Meatball-Stuffed Garlic Bread Sliders


We're getting close to the Super Bowl, and it's not about who wins the trophy, but rather who wins the snack table. If you show up with these super fun sliders, that will be you. The real secret to these beauties is placing the meatball in through the top of the roll, versus splitting and stuffing in the traditional manner. Maybe it's the symmetry, or center of gravity, that makes these just feel right in your hand. If you're short on time, using pre-made meatballs will do.

Prep Time:
25 mins
Cook Time:
40 mins
Additional Time:
5 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 10 mins
18 rolls


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

  • 1 yellow onion, diced

  • 5 cloves garlic, minced, divided

  • 1 pound ground beef

  • 2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley, plus more for garnish

  • 1 large egg

  • ¼ cup plain bread crumbs

  • 1 cup shredded fontina cheese, divided

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 18 dinner rolls

  • 2 cups spicy tomato sauce

  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

  2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and 2 cloves garlic; cook and stir until onion is soft, about 5 minutes.

  3. Place beef in a large bowl. Add onion-garlic mixture, parsley, egg, bread crumbs, and 1 large handful of fontina cheese, reserving the rest for topping. Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne. Mix by hand until just combined. Scoop meat mixture into 24 mini muffin cups; meatballs need not be perfectly round.

  4. Bake in the preheated oven until no longer pink in the centers, about 12 minutes. Leave oven on. Let meatballs cool briefly while you make the garlic butter.

  5. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add remaining minced garlic once butter starts to bubble; stir, then immediately remove from heat. Stir well and set aside.

  6. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil; coat foil with remaining olive oil. Transfer rolls, still attached, to the baking sheet. Cut a hole in the top of each roll, about 2/3 of the way down. Brush garlic butter over the insides and outsides of the rolls.

  7. Bake until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Pour about 1 tablespoon tomato sauce into each hole. Stuff meatballs into the holes. Top each roll with a spoonful of tomato sauce and remaining fontina cheese. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top.

  8. Continue baking until cheese is melted, 12 to 15 minutes. Garnish with more parsley. Let rolls sit for 5 to 10 minutes to firm up; transfer to a serving platter.

    close up view of Meatball-Stuffed Garlic Bread on a board
    Chef John

Chef's Notes:

Feel free to substitute provolone cheese for the fontina.

I used Hawaiian rolls, but will try regular less-sweet ones next time.

I'm not sure who invented this technique, but I first saw it on a blog called Cooking for Keeps, so they get the credit for now.

Editor's Note:

Nutrition data for this recipe includes the full amount of bread. The actual amount of bread consumed will vary.

The magazine version of this recipe reduces baking times slightly as well as the amounts of rolls and olive oil used.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

400 Calories
10g Fat
46g Carbs
21g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 18
Calories 400
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 10g 13%
Saturated Fat 8g 42%
Cholesterol 78mg 26%
Sodium 654mg 28%
Total Carbohydrate 46g 17%
Dietary Fiber 3g 9%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 21g
Vitamin C 3mg 16%
Calcium 53mg 4%
Iron 1mg 5%
Potassium 170mg 4%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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