These Pull Apart Meatball Sliders are topped with garlic bread topping – they’re a crowd-pleasing football appetizer!
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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?
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.)
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. When it comes to game days, 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.
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.
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 homemade 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.
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! These sliders are packed with flavor! 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…
This recipe is an easy one for making substitutions. As mentioned above, you could use store-bought frozen meatballs. (Homemade are always better, though, if you have the time to make a batch!) You could also substitute ground chicken or ground turkey instead of the ground beef.
Leftovers should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. When it comes to reheating, if the sliders are already assembled, I recommend taking them apart to reheat. The meatballs will take longer to reheat while the bread will only take a short amount of time. I recommend reheating the bread portion in either an oven or toaster oven – microwaved bread just doesn’t have the same texture.
Enjoy the game…and more importantly enjoy these Italian meatball sliders. Not only are they a great gameday appetizer, but these make for an awesome weeknight dinner, too!
Did you make this Pull Apart Meatball Sliders recipe? 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!
Pull Apart Meatball Sliders
For the Meatballs
- ⅓ cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
- 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 minced garlic cloves
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
- 2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese grated
For the Sliders
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 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, make the garlic butter by whisking together the melted butter, Parmesan cheese, garlic, Italian seasonings and kosher salt; brush this mixture evenly on bun tops.
- 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.
Looking for more slider recipes? Check out these other favorites, too: