In this easy meatball appetizer, meatballs are tossed in sweet BBQ sauce before being topped with cheddar cheese, sautéed onions, and crispy bacon! To finish off these meatball sliders, they’re then sandwiched between sweet Hawaiian rolls.

pulling a bbq meatball slider from baking tray

Easiest Meatball Appetizer

Yay for summer! Well, it’s not exactly summer yet, but the highs have been in the 80s for most of the week here so I’m just gonna call it summer, k?? Especially since I’m busting out these Easy BBQ Meatball Sliders!

Summer is basically here and, to me, that means lots of entertaining. There’s almost always a pool party or patriotic holiday or other get-together going on every weekend so I’m always thinking up new recipes to feed a crowd.

When deciding what to bring to a summer gathering, I try to focus on these three criteria for my dish:

  1. Must be hearty and filling (i.e. must have PROTEIN).
  2. Must be easy to throw together, even if that means a short-cut here or there.
  3. Must travel well. Nuff said.

Today’s meatball sliders recipe meets all the criteria above and, of course, brings all the flavor. 

baking dish of bbq meatball sliders

Creating These BBQ Meatball Sliders

It’s pretty obvious that criteria #1 is completely satisfied with these sliders, but what exactly is going on in all the layers? Let’s break it down.

First, we start with sweet Hawaiian rolls. Now, not everyone is a fan of these rolls because they find them too sweet, but I think they actually work perfectly in these bbq meatball slider because they balance out the smokiness of the barbecue sauce. And I’m all about balance in a recipe. 

Second, the meatballs. I used pre-made meatballs that I simply seared and cooked myself. But I see absolutely no shame in buying frozen meatballs and using those, as well. I love the convenience of a frozen meatball! 

Third, the barbecue sauce. I am a huuuuge fan of thin, vinegary barbecue sauce. But not for these easy bbq meatball sliders! We want a thick sauce to coat those meatballs and not soak through the buns. So I used a classic thick barbecue sauce that I just bought at the grocery store. See, I love a good shortcut, but if you’re looking for a homemade version, our Homemade BBQ Sauce is the bee’s knees. 

bbq meatball sliders in pyrex baking dish

Next, cheese! I always get super excited for cheese. I love the bite of a cheddar cheese so the choice was simple here. However, if you prefer the melt of an American cheese (as my husband does), that’s a perfectly fine substitute here.

Next, the toppings — bacon and onions. My husband kept trying to tell me that these meatball sliders sounded incredible on their own so don’t even both with the bacon.

Wait, don’t bother with the bacon?! Who are you???

After I checked him for a fever, I told him that I think it wouldn’t hurt to try out the bacon since I’d already purchased it. 

bbq meatball sliders in pyrex baking dish

Finally, the buttery topping. You cannot make incredible bbq meatball sliders without topping them with some melted butter. Plus, I added a few shakes of Worcestershire sauce to the butter to give it extra depth. Don’t forget the sprinkle of sesame seeds to make these sliders look extra special.

Alrighty, now that you know what these meatball sliders are all about, aren’t you so pumped to try them out for your next event?! These makes for an easy Super Bowl appetizer, but are also perfect for New Year’s Eve and the 4th of July. Hey, you can even make them for dinner one night since they’re so easy to make.

Whenever you chose to enjoy them, I know you’re gonna fall in love with these easy BBQ Meatball Sliders!

bbq meatballs on slider buns in baking dish

BBQ Meatball Sliders Ingredients

To make the bbq meatballs and sliders, you’ll need:

  • Cooked meatballs (frozen or homemade)
  • Hawaiian rolls
  • BBQ sauce
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Yellow onion
  • Bacon
  • Salted butter
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Sesame seeds

Tip: You can make these sliders with either our Classic BBQ Sauce or our North Carolina BBQ Sauce

bbq meatball sliders being assembled in baking tray

How to Make BBQ Meatball Sliders

These sliders are one of the easiest meatball appetizers to make! Here’s how we prep these irresistible meatball sliders:

  1. Toss the cooked meatballs with bbq sauce.
  2. Cook diced bacon in a skillet until crispy, then use a slotted spoon to transfer to a plate.
  3. Sauté the diced onion in the same skillet the bacon cooked in.
  4. Assemble the meatball sliders in a baking dish, then top with melted butter mixture and sesame seeds.
  5. Bake until warmed through and the cheese is melted.

Can I Prep Meatball Sliders in Advance?

You can prep the bbq meatballs in advance (if making homemade), but you should wait to assemble and bake the meatball sliders until the day you’ll be serving them. These sliders travel well, but over time the bottom buns will get soggy from the bbq sauce.

Can I Add Extra Toppings?

I don’t see why not! Just be sure to not overload these meatball sliders with toppings, otherwise the sliders will be impossible to eat. Other topping ideas include: sautéed mushrooms, pickle slices, and extra cheese.

brushing butter mixture onto bbq meatball sliders

Tips for Making BBQ Meatball Sliders

If using store-bought frozen meatballs, make sure you purchase the large or “dinner size” meatballs, not the bite-sized or “appetizer style” meatballs. They’ll be too small for the buns.

Also note that the cheese is that it MUST go right on top of the meatballs instead of under them. I love how the cheese acts like a shelf for the bacon and onions (which we’ll discuss next). Otherwise, those toppings would go all over the place and make for a messy presentation and even messier consumption.

To prevent myself from spending too long cooking the bacon, I diced it up first and then cooked it. Worked like a charm! The bacon cooked in half the time and was even crispier than if I’d cooked it in strips.

unbaked bbq meatball sliders in pyrex baking dish


Easy BBQ Meatball Sliders

Easy BBQ Meatball Sliders

5 from 1 vote
Servings: 12 sliders
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes


In this easy meatball appetizer, meatballs are tossed in sweet BBQ sauce before being topped with cheddar cheese, sautéed onions, and crispy bacon! To finish off these meatball sliders, they're then sandwiched between sweet Hawaiian rolls. 


  • 12 Large Cooked Meatballs, frozen or homemade
  • 1 1/2 Cups Sweet BBQ Sauce
  • 1/3 lb Bacon, diced
  • 1 Medium Yellow Onion, sliced
  • 12 Hawaiian Rolls
  • 5 Slices Cheddar Cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons Salted Butter
  • Dash of Worcestershire
  • Sprinkle of Sesame Seeds


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • If using frozen meatballs, place meatballs in medium saucepan with BBQ sauce. Place over medium heat to heat through (about 15-20 minutes). If using homemade meatballs, toss cooked meatballs in BBQ sauce. Set aside.
    12 Large Cooked Meatballs, 1 1/2 Cups Sweet BBQ Sauce
  • Cook diced bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crispy. Drain bacon on paper towels to remove excess grease.
    1/3 lb Bacon
  • Place sliced onion in skillet used for bacon and cook until they are translucent and begin to caramelize, about 8 minutes.
    1 Medium Yellow Onion
  • Slice Hawaiian rolls in half and place bottom half on bottom of rectangular baking pan. Place cooked bbq meatballs on top of bottom half of the rolls. Top with slices of cheddar cheese.
    12 Hawaiian Rolls, 5 Slices Cheddar Cheese
  • Top cheese with cooked bacon and onions. Top sliders with top half of the rolls.
  • Melt butter in small bowl. Add a dash or two of Worcestershire sauce to butter and stir. Spread melted butter over the tops of the rolls and sprinkle sesame seeds on top.
    2 Tablespoons Salted Butter, Sprinkle of Sesame Seeds, Dash of Worcestershire
  • Place meatball sliders in preheated oven to heat through and melt the cheese, about 10-13 minutes. Remove from oven and let them cool 5 minutes before serving.


Note: you may need to cut the slices of cheese to make them fit perfectly over meatballs.
May be made ahead and refrigerated until ready to bake and serve.


Serving: 1gCalories: 377kcalCarbohydrates: 35gProtein: 15gFat: 20gSaturated Fat: 8gPolyunsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 64mgSodium: 930mgFiber: 2gSugar: 18g
Author: Sweet Basil
Course: 200+ Easy Appetizers Recipes
Cuisine: American

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Meatball BBQ Sliders with cheddar cheese, sautéed onions, crispy bacon and then sandwiched between sweet Hawaiian rolls.