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.
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 sandwiches
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!
Any of your favorite meatballs will work for this recipe; homemade or store-bought are both great!
I’ll run through the recipe here and give you a few extra tips. For the printable recipe card with full directions and nutrition information, keep reading to the end of the post.
What you 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.
How to make meatball subs
Begin by warming the meatballs up in marinara sauce. Frozen meatballs will take a little longer to warm.
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.
Place the meatballs with some sauce in the bun, cover with lots of shredded cheese.
Broil a few minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
Sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley if you’d like a garnish. Enjoy!
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.
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.
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
- Sauté sliced bell peppers, onions, or mushrooms, and add them to the sandwich on top of the meatballs, then top with cheese.
- Add a few slices of pepperoni to the sandwich for more pizza flavor.
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.
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:
- Instant Pot Pulled Pork
- Slow Cooker Pork Tacos
- Cuban Sandwich Recipe
- Mozzarella Stuffed Turkey Burger with Tomato and Basil
- Chicken Sandwich with Bacon, Leeks and Gouda
- Crockpot Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches
- The Best Easy Turkey Burgers
- Easy Sloppy Joes
- Air Fryer Grilled Cheese Sandwich
- Turkey Sliders, i.e. Rachel Sandwich Sliders
- Best Ham and Cheese Sliders Recipe
- 12 pre-cooked or frozen large meatballs
- 4 Hoagie or French Roll sandwich buns
- 24 oz. jar marinara or pasta sauce, or 3 cups homemade sauce
- ¼ cup salted butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 cup freshly grated mozzarella
- 1 cup freshly grated provolone (see note)
- Fresh Italian parsley for garnish
- Preheat oven broiler to high.
- 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 cookie 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 2-3 minutes or just until bread begins to brown. (Please note 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 ¼-½ cup cheese. You can use all mozzarella or a combination of mozzarella and provolone. Place the cookie sheet back under the broiler for 2-3 additional minutes. 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.
- Omit provolone and use all mozzarella if desired.
- Beef or turkey meatballs may be used.
- Substitute whole grain buns if desired.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.