Meatball Sliders with Tomato Sauce


This fun dish is two recipes in one: delicious, easy meatballs and a slow-simmered tangy tomato sauce. If you have any extra sauce, toss it with your favorite green vegetable, spoon it over a bowl of creamy grits, or pair it with pork chops or other meats.

Meatball Sliders with Tomato Sauce
Photo: Hector Sanchez; Styling: Caroline M. Cunningham
Hands On Time:
35 mins
Total Time:
9 hrs 35 mins
2 dozen


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

  • 3 large fresh basil sprigs

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • 2 (28-oz.) cans whole tomatoes, crushed

  • 5 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided

  • 1 pound ground chuck

  • 1 pound ground pork

  • 1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)

  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

  • 1/4 cup ricotta cheese

  • 1/4 cup loosely packed chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

  • 1 large egg

  • 1 large egg yolk

  • 24 slider buns or dinner rolls, split and lightly toasted

  • 12 (1-oz.) provolone cheese slices, halved

  • Garnish: fresh basil leaves


  1. Stir together first 6 ingredients in a 7-qt. slow cooker; stir in 2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Cover and cook on LOW 8 hours.

  2. Meanwhile, place ground chuck and ground pork in a large bowl. Add next 6 ingredients and remaining 1 Tbsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper; mix gently just until blended. Gently shape mixture into 24 meatballs. (Do not pack.) Place meatballs in a single layer on a baking sheet; cover well, and chill until ready to use.

  3. Let meatballs stand at room temperature 20 minutes. Carefully submerge meatballs in tomato mixture in slow cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH 1 hour or until meatballs are done, stirring after 30 minutes.

  4. Preheat broiler with oven rack 7 inches from heat. Arrange bottom halves of 12 buns in a single layer on each of 2 baking sheets. Place 1 meatball on each bun; top with sauce and 1 halved provolone cheese slice. Repeat with remaining buns, meatballs, and cheese.

  5. Broil sliders, 1 baking sheet at a time, 2 to 3 minutes or until cheese melts. Top with top halves of buns.

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