These cheesy Italian Meatball Sliders are a real crowd-pleaser, perfect for your next family gathering or party! This easy Meatball Sliders recipe is made with fresh but simple ingredients and can be on the table in just 30 minutes!
Table of Contents
Made with flavorful and juicy meatballs in a rich tomato sauce with pepperoni and plenty of gooey cheese inside Hawaiian sweet rolls, these sliders are topped with a delicious butter and parmesan glaze. It's the perfect snack for game day or as part of your party table spread.
Meatball Sliders are also great for a fun weeknight dinner, served with salads or veggies to make a complete meal that your whole family will go crazy over. My husband loves meatball subs and these little sandwiches are just as good with all the flavor in a smaller hand held package!
Why We Love This Recipe
- We'll be using all fresh ingredients for the best flavor here.
- Ready in just 30 minutes, this easy appetizer is perfect for any party!
- You can always sub premade meatballs and store bought marinara sauce if you need a shortcut version!
Meatball Slider Ingredients
- Beef - I like to use lean ground beef (85/15) for the best results.
- Seasoning - Use a combination of kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, onion powder, freshly minced garlic, and dried parsley flakes will pack these meatballs with a great savory flavor. You'll also need dried basil and red pepper flakes for the sauce.
- Egg - To bind the meat mixture and breadcrumbs together.
- Breadcrumbs - Add a bit more substance to the meatballs.
- Cheese - Parmesan cheese mixes well with the meatball mixture and adds a great cheesy flavor. You will also layer provolone or mozzarella cheese with the meatballs to create a stretchy, cheesy layer in these sliders.
- Oil - I use olive oil, but any kind of neutral-flavored cooking oil will work well here, like canola oil or vegetable oil, for cooking the pepperoni and garlic.
- Pepperoni - Use your favorite kind of Pepperoni to add a meaty, spicy flavor to the sauce.
- Tomatoes - A can of crushed tomatoes will be the base of our marinara sauce.
- Rolls - I love using King's Hawaiian rolls to make sliders, but this recipe will work with any kind of slider bun or dinner rolls.
- Butter - Use salted butter to enhance the flavors.
- Garnish - Use some more grated parmesan cheese with chopped fresh parsley or chives to garnish the sliders for extra flavor.
How to Make Meatball Sliders
- Make meatball mixture. Place the ground beef in a large bowl, breaking up the meat into small pieces. Add the salt, pepper, onion powder, minced garlic, parsley, egg, Parmesan cheese, and bread crumbs.
- Mix ingredients. Lightly mix until fully incorporated.
- Make meatballs and cook. Shape into 12 meatballs about the size of a golf ball. Place on the prepared baking sheet about an inch apart.
- Bake. Bake for approximately 15-20 minutes. Alternatively, you can air fry the meatballs for 12-14 minutes at 380 degrees F until they are done.
- Saute pepperoni. Meanwhile, add the olive oil and pepperoni in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook for about 3 minutes or so.
- Add ingredients. Add garlic, and cook 1 minute more. Add tomatoes, basil, salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese. Simmer for about 10 minutes to blend the flavors together. Set aside.
- Slice rolls in half. Now that your meatballs and sauce are ready, it's time to assemble the sliders! Remove the buns from the package. Without separating them, use a long, serrated knife to cut the rolls in half horizontally. Place the bottom buns in a 9”x13” pan and set the top buns aside.
- Assemble sliders. Layer 6 slices of mozzarella or provolone cheese on the bottom half of the bread. Spread about ½ cup of the sauce in an even layer over the cheese on the buns. Place one meatball on each bun.
- Add sauce. Spoon another ½ cup of sauce on top, dividing it evenly over the meatballs. Reserve the remaining sauce for dipping so the sliders don't get too soggy.
- Add more cheese and buns. Place the remaining 6 slices of cheese over the meatballs. Top with the remaining half of the buns.
- Garnish. Brush the top of the sliders with melted butter and sprinkle them with grated Parmesan cheese and parsley or chives.
- Bake. Transfer the pan of sliders to the oven and bake for about 15-18 minutes.
- Remove and serve. The cheese will be melted and the buns will be golden brown when they are done. Remove from the oven, slice, and serve hot or cold!
We added this step to release the flavor of the pepperoni and season the sauce.
Sliders can be made a few hours earlier, covered, and refrigerated until an hour before baking and serving them. Take them out of the fridge and allow them to come to room temperature before baking, or add a few minutes to the baking time to warm them through. Additionally, you can make the sauce and meatballs ahead of time or even the day before. Pack in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator until ready to bake or assemble.
Cover leftovers with foil or plastic wrap, or place them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
Allow the meatball sliders to cool completely, then wrap them tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and place them in an airtight container or a zip-top freezer bag for up to 3 months.
Tips for Success
- If you like your meatballs a little softer, add 2 Tablespoons of water to your dried breadcrumbs and mix before adding them to the ground beef.
- To make the pepperoni easier to chop, place it in the refrigerator to chill it beforehand (if you have an unopened package that hasn’t been refrigerated yet).
- If you have larger buns (such as Aunt Millie’s) or slider rolls, you can make your meatballs larger by dividing the meat into 12 balls and stuffing each with a cube of mozzarella or provolone cheese like my Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs. A decadent amount of cheese, but oh so delicious!
- Don’t overbake the meatballs. Overbaking them can result in a dried-out, hard meatball. They should be cooked to an internal temperature of about 160°F. The best way to monitor this is to test them with a digital meat thermometer . After the sliders are assembled, they will have more baking time in the oven.
What can you serve with meatball sliders?
Serve these pull-apart meatball sliders with some Easy Party Appetizers or with some of these sides for an easy meal the whole family will love! Try any combination of these recipes to add to your BBQ spread, or plan ahead for your Super Bowl party!
Substitutions and Variations
- One small, grated onion (or half of a medium to large onion) may be used in place of the onion powder.
- Dried Italian seasoning can be used instead of the dried basil in the pepperoni sauce.
- 1½ cups of your favorite jarred marinara or pasta sauce may be used instead of crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce. We still recommend starting the sauce with the pepperoni and adding the Parmesan cheese for a super yummy sauce.
- Premade meatballs from the meat counter at your local grocery store are also a great substitution in this recipe if you don’t want to make homemade ones. We prefer fresh meatballs instead of frozen ones because the size is similar to the meatball recipe above. However, using frozen meatballs is also an option. Follow the baking instructions on the package, and since frozen meatballs are usually smaller, you may need to adjust how many meatballs go on each slider bun.
- Use a different meat to change the flavor of these sliders. Use ground turkey or ground chicken for a lean protein option or ground pork for a pork flavor.
More Amazing Appetizer Recipes
- Jalapeno Popper Dip
- Baked Green Feta Fries
- Tomato Basil Bruschetta
- Crispy Baked Potato Wedges
- Crispy Loaded Potato Skins
- Jalapeno Popper Pigs in Blankets
- Southern Fried Okra
Did you make this recipe?
Let me know what you thought with a comment and rating below. You can also take a picture and tag me on Instagram @houseofnasheats or share it on the Pinterest pin so I can see.
Italian Meatball Sliders Recipe
- 1 pound lean ground beef (85/15)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 Tablespoon dried parsley flakes
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup breadcrumbs
- ½ cup parmesan cheese
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- ¼ cup finely chopped pepperoni
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 (14-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
- 1 (12-pack) Hawaiian rolls or slider buns
- 12 thin slices provolone or mozzarella cheese
- 2 Tablespoons salted butter, melted
- 1-2 Tablespoons parmesan cheese
- 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley or chives, to garnish
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper and set aside.
- To make the meatballs, place the ground beef in a large bowl, breaking up the meat into small pieces.
- Add the salt, pepper, onion powder, minced garlic, parsley, egg, Parmesan cheese, and bread crumbs.
- Lightly mix until fully incorporated.
- Shape into 12 meatballs about the size of a golf ball. Place on the prepared baking sheet about an inch apart. Bake for approximately 15-20 minutes.
- While the meatballs are baking, make the sauce. Place the olive oil and pepperoni in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook for about 3 minutes or so. Add garlic, and cook 1 minute more.
- Add tomatoes, basil, salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese. Simmer for about 10 minutes to blend the flavors together. Set aside.
- Remove the buns from the package, and without separating them, use a long, serrated knife to cut the rolls in half horizontally. Place the bottom half of the rolls in a 9”x13” pan.
- Layer 6 slices of mozzarella cheese on the bottom half of the bread.
- Spread about ½ cup of the sauce in an even layer over the cheese on the buns. Place one meatball on each bun. Spoon another ½ cup of sauce on top, dividing it evenly over the meatballs. Reserve the remaining sauce for dipping.
- Place the remaining 6 slices of cheese over the meatballs. Top with the remaining half of the buns.
- Brush the buns with melted butter and sprinkle them with grated Parmesan cheese and parsley or chives.
- Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the buns are golden brown.
- Storage: Cover leftovers with foil or plastic wrap or place them in an airtight container. They are best eaten within 2-3 days.
- Freezing: Allow the meatball sliders to cool completely. Wrap the meatball sliders tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and place them in an airtight container or a zip-top freezer bag for up to 3 months.
- Reheating: Thaw them in the refrigerator overnight or reheat them directly from frozen. To reheat, preheat the oven to 350°F and bake the sliders for 10-15 minutes, or until they're hot and the cheese is melted.