Let me just say that this is the best meatball sandwich you will ever make. You better believe this Hearty Meatball Sub Sandwich was made for meat lovers like us!
What Makes This Sandwich So Good?
The first thing that makes this hearty meatball sub sandwich so good is that the meatballs are perfectly tender and juicy, just as a good meatball should be.
While this is a fairly easy sandwich to make, it is also very hearty and filling. That makes this sub sandwich the perfect dinner for any occasion.
One of the best things about this recipe is that the meatballs can easily be made ahead of time. Then, they are ready to serve with no effort before a meal.
How To Make The Best Meatballs?
The most important thing about a perfect meatball is that it is tender, juicy, and flavorful. I love to use a blend of meats in my meatballs. Doing this adds a depth that you won’t get using a single kind of meat. In this recipe, I used ground beef and Italian sausage.
Ground pork is an option or a blend of ground pork and beef. You could also try a blend of ground beef, ground pork, and ground lamb, which is a very traditional meatball.
We are looking for a moist meatball, and everything we add to these meatballs will help to add in moisture. This is why I use meat that is higher in fat, cheese, and eggs. These all help to add to the juiciness of the meatballs.
While I used panko in this recipe, you can also very easily make this a gluten-free version. All you need to do is grind up rolled oats and substitute them.
- Ground beef– I used 85-15 in this recipe. A traditional recipe would be more of an 80-20, but I prefer the 85-15
- Ground Italian sausage– You can use any kind of Italian sausage that you want. I went with a milder sausage in mine because I added in red pepper flakes for spiciness, but go with what you prefer.
- Dried herbs
- Grated parmesan cheese
- Bun of choice
- Marinara sauce– I will show you how to make your own marinara sauce in this recipe
- Cheese of choice
You can always buy your marinara. This will save you time, and if you have a favorite, go for it! But, if you are wanting to branch out a bit, let me show you how to make your own.
This marinara is so simple to make. You saute the onions and garlic, then add in everything else. That is it!! Let this cook and boil until you add in the meatballs. I think you will be surprised just how simple it is.
How To Make The Meatball Subs
- Sautee your onions with the garlic. It is really important to sautee your onions before adding them to the meatballs so that it releases as much of that liquid as possible.
- Allow the onions and garlic to cool.
- Add them to your meat mixture with the herbs, parmesan cheese, eggs, and panko, and mix well.
- Add the meatballs into boiling marinara sauce, and cook, stirring occasionally.
- Toast your bun with garlic butter.
- Add the meatballs and your cheese to the bun.
- Serve, and enjoy!
The Best Buns For Serving
My preference for this hearty meatball sub sandwich recipe is a heartier bread. I like bread that can hold its own, instead of hot dog buns or something like that, like many recipes that I see.
French bread, ciabatta, or even sourdough are some of my favorite choices.
Notes For Making The Meatball Subs
One of the most important things to know when making these meatball subs is to make sure the meat is seasoned well when you mix it. It is very hard to add in spices after they have already been mixed and are cooking.
You can use leaner meats in this recipe, just know that it will not be as juicy as if you use meats with higher fat content.
These meatballs can be easily made ahead of time. The meatballs hold for up to 4 days in the refrigerator. Simply reheat on the stove or in a crockpot if you are planning on serving later.
You can also freeze these meatballs if you want. If you do that, just know you will end up with more liquid in your sauce and you may need to cook that out before you serve.
Topping Ideas For The Hearty Meatball Sub Sandwiches
I used a traditional mozzarella cheese for my subs, but you could also use provolone, gruyere, or even just a grated parmesan. Your possibilities are endless, use whatever cheese you prefer.
You can sautee any number of vegetables to top these delicious subs. Onions, peppers, jalapenos, and anything else you can think of are possibilities.
FAQ Meatball Subs
Yes! In fact, I think they are even better if made the morning of, and then put them into the crockpot and let them simmer all day. These hold well for up to 4 days, so when you are ready to serve just take them out and reheat them.
The traditional blend for a meatball is ground beef, ground pork, and ground lamb, which is so delicious. If you want to change it up a little, you could also do like I did and use ground beef and ground Italian sausage. You could also use ground pork and ground beef. If you are looking for leaner meat you could even just use ground beef or ground turkey.
Yes! Make sure to store them in an airtight container and cook out the excess liquid when you get ready to use them.
As noted above, I prefer a heartier bread that can not only stand up to the meatballs but the marinara sauce as well. I always love a good french bread or ciabatta for this recipe.
Side Dish Ideas
- Kale salad with roasted delicata
- Vegetarian couscous salad
- Fruit and nut salad
- Viatnamese veggie and sprout salad
- Roasted tomato caprese
- Fall charcuterie board
- No mayo potato salad
Hearty Meatball Sub Sandwich
- 1- 1 1/4 pounds ground beef I prefer using the 85/15 mix
- 1 pound Italian sausage I used mild, but you can also hot if you want!
- 1 cup panko
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons salt If you are just using ground pork, add in another teaspoon. The Italian sausage is already seasoned, so you don't need the extra salt if you are using it.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup chopped onions
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons basil
- 2 teaspoons oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon thyme
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper optional, but really good if you like spicy food!
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan
- 6 buns for serving
- Cheese of choice I used fresh mozzarella, but you can use whatever you prefer
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup finely iminced onions
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 2 28 ounce cans crushed tomatoes
- 4 teaspoons salt you may need to add more depending on your saltiness preference.
- 1 tablespoon basil
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper if you like a little heat
- It is best to saute your onions for your meatballs before mixing them in. To save dishwashing and time, I saute the onions and garlic for both the meatballs and marinara at the same time.
- Heat your pan over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, then 1 cup of minced onions, and 4 tablespoons minced garlic.
- Saute for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove half the onion/garlic mixture and set it aside.
- Use the onion/garlic mix left in the pan to start your marinara.
- Add in the cans of crushed tomatoes and the remaining ingredients.
- Cook for 15-20 minutes while you are mixing your meatballs.
- Once the marinara is started, let's make the meatballs!
- Add all your ingredients to a medium-sized bowl, including the onions and garlic you sauted earlier. Mix well.
- Form the meatballs. I made mine about 2-inch round. You can make them bigger or smaller depending on the size you want.
- Make sure your marinara is hot and boiling, then start adding in your meatballs. This will make plenty of meatballs so the pan will be pretty full. If some of the meatballs are sitting on top of the sauce for this part, don't sweat it.
- *This is important* Top the pan with a lid and allow them to cook undisturbed for several minutes. If you don't do this and start mixing right away, you will break up the meatballs.
- It won't take long, maybe 2-3 minutes. Then carefully mix. Cover all the meatballs in the sauce.
- Let them continue to cook, stirring occasionally. This is a tomato-based sauce, of course, so it will tend to burn if you don't watch it. So stir and make sure you get all the way to the bottom of the pan.
- If your meatballs are the size I made mine, it will take about 10 minutes to cook them through. I cooked mine even longer though, it intensifies the flavors even more. It will also thicken the sauce.
- If you are making these ahead of time, after the 10 minutes of cooking, move the sauce and meatballs to a crockpot. Set it on low for 10 hours.
- When you are ready to serve slice your buns in half. I like to butter my electric griddle for toasting. Place the buns, cut side down on the buttered griddle. Cook until they are golden brown.
- It is time to assemble.
- Add your cheese to the hot buns, then spoon in your meatballs. This is meant to be a messy sandwich, so apply the sauce liberally.
- Now, sit back and enjoy. You deserve it!
- These also make awesome meal prep. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for at least a week, or even up to 10 days! When you are ready, reheat. This can be done on the cooktop or microwave.