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Easy Meatball Sub Recipe

This is the best meatball sub recipe without frozen meatballs and it is a game-changer. It is so easy to make and it does not use frozen meatballs.

It is homemade and WOW is it tasty. Not all meatball sandwiches are created equal and when you make one from scratch with good ingredients, words can not even describe.

In this post I will walk you step by step how to build this flavor city sandwich.

meatball sub on a plate



  • 28 oz. crushed tomatoes
  • 15 oz. tomato sauce
  • 3 oz. tomato paste
  • 6oz. of water
  • 1 tsp of olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp parsley
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 tsp salt


  • 2 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb pork
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup of breadcrumbs
  • 1 slice of bread
  • 1 small yellow onion (chopped fine)
  • 1/4 cup of whole milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • sub rolls


  • frying pan
  • large Pot
  • spatula
  • chef knife
  • cutting board
  • large spoon

How to make meatball subs

Not all meatball subs are created equal. The goal is to make a moist and tasty meatball with a great marinara sauce that will also complement the cheese on the sub.

No frozen meatballs are going into this recipe!

Follow the steps below to create an amazing homemade meatball sandwich.

1. Prepare the sauce ingredients

ingredients gathered for a meatball sub sauce

The first step is to get together all of your ingredients. Gather everything together before you start so that you do not forget an ingredient.

You want to chop 1 small onion finely almost minced and another small onion for the meatballs. Set the minced onions aside.

Finely chop the garlic for the sauce. The reason I like to finely chop the garlic is so that every meatball sub will get some garlic in the sandwich.

2. Create the sauce

meatball sub sauce

You want to take the pot that is going to contain your meatballs and put it on medium heat. I like to use a braiser for this but any pot will do.

The braiser gives me a little more control of the meatballs.

olive oil in saute pan

Heat the oil

When the pot is hot add 1 tsp of olive oil and let it get hot.

I choose to use extra-virgin because it has a higher smoke point.

sauteing onions in garlic in pan

Saute garlic and onions

Before the oil smokes add the onion and garlic. Saute the garlic and onions until the onions become translucent.

You should get to the point that the garlic is releasing its aroma.

sauteing the tomato paste

Saute tomato paste

Add the can of tomato paste to the pot and cook it a bit on the bottom of the pan to bring out the flavor of the paste.

Keep a good eye on it so that you don’t burn it. Add the water to the pan to deglaze anything that has stuck to the bottom.

mixing the herbs and spices

Add the spices

Add the garlic powder, salt, pepper, sugar, Italian seasoning, and parsley to the sauce. Give it a good stir then cover and simmer.

Try to spread the cheese all around so that it does not clump up and it mixes completely in the sauce.

adding the sauce to the pot

Add crushed and sauce

Now that the paste, onions, and garlic are incorporated go ahead and add the crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce.

Try to keep the container low so you don’t splatter it everywhere.

Give it a good stir to incorporate everything.

3. Make the meatballs

ingredients for the meatballs

This meatball sub recipe makes a lot of meatballs. You will for sure have extras for the next day or you could put meatballs on a pasta dish the next day.

The way I look at it is if you are going to all the trouble you might as well make a big batch!

all the ingredients for the meatballs in a mixing bowl

Mix the ingredients

Combine all the meatball ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

The only thing you won’t add is the olive oil, this will be used when frying the meatballs.

Use your hands for this one so that you get it fully mixed in!

meatballs on a sheet pan

Roll out the meatballs

When rolling out your meatballs you are looking for consistency. I like to use a sheet pan so I can see that there all the same size.

I make them large and with all the ingredients I came out with 18 meatballs. Make the size you’d like in your meatball sandwich.

oil being added to frying pan

Preheat the pan

Now I feel this is the best way to cook the meatballs. It gives a nice crust to them.

You want to put your frying pan on medium heat.

Add your olive oil and heat it up so that it moves freely on the pan.

frying the meatballs in pan

Fry the meatballs

Fry them in batches and roll them around the pan as they release from the pan.

You are looking to brown them on all sides.

If you notice that they are burning remove the pan from the heat and turn it down.

adding meatballs to the pot with the sauce

Simmer in sauce

This part will fully cook the meatballs for this meatball sub recipe. You can always freeze your meatballs at this stage for a later date.

You want to add them all to the sauce and simmer until they reach an internal temp of 165 degrees.

4. Make the meatball sub

meatballs in the sauce

Thicken the sauce

If you find that your sauce is a little too runny then let it simmer without the lid so that it will reduce.

All cans of sauce have a different consistency to them.

sub roll with the middle taken out

Prep the roll

As you can see in the picture a little trick to make sure that the meatballs don’t break the roll is to hollow out the middle.

I take that little piece that came out and dips it in the amazing marinara that is simmering.

The final meatball sub on a plate.

Build the sub

Toast the bun in a toaster oven and then add the meatballs. Mine are so big that I cut them in half.

Add the sauce and provolone cheese and a bit of parsley for color!

That is it enjoy!

To ensure optimal flavor, remember to store your spices in a cool, dark place before using them to add a burst of flavor to your homemade meatballs.

If you really enjoy Italian recipes check out my…

American chop suey recipe

spaghetti meat sauce

The answer to this question is cheese! Choosing the correct cheese is important to get that incredible flavor in the meatballs. You don’t want to overpower them. A freshly grated Parmesan cheese or melted provolone is the best.

The trick is to toast the roll before you build the sub. This way it gives a stiffer base to the meatballs when being added to the bread. Trust me when I say this it is a game-changer to a meatball sub.

close-up of a meatball sub

Meatball Sub Recipe (Homemade)

This meatball sub recipe is step by step guide to create a homemade meatball sandwich. I tell you it will be the best you have ever had!
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 55 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 6
Calories 1049 kcal


Meatball sub sauce

  • 28 oz crushed tomatoes
  • 15 oz sauce
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 6 oz water
  • 1 tsp olive oil extra virgin
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp parsley
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 yellow onion small
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tsp kosher salt


  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb pork
  • 1 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 slice bread
  • 1 yellow onion small
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp Fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 6 sub rolls


Making the Sauce

  • Heat the oil in the pot that you are going to use on medium heat.
  • Chop up the onions for the sauce and the meatballs. For the sauce, you want to chop the onions small, but for the meatballs, you want to mince the onions and then set them aside for later.
  • Chop the garlic. You want it to be a fine chop so that all the meatball subs get some of the garlic from the sauce.
  • Saute the garlic and onions until the onions get translucent.
  • Add the tomato paste to the pot and let it lightly cook on the bottom of the pan. Deglaze the pan the water.
  • Add the crushed tomatoes and the sauce to the pot and stir.
  • Finally add all the spices to the pot, stir and combine them all then cover and let it simmer.

Making the meatballs

  • Combine all the ingredients for the meatballs in a bowl except the olive oil, that will be for frying the meatballs.
    Mix it all with your hands so you get it fully incorporated.
  • Roll out the meatballs. I choose to make them big and I get 18 out of the mix.
  • Preheat the frying pan and saute the meatballs. Cook them in batches and move them as they brown rotating them to another side of the meatball.
    Keep them moving until brown on all sides and then add to the sauce.
  • Simmer the meatball until the internal temp reaches a minimum of 165 degrees.

Build the meatball sub

  • Take your sub-rolls and hollow out the middle. Toast the rolls in a toaster oven.
  • Add the meatballs to the sub rolls and cut them in half if they are to big.
  • Add a little extra sauce on top and then the provolone cheese. Put them back into the toaster oven or traditional oven and melt the cheese.


  • Toast the rolls upfront so the meatballs dont make the roll soggy.
  • Use fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano.


Serving: 6gCalories: 1049kcalCarbohydrates: 74gProtein: 48gFat: 63gSaturated Fat: 20gCholesterol: 185mgSodium: 2369mgPotassium: 1269mgFiber: 7gSugar: 18gVitamin A: 985IUVitamin C: 22mgCalcium: 368mgIron: 18mg
Keyword how to make a meatball sub, meatball sandwich, meatball sub recipe
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