Meatball Sub Sandwich

5 from 4 votes

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Layered up with marinara sauce and lots of mozzarella, these are the meatball subs dreams are made of.

Meatball Sub on a plate.

This is the meatball sub sandwich of your dreams. Generously sized beefy meatballs slathered with an Italian marinara sauce on a crusty roll topped with melty cheese. Are you hungry yet?

When we go to a sandwich shop, which is frankly pretty rare, this is the sandwich my boys are going to go for. The truthiest truth is that they most often get a meatball marinara sub on the occasions when we go to Subway, which is an even rarer occasion. In a pinch, when traveling, and a Subway looms up on the horizon (or realistically at a gas station), I’m not fighting it.

Whenever I make meatballs at home, I’m usually doing it with an eye toward pasta. That was one of my dad’s all-time favorite dinners, and everyone in my family is a dedicated fan as well. But when I’m being smart I make extra meatballs and then I can make these subs for lunch the next day.

And if you’re in the mood for other Subway-inspired classic sandwiches, try this classic Italian sub or layer up a gorgeous club sandwich.

Meatball Sub on a plate.

Layered up with marinara sauce and lots of mozzarella, these are the meatball subs dreams are made of (see you later, Subway!)

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Meatballs for Sub Sandwiches

The meatballs in the Subway sandwich are made with all beef and topped with marinara sauce. I often make my meatballs with a blend of meats, but all beef is the easiest way to go. I also include an egg, which helps everything bind together nicely.

The little bit of fresh parsley is pretty and adds a little fresh herby-ness, but you could skip it if you want. While I am a dried herb fan for some things, I am not a fan of dried parsley, which I think tastes like a whole lot of nothing.

Spoon grabbing a Meatball with melted cheese.

Meatball Sub Tips

  • For this meatball sub recipe, I’m offering the option of making your own meatballs. BUT believe me, you can make a terrific meatball sub with frozen meatballs as well.
  • I like to start cooking the meatballs in the oven so they hold their round shape. Then, when they are firmed up, transfer them to a pot of simmering marinara sauce.
  • After the meatballs are totally cooked through, transfer them to a baking dish (unless you have used a nice ovenproof skillet to cook them in; then you are all set) and sprinkle over the cheese. Give them a quick broil to melt the cheese, and then scoop them into the awaiting rolls. This is easier and less potentially messy than melting the cheese on the meatballs once they are already in the sub rolls.
  • I made these in smaller sub versions, two meatballs to a 4-inch or so sub. You can also make longer subs and cut them into pieces.
  • When you are making the meatballs, try not to squeeze the mixture too much as you blend it, or the meatballs will become dense.
  • I like 2-inch meatballs in sub sandwiches, but you can make them larger or smaller.
  • You can make your own marinara sauce, or use a jar of your favorite brand. If you want to add a pinch of dried basil and or oregano to the sauce to boost the flavor, go for it.
  • Some folks like their bread toasted, some like their rolls soft — you decide!
Meatball and melted cheese in a pan.

Ingredients for Homemade Meatball Subs

  • Bread – A bit of bread is soaked in milk to give the meatballs additional moisture and structure.
  • Milk – Keeps the meatballs moist and tender.
  • Ground meat – I like to use 80/20 % ground beef for meatballs, which has enough fat to keep the meatballs from drying out when they cook.
  • Egg – Helps bind the meatballs.
  • Parmesan cheese – Adds nutty Italian flavor.
  • Parsley – Adds a little freshness and a bit of nice color.
  • Garlic – Chop the garlic very finely so it blends into the meatball mixture.
  • Olive oil
  • Marinara sauce – Definitely feel free to use jarred marinara sauce here if you don’t have the time or energy to make your own.
  • Italian bread – A traditional Italian loaf, grinder, or sub roll is the way to go! Cut larger Italian bread into 4-inch lengths to make the subs, which are easy enough to pick up without the meatballs rolling out.
  • Mozzarella cheese – Nothing is better than some melty mozz on a meatball sub!

How to Make a Meatball Sub at Home

  1. Soak the bread: Tear the bread into pieces and place them in a small bowl with the milk. Let sit for 5 minutes until the bread has absorbed most of the milk. Squeeze out the excess milk and shred the bread into little pieces.
  2. Make the meatballs: Combine the meat, soaked bread, egg, 1/4 cup Parmesan, parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper with the meat and use your hands to blend it well, but try not to squeeze the mixture too much as you blend it. Make nice round meatballs 2 inches in size.
  3. Bake the meatballs: Place the meatballs on the tray, without touching, and bake at 350 degrees until almost cooked through, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, bring the marinara sauce to a simmer in a pot. Add the partially cooked meatballs to the sauce and simmer until they are fully cooked, about 10 more minutes.
  4. Toast the rolls, if desired.
  5. Melt the cheese: Transfer the meatballs with their sauce to a shallow baking dish so that the meatballs are in a single layer. Sprinkle over the mozzarella and remaining Parmesan. Broil for 1 to 2 minutes until the cheese is melted. Use a spoon to transfer the meatballs with some sauce and cheese to the rolls. Serve hot.
Meatball Sub next to a pan of meatballs.

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Woman cutting a Meatball Sub with a knife.

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5 from 4 votes

Meatball Sub Sandwich

Layered up with marinara sauce and lots of mozzarella, these are the meatball subs dreams are made of.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4 People
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Ingredients 

  • 1 slice plain bread
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 ¼ pounds ground meat (preferably a combination of beef, pork, and veal)
  • 1 large egg (lightly beaten)
  • ½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (divided)
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced fresh parsley
  • ½ teaspoon finely minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt (plus more for cooking the pasta)
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (if sautéing)
  • 4 cups homemade marinara sauce (or jarred)
  • 1 loaf Italian bread (sliced lengthwise and cut into 4 inch pieces)
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Instructions 

  • Tear the bread into pieces and place them in a small bowl, pour the milk over, stir to combine, and let sit for 5 minutes until the bread has absorbed most of the milk. Squeeze out the excess milk and shred the bread into little pieces.
  • Place the meat in a large bowl. Add the soaked bread, egg, 1/4 cup Parmesan, parsley, garlic, ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper to the meat and use your hands to blend it well, but try not to squeeze the mixture too much as you blend it. Make nice round meatballs 2 inches in size.  
  • To bake the meatballs: Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray a baking sheet with sides with nonstick cooking spray, or lightly oil it. Place the meatballs on the tray, without touching, and bake until almost cooked throughout, about 15 minutes.Meanwhile, bring the marinara sauce to a simmer in a medium-sized pot over medium-low heat. Add the partially cooked meatballs to the sauce and simmer until they are fully cooked, about 10 more minutes.
  • While the meatballs are cooking, prepare the rolls. You can leave them soft, or toast them by placing them opened up and cut side down in a hot skillet with a touch of olive oil for a couple of minutes until the interior is golden brown.
  • When the meatballs are removed from the oven and added to the sauce, turn the oven to broil. Transfer the meatballs with their sauce to a shallow baking dish so that the meatballs are in a single layer. Sprinkle the top with the mozzarella and the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Return to the oven and broil for 1 to 2 minutes until the cheese is melted. Use a spoon to transfer two meatballs with some sauce and cheese to the rolls. Serve hot.

Notes

  • For this meatball sub recipe, I’m offering the option of making your own meatballs. BUT believe me, you can make a terrific meatball sub with frozen meatballs as well.
  • I like to start cooking the meatballs in the oven so they hold their round shape. Then, when they are firmed up, transfer them to a pot of simmering marinara sauce.
  • After the meatballs are totally cooked through, transfer them to a baking dish (unless you have used a nice ovenproof skillet to cook them in; then you are all set) and sprinkle over the cheese. Give them a quick broil to melt the cheese, and then scoop them into the awaiting rolls. This is easier and less potentially messy than melting the cheese on the meatballs once they are already in the sub rolls.
  • I made these in smaller sub versions, two meatballs to a 4-inch or so sub. You can also make longer subs and cut them into pieces.
  • When you are making the meatballs, try not to squeeze the mixture too much as you blend it, or the meatballs will become dense.
  • I like 2-inch meatballs in sub sandwiches, but you can make them larger or smaller.
  • You can make your own marinara sauce or use a jar of your favorite brand. If you want to add a pinch of dried basil and or oregano to the sauce to boost the flavor, go for it.
  • Some folks like their bread toasted, some like their rolls soft — you decide!

Nutrition

Calories: 800kcal, Carbohydrates: 66g, Protein: 46g, Fat: 87g, Saturated Fat: 40g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 9g, Monounsaturated Fat: 30g, Trans Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 176mg, Sodium: 1255mg, Potassium: 722mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 36g, Vitamin A: 382IU, Vitamin C: 0.1mg, Calcium: 312mg, Iron: 6mg
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

About Katie Workman

Katie Workman is a cook, a writer, a mother of two, an activist in hunger issues, and an enthusiastic advocate for family meals, which is the inspiration behind her two beloved cookbooks, Dinner Solved! and The Mom 100 Cookbook.

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3 Comments

  1. Dianne says:

    Subway in the UK released their meatball in marinara sauce recipe and that is half beef and half pork. Maybe different in different countries. Nonetheless, I cannot go past a meatball sub here in Australia! I’m looking through different recipes to make them at home, thanks for sharing yours. Cheers.

    Dianne.

  2. Khadijah Haleemah says:

    “The meatballs in the Subway sandwich are made with all beef and topped marinara sauce.”

    I was told by the manager of a Subway that the meatballs have pork. I have investigated this further. So…I can have Subway MEATBALLS again!!!!!!! :)

  3. Annie says:

    These meatballs are always a double batch for me. First night with spaghetti, second night subs. And amen to fast food requests on road trips, it’s all about the 80/20 rule, right?