Recipe Overview

Why you’ll love it: Keep meatballs in your freezer to make these easy sub sandwiches. Everyone loves them!

How long it takes: 20 minutes
Equipment you’ll need: saucepan, baking sheet
Servings: makes 4 sandwiches

Multiple meatball subs on a platter.
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There’s nothing quite like a meatball sub. It’s kind of like pizza in a bun. A pizza with meatballs, that is. 

I know you all love pizza! And you know I love pizza too. Just a quick search of my site will reveal that. Pizza pasta, pizza chicken, BBQ chicken pizza, pizza sliders, pepperoni pizza dip, pizza mac and cheese muffins (combining two of my favorites!), and grilled pizza, and that’s just a sampling. For a quickie pizza, try English muffin pizzas!

So, meatball subs it is! Make them for dinner tonight. They’re a big hit on game day, too. A meatball sub satisfies even the most hungry appetite.

About These Meatball Subs

Any of your favorite meatballs will work for this recipe; homemade or store-bought are both great!

I like to use homemade baked turkey meatballs. Made with ground turkey, they are a little leaner than beef meatballs, have great flavor, and are easy to make. I almost always have some in the freezer which simplifies making this sandwich by a long shot.

If turkey isn’t your thing, I have a great recipe for classic meatballs made with a mixture of ground beef and pork. They are really good, too! I like to make air fryer meatballs; they cook up perfectly and in no time at all.

Close up of a sauce and cheese covered meatball on a sub bun.

What you’ll need

  • Sub buns: You need a hefty bun for a meatball sandwich. Submarine sandwich buns are perfect.
  • Meatballs: Your choice, turkey, beef, homemade, frozen, whatever.
  • Marinara: Buy a jar (spaghetti sauce works too), or use your homemade pizza sauce.
  • Cheese: Top your sandwich with lots of shredded cheese. Use a mixture of provolone and mozzarella for ultimate gooey goodness.
Overhead view of ingredients including sub buns, meatballs, tomato sauce, cheese.

How to make meatball subs

Prep meatballs. Begin by warming the meatballs up in marinara sauce. Frozen meatballs will take a little longer to warm.

Meatballs and sauce in a pan.

Prep buns. If you like, hollow out the bottom half of the bun just a bit so the meatballs fit right in there, snug as a bug. For utmost flavor, spread garlic butter on the buns and toast them under the broiler for a few minutes before filling. This easy step adds so much to your sandwiches.

Bread rolls on left side, not yet toasted, right side are golden brown.

Fill buns. Place the meatballs with some sauce in the bun, cover with lots of shredded cheese.

Subs with meatballs, marinara, and cheese, not yet melted.

Broil. Broil a few minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly. 

Close up view of melted cheese on a meatball sub.

Garnish. Sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley if you’d like a garnish. Enjoy!

Meatball sub on a white plate with more sandwiches in the background.


What do you put on a meatball sub?

Well, the answer is pretty clear: meatballs! But a plain meatball on a bun would be pretty boring, wouldn’t it? A meatball sub, at the very least, needs a good dousing of marinara sauce and a topping of melty mozzarella cheese.
Keep reading for more great ideas in the Make It Your Own section.

What side dish goes well with meatball subs?

Since meatball subs are pretty filling, you don’t need a lot to go along with it. I like to serve a salad, like creamy coleslaw, arugula salad with a bright lemony dressing, or simple cucumber onion salad. Fresh fruit is always a good side, such as sliced apples, citrus fruits, or pineapple or mango.
Sautéed bell peppers, onions, or mushrooms go great with meatball subs, either on the sub or alongside.

Is a meatball sub considered a sandwich?

I’d say the answer to that would be a Yes! It’s meat, cheese, and bread which, in my mind, constitutes a sandwich. Because it’s heated and very hearty, it’s a filling sandwich that makes a good main course.

Make it your own

  • Add veggies. Sauté sliced bell peppers, onions, and/or mushrooms, and add them to the sandwich on top of the meatballs, then top with cheese.
  • Add pepperoni. Add a few slices of pepperoni to the sandwich for more pizza flavor.
  • Not in the mood for pizza? Try chipotle honey glazed meatballs on a bun instead!

Storage & Reheating Tips

Meatball subs really are best eaten immediately. If you do happen to have leftovers, wrap and refrigerate for up to one day.

To reheat, wrap in foil, and reheat in oven for 20 minutes at 350°F or until heated through.

Meal plan 59 graphic with text and photos.

Free Meal Plan

Interested in a weekly meal plan that includes this recipe? Take a look at Meal Plan #59. You’ll find a wholesome recipe for each weekday plus a categorized grocery list. We add a new meal plan weekly.

Close up of meatball sandwich, with sauce dripping over edge of bun.

More great big sandwich ideas

Don’t you just love a big sub sandwich, sloppy Joe, pulled pork sandwich, or burger with all the fixings? I sure do! Here’s a few more recipes for you:


Meatball Subs

4.75 from 4 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
A hearty sandwich with homemade meatballs bathed in marinara, nestled into a garlicky toasted bun, and topped with melted cheese, is perfect for dinner or game day.
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  • 12 pre-cooked or frozen large meatballs
  • 4 Hoagie or French Roll sandwich buns
  • 24 oz. jar marinara or pasta sauce (see note)
  • ¼ cup salted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 cup freshly shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup freshly shredded provolone cheese (see note)
  • Fresh Italian parsley for garnish


  • Preheat oven broiler to high. LIne a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper for easy cleanup.
  • Place meatballs in a large saucepan and add a full jar (or 3 cups) of marinara sauce. Bring to a simmer over low heat until meatballs and sauce are heated through. (This will take a bit longer if using frozen meatballs, but they don’t need to be defrosted first.)
  • Meanwhile, combine melted butter and garlic salt in a small bowl. Slice buns along the side and gently open, being careful that the bun stays intact. Place buns on a baking sheet. Brush open face of the buns with the butter mixture. Coat well (you may not use all of the butter). Place in the oven and broil for 2 to 3 minutes or just until bread begins to toast. Remember that the edges of the buns will brown further during the next steps. Remove buns from oven.
  • Fill each bun with three warmed meatballs, spooning a bit of the sauce over the top. Top each sub with ¼ to ½ cup shredded cheese. Put the filled subs back on the baking sheet.
  • Broil the subs for 2 to 3 minutes, or just until cheese is melted. Watch closely, and remove the subs from the oven as soon as the cheese is melted.
  • Serve meatball subs hot, sprinkled with a bit of freshly chopped parsley, and with extra sauce on the side. Makes 4 sandwiches.


  • Instead of a jar of sauce, you can use 3 cups of homemade spaghetti sauce or pizza sauce.
  • Omit provolone and use all mozzarella if desired.
  • Beef or turkey meatballs may be used.
  • Substitute whole grain buns if desired.


Serving: 1sub, Calories: 616kcal, Carbohydrates: 44g, Protein: 30g, Fat: 36g, Saturated Fat: 19g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 11g, Trans Fat: 0.5g, Cholesterol: 102mg, Sodium: 1629mg, Potassium: 707mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 11g, Vitamin A: 1520IU, Vitamin C: 12mg, Calcium: 510mg, Iron: 13mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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4.75 from 4 votes (4 ratings without comment)

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  1. Debbie says:

    Wow. . . I would leave all of your side comments/notes out of the recipe description, because it makes this blog and you sound very unappealing and definitely blond as you stated.

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      You probably could have said that in a nicer way, but you’re right. This was one of my very first recipes that I posted on my blog and if you refer to one of my more recent recipes, you’ll see that I do a lot of things differently now. I just haven’t had the opportunity to go back and update the older recipes. Thank you for your feedback.

  2. Bonnie says:

    Whoa – these look awesome. I'll be making these!!