Sometimes when I’m out with Jeff, I slip into “girlfriend mode” and say yes to things without thinking them through. Like eating a big, fat, drippy meatball sub in public. There’s just no way to do it and maintain your dignity. Or your shirt. You basically just have to shove it into your face and hope for the best, which is actually kinda fun, but the whole thing got me thinking about Meatball Sliders.

Little one-meatball sandwiches I could eat in a few bites AND keep my shirt clean.

Maybe.

I mean, dignity. Who needs it? But at least my clothes would have a fighting chance.

Anyway, these sliders turned out really, really well. Good enough for Jeff to break into four-letter words when he forgot there were leftovers and ate something inferior. So I wanted to share them with you, just in case you’re fishing for some party eats or you just need to get some more meatballs into your life.

It all starts with the meatballs. If you’ve never made them, it’s pretty fun. Just toss all of the ingredients into a big bowl, mix them with your hands, and roll the mixture into balls. I like to use a combination of beef with ground pork or Italian sausage, just to make the meatballs a little more interesting, but all-beef meatballs are undeniably delicious, too. Then, you can either fry or bake them. I fry mine, because I like to have the crisp, browned edges all the way around the meatball, but if you don’t want to babysit the meatballs while they cook, then baking is the way to go.

When the meatballs are browned all over, you spoon them directly into your pot of marinara and let them gently simmer there for about 30 minutes to soak in all of that flavor. Be sure to check the pot every now and then to make sure the sauce is just barely bubbling, because you don’t want it turning your meatballs into meat sauce.

While the meatballs are doing their thing, split your rolls and toast them in the oven. Then, grab a spoon and press it into the center of each bottom roll, to create these little dips that help hold the meatballs in place. After that, you just add the meatballs, top them with mozzarella or Parmesan (and maybe a little more sauce), and slide them under the broiler to melt the cheese before you pop the tops on each slider.

They are scrumptious.

Plus, you can eat an entire Meatball Slider and still have plenty of prime belly real estate available for other party foods.

Or another slider.

Your shirt, your pants and maybe even your hot husband will thank you.

P.S. For more slider ideas, check out my chicken-andouille sliders, sirloin sliders with bacon and horseradish mayo and Cuban sliders.

Meatball Sliders

Rebecca Crump (EzraPoundCake.com)

Makes about 16 meatballs

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 pound ground pork or Italian sausage
  • 1/4 cup panko
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil or canola oil, for frying
  • 1 (24-ounce) jar marinara sauce (or 3 cups of your favorite homemade sauce)
  • Hawaiian sweet rolls
  • Sliced mozzarella or shredded Parmesan
  1. Use your hands to combine the beef, pork, panko, eggs, garlic, Parmesan, parsley, salt and pepper.
  2. Roll the mixture into 2-inch balls. Place them on a baking sheet or platter, and set aside.
  3. Heat half the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add half the meatballs, and brown them on all sides. (If a meatball is stuck to the skillet, give it extra time to brown and release. Forcing it will make the meatball break apart.) Transfer them to a plate, and repeat.
  4. Warm your marinara in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over low heat. Add meatballs, and gently simmer for about 30 minutes. (Check the pot every once in a while to make sure the sauce is still gently bubbling and not breaking apart your meatballs.)
  5. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
  6. Split your rolls horizontally, and place them on a baking sheet so the insides of the rolls are facing up. Toast them in the oven for 2 to 3 minutes.
  7. When the rolls come out of the oven, place the top halves on a plate. Set aside.
  8. Set the oven to broil.
  9. Take a spoon, and gently press the center of the bottom-half of each roll. (This will help hold the meatballs in place.) Spoon a meatball onto each roll. Add a little more sauce, if necessary, and place a small slice of mozzarella on top of each meatball. Broil just until the cheese melts.
  10. Place the tops of the rolls on each slider. Serve warm with the leftover marinara for dipping.

Note: If you’d rather bake the meatballs, put them on a baking sheet greased with nonstick spray, and bake them at 350 degrees F for about 20 minutes.