What's a no-fail recipe for summer gatherings? My dad's old-timey ham and cheese sliders never fail to deliver.

There's nothing fancy about these mini sandwiches, but the first bite is bound to kick-start all kinds of nostalgia. Melty, gooey and delicious, they continue to be the main attraction at our family reunions, bridal showers and graduations. They're ridiculously easy to make and embarrassingly indulgent; consider that U.S. Navy sailors coined the term slider during World War II as a nickname for greasy hamburgers because they "slid right down."

Essential to these handheld treats are the fluffy, tender, slightly sweet and right-sized golden Hawaiian buns. I like to slather them with a simple mustard-mayo mix. Be sure to use a good prepared mayonnaise (Hellmann's or Duke's) and rough whole grain Dijon mustard (any extra can be stored in the fridge). I prefer ham, but you can opt for thinly sliced turkey or corned beef.

Swiss cheese works nicely, but choose any mild variety — Gouda, Muenster, mild Cheddar, provolone or Gruyère. Be sure to brush the tops with the tangy, honey-kissed glaze before baking in a low oven to lush goopy perfection. A sprinkling of sesame or poppy seeds on top gives these a delightful crunch.

Ham and cheese sliders are easy to scale up for a crowd; they can be prepped ahead, glazed and baked off to serve, slightly crusty at the edges, and piping hot. They're also my too-busy-to-cook meal I fall back on when I just want something homey paired with a tangy coleslaw or dark green salad tossed in sharp vinaigrette.

Ready in less than 10 minutes with no fuss, these retro combos are the ultimate party fare and the easiest dinner for two.

Ham and Cheese Sliders

Makes 12 sandwiches.

You can assemble these ahead, cover with plastic wrap and hold in the refrigerator until ready to glaze and bake off right before serving. From Beth Dooley.

• 3 tbsp. Dijon mustard

• 3 tbsp. quality mayonnaise, such as Hellmann's or Duke's

• 1 (12-oz.) pkg. Hawaiian rolls

• 1/2 lb. thinly sliced deli ham, smoked turkey or corned beef

• 1/2 lb. thinly sliced Swiss, provolone, Muenster, Cheddar or Gruyère cheese

• 1/4 c. (1/2 stick) butter, melted

• 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

• 1 tbsp. honey

• 2 tsp. sesame or poppy seeds


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees; line a baking sheet with parchment paper leaving about 2 inches hanging over the sides.

In a small dish, whisk together the mustard and mayonnaise. Set aside.

Slice the sheet of rolls in half horizontally (do not break them apart into individual rolls.) Place the bottom half of the rolls on the sheet pan, cut side up. Slather the cut side with half of the mayo-mustard mixture. Add half the ham, layering it evenly over the bread followed by all of the cheese, then top with the remaining ham.

Slather the cut side of the top of the rolls with the remaining mayo-mustard mixture. Place over the layer of ham.

In a small bowl, whisk together the melted butter, Worcestershire sauce and honey. Brush over the tops and sides of the rolls. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking, uncovered, until the rolls look nicely brown and toasted, about 5 more minutes.

To serve, lift the overlapping parchment and place the rolls on a cutting board. Cut into individual sandwiches.

Beth Dooley is the author of "The Perennial Kitchen." Find her at bethdooleyskitchen.com.