Junior Joes – Homemade Sloppy Joes Made Pint-Sized

These cute little bites are my homemade version of sloppy joes. They’re perfect for “junior” diners because they’re just the right size for young hands… plus they are truly yummy!

This dinner is ideal for parents to make for their little ones because it’s almost as easy to throw together as the store bought kind. Plus you get to control exactly what goes into them. My version is a little on the sweet side which all three of us really love. But for parents who would like to add a little less sugar, it’s no big deal to just leave off a tablespoon or two. Feel free to play with this and make it your own! Of course this meat sauce would be delicious on any kind of bun. They definitely don’t have to be “junior” all the time. Be that as it may, I do think they are wonderful on these parker house rolls, so please try them at least once!

However you end up making these, just make sure it’s on a bun and soon!

Junior Joes Recipe


  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef or turkey
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 1/2 cup minced bell pepper
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons granulated garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 can tomato paste (6 ounce can)
  • 1 can tomato sauce (15 ounce can)
  • 2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 packages of frozen Parker House Rolls


Step 1
Pull your ground beef out of the fridge so it's not too cold once you're ready to cook. Preheat a skillet over just below medium heat. If you're using parker house rolls, preheat your oven according to the package directions for them as well.

While your pan and oven are heating up, mince the onion and pepper. Green is the traditional pepper of choice in sloppy joes. However, we are a non-traditional, green bell pepper hating kind of family. All that considered, pick your favorite bell pepper color and mince the life out of it!
Step 2
Once you're minced and the skillet feels hot to your hovering hand, add a tablespoon of olive oil.

Toss in the peppers and onions.
Step 3
Saute around 4 minutes, or until the minced combo looks translucent and softened.
Step 4
Plunk your ground beef or turkey into the skillet.

I don't know why I enjoy seeing it in this big blob, but I do!
Step 5
Use a sturdy spatula or spoon to break up your blob into smaller bits.
Step 6
Continue to brown the meat and break it up into smaller pieces for around 5 minutes.

Sprinkle the salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder over the meat.
Step 7
Scoop out about half the can of tomato paste, and add it to the meat mix.

I didn't measure, but this is what half of a can looks like.
Step 8
Work the tomato paste into the meat until it's completely incorporated.

Next add in the whole can of tomato sauce, the worcestershire, and the sugar.
Step 9
Stir it all together, and reduce the heat to medium low.

Step 10
Once the sloppy joe sauce is bubbly, set your timer for 20 minutes. Apart from an occasional stir, all the sauce needs now is to simmer and thicken.

This is when I put my frozen rolls into the oven. Most of the frozen parker house rolls I've used go into a 300 degree oven for 25 minutes. But definitely cook them according to your package directions.

Even frozen they look cute!

Step 11
Your sloppy sauce should be thick enough to leave a wide trail behind your spatula as it scrapes along the pan. If it's been at least 20 minutes, and your sauce is looking like this then it's time to cut the heat!
Step 12
Now it's just a matter of assembling these delicious little sammies!

Here's my son Wyatt's plate.
Step 13
I realize all three year olds eat differently. Heck, even the same three year old will eat differently from one meal to the next. But I have to say that he ate his entire plate of food happily!
Step 14
I hope that your family enjoys these tasty little Joes as much as mine did!

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