipe was nameless. My Mom didn’t have a name for these, because it was one of those things she made for us kids to use up the leftover sloppy Joe sauce (she’s clever like that). So there I sat tapping my fingers on my desk wondering what to call this recipe?! Then I was reminded of an old SNL skit, the one of Chris Farley as the lunch lady in Lunch Lady Land? She would bust out in son, singing “Sloppy joe… slop, sloppy Joe” with that giant mole on her (his?) face. The. Best. I hope the song is now stuck in your head as it is mine.

And that, my friends, is how I got the name Lunch Lady Sloppy Joes.

Lunch Lady Sloppy Joes l

Let’s get started on the ‘sloppy’ sauce.

Lunch Lady Sloppy Joes l

Throw some bacon fat or olive oil into a deep sided skillet.

Lunch Lady Sloppy Joes l

First, dice an onion very fine.

Lunch Lady Sloppy Joes l

Then add them to the warm bacon fat in the skillet and cook until soft and translucent, not browned.

Lunch Lady Sloppy Joes l

Next squeeze the garlic cloves through a garlic press (or finely mince) into the pan. Stir and cook for 1 minute.

Lunch Lady Sloppy Joes l

Then add in the ground round. Use a potato masher to smash the meat into small crumbles.

Lunch Lady Sloppy Joes l

Next measure and add in 1-1/2 teaspoons of chili powder. I’m using Ancho because I love it but regular chili powder is fine too.

Lunch Lady Sloppy Joes l

Then add in about 1 to 2 teaspoons of yellow mustard. I go by taste. I’m so one of those people.

Lunch Lady Sloppy Joes l SimplyScratch.comLunch Lady Sloppy Joes l SimplyScratch.comLunch Lady Sloppy Joes l

Lastly, add the (15 ounce) can of tomato sauce and a small pinch of sugar. Then pour in 1/4 cup of water and the worcestershire sauce to taste.



Lunch Lady Sloppy Joes l

Then season with salt and pepper.


Lunch Lady Sloppy Joes l

Stir the sloppy joe sauce and over medium-heat, bring it to a simmer for about 10-15 minutes.

Lunch Lady Sloppy Joes l

Meanwhile slice up some green onions.

Lunch Lady Sloppy Joes l

This is the toughest part of the recipe. Ready? Okay. Now carefully remove the mozzarella cheese from the wrappers.

Lunch Lady Sloppy Joes l

And then place each one inside of their own hot dog buns. Tough stuff isn’t it?

Lunch Lady Sloppy Joes l

Doesn’t this look freaking weird? like white hot dogs? HA. No. Seriously it’s delicious, I promise.

Lunch Lady Sloppy Joes l

Next you’ll wan to top them with the Sloppy Joe sauce and sprinkle with the green onions. Because the sauce is piping hot it should soften the string cheese, therefore creating the most amazing cheese pull.

I like to serve them with some Bettermade chips and a Rock & Rye Faygo pop to make the childhood memory complete!

Lunch Lady Sloppy Joes l

My girls ate these up and requested them again the next day! For another fun version check out my recipe for Saucy Mozzarella Dogs! Because there’s no such thing as too many kid-friendly recipes where cheese is the star. 😉

Lunch Lady Sloppy Joes l

So fun and totally delicious. The proof is in the string!

Enjoy! And if you give these Lunch Lady Sloppy Joes a try, let me know! Snap a photo and tag me on twitter or instagram!

Lunch Lady Sloppy Joes l

My cookbook Simply Scratch : 120 Wholesome Homemade Recipes Made Easy is now available! CLICK HERE for details and THANK YOU in advance!

Yield: 8 servings

Lunch Lady Sloppy Joes

Lunch Lady Sloppy Joes
Lunch Lady Sloppy Joes are a fun twist on sloppy joes and an easy dinner for any night of the week. Hotdog buns, stuffed with a mozzarella cheese stick and topped with hot sloppy joe sauce for a string-cheesy and delicious dinner.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes


  • 2 teaspoons olive oil or bacon fat
  • 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1-1/4 pounds ground round
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons regular or ancho chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons yellow mustard, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup Water
  • Worcestershire Sauce, a few drops to taste
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 8 mozzarella string cheese sticks, at temperature**
  • 8 hotdog buns, toasted if you're in the mood
  • sliced green onions, for serving
  • pickled jalapenos, for serving (optional)


  1. In a medium sauce pan, over medium-low heat, sauté the onions in olive oil (or bacon fat). Once soft and translucent add in the garlic, cook for one minute. Next add in the ground beef and use a spatula (or potato masher) to break it up into small pieces and cook thoroughly.
  2. Then measure and add in the ancho chili powder, mustard, sugar, tomato sauce, water, Worcestershire, salt and pepper to the meat mixture. Stir and simmer over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Place the cheese sticks inside the buns and top with sloppy Joe sauce. Sprinkle with green onions, pickled jalapeno slices and/or anything else your heart desires and serve!


For optimal cheese string action, warm the mozzarella cheese sticks in the microwave until very soft (but not melting) before placing in the bun and pouring sloppy joe sauce on top.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 460 Total Fat: 21g Saturated Fat: 9g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 10g Cholesterol: 86mg Sodium: 1080mg Carbohydrates: 34g Fiber: 3g Sugar: 8g Protein: 32g
Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.

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31 Responses to “Lunch Lady Sloppy Joes”

  1. #
    Wanna Be A Country Cleaver — September 16, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    As if the "Lunch Lady-Sloppy" aspect of these wasn't fabulous enough – the addition of entire string cheeses sends me over the edge!! Must. Make!! ~Megan

  2. #
    Pretend Chef — September 16, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    Sloppy Joes excite me as an adult. The string cheese is a novel idea. Oh my! I would love to give this a try sometime. Perfect lunch for Itty Bitty and I to share.

  3. #
    Aarthi — September 16, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    Wow…i am drooling over here…I love anything cheesy and gooey.This is totally yumoooo….And the name suits it well…no other suggestion from my side…

    BTW I am going to try this tomorrow…I have everything on hand….

  4. #
    clare suzanne — September 16, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    Oh my gosh. The string cheese just made this recipe a must make. I applaud your creativity!

  5. #
    Danielle — September 16, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    What a great treat for the kids! We love string cheese in our family and I can't get my hubby to eat sloppy joes when I love them. I'm going to have to try this one 🙂

  6. #
    Bev Weidner — September 16, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    I am dying. I am looking at that cheese and I'm dying. I'm looking at that seasoned meat and I've just died.


  7. #
    Kaitlin — September 16, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    Seriously? WOW! I was sure there was going to be a hot dog under that gorgeous meat sauce, but a mozzarella stick?! I'am drooling!

  8. #
    Karen — September 16, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    I love it. What a great idea. We have man-size teenage boys running through our house all the time and this looks like something I good throw down in front of them quickly. And of course, save some for ME!

  9. #
    RavieNomNoms — September 16, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    OH MY! I was shocked when I saw those cheese sticks go into those hotdog buns!! What a creative idea…great for kids! Thank you for sharing it.

  10. #
    Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love. — September 16, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    Now this is a sloppy joe that I would want to eat!

  11. #
    Lauren's Latest — September 16, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    Your daughter looks like a mini you! How cute is she! Sloppy joes are one of my go to meals, for sure!

  12. #
    Sabrina-eat.drink.and be merry. — September 16, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    WONDERFUL IDEA! I dont have kids but I think my husband would be just as happy if I made him these for dinner! 🙂

  13. #
    Christine — September 17, 2011 at 1:23 am

    YUM!!! Perfect for kids…and the kids in us adults too!!! Totally saving this one!!! Your awesome!

  14. #
    Amanda — September 17, 2011 at 1:33 am

    omgoodness! this is soooo clever! must try this!

  15. #
    jesica @ Pencil Kitchen — September 17, 2011 at 1:48 am

    LOOK AT THE CHEESE STRETCH! I'm hungry now and its your fault… :p

  16. #
    Christine's Pantry — September 17, 2011 at 3:27 am

    What a great idea. Easy and tasty… love it.

  17. #
    Yesim — September 17, 2011 at 8:25 am

    while i was going down and see all the photos, my mouth was getting wating:)) great photos , presantation, delicious food..

  18. #
    Curt — September 17, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    What an awesome idea to put the string cheese in the hot dog bun! I will definitely be making this.

  19. #
    Sandra — September 17, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    Oh I am ready to talk about dinner every morning hahaha Wow lady you did it again! What a FUN idea..I think I have to make it for my kids, they would be so happy! I have almost everything except the buns, will have to run to a store..Awesome!!! Thank you for sharing!!!

  20. #
    Baking Serendipity — September 17, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    The string cheese trick is awesome! I love this 🙂

  21. #
    Andrea — October 5, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    Just made it for Renee and Joao and Xime, well she can't really eat it, but she liked watching me cook it 🙂

  22. #
    Mama-Inski — October 24, 2011 at 11:47 pm

    I had some leftover sloppy joe filling and happened upon your site (through Pinterest) today… so, we tried these for dinner. they were delish! thanks again 🙂

  23. #
    ~Kim~ — October 31, 2011 at 3:15 am

    This was a hit – even from my son who "hates sloppy joes but these homemade ones rock". I didn't use water at all, let it cook down to a thicker consistency, and I threw some dark molasses in there too. Even Nana gave it a thumbs up, and she is a hard sell!

  24. #
    Mrsblocko — November 2, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    I borrowed this idea and wrote about it here. I used cheater cheater Manwich, but the cheese stick idea is brilliant. My daughter now LOVES sloppy joes. Thank you!

  25. #
    Felisa — May 26, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    Your mom was creative! I can’t wait to try this. I know my husband and kids will love it. And so will I!

  26. #
    Rachelle — May 13, 2014 at 11:09 am

    These are the best! A new favorite- could not believe how easy these were to make & how yummy they were. My family loved them as all, definitely making these homemade from now on- no more nasty sloppy joe mixes.

  27. #
    Jessica — March 4, 2015 at 9:33 pm

    This recipe promised leftovers…. well, not in my house! My boys devoured the pan and asked me to make them again. This will definitely be a regular in our house. Simple to make and delicious. The only change I made was instead of Ancho Chili Pepper (I was out), I used a Pub Burger seasoning with a little chili pepper.

  28. #
    VIVIAN — May 13, 2016 at 1:16 pm

    Most clever recipe. Must try to make this!


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