Mini Meat Ball Sliders with Basil Pesto

My Brother is staying with us for a few days and he just got back from a study abroad in Mexico and is craving some good American food. So I ask you, whats more American than Homemade Marinara Sauce. Cheese. Pesto. Meatballs all on a toasted dinner roll?

Okay, maybe a lot of things.

But it doesn’t matter because I am enamored by these cute little sliders. Passionate really. And whats not American, Right?

The best part about this meal is that you can make it all at once, or you can premake the different elements. I made it on a Sunday, so I started the sauce before church, and then finished the rest afterwards.

For sake of time, I used store bought pesto, but I have made it before and its extremely easy and tastey also.

These are fun,  delicious, look gourmet, and taste phenomenal. Enjoy!

Meatball Sliders with Basil Pesto

printable recipe

printable recipe with picture

*Don’t let the different elements of this meal intimidate you. All though it takes a little time, it is simple to throw together, and the end result is totally worth it!  I used premade pesto, and store bought rolls. 

*Yield: about 12 sliders


For the sauce:

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 large yellow onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 (28 oz.) can tomato puree

1 (28 oz.) can tomato sauce

2 tsp. dried parsley

1 tsp. dried basil

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

2 tsp. salt

2 tbsp. sugar

Water (optional)

For the meatballs:

½ cup breadcrumbs, divided (I like panko)

¼ cup milk

1 lb. ground beef

1 egg

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp. kosher salt

½ tsp. black pepper

1 tsp. dried parsley

½ tsp. dried basil

For the pesto:

1 cup packed fresh basil leaves

2 small cloves garlic

2 tbsp. pine nuts

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper, to taste

For the sliders:

About 1 dozen white dinner rolls

Spray olive oil or olive oil in a bowl to spoon onto each roll.

Sliced provolone, or mozzarella cheese (about 12 slices, depending on size)


To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the onion to the pot and sauté until tender, 5-8 minutes.  Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, stirring, about 1 minute.  Add the tomato puree, tomato sauce, parsley, basil, oregano, salt and sugar.  Add water to thin the sauce out to your desired consistency.  Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer.  Let simmer for at least 2 hours.

To make the meatballs, preheat oven to 400 degrees.  combine ¼ cup of the breadcrumbs with the milk in a medium mixing bowl.  Let stand 10 minutes.  Add the remaining breadcrumbs, ground beef, egg, garlic, salt, pepper, parsley and basil to the bowl.  Mix well until thoroughly combined.  Form into meatballs, about 1¼ inches in diameter. Bake meatballs for 15-20 minutes until almost done.   When the meat balls are almost done, add to sauce, cover and let simmer until the meatballs are completely cooked through, about 10 more minutes.

I used store bought, but To make the pesto, combine the basil, garlic and pine nuts in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse until finely chopped.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  With the processor running, add the olive oil in a steady stream through the feed tube until well incorporated.  Transfer the mixture to a small bowl and stir in the grated Parmesan.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To assemble the sliders, preheat the oven to 400˚ F.  Slice the dinner rolls in half and lay open on a baking sheet.  Spray the rolls lightly with olive oil (or place olive oil in a bowl and spoon on a little drizzle to each roll.  Bake for 5 minutes, just until lightly toasted.  Slice a cooked meatball in half and place both halves on the bottom portion of a roll, flat side down.  Spoon a small amount of sauce over the meatball.  Top with sliced provolone.  Repeat with the remaining rolls.  Bake again, 5 minutes more, just until the cheese is melted.  Spoon a small amount of additional sauce over the provolone, and finish small spoonful of the pesto on top.  Serve immediately.

recipe source: slightly adapted from here 

This entry was published on August 20, 2012 at 4:43 pm. It’s filed under Main Dish and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

3 thoughts on “Mini Meat Ball Sliders with Basil Pesto

  1. Stacie on said:

    I made this for dinner tonight; it was delicious! Thanks for the recipe 🙂

  2. Oh good! I knowI It was definitely a hit here also! Glad you liked it! We had some leftover sauce, and I used on pizza this week…also delicious! We miss you guys like crazy!

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