Skip to Content

How long can you keep leftover sloppy joes?

Sloppy joes are a classic American dish that are quick and easy to make. The mixture of ground beef, tomatoes, onions, and seasonings makes for a saucy, delicious sandwich filling. But like many meat-based dishes, sloppy joe mixture does not keep for very long in the refrigerator.

How Long Do Sloppy Joes Last in the Fridge?

The exact shelf life of leftover sloppy joe mixture depends on a few factors:

  • Ingredient quality – Fresh, high-quality ingredients will last longer.
  • Storage container – An airtight container is best.
  • Refrigerator temperature – Colder temps (34-40°F) extend shelf life.
  • Preparation method – Proper cooking and cooling procedures maximize shelf life.

Taking these factors into account, here are some general guidelines for sloppy joe refrigeration:

Cooked Sloppy Joe Mixture:

  • Refrigerator: 3-4 days
  • Freezer: 2-3 months

Uncooked Sloppy Joe Mixture:

  • Refrigerator: 1-2 days
  • Freezer: 2-3 months

The cooked sloppy joe filling will last a bit longer since the meat has already been cooked to a safe temperature. Raw meat mixtures should not be kept as long.

How to Tell if Leftover Sloppy Joes are Bad

The best ways to determine if sloppy joes are spoiled are:

  • Smell – Bad sloppy joes will have a sour, off smell.
  • Texture – The mixture may become slimy or sticky.
  • Color – Loss of vibrant color, graying or darkening.

If your leftover sloppy joes have developed any of these qualities, it’s best to throw them out. Don’t taste test sloppy joes that look or smell bad!

Food Safety Tips

To maximize the shelf life of leftover sloppy joes, be sure to:

  • Refrigerate within 2 hours of cooking.
  • Store in airtight containers to prevent drying out.
  • Allow to cool completely before refrigerating.
  • Discard after 3-4 days in the fridge.
  • Freeze for longer storage (up to 2-3 months).
  • Reheat to 165°F before serving leftovers.

Freezing Sloppy Joes

Freezing is a great way to extend the shelf life of sloppy joe mixture for a few months. Here are some tips:

  • Portion into freezer bags or airtight containers.
  • Flatten bags or leave 1⁄2 inch headspace for expansion.
  • Label bags with contents and date.
  • Freeze for up to 2-3 months at 0°F or below.
  • Thaw in fridge before reheating.

You can also freeze assembled sloppy joe sandwiches. Just wrap them tightly in plastic wrap or foil and freeze. Thaw in the refrigerator before eating.

Can You Refreeze Sloppy Joes?

It’s not recommended to refreeze sloppy joes after they have been thawed. Refreezing can potentially allow for more bacteria growth. However, there are some instances where it may be okay to refreeze, such as:

  • If thawed in fridge 24 hours or less.
  • Never reached room temperature.
  • No off colors, smells or textures.

For best quality and food safety, try to thaw only what you plan to eat within a few days. You can safely refreeze any unthawed portions.

Reheating Sloppy Joes

When reheating sloppy joes, it’s important to heat them to an internal temperature of 165°F. Here are some good reheating methods:

  • Stovetop: Heat sloppy joe mixture in a saucepan, stirring frequently, until hot and steaming.
  • Microwave: Microwave individual portions or wrapped sandwiches in 30 second intervals until heated through.
  • Oven: Place sloppy joe mixture or wrapped sandwiches in a 350°F oven and heat until 165°F internally.

Only reheat the amount that will be immediately served. Do not reheat sloppy joes more than once. Steam sloppy joe buns or rolls to refresh before serving.

Other Tips for Enjoying Leftover Sloppy Joes

  • Try a different style of bun, like pretzel or Hawaiian rolls.
  • Top with cheese, bacon, sautéed peppers or fried onions.
  • Serve open-faced and top with mashed potatoes.
  • Use as a pizza topping or nacho topping.
  • Stuff into peppers, potatoes or wraps.

With proper storage in the refrigerator or freezer, leftover sloppy joes can be safely enjoyed for up to 3-4 days after cooking. Follow these guidelines to determine when it’s time to toss out your leftover sloppy joe mixture.


Leftover sloppy joes can be kept 3-4 days in the refrigerator or 2-3 months in the freezer. Check for off smells, textures, and colors to determine if they’ve spoiled. For best quality and food safety, store in airtight containers, refrigerate promptly, and reheat fully before eating. Follow proper freezing and thawing methods. Sloppy joes should be consumed within 4 days for optimal freshness and to prevent foodborne illness.