Meatball Sliders

Not to brag or anything but today’s post is genius. I am a genius! You see…2 weeks ago Kara had to work a long Saturday, leaving Cliff and I to try recipes on our own. Yikes! Not a great idea considering I tend not to read recipes thoroughly and/or at all. We decided on meatball sliders and they were the best (and only) I’ve ever had.

I’m proud of this recipe because we essentially made it up as we went along and the end results were nothing less than perfect. Honest. I wouldn’t change one thing! My Mom guided me through the meatball making process because that was where I was slightly unsure but I changed up the ingredients with the addition of green pepper and fresh basil. Cliff came up with the idea of the cheesy center and I think that was maybe my favorite part. So delicious.

The sauce came together quickly and complimented the sliders nicely and the basil was a great finishing touch. I think each and every aspect of the recipe was tasty: the meatball, sauce and pesto. Add in some fresh bread and cheese and it’s  over-the-top amazing. I admit there were quite a few steps but none of them were difficult. If I can do it, anybody can! However, if you want to shorten your prep time you can easily use jarred marinara and store-bought pesto. But that’s not much fun in my opinion. I suggest making them from scratch, serving them to a crowd and impressing every single person.


Here’s what you’ll need. I know it looks like a lot of ingredients, but it’s worth it.


I’m going to start with my quickie sauce because that simmers for awhile


Add in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and saute the garlic and onion


Add a can of tomato sauce


And a couple spoonfuls of tomato paste. This will help thicken the sauce


Season with salt and pepper


Then in goes the dried parsley and basil.


While the sauce simmers, start your meatballs


Garlic goes in every step of this recipe 🙂


And then the cheese


Season with salt and pepper too


In goes the chopped fresh basil from the garden.


Use your hands to combine all the ingredients. Don’t overwork it! Form into a ball & press a mozzarella cube in the center


Re-form the meat mixture so that it completely covers the cheese


In a pan brown the meatballs in a little bit of oil. Don’t move the meat too soon or it will fall apart


These are browning nicely


Ok now for the pesto…my favorite part!


Throw everything in a food processor and slowly add the olive oil while its pulsing. Pesto is done!


Let the meatballs finish cooking in the sauce. A couple of these are a bit well done. Oh well!


Cut the rolls in half then butter the insides and outsides. Pop them in the oven for about 4 minutes just to lightly crisp them


Now it’s time to assemble. Place a meatball and sauce on the roll and top with a slice of cheese


Put them back in the oven for a couple more minutes, we sprinkled cheese on top bun too


Last step: Add a bit of the pesto! The perfect touch!


These sliders were so tasty!



Meatball Sliders

Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Course Appetizer


For the Quickie Sauce:

  • 1 28 oz can tomato sauce
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 onion, finely diced
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the Meatballs:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1/2 onion, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • mozzarella cheese, cut into small cubes (as many cubes as meatballs you’re making)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

For the Pesto:

  • 4 cup fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (more or less depending on thickness)
  • 1-2 tbsp water, if pesto needs thinning

For Assembling:

  • 10-12 soft dinner rolls
  • 3 tbsp butter, softened
  • 10-12 slices provolone cheese
  • grated parmesan cheese, to sprinkle on top of the rolls


  • Start by making the quickie sauce. In a large  sauté pan heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and onion and  sauté until they’re fragrant and the onion just starts to become translucent. Pour in the can of tomato sauce and 3 tablespoons of tomato paste. Season with salt and pepper then add the dried parsley and basil. Continue simmering the sauce over low heat, stirring occasionally.
  • To make the meatballs, combine the ground beef, egg, green pepper, onion, garlic, bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, fresh basil and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Use your hands to combine all the ingredients being careful to not overwork the meat. Form the meat into balls, about 3 tablespoons of meat in each ball. Press a small cube of mozzarella into the center of the meatball  and form the meat back around the cheese making sure the meat completely covers the cheese.
  • In another large sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Place the meatballs in the pan and allow them to brown slightly before trying to flip them over. Cook for about 3 minutes per side. They don’t need to cook all the way through because they will finish cooking in the tomato sauce. Add them to the sauce and continue cooking on low heat for about 20 minutes.
  • To make the pesto, add fresh basil, garlic, parmesan cheese, pine nuts and salt and pepper to a food processor. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while pulsing. You can add a tablespoon or 2 of water if you want to thin out the pesto.
  • Cut the dinner rolls in half lengthwise and butter the inside and outside of the roll. Place the rolls in an oven preheated to 350 degrees F. Cook for about 4 minutes. Take the rolls out of the oven and place a meatball onto the bottom half of the roll. Top the meatball with a spoonful of sauce and a slice of provolone cheese. Lightly sprinkle the top half of the roll with a parmesan cheese to form a cheesy crust. Put back in the oven for about 4 minutes keeping the tops of the buns separate from the bottoms. Once the sliders are out of the oven top with a spoonful of pesto, place the top on the roll and serve.
Keyword meatball, sandwich