Kids Christmas Sloppy Joe Recipe

November 17, 2017

With Thanksgiving next week, Christmas may still seem far off. But, it’s only a couple short weeks away! The holidays are always packed with many things, and we can often get so busy that when it comes time to host a Christmas gathering, kid’s party, or even just a play date – we get so overwhelmed and feel short on ideas.

I saw these cute mini Rudolph sloppy joes a couple of years ago on television and immediately knew I had to make them myself one day. So last year, when our oldest two kiddos had a little Christmas themed play date, I gave them a go and they were an instant hit – with both the kids and adults!

They are easy, cute, and I love how versatile they are. You can make these using any sandwich filling, but we have always made them using ground turkey or beef for a fun take on sloppy joes. Anything mini is always a little more fun and with a few extra minutes you can make up a whole tray of these festive reindeers for your next gathering; big or small! Scroll down for the full recipe and instructions.

Sloppy Joe Recipe:

This recipe made approximately 24 mini sandwiches

  • 2 lbs ground turkey or lean ground beef
  • 1 green pepper; diced (for me this yielded about 3/4 cup diced pepper)
  • Half of 1 medium-sized onion; diced (for me this yielded about 1/3 cup diced onion)
  • 1 cup ketchup (we make our own, and the recipe can be found here: homemade ketchup recipe
  • 1 and 1/2 tbsp brown sugar (more or less as desired)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup water
  • slider buns, or rolls (we used Kings Hawaiian’s original rolls)

Reindeer Supplies: mini pretzels twists, edible/ candy eyes (available at most grocery stores and craft-type stores), grape tomatoes, and toothpicks.


  1. Dice pepper and onion. Set aside.
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, brown ground turkey or beef for a couple minutes, then add the green pepper and onion and stir it all up.
  3. Once brown and cooked through, drain and then return to heat/ skillet.
  4. Add in ketchup, brown sugar, garlic powder, and water. Stir until well incorporated.
  5. Cover skillet and turn heat to low. Allow to simmer for 20 minutes or so, until all saucy and yummy.
  6. Pile sloppy joe meat on sliced (halved) buns or rolls.
  7. For reindeer extras:
    • Nose: Slice grape tomatoes in half, attaching a toothpick to the inside of the tomato half and sliding it into the top of the bun, as shown in images.
    • Eyes: Attach candy eyes with a drop of honey, peanut butter, etc.; just something sticky you have on hand.
    • Antlers: Break pretzel twists into halved pieces to resemble antlers. Stick one end of each pretzel into the top of the bun, as shown in images.

Now serve & enjoy! If you have leftover meat, it can be stored in the refridgerator for up to 3 days.

Some fun suggestions for sides to serve alongside these sandwiches: cut up/ baby carrots (AKA reindeer food) and celery trees (as shown in the image above) – just cut up celery sticks and top with yellow pepper “stars” (cut using a mini cookie cutter).

Impress guests young and old with this quick and festive Christmas food idea. Simple, yummy and FUN! Also, be sure to shop The Land of Nod for all your Holiday party décor and other home goods; in addition to the paper plates, cups and napkins shown here. The Land of Nod has some of the cutest stockings, ornaments, garlands and more; perfect for sprucing up any space in your home for the Holidays season!


Lunches + Littles focuses on quick, healthy and fun meal options for little ones while sharing practical tips & tricks on how to make meals enjoyable, all the while keeping things simple. A lover of colorful plates and an advocate for getting kids in the kitchen, Lunches + Littles is also a great resource for parents of picky eaters, parents looking for healthy family and toddler recipes and those mamas (dads too!) who are short on time. A mantra of sorts: Making meals fun doesn’t have to be hard! With 3 little ones (3 and under) it can’t be! Follow @lunchesandlittles for all of the above… And more!