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  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed fennel seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano, plus additional
  • 2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 pound 80 percent lean ground beef
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1 (24-ounce) jar tomato-basil sauce or marinara
  • 18 party-size potato rolls or slider buns
  • Whole fresh basil leaves


  1. Heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add onion; sauté 3 minutes. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute more. Stir in crushed fennel seed and red pepper; remove from heat and let cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 450F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Combine egg, breadcrumbs, Pecorino, parsley, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Stir in cooled onion mixture, add beef and pork; combine gently by hand. Add 1/4 cup water and combine gently again. Roll into 18 meatballs; arrange on baking sheet. Bake 15 minutes.
  4. Bring sauce to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Add cooked meatballs; stir gently. Arrange sliced buns on a platter; place a basil leaf on each bottom half. Top with meatballs, and sprinkle with additional Pecorino, if desired. 

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The recipe was originally published as Meatball Sliders on

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