22 kid's party food ideas preschoolers are going to love (and #11 is certainly a parent-pleaser)

From snake sandwiches to a watermelon pig, from mini pizzas to popcorn bites, here's our favourite party food for kids...

Kids' party food

Feeling a bit stuck over what food to prep for your child's birthday celebrations? Then you'll need a handy collection of all the best kid's party food ideas, neatly gathered together in one place. 

If the usual cheese sarnies cut into triangles feel a tad uninspiring, we've got a raft of buffet food ideas from creative ways to present sandwiches to mini pizza ideas to unusual ways of making a sausage roll. And if a plastic carton of grapes seems dull, we've got fun ways of presenting fruit (that might even make the kids actually want to eat it…), as well as unique biscuits and birthday cakes for kids

"Finger food works best. Sandwiches can be cut into fun shapes to match the party theme using cookie cutters," suggests Sophie Butler from Sugar Tea Room, where she makes party food and cakes for children's birthdays.  "Fruit platters using food which doesn't discolour when cut – such as oranges, berries, grapes, and watermelon – make a fun party food display, arranged like a rainbow for instant fun. Cucumber and carrots cut into sticks with a dip in the middle is another easy party food."

If you're creative and have some spare hours, you might well want to make your whole food table, but, for those strapped for time, it can work well to order at least some elements of your kid's party food online – because we all need a little helping hand sometime. Happy baking…

Quick and easy party food ideas for kids

Cornflake chicken dippers

An excellent protein hit for the party kids

(Image credit: TI Media Limited)

1. Cornflake chicken dippers

Makes: 25 | Prep time: 10 mins | Cook time: 15 mins

A really easy take on chicken goujons dipped in cornflakes instead of breadcrumbs for a super crunchy finish. A great one for a kid's party but also for dinner time in general – a far better option nutritionally than the uber-processed varieties. This recipe comes with a sour cream and chive dip, but if that's a little too exotic (!) for your small guests, then ketchup, mayo, and salsa are also perfectly respectable options.

Get the recipe: Cornflake chicken dippers

Mini salami pizzas

These cute mini pizzas will be snaffled up in no time

(Image credit: Alamy Stock Photo)

2. Mini salami pizzas

Makes: 8 | Prep time: 10 mins | Cook time: 10 mins

Making pizza from scratch is much fun and can easily be turned into a pre-party activity with the kids. These mini versions feature salami, but that could be replaced with ham – and we feel it would be prudent to add some veggies on there too to counterbalance all the party junk they'll want to eat. Sweetcorn is a particularly good option for kids, as are fresh, chopped cherry tomatoes. If you're pushed for time, using toasted English muffins as a base works perfectly well. 

Get the recipe: Mini salami pizzas

Cheesy number crunchers

Their number will be up once the kids get their hungry hands on these savoury bakes

3. Cheesy number crunchers

Makes: 20 | Prep time: 45 mins | Cook time: 10 mins

Fans of cheesy crackers will go, well, crackers for these savoury seeded numbers, a bit like cheese straws in taste, but way more inventive in look. You could use them to spell out the birthday boy or girl's age or incorporate them into any game that involves counting. Use letter counters instead and spell out everyone's names, like a place setting – lots of fun to be had for young learners.

Get the recipe: Cheesy number crunchers

Pizza biscuits

It's pizza, but not as we know it

4. Pizza biscuits

Makes: 20 | Prep time: 30 mins | Cook time: 15 mins

Excellent novelty factor in these sweet pizza biscuits with a dollop of strawberry jam resembling tomato sauce, a grating of marzipan starring as the mozzarella, and glace cherries as cherry tomatoes. Simple, yet very effective. Absolute guarantee that no one will be able to stop at one, either.

Get the recipe: Pizza biscuits

Popcorn pops

SImple and very, very appealing

5. Popcorn pops

Makes: 10 | Prep time: 40 mins, plus chilling time 

So much simpler and probably even more effective than a cake pop, the kids will go bonkers for this popcorn and marshmallow mix, dipped in melted white chocolate and topped with multi-coloured sprinkles. They'd better be handed out rather than presented on the table or they'll all bypass the carrot sticks and elbowing each other out of the way to get to them…

Get the recipe: Popcorn pops

Marshmallow swizzle sticks

Marshmallow, chocolate and sprinkles – actual kid heaven

6. Marshmallow swizzle sticks

Makes: 10 | Prep time: 20 Mins plus chilling time

Sometimes the simple things are the best. Excellent for the time-strapped, this is simply marshmallows on a skewer, dipped in melted chocolate and topped with sprinkles. And what's not to love about that? They would look right at home amongst a spread of buffet food or make fancy party bag treats wrapped in cellophane bags and tied with a piece of ribbon.

Get the recipe: Marshmallow swizzle sticks

Stripy picnic rolls

A sandwich, but not as we know it

7. Stripy picnic rolls

Makes: 4 | Prep time: 30 mins

These colourful rolls are an excellent way of sneaking veg in, by layering cucumber and tomatoes in the mix. Ham, salami, or boiled eggs work well too, and slices of Red Leicester for the bright colour. They're marvellous for lunch boxes and picnics too. Use the excess soft bread to dip in soup or hummus later, or freeze and use for breadcrumbs so as not to waste.

Get the recipe: Stripy picnic rolls

Twisty sausage rolls

Pass us the ketchup, we're going in…

8. Twisty sausage rolls

Makes: 24 | Prep time: 5 mins | Cook time: 15 mins

These helter-skelter hot dogs will bring all of the fun of the fair to your party. A simple twist of puff pastry transforms the humble sausage into a birthday-worthy snack - served with plenty of ketchup. It's also a good way to cut down on the excess pastry in most sausage rolls. Use pork or veggie sausages, or a mix of both to cater for all. 

Get the recipe: Twisty sausage rolls

Kids' party food

Sandwiches snaking their way into your child's tummy, no problem

9. Snake sandwiches

Serves: 24 | Prep time: 20 mins 

These ingenious sandwiches might be a bit fiddly to prepare but they're worth it for the smug feeling you'll get when the kids devour them in seconds. Each sandwich is cut using a circular cookie cutter and displayed in a wavy line to form a snake. You could start the snake with savoury fillings and work through sweet fillings like jam. Make a head from the cucumber with olives and peppers for the eyes and a slice of ham for the snake's tongue (or use a slice of pepper if going meat-free). Brilliant.

Get the recipe: Snake sandwiches

Lemon squares

Adorable, aren't they?

(Image credit: TI Media Limited)

10. Lemon squares

Makes: 16 | Prep time: 20 mins | Cook time: 25 mins

These light and lemony cake squares make great little treats to wrap up for party bags, or a quick and colourful birthday cake – it could be served as a tray bake. Top with your child's favourite sweets or sprinkles for a fabulous finish – we do love a Liquorice Allsort or a Dolly Mixture for a brilliant clash of bright colours. 

Get the recipe: Lemon squares

Watermelon pig

The kids will have never wanted a piece of fruit more

11. Watermelon pig

Makes: 1 | Prep time: 30 mins

Oink oink! If there's one thing that will encourage even the most stubborn of haters to give fruit a chance, it's going to be serving it all up in a watermelon piggy. Why didn't we think of that before? Choose whatever fruit you desire, including watermelon of course to fill his tummy – going for varieties that won't discolour (wise to swerve apples and pears, for example). Don't forget to cut grapes lengthways to avoid a choking hazard, and make eyes from them and raisins. Cute, right?

Get the recipe: Watermelon pig

Rainbow cake push-ups

What a talking point these fabulous creations will be

12. Rainbow cake push-ups

Makes: 6 | Prep time: 35 mins | Cook time: 20 mins

How fun are these rainbow pops? One for a quiet day when there's plenty of time to spend colouring sponges, it'll be worth it to give the kids as special going-home gifts after the party. Stacking your cake in individual push pops means less mess and zero squabbling over who's got the biggest slice! Buy cake push-up containers online or from cook stores. And the leftover sponge can be used for more cake pops.

Get the recipe: Rainbow cake push ups

Smarties cookies

A classic for a reason

13. Smarties cookies

Makes: 20 | Prep time: 20 mins | Cook time: 10 mins

These easy cookies, flavoured with ginger and lemon, bake in just 12 minutes, so they're the perfect option if you're pressed for time. Cut with regular cookie cutters or as gingerbread folks, and decorate with Smarties (Or M&Ms, should you prefer) stuck on with icing. An oldie, but a goodie. 

Get the recipe: Smarties cookies

Ice cream cone cupcakes

Even better than actual ice cream, if such a thing were possible

(Image credit: TI Media Limited)

14. Ice cream cone cupcakes

Makes: 12 | Prep time: 45 mins | Cook time: 25 mins

Don't tell Mr Whippy, but we think these ice cream cone cupcakes are even better than an actual 99. With a fluffy sponge baked into a wafer cone and topped with a swirl of buttercream, it's a brilliant idea to set up a topping station of sprinkles. Flakes, fudge pieces, chocolate vermicelli, and whatever else you fancy, so that the kids can choose (and yes, they will likely choose everything). That way it doubles up as a party activity too – which is win, win.

Get the recipe: Ice cream cone cupcakes

Mini burgers

The kids can help make these mini burgers – and will definitely help with eating them

15. Mini burgers

Serves: 4 | Prep time: 20 mins | Cook time: 20 mins

The best things come in small packages, as these teeny burgers prove. Particularly great if you're having a party at home, they could be cooked on the BBQ in the warmer months. Top with cheese, sliced tomato, and cucumber, they're a darn sight healthier than those McDonald's burgers the kids are constantly coveting. 

Get the recipe: Mini burgers

Roll up sandwiches

Even kids who don't like sandwiches like these sandwiches

(Image credit: Elena Elisseeva/Alamy)

16. Roll up sandwiches

Serves: 1 | Prep time: 20 mins 

An excellent one for fussy eaters, rolling their sandwiches might take a bit more time, but it will appeal to them way more than the usual straightforward sandwich platter. Mix up the fillings – cream cheese, jam plus peanut butter and hummus (if no allergies) are all easy options.

Get the recipe:  Roll up sandwiches

How to make sausage rolls

(Image credit: TI Media Limited)

17. Sausage rolls

Makes: 14 | Prep time: 30 mins | Cook time: 20 mins

For anyone who has never made sausage rolls, we give you our handy step-by-step guide to making the best ones your guests will ever have eaten. Use pork, beef, chicken, or veggie sausages – in fact pork might be the most popular sausage meat, but it's also the most fatty, so the others will work well here to avoid a greasy, soggy bottom – because no one needs one of those.

Get the recipe: Sausage rolls

Simple cheese straws recipe

What kid – or adult – doesn't love a cheese straw? Especially one made by your own fair hands rather than shop bought

(Image credit: Future)

18. Cheese straws

Makes: 24 | Prep time: 15 mins | Cook time: 15 mins

You could be forgiven for thinking that homemade cheese straws are too much of a faff, but they're reasonably simple, with a minimal ingredients list of, essentially, butter, flour, egg yolk, and your cheese of choice – a Lancashire or Wensleydale is perfect and a strong cheddar works very well too. Roll out, cut into thin strips, and bake – easy. The same recipe can be used as a flaky pastry case for mini tarts for your party, too. 

Get the recipe:  Cheese straws

Cheese and chive scones

Perfect with a tomato chutney or a salsa dip

(Image credit: Sean Calitz, Food styling: Silvana Franco, Props: Max Robinson)

19. Cheese and chive scones

Makes: 16 | Prep time: 20 mins | Cook time: 20 mins

A change from the usual cheese sarnies, these scones are pretty irresistible. Flavoured with a deliciously crumbly Lancashire cheese and a slight kick from the mustard powder, the kids will go mad for them (that's if the adults don't snaffle them all first). If the 'green bits' are off-putting, you could omit the chives, though that would be a shame, but needs must sometimes.

Get the recipe:  Cheese and chive scones

Biscuit birthday cakes

Simpler than making a cake, you could light candles on each one to mark the birthday kid's age

(Image credit: Future)

20. Birthday biscuit cakes

Makes: 10 | Prep time: 30 mins | Cook time: 12 mins

Biscuits that look like cakes? Sign us up immediately. This is a great recipe to do with the kids the day before the party (not in the morning, for the sake of your stress levels). Three homemade biscuits are sandwiched together with jam and the top is drizzled with melted white chocolate and covered in sprinkles. Could it be any more appealing to a small person? We sure don't think so.

Get the recipe: Biscuit birthday cakes

chocolate cupcake recipe

These cakes won't be seen for dust once they're added to the party table…

(Image credit: Future)

21. Chocolate cupcakes

Makes: 12 | Prep time: 30 mins | Cook time: 20 mins

A classic chocolate cake, but in cupcake form with chocolate frosting piped on the top instead of sandwiched inside. A surefire winner that can be made even more marvellous by adding white choc chips, M&Ms, Smarties, or smashed-up choc bars to the topping (think Crunchie or Maltesers). Because there can never be enough chocolate in and on a chocolate cake if you ask us (and every kid we've ever met). 

Get the recipe: Chocolate cupcakes

lemonade cupcakes

Featuring actual lemonade in both the cakes and the topping to make the kids fizzy with excitement

(Image credit: Getty Images)

22. Lemonade cupcakes

Makes: 8 | Prep time: 10 mins | Cook time: 20 mins

Kids love cake, kids love lemonade, so clearly a recipe combining both is going to be a BIG, huge hitter. This is a simple cupcake recipe with added fizz from the lemonade in both the batter and the topping glaze. If we were appealing to grown-ups, we'd say topping with lemon zest is perfection, but the kids might well love some pink and yellow sprinkles more. This recipe is a great way to use up that bottle of lemonade in the fridge that has gone a bit flat (because we do not like waste). 

Get the recipe:  Lemonade cupcakes

What type of food should you serve at a kids party?

"Finger food is the best at parties. Kids like to pick their own food or you can make lunch boxes too using paper boxes," says Sophie Butler. Sandwiches, cakes, crisps, and biscuits, plus some veggie crudites, dips and fruit kebabs or platters, to make sure there are some nutritional elements in there amidst all the treats. 

What is the easiest homemade party food to make?

"Sandwiches are the easiest party food to make and low cost too. Use cookie cutters for instant fun!" says Sophie Butler. Cake wise, the easiest thing to make is a no-bake chocolate crispy cake, using cornflakes or rice krispies, stirred into melted chocolate, butter, and golden syrup and left to set in the fridge – simple!

What finger foods are good for a kids party?

"Sandwiches, cucumber and carrot sticks with a dip, fruit platters and crisps are the best party foods," says Sophie Butler. Also, sausage rolls, mini cocktail sausages (veggie or meat) and pizza slices, and then the sweet stuff – chocolate fingers, Party Rings, pink wafers and choc teacakes are all certain winners with kids, plus cupcakes and choc cornflake cakes. 

Writer bio pic
Lara Kilner

"I'm one for taking the easy option with kid's party food usually –  your bog standard cheese butties, mini sausages, packets of grapes, and far too many things in packets from the biscuit aisle in whatever supermarket I find myself overspending in. My usual concession to home prep is some chocolate cornflake cakes. But this collection has given me a veritable smorgasbord of easy and effective ideas for creating fun party food to impress my children's mates (why do we crave their approval quite so badly?!). Next party, I will be making twisty sausage rolls and a sandwich snake, and my cake will be a lemon tray bake covered in all the best tooth-rotting sweets. That should get me some popularity points with the guests. Here's hoping…"

Once you've decided on the party food, it's time to think about the birthday cake - be it a DIY caterpillar cake or a masterpiece inspired by one of the best Frozen birthday cake ideas or Bluey birthday cake ideas

One of these tried and tested rainbow cakes could make a great base for your design too, or one of our tried and tested caterpillar cakes solves the dilemma without breaking a sweat.

We've also got plenty of first birthday party ideas for those of you thinking of celebrating your little ones' big day, not to mention kids' party games everyone will love, as well as 13th birthday party ideas for your pre-teen. 

Lara Kilner
Food Writer

Lara Kilner is a writer and editor with two decades of experience in national newspapers, magazines, and websites. She writes about food, lifestyle, travel, health and wellness, and entertainment, and regularly interviews celebrities and people with interesting life stories and experiences. Her foodie content has included interviews with Jamie Oliver, Rick Stein, Queer Eye’s food expert Antoni Porowski, the Hairy Bikers, Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, Raymond Blanc, Andi Oliver, Paul Hollywood, Prue Leith, and Nadiya Hussain.