Meatball Sliders With Tomato Sauce Recipe

Quick and easy party appetizers from Diane Rossen Worthington. "Sliders have become popular in the last few years. I love serving them to a big crowd since they are fun to eat and very economical. These meatballs are incredibly moist and flavourful and fit right into a small hamburger bun, Hawaiian bread bun, or small Parmesan roll. Any meatballs you don't use can be frozen for future bashes."


3 tbsp olive oil
4 leeks, light green and white parts only, cleaned and finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and shredded, or 1 cup pre-shredded carrots
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 large eggs
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 cup chili sauce
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup fine dried breadcrumbs (Panko works well)
1 tbsp Seriously Simple Seasoning Salt (see below) or store-bought seasoning salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. lean ground veal
1-1/2 lb. lean ground beef (15% fat)
1-1/2 lb. ground pork
Two 26-oz. jars good-quality marinara sauce
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
1 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
60 mini-buns or slider rolls

Seriously Simple Seasoning Salt
1 large head garlic, peeled, or 30 medium peeled garlic cloves, ends cut off
2 cups kosher salt
1 tbsp onion powder
2 tbsp paprika
3 tbsp good-quality chili powder
2 tbsp ground white pepper
2 tbsp celery seed
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tbsp poultry seasoning
1 tbsp dry mustard
1 tbsp dried dill weed


Step 1: Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the leeks and sauté them for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently, until they’re soft and translucent. Sauté the carrots for 1 minute, add the garlic, and sauté for 1 minute more.

Step 2: Cool the cooked vegetables and transfer to a large bowl. Add the eggs, Dijon mustard, chili sauce, parsley, Parmesan, breadcrumbs, seasoning salt and pepper. Blend well, using a large spoon or your hands to mix all the ingredients together. Add the veal, beef and pork and mix to blend all the ingredients.

Step 3: Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Step 4: Line a few baking sheets with aluminum foil for easy cleanup. With your hands, gently roll the mixture into meatballs about 1-1/2″ in diameter. Place them on the baking sheets and bake for about 35 minutes, or until cooked through and no longer pink.

Step 5: Meanwhile, heat the marinara sauce in a large Dutch oven or a deep skillet large enough to hold all the meatballs. Add the basil, thyme and vinegar. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Heat the meatballs in the sauce for about 15 minutes, or until the sauce is coating the meatballs nicely.

Step 6: If the rolls are not pre-cut, cut them horizontally part of the way through. If desired, spread them out on a baking sheet and bake in a 350°F oven until heated through, about 5 minutes. Place a meatball and some of the sauce inside each bun, arrange on a platter, and serve immediately.

Note: The sliders may be prepared 1 day ahead through step 4, covered and refrigerated. Reheat on medium heat, basting with the tomato sauce, until the meatballs are hot. The cooked meatballs, without the sauce, can also be frozen.

Seriously Simple Seasoning Salt

This magic seasoning agent will elevate the flavor of just about anything you are cooking. If you make up a batch of this, it will last you for months. I have made a version of this for years, but the process has become easier than ever with the help of a food processor. Purchase peeled whole garlic cloves when you want to make this up quickly. If the mixture is quite wet, add a bit more salt. It does not need to be refrigerated.

Step 1: In a food processor with the motor running, finely mince the garlic.

Step 2: Combine all the remaining ingredients in a large measuring cup and add to the garlic. Pulse on and off until the mixture is completely blended, using a rubber spatula now and then to move the ingredients around. Transfer to one or two small containers with shakers on the top, and store the rest in a large airtight container.

Note: This will last at least 3 months stored in airtight containers at room temperature.

See more recipes from Diane Rossen Worthington.

Reprinted with permission from Diane Rossen Worthington’s Seriously Simple Parties (2012 Chronicle Books).