meatball sliders

Nearly two years ago, when I was a sprightly young thing who planned elaborate birthday weekends for myself, Alex and I went to The Little Owl to celebrate, an infinitesimally small and adorable restaurant in the West Village that has an Italian/New American thing going on. Never ones to study up on a restaurant before going, we simply ordered whatever sounded good (in fact, I tried unsuccessfully to replicate my fideos appetizer at home) which went really well until we told people what we’d eaten the next day and they near-universally gasped “You didn’t have the meatball sliders?”

“Um, no?” I’d eek out, ducking.

draining the meatballs

Apparently, the meatball sliders at The Little Owl are All, the embodiment of everything great about the restaurant in three golf balls on buns and to skip them is to may as well have not gone at all. The good news is that the chef, Joey Campanaro, turns out to be incredibly generous with his recipes and nearly a year later, I had a chance to redeem myself when I found the recipe for his beloved meatball sliders in two places, New York Magazine and Bon Appetit.

Alas, when I finally got to cooking them for my friend’s Oscars party this Sunday, I unfortunately picked the wrong, or shall I say, unedited version. Oh, they were delicious. But I ran into so much trouble along the way. There was unnecessary shallow/deep-frying and an excess of parsley and too much water in the meatballs and too much water in the sauce and too much sauce altogether and not enough yeast in the rolls and you know, just trouble. I mean, we still ate the heck out of them. They came out deliciously. But when I came home and revisited the Bon Appetit version of the recipe, I saw that they’d literally run into every problem I had in the test kitchen and swiftly edited the recipe back into working order.

And because I like you, no, I mean, really really like you, I will give you that version to make at home instead. You’re welcome!

roasted garlic buns!

Surprise me! I am ridiculously excited that my WordPress Guru (aside from doing all sorts of behind-the-scenes stuff I won’t bore you with) implemented a new randomizer feature on the smitten kitchen! At the top of the sidebar, right beneath the logo, in the “Welcome!” section there is now a “Surprise Me” link. Clicking it from any page on the site will send you to another random page. Can’t decide what to make for dinner? Hit it until something good comes up. And hopefully, if I am doing my job well, that shouldn’t take long at all.

Joey Campanaro’s Meatball Sliders
Adapted from The Little Owl restaurant, two sources, and a long afternoon cooking

I made a doubled version of this but you should by no means attempt the same unless you have a serious crowd to feed. Although we did our darndest to leave no leftovers.

Also, worth considering, this is a lovely recipe for meatballs — the Romano really sings in there — but there are a lot of recipes out there, and around here, for great meatballs. If you have a favorite recipe, that would work equally well.

Makes 6 3-slider appetizer servings

1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 pound ground veal
1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) or fresh breadcrumbs
1/2 cup water
8 tablespoons freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, divided
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
1 14.5-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes

Arugula leaves (optional)

18 very small soft rolls, split horizontally, or Roasted Garlic Buns (recipe below)

Mix all meats, panko, 1/2 cup water, 6 tablespoons cheese, egg, egg yolk, 1/4 cup parsley, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in large bowl. Form into eighteen 2-inch-meatballs.

Heat vegetable oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, fry meatballs until brown all over. Transfer to plate. Pour off drippings from skillet. Reduce heat to medium. Add olive oil to skillet. Add onion, garlic, basil, and fennel seeds. Sauté until onion begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Add all tomatoes with juices. Bring to boil, scraping up browned bits. Reduce heat to low, cover with lid slightly ajar, and simmer, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.

Puree sauce in processor until almost smooth. Return to same skillet. Add meatballs. Cover with lid slightly ajar and simmer until meatballs are cooked through, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes longer.

Do ahead: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill.

Place arugula leaves on bottom of each roll, if desired. Top each with 1 meatball. Drizzle meatballs with some of sauce and sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons parsley and 2 tablespoons cheese. Cover with tops of rolls.

3/4 cups warm water
1 tablespoons molasses
1/8 ounce fresh yeast or 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast*
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 whole bulb garlic

In an electric mixing bowl using the hook attachment, mix the warm water, yeast, olive oil, and molasses. Add the flour and the salt. The dough will become a wet mixture but will remain a little sticky. Remove the dough and place onto a floured clean surface and gently knead into a soft ball. Place the dough in a mixing bowl brushed with olive oil and cover. Store in a warm humid area for 30 minutes or until the dough rises to double its size. (For me, this took over an hour, but our apartment is really cold and I used less yeast.)

Wrap two bulbs of garlic in aluminum foil and roast in a medium heat oven until very soft, about 45 minutes. Squeeze the whole bulbs of garlic to release the soft interior. Slightly chop the roasted garlic until it resembles a puree. Portion the dough into 1 inch round balls, kneading in the roasted garlic while doing so.** Place the portioned raw dough balls on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper approximately 2 inches apart. Cover with plastic and allow the dough balls to rise again. After 20 minutes, spray the raw dough balls with cold water, sprinkle with a pinch of the freshly grated pecorino, salt and pepper, and bake for 20 minutes in a 400 degree oven.

* I had trouble with the yeast level in my dough. Honestly uninterested in seeking out fresh yeast, I looked up an exchange with it for instant yeast — it was said to be 3:1, and that the equivalent amount of instant yeast would be 1/4 teaspoon. In the end, I felt that this was too little. Everything took forever to rise and even though the rolls were tasty, they had a density I associate with bread that has not risen as much as it should. Thus, I’ve suggested doubling the yeast, an amount that seems more in par with what you’d see in a bread dough based on two cups of flour.

** Next time, I will add the roasted chopped garlic into the dough in the mixer, before the first rise. However, I am nervous to tell you to do this without testing it in case it in any way affects the rising. It would certainly have been easier that way — kneading roasted garlic into already risen dough is a messy chore, that overly deflates the rise.

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124 comments on meatball sliders

  1. “… to skip them is to may as well have not gone at all.”

    Damn straight! So much so that I even ordered them as an appetizer when I went there for Thanksgiving dinner. Thank you so much for this post—and for discovering that the NYM recipe was raw. I am so going to make these.

  2. Of course you’re doing your job! I tell people all the time that I’ve yet to make a recipe from this site that didn’t turn out beautifully. I’m sure the randomizer will be my new best friend.

  3. The Teen Chef Anna

    These look so delicious, and looks easy, however you mentioned it was difficult the first time so I’ll make sure I have plenty of time to make these.

  4. We order the sliders every time we go to Little Owl.
    Thanks for sharing Joey’s recipe.

    We also tried his other partner restaurant in the West Village, Market Table, and we enjoyed that as well.

    Stacey Snacks

  5. chris

    To save time and mess while making meatballs, I just pop mine in a 400 degree oven on foil for 15-20 minutes. They brown nicely and with less grease this way, and cleanup consists of throwing the foil away. In the meantime you can build the sauce and be ready for the meatball bath when they’re done.

    I’m almost certainly trying these this weekend. Now to find an excuse… Thanks!

  6. I’ve read that putting garlic into bread dough before it’s risen will effectively kill the yeast and your dough will not rise. I’m about to pop into the kitchen and start a batch of those garlic rolls though–they sound divine. Everything tastes better with garlic.

  7. Marie

    I love the idea of meatballs on little buns. I just finished eating dinner and I’m hungry again.

    Here’s my suggestion if your kitchen is cold but you want to get your dough to rise. I’ve never baked any bread (someday) but Trader Joe’s has an amazing frozen chocolate crossant which needs to rise overnight. I set my oven to 170 degrees F for a few minutes, ’til it’s warm, like 70-80 F inside the oven, then splash a teaspoon of hot water on the bottom, or just spritz some water from a bottle. Makes a nice warm humid not drafty place to let your dough (or crossant) rise. Another way to get my kitchen warm (without turning on the heat and warming the whole house) is to close the doors, set the oven to 400F, open the oven door until the kitchen is warm and toasty. In my kitchen it only takes about five minutes then I turn off the oven and it will stay warm for quite a while. Don’t know if it will work for everyone, but it’s worth trying. Those buns look so cute.

  8. They’re so cuuuuuuuuute! They look really good – thanks!

    re: Sara and garlic. I make roasted garlic bread all the time, and it rises well. I don’t put the garlic in until after the first rise (punch it down, roll up with diced roasted garlic, let rise again), so I can’t speak for using it right at the start, but if you let it rise once and then combine it, it doesn’t seem to affect the yeast at all. It makes for an incredible bread too. :-)

  9. Susan

    These little guys are so cute! Great appetizer idea, but I’m all about having them for lunch, cold sliding.

    I’m a meatball baker like Chris, #9. It’s so much easier and much less messy in the oven, and they do brown beautifully.

  10. These are great looking meatballs, I’ve been cheating all this while and just using sausage mince and making them into balls. Thanks for inspiring me to try and make proper meatballs this weekend! Cheers!

  11. Jessica

    FYI, the Fideos recipe was made by Joey Campanaro on the Martha Stewart show ages ago, I’m sure that you can find HIS recipe online…I’ve made it, a very easy and wonderfully delicious recipe!

  12. Man, I have yet to make it to the Little Owl! They look so so good. I went to Braeburn last night (chef is from Harrison) and it was delightful. As for the Randomizer – i’ve been playing with it NON-STOP. love it. Your WordPress Guru is amazing.

  13. Hey,

    I wonder if you could blend or whisk the pureed garlic in with the molasses and liquid for the bread? And then add the flour? It might save some frustration and worry about over-beating after the first rise?

  14. deb

    Sara — Thank you. I hadn’t realized that but it makes a lot of sense then why the recipe was built that way. I recoiled because, well, it was a mess kneading all of that roasted garlic into a risen dough and felt kind of cruel, like I was excessively deflating it.

    By the way, Bon Appetit only had the meatball recipe and suggested that you buy the rolls, but honestly, I gotta tell you, I don’t know where you buy your rolls but I’ve been to a lot of bakeries and rarely seen one I’d consider golf ball sized.

  15. Pamela

    Bake those meatballs. You can cook 40 at a time, and then tuck them into your freezer for a quick meal later! Non-stick spray your pan, and then pour some beef broth around the meatballs to just cover the bottom, and bake at 450 F for 25 minutes or so. I also use a #40 scoop to form the meatballs for similar size. Love this site!

  16. laurie

    Ok, I just tried the surprise me link, and I was directed to Project Wedding Cake. Although that sounds delish, it’s not what I had in mind for dinner. Will try again!

  17. Lauren

    Need a warm place to let dough rise? Place a coffee mug 3/4 full of water in the microwave and heat it for 5 minutes (mine is a high watt model). When you are finished there is a lot of steam in it. As quickly as you can open the door, put the dough bowl in and shut it. Works like a charm every time. I use this method both in the winter (cool house) and in the summer (also cool due to air conditioning).

  18. beth

    The Little Owl? You mean “Central Perk”? (For those who were never addicted to Friends, this little restaurant occupies the hypothetical location of “Central Perk”, i.e. the ground floor of the building they used for the external shots of the Friends’ apartment building.) I always wonder how many people wander in expecting a coffee house.

  19. So many great tips in your comment section! These look fabulous. I have been searching for a nice recipe with some other meats besides just ground beef so I will be giving this one a try. Thanks for the roll recipe too. I think this one will be made very soon around here!

    I just wanted to alert the commenter that says she heats her kitchen up a tad with her oven. If you have a gas stove, that can put excessive amounts of carbon monoxide into your home. We live in Ohio and it gets pretty darned cold here. They warn against heating your kitchen up with your stove all the time on the news. Just thought I’d throw that out there.

  20. my hubby would pass out if I made these little gems.
    the bahamas, I miss the days when it was a small quaint little place, not so much these days. a great secret over there is The Ocean Club; most romantic place on earth to eat is in the garden. make reservations though. have fun

  21. These are the cutest eff-ing this I have ever seen! They are like tweedledee and tweedledum! Paupers of the kitchen!

    I want to put them in my pocket (as I don hard boiled eggs and other foodstuff). So much to make so little time!

    I LOVE meatballs. I made spanish ones with saffron and wine. I stuck them between ciabatta. swoon…

  22. yummmm. i’ve been craving meatballs lately, how strange. i have yet to make it to the little owl; i need to get myself there. there’s a slight better chance of that happening than me buying ground beef, pork, and veal to make these. But thanks for the recipe in case I ever get the urge! :)

  23. Oh yum! I was at a painfully elegant party last night and they were serving meatballs of all things, and they were absolutely wonderful. I’m on a total meatball kick now so this recipe could not have come at a better time!

  24. deb

    Beth — I had no idea! That’d be some cute block for a coffee shop, no wonder the scouts chose it.

    Brenda — I have only made the meatballs this way. If you have a kosher meatball recipe you like, I see no reason not to use that instead. (There’s pork in here too.)

  25. AngAK

    Yum. I must try the bread dough with adding the garlic at the beginning. just don’t know why it would interfere. My curiosity is getting the better of me. I’ll report back. Get out your stick blender to blend that sauce—less to clean up than if you use the FP.

  26. Next time you make those little buns try laying a cookie sheet on top of the plastic wrap before the second rise. They will come out just a bit flatter, and less of a challenge to get your mouth around!

  27. Whitney

    you are fantastic for posting these two recipes. i had previously attempted to imitate these on the fly, but the best small roll i could find was the balthazar mini-brioche, and while the somewhat larger (both ball and roll) result was nothing to be sniffed at, it didn’t have the “pop-it-in-your-mouth” two-bite glory of the original. i cannot wait to make these- your roasted garlic buns look superb.

  28. Lisa

    If you do these ahead, what is the best way to reheat them?

    Or would it be best to just make the meatballs ahead and then do the sauce and cooking part the next day?

  29. Oh, I love fennel seeds in my meatballs. That issue of bon appetit makes me quesy about cancelling my subscription right now…

    (And your new surprise me gidget is just a little too fun.)

  30. You are my honor. I check you blog for new posts EVERY day, and posts like this are the reason why! You’re just a culinary lover’s dream come true. Thank you!

  31. Ah, sliders. I love them almost as much as I hate food snobs who look aghast when you don’t know what’s important to order. Please. Life’s too short to order anything except what you want to eat.

    Just speaking raw food science here, I’d say bread flour would do the trick, substituting it for the all-purpose. And if so, then I’d also up the amount of bread flour by 2 tablespoons.

  32. What is it about miniature food – real food, not, like, a single shrimp on a big white plate with some green-something drizzled in a fancy pattern over for $50 – that’s just so darn appealing. Miniature pretzels, sliders (meatball, hamburger, turkey) – love it all. I’ve been wanting to make rolls for these slider creations, but just haven’t had the attention span. (Where I live, the only mini rolls you can get are of the Sara Lee Classic variety, and those have to be toasted to support even condiments.) I’m going to try this recipe for the buns – I love the addition of garlic (and the bread flour suggestion above, as that will definitely make a sturdier bun).

  33. rebecca

    These look ADORABLE! I love anything in miniature, food or otherwise. I will be making these in a couple of weeks for an upcoming Jewish holiday party. . . I’ll just use my regular recipe for kosher meatballs—and bake up these miniature garlic rolls for presentation. Love the basil leaf! Thanks for the idea Deb. They look beautiful and sound delicious :).

  34. Carolyn

    OMG! Surprise me is, surprisingly addicting. I am supposed to be sewing and here I am clicking and printing and clicking and printing…

    On the meatballs…my husband is very high in the cholesterol category so we substituted turkey for the veal. Lightens them up a bit.

  35. Sam

    My Italian grandmother’s recipe for meatballs is about the same as this one, but she always put the meatballs in the sauce raw (no frying or baking first) and I do the same. One less step and it doesn’t take them much longer to cook. Maybe it’s what I’m used to, but they are really tender this way.

  36. Thanks for posting! I came across meatball sliders on and almost made them last week. I’d like to cook the meatballs and then freeze them for easy last minute entertaining.

  37. sarah

    those look so tasty. I would like to make them for a child’s birthday party because the size is perfect. I want to thank you for your website: today I was trying to think of a good mac ‘n cheese recipe, so I just opened up your site and did a search. I am halfway through my bowl of martha’s recipe, and it is the one I’ve been searching for. Mild enough that my two year old is devouring it, but enough flavor that my husband and I don’t feel as if we’re eating buttered noodles. The sauce came together beautifully — no gloppy clumps of cheese, no sticky residue on my pan. I put half the recipe in a pan for a playgroup tomorrow, the other half is our dinner (with peas and a salad). While I realize you didn’t create the recipe, I never would have tried it off of the martha stewart site because I’m just too darn picky about my mac to try something without a more personal recommendation. Thank you for more three years of tastiness! Keep it coming.

  38. christy

    Here is a formula we got in Baking Class. If the recipe calls for fresh (usually compressed) yeast then take the amount and multiply it using the formula according to which yeast you have. I hope it helps.
    Ex. Recipe calls for 1 oz fresh yeast. You only have active dry.
    1 x 0.5 = .5 oz of active dry.

    Compressed x 0.5 = Active dry
    Compressed x 0.33 = Instant

    Active dry x 2 = Compressed
    Active dry x 0.75 = Instant

    Instant x 3 = Compressed
    Instant x 1.33 = Active dry

    1. deb

      Hi Christy — Thanks for sharing. That’s the formula I used, but as I mentioned, I did not feel it was a sufficient amount of yeast for this recipe. I recommended that people double it, an amount that seems more on par with the dough volume I’ve seen in other recipes.

  39. Francine

    for Sam
    My Italian mother does the same thing and it makes for such tender meatballs.Her recipe is also very similar to this one.

  40. As soon as I saw this photo I knew where this recipe was from! WE LOVE the Little Owl. We flew out to New York for Laudalino’s birthday about two years ago and dined there. Everything was fantastic, especially the sliders. I was so excited when we were at the NY airport on our way home to open the Bon Appetit and see the slider recipe there! Joey & Gabriel were fantastic hosts and very accomendating from the time we made reservations until we stepped out the door. Joey sent me the recipe for the halibut with peas if you ever want it – it was out of this world!!

  41. SAS

    I was a restaurant in Minneapolis yesterday and they had the most wonderful meatballs. However, I need to make my own! This looks incredible. Of course, a delicious tomato sauce makes them even better. Thank you!!

  42. Thanks for sharing this recipe! A group of friends and I have been trying to get a table at The Little Owl for dinner for a while now. Perhaps I can make these while we wait for our attempts to be successful!

  43. As usual, I am quite late to the table… but it looks like you made enough for everyone! I will definitely be trying this out soon… I’ll be sure to post pics and comments when I do!

  44. Rupi D

    I made these last night for friends w/ a few small variations to make it a bit healhier of a meal, they loved it. Thanks for the recipe:)

  45. Oh my goodness~!. You know I had the same idea?!. XD Really because I make amazing meatball subs and I was thinking about making sliders like that!.And I was planning on using this great recipe I found for buttergarlic rolls
    only I make my meatballs with mostly turkey :3.

    My mumsy and papi(I’m a young cook I’ms 13. But I hardley look my age I look much older ^_^.) hate pork and they don’t eat beef and cheese. Even though I do. :3 So to be nice and considerate I use turkey.. Which turns out fine. I don’t need a recipe for meatballs I know how to make great ones! ^_^

    These recipes seem amazing though honestly!. : D I might have to steal a few! *wink.*


  46. I had some issues with the bread, so I did some experimenting. The first time I made it, I used fresh yeast and added the roasted garlic at the beginning, before the first rise. The dough didn’t seem to rise at all. The yeast was new, the water wasn’t too hot, the room was plenty warm, and I waited hours.

    I tried it again using instant yeast, which I’m more familiar with working with than fresh yeast, this time adding the garlic after the first rise. I agree with you that working in the garlic at that point was a huge sticky mess. The dough was still slow to rise, but it did work out in the end.

    To examine whether the fresh yeast or the garlic was the problem in the initial batch, I created three mixtures – 0.5 ounce flour, 1/8 teaspoon salt, 0.5 ounce water in each. I added 1/8 teaspoon instant yeast to one, a clove of roasted garlic plus 1/8 teaspoon instant yeast to another, and some fresh yeast (difficult to measure at such small quantities) to the last. All three rose, but the one with the fresh yeast was much slower.

    I conclude that 1) roasted garlic can be added before the first rise, 2) working with fresh yeast sucks and I won’t bother anymore, and 3) the amount of yeast in the recipe is still too small. I think 1 teaspoon for 2 cups of flour is more appropriate and on par with many other bread recipes.

    The meatballs and combination of everything was (eventually) absolutely delicious, and of course super cute.

  47. TRACY

    These sound so delicious, I think i am going to double the batch and put them in the freezer. Is it better to cook them first(i am going to do them in the oven) and then freeze them or put them in uncooked? also, could i just use beef and veal and leave out the pork or maybe add turkey?

  48. Katie

    I just have to say, these are a staple in our house now! We make them with just the beef and pork though. I’ve only made the rolls once (and they were delicious) but the meatballs are the fallback, “what do we want for dinner tonight?” answer. Although not quite the same, they are still very yummy made with turkey and pork! And thank you for your beautiful pictures!

  49. Rebecca

    This recipe was amazing. I only used the meat ball part (and substituted 1 pound of beef and 1 pound of pork in lieu of the 1/2 pound of veal). I combined it with your Pasta with Sausage recipe subbing in the meatballs for the sausage and it was great.

    The only other twist I used was with the cheese (Mozzarella since they were out of Romano) I cut tiny, finger tip sized cubes and wrapped each meatball around it. It made for a nice surprise inside each of them.

    The only difficulties I had was really with lack of sufficient sized pots for both the pasta and the sauce (another recipe than this I know) and with frying the meatballs. They splattered a lot! And the oil got dirty really fast so I had to switch it frequently (still wasn’t fast enough once and we had a bit of a smoke alarm issue).

    Overall, the end result was delicious, though. I look forward to trying other ideas I see around here.

  50. Kristen

    I made these as an appetizer for Christmas day with the family and EVERYBODY loved them! In fact, I was frying the meatballs up as the guests arrived, and almost half of them were gobbled up even before I added them to the sauce or prepared them on the rolls. I really enjoyed the meatballs in particular. Unfortunately I did not try the recipe for the rolls (I used a different recipe from Allrecipes that I was *not* very happy with), but next time I will be trying the garlic rolls for sure. Thank you so much for sharing this recipes; I will definitely be using it again!

  51. Kelley

    Has anyone transported these appetizers? I’m wondering how impressive they will be if I assemble them at home and then take them to a party 30 minutes away…

  52. PollyG163

    I made them this past weekend for a beer tasting party and they turned out great! I wasn’t feeling too ambitious, so I didn’t make the rolls. Trader Joe’s makes slider buns, so I cheated and used them. The TJ rolls worked well but I do think that if you have more patience and time, the end result would be more elegant with Smitten Kitten roll recipe. I will definitely use this recipe again!!!

  53. MM

    Wait — the ingredient list calls for 1 bulb of garlic, but the recipe calls for two? Which one is it? If I’m making rolls using 4 1/2 lbs flour, how much garlic should I use? Thanks!

  54. MCHoey

    Deb – I love these sliders but they always fall apart on me in the pan. Always. Any tips? Could using EVOO instead of vegetable oil be the culprit? Thanks!

    1. deb

      No, it’s just meatballs which are fussy to fry — the tender ones, i.e. the best ones, really love to fall apart. I recommend getting your pan totally heated, then adding the oil, and once the oil is very hot, add just a few meatballs at a time. If you have a flexible fish spatula, these are my favorite for anything that requires a spatula, because they’re so thin, they’re a cinch to slide under foods without breaking them. Nevertheless, don’t move the meatball until it wants to move — i.e. it’s formed a brown edge, and will release more easily. Then just gently roll it by sliding your spatula underneath…. I apologize if this is too much detail! But I find that preheating the pan exactly like that and being patient to not move the meat until it wants to be moved helps a lot.

  55. Margaret

    I made these for a staff party and wish that I had done a test run with the rolls. The first batch I threw out because I thought it was too sticky and that I had done something wrong. The second batch took two hours to double in size and was so sticky I was still convinced I had done something wrong but was too tired to care at that point. After I made the little balls I put them in the fridge until the next day and let them rise again before baking. They were a little dense and I thought they needed more garlic… or salt… or something. Tasted kind of bland.

    However, the meatballs were very good (baked them in the oven for less mess!) and the sauce was tasty. Next time I think I’ll try more of a homemade BBQ sauce and I definitely want to play around with the dough some more.

    It wasn’t my favorite smitten kitchen recipe, but definitely one that I want to try again!

  56. Veronica

    Is it possible to make the dough a day ahead of baking the rolls? I do love fresh bread but not sure I can pull everything off in one night with people coming over…

  57. Melissa

    I am making these for a friend who just had a baby. I’d like to make them ahead and then take them up. I noticed your response to comment 76 said to reheat them on the stove; is it possible to reheat them in the oven before serving? I thought that might be easier for my friends to do.

  58. Andrea

    Going to make these for my son’s film crew at San Jose State this week. I am thinking I will just spread the roasted garlic on the buns after I toast them. Seems easier, don’t you think?

    I am cooking them up for 50 people, about 100-120 meatball sliders. Any suggestions here on how to make sure they are fresh and delish when I transport them?



  59. Andrea

    Deb – A little slow in letting you know how it went with feeding the SJSU film team. These were a HUGE hit! I did assemble them on the spot which went very well. I actually made a chicken version. The buns were delish and all went perfectly. Thanks!

  60. Mimi (another one :)

    This was today’s lunch, on potato rolls from the bakery. Oooh, it was good….
    I added a little salt and sugar to the tomato sauce (just my taste, you know). I had never tried fennel seeds in a tom. sauce, and I like it a lot!

    I told my kids that it’s called “Tomatensauerei” (German for something like .. “big mess with tomatoes”, as the sauce squished out when we tackled the rolls) and of course they loved it :-D

  61. Megan B

    So this is the first time I am commenting, all because of the “Surprise Me!” button. I stumbled across your page Nov 23rd, and read it for 7 hours, interrupted only by a silly thing called work! I have now made numerous recipes (Margarita Cookies were first) I just can’t get enough of this. I firmly believe that you are my “spirit animal” seeing as you write the same way that I think. I can’t thank you enough for this bounty of ideas. The cookbook is on my Christmas list, lets hope Santa listens!

  62. Tina

    Hi Deb, I make these all the time and it is awesome! Just curious I have a hard time finding veal sometimes. Do you have a suggestion of a substitute? I don’t use pork at all.