Meatball Subs

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Special thanks to Rao’s Homemade for sponsoring this post. As always, all opinions are my own.

These meatball subs are filled with juicy and tender homemade meatballs that have been simmered in a delicious marinara sauce and loaded into a toasted bun with melty Italian cheese.

Pair these meatball subs with this Italian salad, a fruit salad, or this cucumber salad.

Overhead image of the meatball subs on a plate ready to eat

Meatballs are so versatile and can be purposed into so many different meals. One of my boys’ favorites is a big meatball sub! With extra cheese and plenty of marinara of course. 🙂

While today’s recipe I’m sharing beef meatballs, you can also make these meatball subs with turkey meatballs. They’re perfect if you make a big batch of crockpot meatballs and are looking for ways to use those meatballs throughout the week. And these meatball subs are the best thing to feed a group with, they’re always a crowd pleaser!

Image of the Raos marinara sauce that we use in this recipe

Rao’s Homemade Marinara

Meatball subs are a fairly easy recipe to make, especially if you use store-bought marinara (instead of making a marinara from scratch). 

Of course marinara is a huge component to meatball subs, so you want to make sure to use a good one! Rao’s Homemade is one of my favorite marinara sauces. They make premium pasta sauces that are packed with great texture and incredible flavors. Their marinara makes for the ultimate meatball sub.

Process shot-- Image of the meat being mixed with the seasonings for this meatball sub recipes

What toppings go on a meatball sub?

How you choose to top your meatball sub is totally up to you! For us, a good hearty and crusty roll smothered in butter and toasted is a must have. A good handful of grated cheese is also always on our meatball subs. 

Some other ideas: thinly sliced red onion, thinly sliced green or sweet bell peppers, baby spinach, sweet corn, a little mayo

A little drizzle of oil and vinegar also makes for a good topping and more complex flavors.

Fresh herbs such as parsley or basil deliver a nice freshness to a meatball sub. A few spoonfuls of basil pesto also adds a fresh twist.

For some extra heat add some red pepper flakes. For an extra hit of salt, add some grated Parmesan cheese.

Process shot-- image of the raw meat being rolled into balls

Process shot-- Image of the meatballs being mixed with the marinara sauce

Meatball subs tips continued

  • Don’t overmix: if you overmix or over handle the meat, it will make the meatballs tough. Mix until ingredients are JUST combined.
  • Roll meatballs all at the same size: make sure the meatballs are generally the same size so they cook evenly. I like to use a 1/8th measuring cup or cookie scoop to ensure even sizes. Remember as you roll the balls to handle as little as possible.
  • Use a NONSTICK skillet: unfortunately these meatballs stick and subsequently fall apart on cast iron skillets. I’ve never had a problem with these meatballs falling apart in a nonstick skillet.
  • Toast the bread: rub olive oil or melted butter (using a pastry brush) over the bread and toast it before adding the meatballs and sauce. This keeps the bread from getting soggy and adds delicious flavor.

Process shot-- image of the subs on a sheet pan ready to be baked with cheese on top

How to reheat meatball subs

The longer the meatballs and marinara sit on the bread, the soggier the bread will get. The best way to reheat meatball subs is to store the meatballs and sauce separately from the bread.

If the bread was already topped with the meatballs and marinara, wrap it in foil and then put it in the oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes. The foil will keep it from burning/toasting any further.

Up close image of the meatball subs with the melty cheese on top

More easy dinner ideas:

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Meatball Subs

5 from 7 votes
These meatball subs are filled with juicy and tender homemade meatballs that have been simmered in a delicious marinara sauce and loaded into a toasted bun with melty Italian cheese.
Print Recipe

Meatball Subs

5 from 7 votes
These meatball subs are filled with juicy and tender homemade meatballs that have been simmered in a delicious marinara sauce and loaded into a toasted bun with melty Italian cheese.
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Keyword meatball subs
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 6 servings (about 4 meatballs per sub)
Calories 404kcal
Author Chelsea
Cost $8.93


  • 1/3 cup yellow onion, grated on a cheese grater
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1/2 cup Panko
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese freshly grated (on a microplane if possible)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced (on a microplane if possible)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely minced
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • Salt and Freshly Cracked Pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, separated (plus more for brushing on the rolls)
  • 1 jar (24 ounces) RAO'S Homemade Marinara Sauce
  • 6 crusty sub rolls
  • 1 and 1/2 cups shredded Provolone or Italian 4-cheese blend (or to taste, add as much cheese as you'd like)
  • Shredded basil, optional


  • MEATBALLS: Using the large holes on a cheese grater, finely grate the onion. Add to a large bowl along with the milk, Panko, Parmesan cheese, ground beef, minced garlic, dried oregano, fresh parsley, egg, and salt and pepper to taste. I add about 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper. Mix until ingredients are combined. Add in the ground beef and fold with your hands until combined. Handle as little as possible and don't overwork the mixture or the meatballs will be tough.
  • MEATBALLS CONTINUED: Measure out about 2 tablespoons of the mixture and gently form a ball. Repeat with all of the meat mixture until it is all used up. You should get around 22-25 meatballs. Make sure they are all around the same size so they'll cook evenly.
  • COOK: In a large nonstick skillet, add 1 and 1/2 tablespoons olive oil. Heat to medium high and then add in about 1/2 of the meatballs. Gently turn the meatballs over and cook for about 3-5 minutes or until they are browned all over (but not cooked through). Remove to a plate. And another 1 and 1/2 tablespoons oil and repeat with the rest of the meatballs. Remove the rest of those meatballs to the plate.
  • COOK CONTINUED: In the same skillet, add the entire jar of Rao's Homemade Marinara Sauce. Add the cooked meatballs into the mixture and press to be covered in the sauce. Cover with a lid. Simmer for 8-12 minutes, turning every now and again, or until completely cooked through (food thermometer registers 165 degrees F).
  • ROLLS: Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cut the rolls in half lengthwise and brush with olive oil. Place on a large tray and bake for 3-5 minutes or until lightly toasted.
  • ASSEMBLE: Remove subs from the oven and set the oven temperature to high BROIL. Pile meatballs and sauce onto sub rolls -- 3 to 4 meatballs per sub. Top with shredded cheese and place under the broiler to melt cheese (watch carefully it only takes 1-2 minutes). Top with shredded basil and enjoy hot!

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 404kcal


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Nutrition facts in meatballs subs



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  1. These are excellent! Thank you for sharing this recipe! I want to make these and freeze them to have one hand once my second baby comes in a few weeks, but I’m trying to figure out if I should freeze them prior to cooking them in the sauce or just freeze them after that?

  2. 5 stars
    I made these for supper yesterday. They were excellent. My son said he didnt even like meatballs but loved these. Left with some for his supper tonight. Your shrimp tacos are also excellent. Look forward to trying more of your recipes!!

    1. So thrilled to hear these were a hit and glad you enjoyed the shrimp tacos 🙂 Thanks for the comment and review!

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