If Sloppy Joes and a meatball Parm sub had a baby, they’d welcome precious little meat sauce and Parm sliders into the world. These pull-apart sliders reflect the best of each: saucy tomato goodness, gooey mozzarella cheese, and hassle-free “meatballs” that require zero rolling. Who says you can’t have it all?
Best Sliders Start With King's Hawaiian Sweet Rolls
These sliders start with King’s Hawaiian sweet rolls brushed with garlic butter. Toast them in the oven to dry a bit so that they don't get mushy under the saucy meat filling. Layer the toasted rolls with low-moisture mozzarella—not fresh!—and pile on the meat sauce and then layer with more cheese. Brush the top rolls with more garlic butter, pop them in the oven to heat everything through, and you'll have the best sliders the whole family will love.
King’s Hawaiian rolls are great for large-scale sandwiches. You can cut them in half all at once—no need to split each roll apart individually—and build one giant sandwich. When it comes time to serve, they’re fun to pull apart. Not to mention, their slight sweetness serves as a perfect contrast to the super savory meat sauce that fills them.
Toasting Twice Is Nice
Hawaiian rolls are famously soft and have the potential to get soggy and fall apart under the saucy filling. To avoid that, toast them twice—once before filling and once again after—to dry and firm them up.
The Secret is Tomato Paste
The secret to creating a sauce for the filling without the excess liquid—no one likes soggy sliders—and that packs a punch: tomato paste. Don't use any other canned tomato product. Tomato paste is an inexpensive ingredient that when used correctly, is a shortcut to creating a thick tomato sauce that will make people believe you’ve been cooking all day. It has a fair amount of sugar and it tastes best when caramelized. So once you add it to the beef, cook it until it’s a shade darker—the flavor will deepen, making for surprisingly flavorful sauce.
Garlic Butter Makes It Better
These sliders are next-level thanks to a generous brushing of very garlicky garlic butter. I grate the garlic, as opposed to finely chopping, to help it cook more quickly and spread more evenly—you won't be left with burnt bits of garlic that fall off your rolls after you bake them. And as if fresh garlic wasn’t enough, I add garlic powder too for an even bigger boost of flavor.
Use the Microwave!
Tragically, microwaves are often relegated to frozen meals and leftovers, but it's my secret weapon when cooking. In this case, microwaving the butter, garlic, and spices together softens and mellows the garlic, melts the butter, and gently blooms the spices. Plus, it saves me from having to wash a pot if made on this stovetop.
Hawaiian Roll Sliders with Meat Sauce and Parm
Nonstick cooking spray
5 cloves garlic, grated
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder, divided
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for garlic butter
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for garlic butter
1 (12-count) package King's Hawaiian sweet rolls
1 medium onion, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 1/2 pounds ground beef (85% lean)
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 cup water
8 ounces sliced low-moisture mozzarella cheese (about 8 slices)
Preheat the oven to 425ºF.
Line a baking sheet with foil and spray it lightly with nonstick cooking spray.
Make the garlic butter:
To a small heatproof bowl, add the butter, about two-thirds of the garlic, 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder, and a pinch each of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Microwave until the butter has fully melted, in 30-second intervals, stirring after each.
Prepare the rolls:
Using a serrated knife, cut the rolls horizontally in half, dividing the tops and bottoms while keeping the rolls connected. Place them on the prepared baking sheet and brush each inside with about two-thirds of the garlic butter. You’ll use the remaining garlic butter to brush the top of the rolls after assembling.
Toast the rolls:
Toast the rolls in the oven until golden brown and slightly dried out, 5 to 7 minutes. Set them aside to cool while you make the filling.
Cook the filling:
Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook 5 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently, until golden around the edges. Stir in the remaining grated garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
Then, add the ground beef and increase heat to high heat. Season with the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and black pepper. Stir well, breaking up the beef into small pieces. Cook until the meat is no longer pink and some moisture has evaporated but the fat remains, about 8 minutes.
Add the tomato paste:
Lower heat to medium-high heat and stir in the tomato paste. Cook until the tomato paste is jammy and slightly darkened, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of water, stir well until fully combined, and turn off heat.
Assemble the sliders:
Evenly layer half the sliced cheese on the bottom rolls, making sure to fully cover the bread—the cheese will act as a barrier to keep the rolls from getting soggy. Spread the filling over the cheese and then, top it with a layer of the remaining cheese. Top with the other half of rolls.
Brush the tops with the remaining garlic butter, and bake again until the cheese is melted and the sliders are deeply golden, about 3 minutes.
Serve the sliders:
Allow the sliders to cool slightly before serving. Tear or cut individual sliders off and serve warm.
Store any remaining sliders in the fridge tightly covered. Leftovers will keep for up to 5 days. Reheat in the microwave for 30 seconds—add 15 seconds for each additional slider. To reheat in the oven, bake for 8 to 10 minutes at 350°F, until the cheese has melted and the sliders are crisp and heated through.
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|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 6 to 8|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 35g||45%|
|Saturated Fat 17g||86%|
|Total Carbohydrate 46g||17%|
|Dietary Fiber 3g||12%|
|Total Sugars 9g|
|Vitamin C 9mg||43%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|