Pull Apart Meatball Sliders

These Pull Apart Meatball Sliders are topped with garlic bread topping – they’re a crowd-pleasing football appetizer!

These Pull Apart Meatball Sliders are topped with garlic bread topping - they're a crowd-pleasing football appetizer!As football playoff season marches towards the Super Bowl, I thought it might be fun to stop and look at one of the iconic terms of American football – the gridiron.  Even if you only watch football once a year (ahem, Super Bowl, ahem), you’ve still likely heard of the term ‘gridiron.’  It is used to describe the field where the teams play.  “The teams will meet on the gridiron to determine the champion.”  But where does this term come from?

These Pull Apart Meatball Sliders are topped with garlic bread topping - they're a crowd-pleasing football appetizer!If we dig back to the beginnings of American football, we actually find that fields were marked with both vertical and parallel lines.  The vertical lines were used to mark the yard lines, and those are still used today.  However, in those early days, there were also lines that ran parallel to the sidelines.  The picture below shows a sketch of a football field from 1904.  With both vertical and parallel lines, the field looked like a cooking gridiron…and thus the name.  (Over time, the parallel lines were eliminated due to changes in the rules of the game, but the term ‘gridiron’ still stuck.)

Football gridiron
Credit: Fielding Yost / Public domain

Pull Apart Meatball Sliders

Now that we’ve solved the gridiron mystery, let’s talk about another favorite aspect of football – the food!  Let’s be honest here.  The food ranks up there near the game itself.  For me, if the New Orleans Saints aren’t in the title hunt, then the food ranks above the actual game.  The Super Bowl and the NFL playoffs are great excuses to make delicious gameday food.  And speaking of delicious gameday food, these Pull Apart Meatball Sliders are quintessential football food.

These Pull Apart Meatball Sliders are topped with garlic bread topping - they're a crowd-pleasing football appetizer!I opted to make my own meatballs for this recipe, but you could totally use frozen meatballs to speed up the process.  I do highly recommend this meatball recipe, though!  This is my go-to meatball recipe, and it’s pretty darned tasty.  In fact, if you’re looking to speed this recipe up, you could totally bake these meatballs in advance and keep ’em in the freezer.  We almost always have a bag of cooked meatballs hanging out in our freezer.  They make for easy dinners with spaghetti and sauce – or for easy Pull Apart Meatball Sliders with rolls, sauce and cheese.

These Pull Apart Meatball Sliders are topped with garlic bread topping - they're a crowd-pleasing football appetizer!Aside from the delicious meatballs, I also put another twist on this slider recipe.  Before putting the sliders into the oven, I brushed the tops with the same butter topping that I use for garlic knots.  Thus, this recipe is somewhat of a collision between meatball sliders and garlic knots.  There aren’t enough words to describe how delicious these Pull Apart Meatball Sliders are!  I promise if you make a batch of these sliders for a gameday party, then you won’t have to worry about leftovers.  And don’t blame me if your family starts ransacking your kitchen looking for more!

Enjoy the game…and more importantly enjoy these meatball sliders!

These Pull Apart Meatball Sliders are topped with garlic bread topping - they're a crowd-pleasing football appetizer!Did you make a batch of these Pull Apart Meatball Sliders?  Leave a comment with your thoughts, or better yet snap a photo and tag me on Instagram (@Spicedblog).  I’d love to see your version!

These Pull Apart Meatball Sliders are topped with garlic bread topping - they're a crowd-pleasing football appetizer!

Pull Apart Meatball Sliders

These Pull Apart Meatball Sliders are topped with garlic bread topping - they're a crowd-pleasing football appetizer!
5 from 7 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 12 sliders
Calories: 369kcal

Ingredients

For the Meatballs

  • cup Italian-seasoned bread crumbs
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ medium white onion diced
  • 8 oz. ground beef
  • 8 oz. ground pork
  • 1 large egg lightly beaten
  • 2 Tbsp fresh Italian parsley minced
  • 1 tsp garlic minced
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese grated

For the Sliders

  • 1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 package dinner rolls 12 pack
  • 6 slices provolone cheese
  • cups shredded mozzarella cheese

For the Garlic Butter

  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter melted
  • 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • tsp Italian seasoning
  • ½ tsp kosher salt

Instructions

For the Meatballs

  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
  • Using a medium bowl, combine the bread crumbs and milk; let soak for 5 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, add the olive oil to a medium frying pan and place over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the diced onions and cook for 6-7 minutes, or until onions begin to soften. (Note: Leave the skillet out as it will be used again once the meatballs are cooked.)
  • Transfer onions and soaked bread crumbs into a large mixing bowl. Add all of the remaining meatball ingredients (beef, pork, egg, parsley, garlic, salt, pepper, oregano, red pepper and Parmesan cheese). Mix until just combined. (Tip: Take care not to overmix or the meatball may be tough.)
  • Shape mixture into (12) golf ball-sized meatballs and place 1” apart on prepared baking sheet.
  • Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until meatballs are no longer pink in the center.
  • Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.
  • Transfer cooked meatballs back into the skillet. Add tomato sauce and stir until well combined. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes, or until sauce has thickened noticeably. Remove skillet from heat.

For the Sliders

  • Cut the dinner rolls in half through the middle. Place bottom half of rolls onto a baking sheet.
  • Layer the provolone cheese on top of the rolls.
  • Place the meatballs onto the dinner rolls, putting one meatball on each roll. Spoon extra sauce on top of each meatball. Sprinkle shredded mozzarella cheese evenly on top of meatballs. Cover with the top half of the dinner rolls.
  • Using a small bowl, whisk all ingredients for the garlic butter together; brush mixture evenly on top of rolls.
  • Bake at 350°F for 15-20 minutes, or until rolls are golden brown and cheese has melted. (Note: If necessary, place a piece of foil on top of rolls if they are browning too quickly.)
  • Cut into individual sliders and serve hot.

These Pull Apart Meatball Sliders are topped with garlic bread topping - they're a crowd-pleasing football appetizer!

Looking for more slider recipes?  Check out these other favorites, too:

Caught in a summer rainstorm?  Move the party inside with a batch of these Pull Apart Cheeseburger Sliders!Pull Apart Cheeseburger Sliders

These French Dip Sliders use deli-sliced roast beef for a shortcut version of the classic.  The caramelized onions and au jus sauce are required, though!French Dip Sliders

These Steak Sliders with Blue Cheese Butter and Grilled Mushrooms absolutely deserve a spot on your summer grilling menu!Steak Sliders with Blue Cheese Butter

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18 Comments

    1. Oh, football food is basically a season around here, Kathy! I could probably just call it ‘weekend food’ instead since it doesn’t actually matter if there’s a game on tv. Haha! These sliders were a fun recipe for sure. Thanks so much!

    1. Exactly! A good meatball is hard to beat. But then take that meatball and stick on a small slider bun with cheese + sauce? Winner, winner, meatball dinner! 🙂 Thanks, Sherry!

  1. 5 stars
    These meatball sliders would be devoured at our house, David! So juicy and flavorful and a fun way to feed a crowd (remind me about what it’s like to feed a crowd, lol. I miss it!). And that garlic bread seasoning on top is such a great idea to kick up the flavor and make these even more irresistible.

    1. These meatball sliders didn’t last long around here, Marissa! I totally know what you mean about feeding a crowd – we love to entertain and have friends over, and it’s been a wee bit quiet around here for the last year (almost). Soon…soon. 🙂 But in the meantime, I’m good with having an extra slider or two for myself. Haha!

    1. Game day eats might as well be a season here in our house, Michelle! In truth, it doesn’t even matter if there’s a game on tv. We could just call this ‘Netflix on a Saturday night’ food instead. 🙂

  2. 5 stars
    These sliders look very tasty! Lynne and I are both fans of meatballs in subs so I know we’d love these! Enjoy them too with the game David!

    1. Ah, then you should try making mini meatball subs sometime, Neil! I have to say that making things in smaller sizes is just fun – even if you end up eating more of them that way. Haha! Cheers, my friend!

  3. 5 stars
    It is no secret that I am not a football fan. In fact, your blog is the primary source of information on the game season and time frames 🙂 However, me not being a football fan does not mean I cannot enjoy some awesome appetizers for the football season, right? (And if it is important, well, you should know that four of us – the cat, dog, Andrew, and I – are often super-hungry, so we can easily enjoy a crowd-pleasing appetizer!) Joking apart, these meatball sliders looks so delicious and inviting. I mean, we’re getting 4 tickets ASAP 🙂

    1. Haha – this blog is your primary source of football information? I’m not sure how trustworthy that is! 🙂 I do love my football food, though, and truthfully if there’s not a good game on, we just eat our football food and watch Netflix instead. This sliders are a fun and tasty weekend meal! (Weekdays are all about soups and salads right now.)

  4. Dude – I was getting ready to fire up my drone and send it to grab some of these out of your kitchen but alas – Im too late (as I see you published this a week ago)! I second what I said before – you are killing it with the bread recipes! And – while I’ve always been ALL ABOUT the FOOD at football get-togethers of yore – I did enjoy learning about the relationship of the term gridiron to football!

    1. Haha – you are right indeed, Shashi. These sliders didn’t last long around here. If you had sent the drone up, it would have sadly returned empty handed. (Of course, there’s always other stuff I could’ve loaded it up with – haha!) Thanks so much, my friend!

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