Meatball Sub Recipe

Meatball Sub Recipe

Whether for family meals, parties, or potluck events, meatball sandwiches are always a hit, and even the pickiest eaters love them. This recipe is ready in just under an hour, making it an excellent weeknight meal. You can make them even faster if you make the meatballs in advance, then all you have to do is warm them up in the sauce, assemble the sandwiches, and stick them under the broiler for a few minutes. It couldn’t be easier!

The delicious baked meatballs are the star of this dish. They're made with ground beef and sweet or hot Italian sausage, while Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, and Italian seasonings balance the flavors perfectly.

The simple homemade marinara sauce takes just minutes to throw together, and you can speed the process up even more by using a jar of your favorite marinara or spaghetti sauce. While it’s hard to beat homemade meatballs for texture and flavor, feel free to swap them out with good-quality premade meatballs. Provolone cheese is a good substitute for the mozzarella, or skip broiling the sandwiches and finish them with fresh Parmesan cheese.

For bread, hoagie rolls, sub rolls, or baguettes cut into bun-size lengths are excellent choices. If the bread is thick and somewhat sturdy, hollow it out a bit to make room for the meatballs. Too much bread can overwhelm the tasty meatballs and sauce.

“Tasting as if they came from a sub shop, the recipe makes top-notch meatball subs. The flavor of both the sauce and meatballs is outstanding, and they’re so easy that I’ll be using them for pasta dishes, too. Super filling, one sub is likely enough per person.” —Colleen Graham

Meatball Sub Recipe/Tester Image A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

For the Meatballs:

  • 1 pound lean ground beef

  • 1/2 pound mild or hot Italian sausage

  • 2/3 cup plain breadcrumbs

  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten

  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic

  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

  • 1 teaspoon fine salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the Sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic

  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt, or to taste

  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes, optional

For the Sandwiches:

  • 6 medium hoagie buns

  • 4 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded or thinly sliced

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients to make meatball subs

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  2. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 350 F. In a medium bowl, combine the ground beef, sausage, breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, eggs, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Mix until well blended.

    A bowl of blended ground beef, sausage, breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, eggs, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  3. Position a rack in a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet pan. Shape meat mixture into 18 equal size meatballs. Arrange the meatballs on the rack.

    Raw meatballs on a rack over a baking sheet

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  4. Bake in pre heated oven until golden brown, and they reach 165 F on an instant-read thermometer, 30 to 35 minutes.

    Baked meatballs on a rack

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  5. Meanwhile, make the sauce. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add the crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning, salt, and crushed red pepper flakes. Bring the sauce to a low boil. Reduce the heat to low. Simmer the sauce, stirring occasionally, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.

    A pot of tomato sauce

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  6. Transfer the meatballs to the sauce and turn to coat. Set the oven to broil.

    A pot of meatballs in tomato sauce

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  7. To assemble sandwiches, on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet, place the hoagie rolls. Place 3 meatballs in each hoagie roll.

    A foil-lined baking sheet with sub rolls filled with meatballs

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  8. Top with sauce to taste, reserving some for the table, if desired. Divide the cheese evenly between the sandwiches.

    Meatball subs on a baking sheet topped with tomato sauce and cheese

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  9. Broil the sandwiches until the cheese melts, about 2 to 3 minutes. Serve immediately with extra sauce on the side, if desired.

    Meatball subs on a serving platter with extra tomato sauce

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

Tips

  • The recipe makes pretty large meatballs that are about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Weighing the meat ensures they’re all about the same size. If you don’t have a kitchen scale, you can use a medium-sized cookie or ice cream scoop.
  • Homemade meatballs are the best choice for sandwiches, but a good-quality frozen meatball may be substituted if you’re short on time.
  • You may make and bake the meatballs in advance and store them in the refrigerator or freezer.
  • Create a meatball sandwich buffet for a game day gathering or make meatball “monster” sandwiches for a Halloween party. Serve the meatballs and sauce from a chafing dish or slow cooker and encourage everyone to make their own. Offer cheese and garnishes on the side, such as fresh basil, thinly sliced onions, ripe olives, and thinly sliced peppers.
  • Make an extra batch of meatballs and store them in the freezer to use in a future meal.

Recipe Variations

  • Instead of Italian sausage, use 1 1/2 pounds of lean ground beef, or use a blend of ground beef and ground pork or ground veal.
  • Swap out the ground beef and sausage with ground turkey.
  • Substitute French or Italian bread, cut into bun-size lengths.

How to Store and Freeze

  • Refrigerate leftover meatballs within 2 hours and eat within 3 days.
  • To freeze the meatballs and sauce, put them in a freezer container (or several small containers for individual servings) and freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight and reheat in a saucepan over medium-low heat until the meatballs reach 165 F.
  • Use leftover meatballs with their sauce in sandwiches or serve them with pasta.

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